A typical London cycling death?

Woman and man cycling on bike path

Are women on bikes more at risk then men?

The news this week that a female cyclist has died after being hit by a lorry in Denmark Hill has brought cycle safety into the spotlight once again.

So far this year six cyclists have been killed on the capital’s streets – all six of them in collisions involving HGVs. Five of those killed have been women, prompting Edmund King, president of the AA to describe the collision which led to death of Claire Hitier-Abadie in February as bearing “all the hallmarks of a ‘typical’ London cycling death – a female cyclist killed by a tipper truck turning left”. Continue reading

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So, why are there more women on bikes than ever before?

Women cycling in London - an increasingly common sight

Women cycling in London – an increasingly common sight

Walking down Kingsland Road in Hackney the other day, I watched a steady stream of cyclists go past me. They were a motley assortment: some in full Lycra on expensive road bikes, some in jeans on single speeds, and some on traditional bikes, baskets held proudly aloft. As I looked on, one thing struck me: there were about as many women going past me as men.

There are, or so we’re told, many more men who cycle regularly than women: around three men for every woman, in fact. But, as illustrated by my wander down Kingsland Road, this doesn’t match what I see when I’m out in London. OK, my observations are hardly a scientific study, but they do suggest that, at least when it comes to commuting by bike, the gender gap isn’t as wide as it’s made out to be. Continue reading

Product review – Monkeysee Harness

The Monkeysee Harness in action

The Monkeysee Harness in action

I couldn’t quite work out what was going on at first. It was late – around 11pm – and I was on my way home after an evening stewarding at the Globe. I’d almost reached the lower end of Dalston, and was now caught up in the snarl of traffic.

This section of the road is almost always jammed, and ordinarily I have to weave precariously through the gaps. But not on this occasion. For some reason, I was being given more space on the road. What on earth was going on? For a moment or two I was thoroughly confused – and then I remembered I was wearing my new Monkeysee Harness.

It’s amazing what a difference a bit of reflective gear can make. Continue reading

Cycling with heels goes to Copenhagen

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Almost every street in Copenhagen is lined with bikes

“Wow…just look at all those bikes.”
My friend sighed impatiently. “I’m hungry. I need food. Let’s find somewhere to have dinner.”
“But…bikes!”
“Food!”

We’d arrived in Copenhagen early Friday evening, just in time for dinner. As anyone who’s ever travelled anywhere will know, that’s never a good time to arrive in a strange city. After checking into the hotel, we headed out into the unfamiliar streets in search of some food. While my friend focused on the task in hand, I found myself being somewhat distracted. Almost every street we walked along was lined with bikes – red bikes, blue bikes, green bikes and black bikes, bikes with wicker baskets and metal baskets, bikes with big, Dutch-style frames, shiny new bikes and rusted old ones. Row upon row upon row of bikes. Continue reading

Rest in peace

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Yesterday was a good ride into work. The sun was trying to shine (unlike today!), and it wasn’t raining, freezing cold or blowing a howling gale. It felt like spring was finally on the way.

Most importantly, my ride into work yesterday morning didn’t end with me under the wheels of a lorry.

Sadly, that’s more than can be said for the rider of the bike in the picture above. She was killed, crushed by a left-turning lorry, as she cycled near Victoria in central London during the morning rush hour.
Continue reading

All it takes is a little bit of snow…

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…And this whole country grinds to a halt.

Trains cancelled, flights grounded, roads impassable. It would be fair to say we’re not very good at handling snow round here.

Reluctantly I have to admit that that includes me. Normally, I wouldn’t let a small thing like a bit of weather stop me cycling. Come rain, come wind, come cold, come sunshine and I’ll be on my bike. Continue reading

What does it take to be seen around here?

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At the junction ahead of me two cyclists are waiting for the lights to change. One, a guy dressed in everyday clothes, is positioned at the head of the traffic – directly in front of the line of cars. The other, a girl wearing a fluorescent jacket so bright it makes my eyes hurt, is waiting patiently on the left of the traffic, alongside the front car.

This got me thinking. Which of those two cyclists is most visible?

Well, duh, you might think. The girl in the fluorescent jacket, clearly. There’s a reason why it’s called ‘hi-viz’. Continue reading