Cycling is having a bit of a renaissance period at the moment. A bike boom has swelled across the UK with ever 12% more people hitting the roads on two wheels in the last 10 years, leaving their gas guzzling street sofas behind. There are many factors behind the increase, with perhaps with government tax breaks and things like the London Cycle Scheme playing a particularly important role, (110% increase in cyclists in London since 2000).
The side effect of all this though is an increase in the amount of accidents suffered by cyclists on our roads. Maybe this is because of sheer volume and statistical inevitability or maybe it is due to an increase in intolerance by drivers. Either way, cyclists need to be careful out there.
Here is some sound advice on what you can do to stay safe.
Starting with something easy…keeping you bike in a good condition is very important. Wet roads plus bald tyres for example are a hazard waiting to catch you out; as are faulty brakes and loose handlebars. Do yourself a favour and take your bike down to a bike garage and get them to give it a check. The will tell you if brake lines need replaced or anything else that could be dangerous.
Helmets save lives. Would you let your child go out on the main road without a helmet? I think not, so why would you ever consider going out without one. Don’t get the cheapest one either as you want to invest money in the thing that will be protecting your brain.
Campaign for Cycle Lanes
This one might take a bit more effort…start campaigning for your local council to improve cycle lanes in your town. There are many ways to do this but one of the best was in 1999 when the Warrington Cycle Campaign, produced a book entitled: ‘Warrington Cycle Campaign’s book of Crap Cycle Lanes’. This held 50 images and descriptions of the worst examples of cycle lanes in the UK. The aim was to shame their council and hopefully others, into making improvements to the existing networks. Come up with an idea like that and you just might make an impact. Councils can save lives by improving their cycle lanes; they just don’t know this or don’t care…yet.
Children’s Bike Club
Another thing you might like to try if you are particularly motivated to protect children, is to start a children’s cycle club. This might involve getting a group of school kids together and encouraging them to cycle together on the way to school with your supervision. This will keep them safer and hopefully make them more likely to cycle in the future, reducing the number of cars.
If you are a keen cyclist, or even if you’re not, raising awareness of cycling safety is important and can even save lives, so if you can do anything to help please do.