Is Cycling Still Safe ?

The tragic news of  six cyclists killed on London roads in the last 10 days has shaken the cycling world and while we all look for answers newspapers seem intent on highlighting claims about cyclists jumping red lights in London as some sort of justification that all cyclists must be guilty and therefore contributing to their own demise.

Nothing could be further from the truth and while all this weeks fatalities had the common denominator of collision with a heavy goods vehicle I did not hear the motoring press calling for more stringent HGV training and tests.

Calls for them to be banned from London streets is not in my view the answer but clearly a review of how cycles and cars mix in major cities is needed quickly especially as there is a major drive to promote cycling in the Capital.

The vulnerability of the situation in which cyclists find themselves was hammered home this week when I was in collision with a car and trailer.

I was returning home from a CTC ride along a narrow single track lane when I heard a 4 x 4 approaching at speed from behind and a rattling that confirmed it was towing a trailer. I was occupying the secondary position as the vehicle tried to barge past using bullying tactics and the offside verge, I was sideswiped by the rear door and managed to release my left foot and brace against the raking roadside banking, the bike was now at about 30 degrees and the following trailer that was wider than the 4 x 4 caught and ripped my trousers with the wheels missing my bike by millimetres.

I shouted loudly but the vehicle just accelerated away. I was absolutely livid and probably fuelled by adrenaline I remounted my bike and gave chase. I got to the junction just as the vehicle was turning left and I thought I had caught him but he pulled away again with wheels spinning clearly not wanting to discuss the situation. Having taken note of the vehicle registration I phoned the police and having relayed the story plus vehicle make, registration, trailer make and colour I was met with complete indifference. As nobody was injured and there were no witnesses they would do…….probably nothing. “I will make a note of your complaint sir, give you an incident number and pass it to traffic”.

So what did I expect? well his contact details so I could ask him for the cost of my trousers, and while I was not expecting much more perhaps a police visit and a quiet word about his lack of driving skills may give him a chance to pause for thought but I guess with the cutbacks in police budgets this is just another dream.

There is no doubt that a two metre wide, five metre long vehicle towing a six metre trailer needs additional driving skills and trying to overtake anything on a narrow country lane is not really an option, had I been unlucky I could have added to the weeks tragic figures but I am still thinking that by not occupying the primary position in centre of the lane I inadvertently  contributed to the situation, amazing, I am looking to make an excuse for his bad driving.

Trying To Get The Message Across

Trying To Get The Message Across

Cycling seems to be getting a bad press at the moment but listening to the constant rants in the motoring press about cycling behaviour its not the experience I observe when I am behind the wheel. I see too many cars in a constant hurry, speeding and berating or bullying anybody who gets in their way and don’t get me started on the school run……….

Education and training is needed plus increased police enforcement and I rather like the French approach that in the event of a collision the car is automatically to blame unless there are extenuating circumstances, in the meantime I had a wake up call and will review my own performance and security on the bike.

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