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All Eyes to the Left for Heat Beating Cyclists – Keep cool on two-wheels with these top tips from resident LondonNet pedal person Neville Horley…
With the temperature soaring and Tube unsufferably hot, now is the time to rediscover your cycle clips and take to the roads on two wheels.
Listen, today I got to work in 15 minutes (30 mins and UKP 1.90 by Underground, if you’re lucky), sailed along a grid-locked Gower Street for my lunch-time swim, glided back to work with the wind in my damp hair, and then spent a pleasant evening in the West End before taking on all-comers with a breezy lurch home when I was ready. But, I hear you say, the reason why you don’t do the same is safety.
Sadly, I know of someone who was killed on a bicycle. I also have had close calls that made me question what I was doing on an unprotected two-wheeler. However, they all occurred in the first few weeks, and barring the unforseen disaster that could happen to any road user, there really are a few lessons that once learnt, make cycling safe, fun, and the only way to go. First gear then, and here we go:
1. Never, ever overtake on the left of a vehicle when it might turn left. Even if it is not indicating to go left it may change its mind, and if it has not seen you (which it won’t have done if you are on its left) you are in trouble. Even if you want to go left, don’t get on the inside of a turning vehicles as it will cut off the corner, and you. The London Cycle Guide (LCG) actually suggests that you indicate with your right arm if you want to go left!
2. Another warning for those roads off to the left – watch out for gaps in the line of traffic ahead. If you are cruising along on the left of a long line of cars, be aware that someone from the other direction who you can’t see may try to turn across you. Take it easy and check you can see all possible dangers.
3. Leave enough room between you and parked cars for a door to open. A Porsche driver once opened his door in my path. Having seen how long a Porsche door is I now extend the LGC’s one meter rule-of-thumb to, well, however long a Porsche door is. In a narrow road with parked cars, cycle up the middle of your lane. Assert your space, and cars will wait behind you.
4. Common sense tells you not to get on the inside of turning lorries and buses. Let them go and then overtake them on the straight or in the traffic jam ahead!
5. Wear something visible. My favorite is my bright yellow helmet, complimented by a yellow reflective waistcoat.
6. Lastly, beware of others on two wheels. Always indicate, and use what motorcyclists call the life-saver – a look behind you over your shoulder – before changing tack.
Be cool, be sensible and considerate, and you will find that crossing this big city is so easy that you’ll be wanting others to be as mobile, carefree and fit as you.