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.
Any bespectacled cyclist will be familiar with the dilemma presented by rain: a downpour doesn’t only mean that you will arrive at your destination looking bedraggled, but the likelihood is that a large portion of your journey will be completed with limited vision as the rain gathers on your specs. Well now I say to you: fear no more! It is time to revisit decades long-gone and invest in an accessory that should otherwise have remained gathering dust in attics or at the bottom of the charity shop bargain bin. No, I don’t mean bum bags, I’m talking about visors!
I picked this polka dot visor up in the ASOS sale last summer as part of a wacky thought process… I can’t imagine how this trendy(!) gem ended up in the sale. Regardless, with the addition of a beanie hat I have made it home from work with a dry face and full vision. Plus it’s compact enough to keep in my handbag in case of unexpected showers, whereas a waterproof coat would be far more cumbersome.
For those voting Yes in the great helmet debate, I have in the past been able to force my helmet on over the top, but the thick fabric band on this visor model doesn’t sit as well as a lighter, smaller model might. If you’re shopping for a visor you should take this detail into account.
So what do you say? It may not be the most fashion forward accessory but it certainly does the job!
What tricks do you have to keep dry in the torrents?
….secure your bike.
What do you take into account when it comes to parking up your bicycle? Is it something that you think about before you begin your journey or only when the time comes? If you saw the image in How to keep your bike safe on the street [June 3 2010] or the original posters, you might already have an idea of the guidelines given by both MoL and other cyclists.
Here are some of the basic pointers:
- Remove any accessories before you leave your bike. Knog lights are great because there’s no fuss when it comes to unclasping them, but other lights and accessories have quick-release clasps.
- Always try to lock both your frame and at least one of the wheels: this will stop thieves from making off with odds and ends, i.e. leaving you stranded with only one wheel.
- Use two different types of lock if possible: this means that a thief will need two different tools to get your bike loose.
- Invest in a decent lock, and remember that “locks are not for life” and will need replacing sooner or later.
- Find out if your employer offers indoor cycle parking, if not suggest they take on the Take a Stand scheme, then scout the area for a safe place.
- When securing your bike outdoors consider the following: how strong is the bar you plan to use? Can it be broken or moved easily? How busy is the area? Avoid quieter streets where thieves can get to work undisturbed. Are there any other (more expensive!) bikes around?
- Try to avoid having the key on a D-lock facing upward or the lock too tight or too loose.
- Join Bike Revolution and get your bike tagged!
The Guardian posted an interesting feature on their bike blog, entitled “Bike thief tells how to stop your cycle from being stolen“, which is well worth reading, especially for his insider tips regarding CCTV.