A couple of weeks ago cyclist Charlie Alliston was charged with “wanton and furious driving” after hitting and killing a pedestrian who stepped out in front of him whilst he was riding a bike with no front break. The whole situation was enormously unfortunate; he should absolutely have had two breaks on his bike (it’s the law!), but to be killed by a bike travelling at 14mph is statistically very unlikely (this article in The Guardian does the maths), so Kim Briggs was extraordinarily unlucky.
Now, the whys and wherefores of this story have been hotly debated in the bear pits of online tabloid comments sections for weeks, so I have no intention of trying to single-handedly put the issue to bed or trivialising what is a thoroughly tragic event. But I do think we should acknowledge that this has done nothing to help the image of cyclists in the eyes of the media, motorists of pedestrians. It’s important that they know, notwithstanding Alliston’s questionable behaviour and words, we are not all terrible people.
So, in an effort to curb the ever growing us-vs-them mindset, these are my rules of thumb, from one cyclist to others, so we don’t come across as total c**ckwombles.
- Make sure your breaks work / actually have breaks
As you will know, both myself and Kate are keen cycle commuters and have been for a while. We’ve already written some bits and pieces that can help you out but these mainly focused on clothing, sneaky ways of keeping your hair neat and not forgetting essential items….but something we didn’t touch on was the actual cycling part.
I constantly promote cycling to work left right and centre, and the first question I always get asked is ‘but isn’t it really dangerous to cycle in London?’ And my response? It can be dangerous if you make it dangerous. Yes, statistically there are more cycling accidents and deaths in London compared to some other European cities, but part of my point is that (shock horror) cyclists can be and (frequently are) to blame……
Recently Katie’s been tempting you all with delicious morsels of advice on commuting to work by bike / by foot / via the gym – so I thought I would add a couple of tidbits from my own experiences in the world of London’s superhighways to this smorgasbord of tips and tricks… Okay, I’ll leave the grossly extended food analogy now. And possibly make a snack before continuing to write.
- Indulge in a liquid breakfast
Okay, so my morning generally starts between 6.30 – 7am, depending on what time I need to get into the office. Not being much of a breakfast eater at the best of times, the idea of stomaching actual food at this hour (especially before a 40min bike ride) fills me horror. Enter, my juicer – my pride and joy – and his wee sidekick, blender. Although I really struggle to force down a couple of slices toast without feeling a bit on the queasy side 20 minutes into my cycle, I seem to be able to knock back a freshly squeezed juice or smoothie without any associated nausea – hooray! Continue reading