Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Cambridge 'local secrets' know naff all about cycling...

UPDATE: Presently links to the article I'm discussing here come up as 'no record found'. So it looks like it has been taken down.

Do you know what would be better than just taking it down, Local Secrets? Taking it down and replacing it with good cycling advice instead of the nonsense you were saying yesterday. Maybe with an apology.

I've been intermittently a fan of 'local secrets' here in Cambridge. They point out places to go and can get you discounts, and they have the occasional interesting article up on their website.

But I'm afraid that, for the moment, I'm not a fan. At all. Why? Because of this.

Almost everything about this road-war article masquerading as advice to cyclists is offensive. Where its notr offensive its condescending or outright dangerous.

For example...
Keep to the left. I know, surprising in the UK, isn’t it, but really – KEEP TO THE LEFT. Please don’t cycle in the middle of the road. 
No. In every important respect you are wrong - cyclists are advised by professional instructors and, for example, by British Cycling, to 'take the lane'.

But it gets better... 
Don’t cycle two/three/four abreast. For the same reasons as Number 1 really – you’re in the way, basically, of those people who want to get to where they’re going more quickly than you. 
I rode to through town in what could best be described as a commuter peloton this morning. About of 30 of us coming down past Kings, and I counted 15 at the lights at the end of Chesterton Lane. We could indeed be in single file, but we're the predominant form of traffic, why should we? How are we making things more convenient to others if we're the only traffic that can get through the lights because we're narrowing in to single file?

More importantly, if one rider is 'taking the lane' in primary position, as they of course should on many roads (despite the erroneous advice in this article) then there will likely as not be room for a friend to be in 'secondary' position, and you're taking up exactly as much room! Riding two abreast is legal, safe, and entirely reasonable on most roads, most of the time. 
If you know you’re going to turn right at the next road, position yourself towards the right of your lane. 
Nope. Position yourself according to road conditions - sometimes you need to be to the right of the lane, or you may need to claim the centre space on the lane if there isn't room to be safely undertaken to your left.  
Stop at red lights, level crossings that are closed and such-like. All those things aren’t there to annoy and irritate you but to save your life.
Not only is this condescending (ignoring the fact that IAM figures show third of motorists admit to jumping red lights), its missing the point that sometimes its safer to jump the red light.  Yes, really, it can be - do you want me to sit in the space left by an articulated lorry that has pulled alongside me, positioning me in his blind spot? You want me to stay within the law where doing so risks my life? Well tough titties, I'm not going to. I'll obey the red lights so long as in so doing I'm not risking my life, and I defy you to find any police officer who'll put his hand on his heart and say I shouldn't break that rule if the alternative may be death.
Glow like a Christmas tree.
The bulk of cycle accidents in Cambridge happen in daylight. Moreover, TFL figures show in the region of 2% of cyclist injuries and deaths are due to poor or no lights. I agree, we should have bike lights in the dark, but making a big deal out of this misses the point. It isn't poor lighting hurting cyclists, its poor driving.

I won't go in to the helmet nonsense, yeah, they might help in some accidents, but this kind of trite claim that a 'helmet saved my life' is all too common. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but emphasis on helmets is pretty naff really. Be informed, read this. 

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