I’d spend hours pretending my bike was a car as a child. I’d sit in imaginary traffic and indicate left or right with my arms while waving to the invisible car in front of me. Playing ‘drive-thru’ at the kitchen window was one of my favourite games, much to my Mum’s enjoyment (or annoyance?)
Colourful tassels flowed from the handles as neon Spokey Dokey’s amplified a satisfying ping-pong sound, while my tootsies peddled with joy around the back garden.
One day, my magical bike got a puncture in the back tyre. Mum said she’d get it fixed, but it sat outside rusting away as the winter wickedly crept up on us.
Maybe I need some regression therapy?
As an adult, bikes haven’t played much of a role. Well, apart from that time I bought a bike and the next day it was stolen. The next flipping day! Probably because I bought a bike lock from Home Bargains for £1 with an accompanying pink bell which read ‘I Love My Bike’ – my heart was left broken when I realised it had been stolen.
Perhaps I really should go for that therapy?
As a driver, cyclists are a big part of my daily life and as more Brits take to the streets, it’s crucial to accept and embrace it.
British Cyclists Survey
In order to understand more about cycling and the relationship between rider and the road, I roped in my bike loving mate Chris Melhuish. I’ve been friends with Chris through many a bike and breakup (women and bikes) but in recent years he’s also taken to the road as a gas swilling motorist and I knew his relation to both sides of the coin would be of value.
Interestingly, 70% ride for exercise and 70% as a hobby. Only 20% say that a bike is their main mode of transport. For some reason, I thought the latter would be higher.
Women Love Cycling
55% of participants who have taken up cycling within the last five years are women. That’s awesome but I did, shamefully, assume it would mostly be men.
I see far more male cyclists on the roads I drive through. Perhaps more women drive within busy cities, to get from A to B?
One of the reasons I’ve been discouraged in the past is due to the clothing situation. Sure, if it’s a Sunday afternoon ride along the Taff Trail I’d throw on some leggings, a tshirt and a backpack.
But if I was riding to work in the morning, I don’t think I’d be comfortable rocking a pair of ballet pumps, a freshly painted face and a blow dry. Hello, helmet hair. I’m sure thousands of women find a way around it, but it seems like a lot of effort for someone who takes long enough to get ready as it is.
Helmets and Lighting
I’ve always thought cyclists should wear a helmet at all times. Shockingly, it’s not a legal requirement.
If a helmet can help minimise the damage in any capacity, I don’t understand why some choose not to wear one. When I see kids riding on the road with no helmet, one hand texting and the other down their pants, I get pretty mad. But that’s a whole other story. Don’t get me started on this new craze of pulling a wheelie in the middle of the road, during rush hour with a line of cars behind. Words escape me at how invincible some teenagers think they are.
What is a legal requirement, and rightly so, are lights. Worryingly, 5% admit they don’t have sufficient lighting. That’s a scary thought and something I’ve witnessed in the past.
As a driver, there’s nothing more worrying than a bike coming out of nowhere. How can cyclists expect to be kept safe if they are camouflaged into the night sky? It makes me shudder just thinking about it.
71% Would Cycle on the Pavement
I found this fact a little shocking. It’s not often I see cyclists on the pavement in Cardiff. If anything I see some kids on the roads and I wish they were on the pavement. Just yesterday a teen had his girlfriend draped across the front of his bike. Neither of them were wearing helmets and they went through a red light at a busy junction.
I’m noticing a theme here of teenagers and stupidity.
In my view, some roads are just plain scary and 26% feel that they don’t have access to sufficient paths, perhaps this is why many ride on the pavement.
Sometimes I’m driving along and pull up to a place like ‘death junction’ in Cardiff and I have to question why any cyclists would want to put themselves in that situation. It’s bad enough being in a car. I guess I’m showing my paranoia here.
Safety For Everyone
It probably won’t be a shock to read that cyclists in London are among those that feel least safe. I’ve watched a guy on a motorbike got knocked off by a double decker bus. Both the rider and the bus driver exchanged a couple of words and carried on. Clearly, collisions like this are a common occurrence in manic cities such as London. If that happened in Cardiff they’d probably shut down the city centre for a week. But the good news is that Wales was voted as one of the safest by riders.
I truly believe it’s of the utmost importance that cyclists and motorists have a common respect for one another. There’s this unspoken (sometimes loudly spoken) disdain on both sides.
Some cyclists assume all motorists are impatient, dangerous idiots while some motorists assume all cyclists are slow moving and purposefully obstructive.
“Motorists overtaking when there’s not sufficient room. Frequently cars will do this because they’re frustrated at having to drive slowly behind a cyclist, but then we end up at the same red light together less than a minute later.” – Chris
Yes, I’ve probably muttered a swear word or two while driving past a cyclist. But I’ve loudly sworn way more times because of other drivers. I think we can all agree that no-one wants to cause harm, damage or hostility on the road. My frustration with cyclists will usually come from a place of fear, but I know this isn’t helpful either.
“When I’m driving behind a cyclist and there’s sufficient space for them to move to the side to allow cars to pass but don’t, I find it really frustrating. It’s something I always do if it doesn’t put myself at risk.” – Chris
Road safety for everyone should always be at the heart of the matter. If we do our best to abide by laws and use our common sense, surely fewer accidents will happen as a result.
Do you feel safe on the road as a cyclist? If you’re a motorist, how do you feel about cyclists? Let me know in the comments below.
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