If you are free tomorrow evening you should pedal your way to Russell Square for a London Cycling Campaign protest commencing at 6:30PM. The aim is to highlight the need for designated cycle space following the third cyclist fatality in just three weeks.
Long have I wondered why the world must label days with pointless themes; ‘Hug Day’ on 21st January, ‘Doughnut Day’ the first Friday of June, or ‘Talk Like Shakespeare Day’ on 23rd April seem to serve no particular purpose. Tomorrow marks the beginning of ‘Bike Week’ around the UK, and unlike so many other it represents an actual purpose: to increase awareness, organise social events, and offer nervous newbies an opportunity try their cycle legs in a safe environment.
Bike Week will be taking place 15-23rd June 2013, and events vary from charity rides, free bike health checks and tune ups, races, skills training, or social gatherings such as thematic film screenings for anyone who doesn’t fancy risking the weather.
…Stay safe in the door zone.
The easy answer to this ‘How To’ is that you cannot be safe in the door zone. I have previously written about this subject [here], and it important to reiterate that being ‘doored’ is one of the great unmentioned cycle risks as this rather graphic video shows:
I came across the image above today, and after getting my head around the differences in road layout (driving on the right!) and trying to imaging the traffic chugging along to my left instead of my right, was reminded of the two images below. These should be relatively familiar to you: on the left is the poster publicised by TFL to discourage cyclists from ‘undertaking’ HGVs, and the image on the right is the same poster but with the addition of the very recognisable Cycle Superhighway blue road markings.
Generally people assume that the cycle lane is the safest place, but as you can see, between blind spots, the door zone and the simple fact that not all motorists indicate their intentions when they plan to turn left, it is sometimes far safer to take prime position in the centre of the lane. What happens if there is a pothole in the cycle lane and you lose control? You should always allow yourself enough space to manouevre, and although curb hugging may feel comforting, it’s an illusion of safety. Unless there is enough space to allow for a vehicle to safely overtake you, you should discourage them from doing so for your own welfare. This is particularly true at traffic lights, where motorists will often creep into the Advanced Stop Zone, forcing you aside as they zoom off ahead of you.
Remember, it’s better to take abuse for blocking the lane than a wheel across your skull if something goes wrong.
With the election for Mayor of London coming up, it’s time to have a think about voting, and LCC have released an analysis of mayoral candidates’ cycle policies and rated them out of ten. Unfortunately they only consider Jenny Jones (Green), Boris Johnson (Conservative), Ken Livingstone (Labour) and Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrats), meaning that once again the independent candidate Siobhan Benita is ignored/forgotten.
Have a look at the article here on the London Cycle Campaign website.
And don’t forget that election day is May 3rd.
Not everybody has the time or inclination to read the Highway Code. Let’s face it, it’s hardly as exciting as reading the newest Game of Thrones book. But it is an interesting read for the most part and I highly recommend it, not only because as a cyclists you have a responsibility to other road users to understand the rules of the road, but also because being informed will provide you with ammunition to be able to cycle with confidence because you know what your rights are.
“The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, particularly children, older or disabled people, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. It is important that all road users are aware of the Code and are considerate towards each other. This applies to pedestrians as much as to drivers and riders.
Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence. An explanation of the abbreviations can be found in ‘The road user and the law’.”
I have combed the code with the help of my Kindle, and collected the clauses that are relevant to cyclists, whether that be as law directly addressing us, or regarding how others should behave when cyclists are around…..