Tag Archives: Safety

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The hill and bicycle verses car rule

Today I formulated the “hill and bicycle verses car” rule, it’s been on my mind for a few months now, but an impatient driver this morning finally spurred me on.

I’ve notice on my commute there are a couple of small hills where my speed drops right down, there are no cycle paths (or footpaths for that matter) so I am stuck in the road, slogging it out up the hill. I’m happy with this, if the road is clear the other way, drivers overtake, fine. If the road is not clear there are two camps drivers fall into:

1) The patient driver. I salute you. For them I try my best to cycle up the hill as quickly as I can. They wait patiently for a space to overtake and they give me hope that one day all drivers will be the same.

2) The impatient driver. They honk their horn, shout abuse, rev their engine loudly etc. For goodness sake, if I could go up the hill quicker or cycle on a cycle path I would, anything to get away from bad drivers like them, however there is no option. My responses to them can vary, but tend to include:
a) Moving further out, thus discouraging dangerous overtaking that they are more likely to do (compared with a patient driver)
b) Slowing down further, I’m not going to bust a gut up a hill for them

To summarise, the patient driver wins.

Are you ready for winter?

Yesterday I cleaned the bike, chainset, sprocket and fitted a new chain. Here’s a picture taken at work on my lunch break (because it was dark when I finished and so I’ve dirtied it a little getting it here, but it still looks clean compared with normal):

The observant amongst you will have noticed the winter tyres too. Yes, as it’s also going to get more and more icy this week I’ve also fitted my winter tyres:

As you can see, the front rim is narrow and it is a bit of a pain to fit the tyre:

Everyone should ride winter tyres when the frosty season starts, I ride Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres, I’m not sure if many other brands are widely available elsewhere, but in the UK there’s not much choice.

Availability of winter tyres is a bit random at times, they sell out pretty quickly when the slippy weather starts, but for comfort and safety I fit mine fairly early on and ride them until the weather is good again. Some people will get a season out of them, others will get several, I’m hoping to get three, but this will be number two, so let’s see how much harsh braking I do – this morning’s test doesn’t count 🙂

Currently I’m using KMC X8-93 as my chain of choice – for no particular reason other than it is supplied with a missing link and KMC have served me well thus far (definition = only breaking through neglect, I’m trying to avoid neglect now, so no more breakages since):

Chains really suffer in winter, the rain, filth and salt really eat through them, so do remember to look after your chain. I regularly check chain wear using a chain wear indicator, but generally ignoring 1% wear, only changing when the indicator won’t fit anymore (probably meaning 2% wear or more). Those with deraileurs need to replace at 1% wear 🙂

Clothing, everybody knows how important it is in winter. Everybody likes different things though, I don’t mind rain, but hate boil in the bag waterproof clothing – which is never waterproof anyway. So for me, waterproofs are an expensive waste of time. I do like windproof fabric though, my Gilet and winter jersey (which both have windproof fronts) are brilliant before the peak of winter. Once winter peak hits, it’s more about covering the legs and arms too. Until the freezing temperatures I still wear shorts and only have my arms covered by a base layer or jersey. Once it is freezing I wear warm unpadded tights with padded shorts underneath, that way I don’t need to change the tights everyday, but can change the shorts, hence I don’t need so many pairs of tights (which are expensive). I also wear a warm base layer and a windproof jacket, I carry my gilet and arm and leg warms in my bag as emergency clothing just incase. If it is -10 celsius like last year then I’ll wear an extra jersey or base layer under the jacket too. When I mention warm here I am specifically referring to Roubaix or Merino fabrics.
More on winter and clothing to follow I’m sure.

The end of the bendy bus is a good thing for cyclists

They were long and bendy, but today is apparently their last day (see BBC) and I think cyclists should rejoice that they are no more. I do hope bendy buses never make a come back. Of course a minor section of the public with accessibility needs are deemed to be impacted, but local dial-a-ride services are available and money should be put into them rather than special (and expensive) buses.

Our next concern is of course the super massive gigantic lorries (see the CTC campaign against them). These types of vehicle have no place in built up areas, if they want to have them on motorways and have loading/unloading at designated places (a bit like train freight) then good, but allowing them onto minor roads is just going to lead to more deaths in the name of progress. I hate this kind of progress, things are fine now, make things safer if you want to make progress!

STOP in the name of the law

This might be a common misconception, but yes, I was right (for once), in the UK you do have to stop at a STOP sign, slowing and giving way isn’t the same thing!

Here is an extract from the Directgov website:

So whether a car, bicycle or other vehicle you must stop at the STOP sign.
For your own safety it is worth noting that I’ve witnessed a lot of drivers who do not stop at a STOP sign or give way at a GIVE WAY sign, so whenever you see a car approaching the junction always be prepared for the worst. In my eyes preparing normally involves cycling further out in the road and hovering my fingers over the front brake (or rear brake in winter).

Know your traffic signs
PDF of the full contents of the ‘Know your traffic signs’ booklet (section: Regulatory signs)

Original post that prompted this one

What happened to Stop, Look and Listen?

This past week I’ve fortunately avoided two adult pedestrians on separate occasions who appear to have forgot the Stop, Look and Listen method of crossing the road that they were taught as children (or at least I hope they were). Mainly they don’t stop or look and who knows if they are listening or not. For the most of it I’m safe enough and normally react comfortably, they narrowly avoid getting hit and the worst part is the shout (being whatever comes into my head first – normally “LOOK”, or “WATCH OUT”) that I give.

The funny one the other morning was me shouting “LOOK LEFT” when the lady was looking left but not right, which is where I was, but she got my point.

What worries me more than anything is that there are cars out there now doing 15MPH that don’t make any noise, those hybrid cars running on electric are practically silent just like my bike, so pedestrians relying solely on sound will get themselves killed sooner or later.

Only a week ago I managed to scare the life out of a teenager who walked out in front of me without looking, it was dark but a well lit area, after walking out he glanced (a bit late) to the right and my bright front light made him think he was about to be run down by a car. His surprised comment to his friends who were still on the pavement was “I thought I was ended then, god”. I replied “Indeed” and cycled on.

Gosh, the more I think on, the more times I remember teenagers (who are the majority of pedestrians I see in the evenings) stepping out without looking, then leaping out of their skins when they realise what could have happened. I do hope that every single incident is a lesson learned and none of them learn it the hard way.

Nobody stops anymore and I seem to come across people only looking one way assuming that the other is still clear because it was last time they looked (no matter how long ago it was).

There is a STOP sign I cycle passed twice a day, I’ve never seen a car stop let alone put its hand brake on. I’m yet to find out what the law on cyclists is, anyone know?

What day is it too foggy to overtake a cyclist on a blind corner?

There is nothing new in impatient drivers overtaking when they really shouldn’t, generally resulting in the oncoming traffic honking their horn in anger (or worse).
Drivers should take more care when overtaking on a foggy day, but a driver this morning was really taking a big risk. It was a really foggy start to the day and the road surface was damp and slippy in places. The road was an S bend and blind from where he/she began overtaking, I was in the middle of the road (my side if that makes sense) as I was shortly going to be taking a right hand turn (in the middle of the S bend). My road position should have been enough to indicate that overtaking wasn’t a good idea, but I think the oncoming car gave him/her realisation of this, luckily there was no collision and I was safe (I think).

I’m looking forward to computer controlled cars made out of polystyrene driving at 20 MPH since people are incapable of driving cars safely.