Cycling is a beautiful sport, recreational activity and way to travel. It opens up our world to greater health, community and environmental sustainability.
Each year when I return from Europe I witness an ever increasing number of guys and girls hit the road on two wheels. A double edged sword strikes me every time. I have mixed feelings. I’m elated seeing the number of people whose lives are being enriched by cycling or simply riding a bicycle.
I’m also utterly afraid.
My fear is that the simple act of riding on the open road is perhaps taken far too much for granted. Are we doing everything possible to remain accountable for our own safety?
Last year 31 cyclists were killed riding on Australian roads. And on average 38 cyclists are killed each year. This number is 38 too many. These are not accidents, they are preventable.
Through campaigns such as ‘a metre matters’ and ‘It’s a Two Way Street’, the Amy Gillett Foundation is doing a ‘David and Goliath’ like job at lobbying for policy to initiate change in the way motorists behave, encouraging mutual respect and educating motorists and cyclists alike on how to safely share the road. Their work is helping to create a safer cycling environment.
However, the truth is that motorists are only one part of the equation and the reality is this:
– We are growing in number and have more new/less skilled cyclists on the roads.
– Cycling is one of the only recreational activities performed in an open high risk environment.
– We are and always will be the ‘small guy’, protected only by a layer of lycra or our daily attire rather than a ton of metal.
– We don’t have indicators or headlights.
– Travelling at speed, sitting on a light responsive bikes we are vulnerable to fast changing road surfaces.
What if we take a moment to stop and think…
Could you make a few small behaviour changes to perhaps significantly reduce surrounding risk in your riding environment or even save your own life?
Here is my ask of you:
– Act with diligence, ALWAYS assume or imagine you are not seen.
– Always obey the road rules.
– Use lights from dawn to dusk and all hours in between. Even a flicker of light can catch a driver’s eye.
– Adopt the use of bright fluoro clothing, reflective trimming or high visibility accessories.
– Wait until skill competency is achieved prior to riding on open roads.
– Pay attention to firm and well informed bunch riding etiquette.
– Positively reinforce good behaviour between fellow cyclists and motorists.
– Call out poor behaviour by cyclists to instil a good culture.
– Show respect to other road users and demonstrate the behaviour you want others to demonstrate to you.
I encourage everyone to stop and deeply consider the above, empower change in each other, challenge and embrace all domains of safe cycling behaviour.
Think how your actions can inspire others to follow, or even potentially save the life of the wheel in front, beside or behind you.
Imagine how positively your actions can contribute to a safer cycling environment.
This is our side of the bargain – accountability. Let’s make it happen!