The Cycling at the Olympics is a major part, both on the road and in the velodrome. This is being watched by millions of people all over the UK. What this means is that lots of people are going to get their old bicycles out and give road cycling another go, as well as new riders making a purchase of a new bicycle, some of which have no experience cycling on the road, and do not require any in order to get on their bike and ride where they want on busy streets.
Yesterday, just hours after Bradley Wiggins won Gold in the Cycling Sprint event, a man aged 28 was killed outside Olympic Park by a bus when he was on his bike. This man was not an athlete, and that was confirmed very quickly. It is not known if the man was wearing a helmet or not, but Bradley Wiggins has used the tragedy as an example to show why safety laws need to be put in place to protect cyclists and also make them protect themselves too.
He wants helmets to be made compulsory. This is completely agreed with across the board, as although they do sometimes look a little uncool, they do provide safety against head bangs when you hit the floor, and when you are riding towards the edge of the road, if you do come off or get knocked over by a vehicle, there is a chance your head can hit the kerb, which could cause serious injury or even death.
It is not just helmets that need to be made compulsory. There are a few personal things that I have seen or think about when it comes to cycling that need to be put in place.
Firstly, young riders. I have seen so many times a parent taking their child out on their bicycles on the road, whilst he is in front, and the kids are on small bicycles, sometimes even with stabilisers, riding along behind. no High Vis belts in sight, which could reflect off the sun in the day and just give that extra bit of notice to drivers. The parents need to take the children to dedicated areas, such as country parks that have cycle paths, and coastal towns that usually have a cycle path all along the coastline, for example in Brighton. This works very well, unlike the roads which have poor surfaces which childrens bikes are not designed to handle, and with their focus on the bike, they could easily accidentally swerve to one side, hitting a car trying to overtake.
Then there is dogs. As I suggested above, riders should be using cycle paths where possible, but the main problem I have found with using them is dogs. Because they are in a safer area away from the roads, dog owners feel it is okay to let the dog off the lead. This is not much of a problem for young riders who are going slowly, but road racers who will be using cycle lanes responsibly but also going at quite some speed, will sometimes need to dodge a dog running right into the path of an oncoming cyclist. It has happened to me before, and I literally nearly came off my bike trying to brake and dodge this little dog that ran straight across the cycle lane suddenly, thankfully just missing my wheels. I was travelling with a helmet, and full kitted out cycle gear, going at a reasonable speed as I was on a long cycle, yet of course the owner gave me a dirty look as if to blame me for the almost death of a mutt. I had to ride on to contain my mood. If it is made compulsory that dogs are kept on leads around cycle lanes, this will never happen, then they can be let off the lead in a big open area, where cyclists wouldn’t bother going anyway.
If these simple things could be put into place, its a start, and it will make things easier for cyclists as well as make it fair both ways. Cyclists will be safer and wear the right gear and cycle in the correct designated places, especially when riding with young children who could be hit by a car on the road due to poor handling. At the same time, drivers and dog walkers need to appreciate this fact and understand it needs to work both ways.
Perhaps Bradley Wiggins’ influence can help sway a decision that will rule in everyone’s favour, including the cyclists within that.