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Thomas Mallett2012-05-11 12:12:45

Turning my hand to cycling: Cycling from a motorist’s perspective

Motorists and cyclists have often conflicting perspectives in traffic.

Here at Autoviva we love cars, you might have worked out that already, so it has been very interesting for me to turn my hand, or indeed my legs, to cycling. How would the transition work out?

As a motorist I have been used to the driver’s perspective as cyclists zip past in traffic. It is often an uncomfortable experience as it is easy for a cyclist to be lost in a blind spot and you are constantly aware that any maneuver can have an extremely adverse effect on the hidden cyclist’s day. Not only that but you are also aware that the cyclist is unlikely to have any insurance, so it will be you who is expected to pick up the bill and you who will probably be blamed.

The fact that it is the driver who will be held to account comes with a sense of annoyance as it is clear that regularly cyclists are the ones who are executing dangerous maneuvers with scant regard for the rules of the road. I will be honest here and not claim to be perfect myself when it comes to cycling.

However, I shall not labour that point unduly, the point of this is what I have learned about cycling safely and quickly, and also the perspective it has given me as a motorist, what will I be doing differently behind the wheel, and what advice would I impart upon anyone of you who, like me decides to jump on a bike.

Sharing the road is sometimes a difficult matter between car drivers and cyclists

Sharing the road is sometimes a difficult matter between car drivers and cyclists

Firstly and I believe most importantly you must make yourself visible, this can be done in two ways, by wearing brightly coloured clothing and displaying lights or by positioning yourself so traffic can see you. It is important not to stay in a position where you know a car cannot see you, or even worse a bus or truck. This is the cyclists responsibility despite most of them believing motorist should have eyes in the back of their heads.

On the other hand it has made me a better driver, I am now infinitely more aware that cyclists can pop out of nowhere and how important it is to be aware of cycle paths as you nose out of junctions and fuel stations. It is simply not possible to stop that quickly on a bike, couple that with the fact that a cyclist has to accelerate again using tired and sore muscles means that they are less keen to pre-empt possible hazards.

The next thing I have learnt is that cycling can be a great way to get into the office and that it really can make sense financially. My commute is roughly ten miles and takes me from central London all the way out past Richmond Park. In the car this takes a minimum of 45 minutes but can take a lot longer depending on traffic conditions. On the bike it takes 45 minutes pretty much regardless of traffic conditions, and I get a damn good workout each morning and evening. No more cardiovascular work in the gym!

It also costs nothing, apart from the purchase of a bike. My other option most days is the train and this would cost over £7 a day, a pretty serious saving I have to say.

So, what would I say to anyone else considering getting healthy and buying a bike? It will make your driving better, save you money, make you fitter, possibly be quicker and the best bit? You arrive at work ready and raring to go! Just make sure you wear that high visibility rucksack and be careful.




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