10 Feb 2012

Lowering the risks

Cycling Weekly magazine has been running quite a few features on road safety for cyclists. The January 19 edition looked at adapting commuting by bike to provide useful training for sporting cyclists. We are not all Victoria Pendleton or Sir Chris Hoy, but they use the same roads (well, mostly roads around Manchester) as us to get around and to keep fit. Conclusion - cycling is good for you.

There are hazards though - see the Times campaign. As well as supporting STACC and The Times in campaiging for improved conditions for cycling in general, we can reduce our individual exposure by choosing how and where we ride. Here are four pointers from Cycling Weekly, with my comments:

Watch out for HGVs
HGVs are involved in two thirds of cyclist fatalities in London. Many lorry drivers are skilled, professional and courteous. Many firms fit all the legally required mirrors and then some. But even then, there will be places where the driver can lose sight of you. Show them the respect they deserve by being aware of the constraints on those drivers and positioning yourself accordingly. Never go up the inside of a lorry - you are putting yourself in the driver's blind zone. You are also possibly entering the space that the driver is about to move into - to make a left turn, the driver often has to move the vehicle to the right first. Stand at the Peanhen junction and you will see this happen.

Stay central
Take the centre of a lane whenever there is a risk that a driver will try and pass you too close or turn left across you. Approaches to junctions and splitter islands for example.

Avoid congested areas
Take a quieter route and avoid tricky junctions. You will also be avoiding a lot of pollution. Looking forward to cycling through the park instead of grinding up Holywell Hill? Me too!

Be visible
Lights, bright clothing and position in the driver sightlines all help drivers take notice of your presence. Give clear signals - this also makes you more noticeable.

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