Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bloody <Insert expletive> Cyclists

I hear lots of comments from drivers (many of them people I know) about cyclists being a menace to society, not paying road tax and the like. I've even had complete strangers roll down windows while driving past and verbally abuse me for simply being on the road!

In this blog (which links to a series of mini blogs which will grow over time) I will try to dispel some of the myths regarding cyclists, as well as try to explain why we do certain things, or act a certain way whilst cycling.

The first myth I will try to address is the age old Road Tax debate, I'll also over time talk about helmets, high viz, road positioning, and a whole host of other topics:

Bloody Free-loading cyclists!

It is a little strange how things turn out, I have never really considered myself to be a cycle campaigner, or advocate, but after being hit by a car in January of this year (which I write about here) things have changed for me. Enough is enough!

I didn't realize at the time how being this event was going to affect me, but the reality is that it has affected me profoundly. We have to do something to try and stop the deaths of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on our roads, and although my voice is small, hopefully there are enough of us out there who want to make a difference to be heard.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Bloody Free-loading Cyclists!

One of the most common misconceptions about cyclists, is that somehow they are free loaders and don't contribute to the roads that they use because they don't pay Road Tax.

If fact 'Road Tax' does not exist, it was abolished by Winston Churchill in 1937! That little disc on your windscreen which costs so much money is 'Vehicle Excise Duty'.

VED is a tax based on vehicle emissions, so even if bicycles did have to display a VED disc, like any other 0 emission vehicle there would be no charge for the disc.

So now we have dispelled that myth, we can look at how roads are actually funded...

In fact roads are funded from General Taxation, as well as from Council Tax. So every tax payer in the country is paying for the roads that we drive, cycle and walk on!

So paying lots of money for a little disc in your windscreen really doesn't entitle you to more of the road than anyone else, and cyclist are not the freeloaders you imagine.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

That could have been much worse!

Don't know what's happened to the time, meant to write about this a while ago!

Well a couple of weeks ago I was hit by a car, it was quite a surreal experience which is why I thought I would record it for posterity.

I was cycling home from work, unusually and a little bit ironically (given my usual busy main road commute) on the quiet cycle path from Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge. I couldn't be bothered with Traffic that night, and wanted a slow, quiet, easy cycle home.

Cycled down the cycle path bit no problem, past Dalmeny - where incidentally I fell off the last time I had went home on the cycle path - and into South Queensferry where the path ends and you join a quiet residential street.

I was cycling down the residential street at about 15mph not really paying much attention to anything, why would I the road was empty?
Out the corner of my eye I see a Toyota Auris emerging from one of the Cul de sac's on my left. Fine I thought, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree with high vis jacket, flashing front light and really powerful front headlight, and I have right of way, carry on...

Shit, she's not going to stop!! Now my demeanour suddenly changes, I become alert and reactively slam on the brakes. From the 'Shit...' moment to hitting the deck probably only took 4 or 5 seconds in reality, but in my minds eye it was at least 40 seconds. Some of the thoughts that went through my head were really quite weird, and went something like this...

"Shit, she's not going to stop, this is going to really hurt".
Brakes slammed, "I'm almost at a stop, I might get away with this..., nope there's her front wheel and wing now only inches away from my front wheel, she IS going to hit me".
The car then hits me and I am thrown back onto the pillar which holds the windscreen in (sorry, don't know technical jargon). I can hear my cleats release from my pedals as the bike is thrown away from me by the momentum. I also hear the bike crash into the ground, sounds bad, must be broken!

"Ughh,...Oh, I'm on the wing that could have been worse".
Now something very strange starts to happen, I start to move really quite quickly not of my own accord, and I think "I'm OK,... actually this is quite a bit of fun, it's a bit strange but I really don't mind this, I might get away with this".

Because of the delayed reaction of the driver it is a little while before the car comes to a stop. When it does, all of a sudden you think "Oh dear, maybe I haven't gotten away with this as much as I thought, this is really going to hurt" Unfortunately this time I wasn't disappointed!
I remember landing on my left but cheek, then being spun round 90 degrees before my left arm made contact with the surface. I then lay on the ground as I began to try and assess the situation, "OK, this hurts, but I think I'm Ok,.... not winded so much now and the pain is starting to recede,....I think I'll try to get up".

I did get up, and after a few minutes realised that although I was very sore, there were no major injuries. Another thing that is weird is that at no point was I seriously worried about my well-being, I thought Yeah, going to hurt, but nothing worse than that.

I also know how lucky I was, I can't think of any circumstances that would have led to less injuries, I got away with a sore butt and bruised leg, and some severe roadrash and bruising on my left arm. OK, I would have been really unlucky to have been killed from such a collision, but it could quite easily have ended up with a broken, hip, leg or arm.

A couple of weeks later I realise that actually I was more mentally injured than I was physically, and even considered (I hope not seriously) giving up cycling which I wrote about here. I was also frightened of the bike and made excuses for a week as to why I couldn't cycle.

I cycled for the first time at the weekend, only for a mile or so, but it was fantastic to get back on the bike!!

Friday, 17 February 2012

What happened

Sitting here sore and feeling sorry for myself! I never thought I would be having this conversation with myself, and I do hope I snap out of it, but what happened, can you lose your 'edge'?

I've been a cyclist all in for 20 years, in 17 of those years I reckon I've come off twice from memory.
Back on the bike now for 3 years after a 3 year hiatus, and I've come off the bike probably 6 times, twice badly, one resulting in 3 broken ribs, and now I've been hit by a car, luckily only minor injuries this time.
I've had countless near misses over the years but always managed to get out of the way or stop. Weird thing about this one was I could see it happening,but seemed powerless to stop it, or get out of the way. Is this a sign that I should give up before something really serious happens?

Probably not, but sometimes you wonder!