I’ve been biking on roads since I was ten years old giving me 30 years (comprising two decades of racing) of experience both good and bad of all road users. Being human I try to learn for the next time every time and tend to group those experiences and the people in them in several categories – like insurers do these days – and these stereotypes or ‘scenarios’ have served me well.
Just like a boy scout you have to prepare for the worst and do what you can to be ready for when things go wrong and they inevitably do. Knowing what to look out for means you are a little better prepared for when drivers don’t see you, for when its rained for the first time in several days and the roads are greasy, for when pedestrians aren’t paying attention…
However, we all know that being careful and thinking that you can in some way control events and your journey through this world is full hardy. For most of the time close misses and minor injuries are down to luck rather than exquisite bike handling, lightning reactions or constantly scanning for road scenarios that can lead to something bad happening.
Over these 30 years I’ve watched how the mainstream media and politicians have so often missed the point when it comes to cyclists safety. There is little doubt however that there has been a step change in momentum for improved cyclist safety in the last decade. Here in the UK cycling has become more mainstream and coupled with the no-win-no-claim legal culture there is now much more statistical evidence of cycling related injuries from cars. I still believe that a financial penalty will have more impact in changing attitudes than blood and gore road safety campaigns. I also think, perhaps naively, that the Manx Missile’s 2011 World Road Race victory has significantly raised respect for cyclists in the U.K.
Every effort is worth making and I’m glad to see the likes of The Times is part of the step change in momentum as they take up the campaign on behalf of their injured journalist Mary Bowers, here’s hoping she makes a good recovery; you can visit The Times campaign at the following address: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/contact/
Jason McIntyre was one of the many statistics who was not so lucky and having raced with him on several occasions, there was no doubt about his phenomenal physical ability and exemplary bike handling.
Here’s hoping we all stay lucky.