On my blog I write a great deal on my mountain bike rides, equipment and professional road racing. Yet what I spend most of my actual riding time doing is commuting on my road bike.
I have commuted for many years in various places, including the busy city of Birmingham, congested roads of County Surrey and my home town area of Durham. My routes have often varied between four to ten miles one way, so are never over taxing on the legs, but I have never in all my time been allowed to forget the danger that I put myself in.
He checked whether I was alright, apologising saying he was in a rush to pick up his daughter. (he never once left his car). He said he'd pay for any damage, and when I told him where I worked and to see me there (where I was going) he drove off. Obviously this was stupid. I should have done many things, like call the police to the scene. Asked for insurance details etc. I was just totally shaken up and not thinking clearly. The only saving grace was a he drove off I took his number plate details and instantly put them in my phone.
Apart from a sore hand and grazes to my hips and elbow I was in one piece and nothing broken but my bike was a mess. The bars were twisted and the wheel crushed and twisted beyond repair. I wasn't riding to work that day! I limped home, got in and (being totally emotional) cried.
That incident was resolved in court and my bike was replaced but mentally it scarred me. It was another six months before I even touched my bikes. I was even ready to sell them, and convinced I was ready to give up cycling for good. Even when I got back on my bike every time a car pulled up to a junction I'd get flash backs. I was a nervous wreck on the roads.
As you may have guessed, I continue to ride my bike and didn't give up. Even though my confidence is back I still come across totall idiots on the road. Only the other day on the return from work I was subject to stupid driving. Coming up to a roundabout I was at the junction ready and waiting to go straight ahead. A car came on my right with indicators on to turn left. Did she wait? Nope she pulled away at the same time as me and was in full intent to still turn left and go across me. Realising her intent to do this dangerous manouver I backed off, waiting until she had gone past. I was furious. How senseless do you have to be to pull a stunt like that?
As a rider I have always been defensive. I ride a good metre from the curb, hold position in the road when over taking cars and approaching right hand turns. I always, always assume that drivers are idiots and can't see me, and so never try to dominate the road and ride recklessly. At the end of the day in a collision I know who will loose.
Talking of safety for bikers, it was good to see that the Tour Du Danger went well in London. This was a ride across London visiting ten of the most dangerous junctions (black spots). Word had spread and hundreds of cyclists turned up to support the ride. Over 15 cyclists in London have been killed this year so far, and with a large amount of cyclist using the road there and terrible road layouts which still favour the motor vehicles this will continue to rise. I hope this sort of action will lead to some forward development not just in London but the country over. You can see the report here.