I cycle to school everyday, living 11 miles away this means I clock up a good 110 miles a week. I absolutely love it. Deciding to commute via cycling was one of the best decisions I think I have ever made. Yes it means braving wind, rain, sleet and snow on regular occasions however I find that when cycling I am happy; it is the best thing to start the day doing. It’s my morning ritual, other people may have a double shot of coffee, read the paper, I cycle. It never ceases to put me in a good mood and it definitely gets me up in the morning.
It’s hard to describe the anticipation of each morning each one is totally different, presenting its own challenges. However every time, I try and beat my PB of 31minutes. My cycle in the mornings is on quite a popular route into Manchester; I often find enjoyment racing other cyclists and having a quick chat during pauses at red lights. The feel good factor that you get afterwards stays with you throughout the whole day; endorphins pumping around your body which is now wide awake thanks to the crisp morning air.
As you may not have gathered already, I really enjoy cycling being part of my day. However it is not without its challenges. You have to be constantly alert because of the huge amount of cars on the road; it is a very dangerous time to cycle. Why should it be dangerous? I think that if you are caring about your body, the environment and easing congestion on the roads, by cycling instead of driving, then you shouldn’t have to put up with silly drivers cutting you up, ignoring you and giving you no room. It has become all to frequent in my cycling experiences that cyclists are increasingly receiving more abuse from drivers on the roads. Is it always really necessary? Sure sometimes there is the odd cyclist that runs a red light stupidly however rather than hurl abuse when passing slow down and talk, we are all humans, there is no need to hurl profanities back and forth. What really upsets and angers me is when cars deliberately try to unnerve cyclists, shouting from windows and cutting them up, swerving around in front causing the cyclist to constantly be on the brakes. Yes all these have happened to me when I was cycling completely considerately. When I cycle I don’t ask that every car gives loads of room, never overtakes, but just think don’t be silly and don’t over take just for the sake of it!
I think road cycling definitely needs more education in the UK for drivers and cyclists. There needs to be clearer rules about right of way in the Highway Code and this needs to be known by both motorists and cyclists. I think an appreciation of cycling -which is what the ‘Cycle to Work’ scheme tried to accomplish- is needed. Cycling needs to become a more preferred mode of transport. I think the UK needs to understand how great it is and that it is a useful form of transport rather than purely a leisure activity. The more people cycling, the more cyclists on the roads, so the more drivers will become used to dealing with cyclists, so greater understanding will occur. That is what I think is needed to combat this current state of hate towards it.
It was only last week when the face of British Cycling, 7 time Olympic medallist and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins along with his coach Shane Sutton were knocked of their bikes. What is the UK coming to when even sporting champions are falling victim of the road and motorists? Last year the figure for cycling injuries and fatalities on the road rose by 23% this is shocking and clearly needs to be addressed because somewhere something is getting totally overlooked and the good, green, healthy cyclists’ lives are being put in the balance. Only two days ago when cycling to school myself I was knocked of my bike by a woman in a posh red Mercedes sports car. I was cycling on the inside next to the pavement when she suddenly slammed on her brakes and turned inwards, where I was cycling. Luckily I wasn’t injured too much as I wasn’t going too fast. However if I had been going just a bit faster I could’ve been killed! The first words the woman shouted to me when she wound down her window -yes she didn’t even get out to check I was okay- were “you better not have scratched my car”. Not once did she ask how I was, to self absorbed in shifting the blame, when she clearly just didn’t check her mirrors. With a slight wheel wobble I carried on the last five minutes to school mulling over what she had said. It made me think how selfish she was and how when me, a child, was lying on the floor neither she nor anybody else in cars offered any assistance. Where has this hatred of cyclists come from? What happened to sharing the love? Why can we all just get along happily? Or is that just too much to ask from society?