A couple of weeks ago I raved about cycling in Belgium – how cyclists are highly regarded there, and how I was impressed by the cycling infrastructure. So I was horrified to hear that five British women cyclists were injured during a training ride there when a motorist ploughed into them. Of course, such an incident could have happened anywhere, but somehow you expect it to be less likely on the Continent.
The issue of safety is always a concern for cyclists. At least it should be, especially where you are riding on public roads. Mountainbiking is probably the more dangerous code, but at least when mtb riders crash they usually have only themselves to blame. This week two cycling publications have given some thought to the issue. In Cycling Weekly Sir Alan Sugar talks about his passion for Pinarellos. It turns out that the Amstrad founder has at least three. He used to keep one at his home in Spain and another in Florida. But now he has decided to keep them all in England because the servicing is better here. If he wants to take one away with him, he just chucks it in the back of his plane, the way we would throw our bike into the back of our car.
But the important thing is what he says about cycling in France, Spain and Italy, apart from there being fewer potholes: “I think drivers in France tend to be a bit more understanding because cycling is part of their culture.” (How often do we hear that: part of their culture?) He goes on: “The most important thing we need is to educate drivers to understand cyclists’ needs. I think everybody needs to be more situationally aware, both drivers and cyclists … sometimes cyclists don’t help themselves, especially in London, where some people on bikes give the rest of us a bad name.” Amen to that.
The American website Bicycling suggests that cyclists, when they are behind the wheel, should set a good example and show how to share the road with cyclists. The site gives step-by-step advice, which might be a bit simplistic, but certainly makes the point. It’s a pity that it is not published on the Top Gear website. If anyone has Jeremy Clarkson’s email address, you might want to pass this on to him. In the meantime, ride safely.