Are cyclists invisible to drivers?

2. June 2014 10:47 by Chris in Cycling, ForTheRecod  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

I cycle a lot, though not great distances: I cycle the kids to school, I cycle to the gym, I cycle to Welsh classes. I used to cycle to work before I worked from home. In the summer I prefer to get out on a Sunday morning in the fresh air while it is quiet and go out on a bike for a couple of hours rather than being stuck in a dark gym to get my exercise . 

I have a car. I'm not entirely sure why we are a two car family - historical I think when I did need to travel with work a bit more and once you are used to two cars ... I have a problem with the car, particularly in the summer, as I can end up not needing/ wanting to drive for weeks on end and I've had to call the AA equivalent twice now because the battery was dead when I did actually need to use it. My car is not the most financially efficient proposition. Particularly when compared to my bikes.

But maybe I should be using my car more in Cardiff because I'm getting a bit fed up now with car drivers ploughing into me. Maybe I've been lucky previously but after a 2nd incident this morning that makes 2 in a month or so. In both cases the driver has admitted responsibility 100%. Though maybe I should start cycling more 'defensively'. I should also count my lucky stars as I was hardly injured and it was only this morning I heard the news of another cyclist death in London.

In the first accident a mini hit me square from behind at I was waiting at a junction going onto Column Road from Cardiff University buildings where I have my Welsh course 7-9 , 2 evenings a week. It was dusk, I had lights and reflective clothing on. He didn't see me. The wheel took the full, minor impact - I was still standing wondering what had happened immediately after - the wheel had complete buckled. It was my wife's cheap Raleigh I was using that day as I don't like leaving more expensive bikes locked in public places if I can help it. So we 'negotiated' and he give me £40 as approximately the cost of getting a new wheel fitted. Though, I may just jettison the bike as it only cost about twice this new.

The second happened today, 02/06/14, at 9.30 as I came back from my gym in Leckwith at the junction of Cowbridge Road East and Llandaff Road in Canton. The annoying thing with this one is that I've previously reported this junction to the council as dangerous, having had a near misses before and observed near misses between cars as well. There are a few problems with this junction but the pertinent one is drivers turning right onto Cowbridge Road coming from the Llandaff direction seemingly either thinking they have priority over road users on Cowbridge Road turning right, to the Llandaff direction. Or often, I think, rushing to make the turn in the gap between the traffic as the lights have just changed, focussing on the cars and not seeing the bike in front of the cars also making that same turn. In fact in this instance I think the driver was focussing on the slow lorry behind me rather than me, and thought he had enough time before the lorry arrived. He may have done, but there was another vehicle in front of the lorry he didn't see, which I was riding.

I've had a near miss in exactly this way previously and this time couldn't avoid the car and was hit from the side. Fortunately the chap broke in time, hit my front wheel, I think, to the right hand side, based on the damage, and I tumbled to the left getting away with a bruised knee/ leg. The chap was fine about it, admitting he hadn't seem me at all, providing his details and offering to pay for any damage. I didn't think there was any initially but it seems the front wheel will need to be straightened, though I'll get away without needing a new wheel according to my local bike shop. Hopefully the chap will just pay so the hassle can be kept to a minimum.

What next, more generally?

  • I'm keen to get the incident reported to do my bit to raise awareness of issues such as this to improve the lot of cyclists in Cardiff. Perversely this comes days after I was admiring the new layouts for cyclists in Cardiff Bay that the council have provided. So I will pursue this.
  • I'm going to avoid that junction on my way home and/ or get the brightest, day-glo cycling jacket I can find so we can mitigate this seeming issue of cyclists being invisible

I may be back with an update.

11/06/2014

My update is that the chap has paid for the wheel to be repaired but the local bike shop are taking an age to fix it so I am cycling slowly around on the wife's purple, sparkly mountain bike I picked up on Gumtree the other day for £15. On the plus side I've sold the remnants of the Raleigh on Gumtree for £30.

Also, more interestingly,  there is limited research that hi-vis vests don't work: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2013/jan/10/cycling-high-visibility-safe-fluorescent. This is counter-intuitive? Really, particularly for my 2nd accident above? Ta to @coshgirl for the link, care of @cyclingcardiff.

 

 

About the author

I am Dr Christopher Sully (MCPD, MCSD) and I am a Cardiff, UK based IT Consultant/ Developer and have been involved in the industry since 1996 though I started programming considerably earlier than that. During the intervening period I've worked mainly on web application projects utilising Microsoft products and technologies: principally ASP.NET and SQL Server and working on all phases of the project lifecycle. If you might like to utilise some of the aforementioned experience I would strongly recommend that you contact me. I am also trying to improve my Welsh so am likely to blog about this as well as IT matters.

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