The gold-medal performances of Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott helped encourage 250,000 more women to start regularly cycling since the 2012 Games. But anyone reading the headlines in recent times might understandably refuse to join them…
Are female cyclists in more danger than their male counterparts? Recently, Ying Tao, a 26-year-old woman, was crushed to death under the wheels of a tipper truck. She became the eighth cyclist to die on London’s roads this year. Six of the fatalities were women. Considering that women make only 28% of the UK’s cycling journeys, this seems extremely high.
Is there something about how women cycle that puts them at greater risk?
An official at the Cyclists’ Touring Club, said: “Women cyclists tend to ride more slowly and are less comfortable doing things that feel risky. So, instead of positioning themselves out wide in the road where they can more easily see and be seen, they are more inclined to hug the kerb, a way of cycling that may feel safer but is in fact more risky.” Vehicles may not regard you as part of the traffic flow meaning they may be tempted to come closer to you.
There is, undoubtedly, a specific problem with women cyclists and heavy lorries in London. Most experts suggest that women are more likely to be cautious at junctions and, as a result, be left in a lorry’s blind spot as the vehicle turns left. Earlier this month Boris Johnson unveiled plans that will force HGVs to follow direct routes and even face being banned from turning left in a radical toughening of measures to prevent cycle deaths.
Undoubtedly, millions more needs to be spent on infrastructure to improve cycle safety. Feeling the pressure freight operators, councils and transport officials met in London to strategize. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait for implementation. 600 signs will be in place around London reminding all drivers and operators that they must have essential safety equipment installed to keep vulnerable road users safe if they are to drive in the Capital.
Relieved? Us neither. What can we do in the meantime? Here are five cycling safety suggestions for the daily commuter.
- Know your route – there are more cycling apps than ever to help you plan how to get from A to B. CycleMaps is a journey planner written by cyclists for cyclists, factoring in cycle paths and superhighways. Mount your device on your bike and go. See your location as you cycle on a moving map. Find out your speed, route distance and time remaining. All this is calculated based on the way you cycle. Whether it’s a calm cruise through the city you’re after or an exhilarating excursion through high speed cycle lanes, CycleMaps is designed with routes to match your style. Available for Apple devices, Windows Phone and online.
- Be seen – The European Transport Safety Council says that the key problem is invisibility. Statistically you are four times more likely to be knocked off your bike at night but it’s worth considering that even in broad daylight you can suddenly find yourself in a tunnel of darkness. You don’t have to dress like you’re on a building site or directing airliners towards a runway but one article of hi-vis clothing will clearly identify you as a moving cyclist. Bring out your inner eighties child and invest in reflective arm/leg bands. Check out EnoStudio’s Windrider Bicycle clips. Shaped like Hermes wings, with it’s reflective pvc material, you’ll be safe on the road in an original way. Channel the inner goddess in you and pedal like the wind!
- Allow enough time – You’ve overslept, need to get to work in about 20 minutes and the whole world is seemingly against you. It seems like something straight out of a Miranda Hart comedy. Everything you need is in the wash, the milk’s gone off and don’t even get me started on that untameable cowlick. Rushing to work is risky business. The greatest number of cyclists are killed or injured during the morning and evening rush hours on a week day.
- Regular bike checks – Check your brakes, wheels and gears regularly – they all need to be running smoothly, especially brakes. Make sure there are no loose parts, frayed cables, splits in tyres or obstructions in the wheels. If you are in doubt or you feel the bike could do with a more stringent inspection and treatment, make a booking at your local Cycle Surgery for a guaranteed professional service. 99% of services are completed same day.
- Ride confidently – Not in the middle of the road and not in the gutter. Breeze offers great social bike rides for women of all abilities. This British Cycling-sponsored programme is designed to help women feel confident and comfortable about going on a ride. Find your nearest cycling instructor on the goskyride website.
This article was provided by Pedalsure.
PedalSure offer three grades of personal accident cover (Bronze, Silver & Gold), with each including a choice of comprehensive coverage levels to suit all requirements and give you that extra piece of mind.
To join the peloton of cyclists who are prepared for all possibilities, head over to www.pedalsure.com to find out more.