January 09, 2006

Back on the bike

Since I bought Chris May's bike I have been enjoying hitting the back roads of south Warwickshire. There are a few lessons though:

1. SPD pedals – take foot out of pedal before getting to the junction
2. It's been longer than I thought since I was last cycling regularly – bits of me need more time to get used to it again
3. How did I manage on the roads on my old (15 years ago) heavy road bike – the new bike is so quick to get up to speed.
4. My new cycling shoes let rather more air flow through them than I thought strictly necessary on a cold sunday morning – thick socks in order.
5. I won't be cycling to work anytime soon.

On a sadder note the death of 4 cyclists in wales serves as a reminder of how vulnerable you can be on a bike. No matter how safe you consider yourself it only takes a mistake from another road user to cause mayhem. I would ask the gentleman I saw out with his daughter yesterday, neither wearing helmets, to reflect on that and remember the words of a london doctor when asked whether people should be bothered to wear a helmet:

"Well, it's the difference between me giving you an asprin and teaching you how to talk again.

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  1. Graham

    The death of the cyclists in Wales was incredibly sad. Although you don't directly say this, you could be taken as suggesting it was the driver's fault (he made a mistake). As far as I know, blame for the accident has not been attributed, if there even was any.

    I quite agree about wearing helmets – absolutely crazy not to!

    09 Jan 2006, 10:40

  2. You are right – the wording of the post probably is a bit ambiguous – I recognise that in this instance there is likely to be no blame attached to the driver (current reports suggest it was ice) – I guess the point I was trying to make is a general one, not specific about this incident – that cyclists can be as careful as they like but are always vulnerable to incidents outside of their control, whether mistakes or misfortune.

    Perhaps that gets the idea across in a fairer way.

    09 Jan 2006, 11:05

  3. Stuart Sutherland

    Tom – read your post today just after reading the following post from Velorution:


    It's only in the last year that I've discovered that the issue of cycling helmets is a controversial one in some biking circles. There are many who argue that a) their usefulness is overrated and that they can contribute to injuries and b) that making helmets compulsory disproportionately deters cyclists as compared with the actual risk of a cycling injury occuring. Follow that link for one such perspective.

    Me, I'll always wear one as my favourite teacher at school was a keen cyclist who maintains that his helmet saved his life when he was involved in a pretty serious crash.

    09 Jan 2006, 16:12

  4. Stuart – when it comes to my head hitting the ground or a wall I know I would prefer to have something in between me and it rather than not.

    Even if it is only 30% effective that is still 30% better than 0%.

    You see for me it is not a question of whether I am safe – I am prepared to take responsibility for my own safety – it's whether the guy in the volvo speeding round that corner is safe, or whether the council have maintained a safe road. Cycling 20 years ago probably was safer as the roads were less clogged up with cars etc.

    I actually worry more about horses on the road than cars or cyclists – some of the preteen girls you see on huge horses make you wonder about whether they could properly control the mount if it bolted.

    09 Jan 2006, 16:25

  5. What was the name of the London doctor who said
    Well, it's the difference between me giving you an asprin and teaching you how to talk again.
    In which peer reviewed scientific publication have such opinions been expressed?

    10 Jan 2006, 18:54

  6. It was a quote in a newspaper article – link

    I guess I am like most people in that I don't often make decisions about my everyday life based on peer reviewed academic journals (blue jeans or black jeans Hmmmmm – let's see what International Socio-political Monthly has to say on the subject…).

    I am responsible for my own actions based on where I feel the balance of probablity lies – so I wear a helmet because it feels right to do so.

    11 Jan 2006, 08:53

  7. Zoe Williams doesn't give a name either – perhaps she is making it up.
    Here's an interesting article..

    And what I think of journos

    The Williams article in particular:

    20 Jan 2006, 21:40

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