The number of cyclists in Britain is rising and so is the number of accidents they have. Figures from the government suggest a rise of 12% in the number of cyclist casualties from 2012 to 2013. And accidents are not always the drivers fault. Now don’t get me wrong many accidents are caused by drivers wrongly thinking that their right to use the road is greater than cyclists and so doing stupid things like pulling out in front of them at junctions. But there are many occasions where if the cyclist had taken a few more safety precautions accidents may never have happened.
I’m sure we’ve all seen them, cyclists who go out in the dark without any lights or high-visability clothing. As a cyclist myself I can understand the vanity that goes into “yellow is just not my colour”, it isn’t anybody’s colour. But the whole point of these clothing is not to make you look attractive, though there are some stylish pieces out there, it’s to keep you safe. To make it easier for you to be seen by drivers. It’s not really the lack of high-vis clothing that’s my concern for these cyclists – it’s the lack of lights. We expect cars to have their headlights on when it’s dark, otherwise we would struggle to see them, so surely it’s only fair that this expectation is placed on other road users.
At the moment there is a huge debate in the cycling world over the use of helmets and how effect they really are. Researchers themselves cannot agree on how effective the helmet is. But almost all of them do believe that wearing a helmet protects cyclists from head and brain injuries to some degree, which is why wearing one is such an important part of cycling. I understand that using a helmet can cause issues like where to store it when you’re not on the bike, but are minor problems like that worth the risk of not wearing one and getting seriously hurt? I don’t think so.
What you wear isn’t the most important thing on staying safe on a bicycle, how you ride is. Just because you’re on a smaller vehicle doesn’t mean you don’t have to obey the rules. In fact cyclists have to think of a whole different set of safety precautions as well as the usual road user rules. Cyclists themselves admit that even in accidents where the drivers have been in the wrong a few more safety precautions and checks on their part could have stopped the accident from ever happening. There are organisations like Cycle Training UK who provide quality road safety courses and if you can’t afford them the cycling community is full of advice for fellow cyclists looking to improve their road presence and safety. So there isn’t any excuse for not being in the know on cycling rules and road etiquette.
I'm not saying that in accidents it’s more likely to be the cyclist’s fault just that for many cyclists there is a lot more they could be doing to keep themselves, and others, safe. And really with only fresh air between them and the tarmac, why wouldn’t they want to keep as safe as possible?