In 2019, we spoke to a city cyclist, Latvian Davis Vilums who had just completed a hugely impressive, five year long feat – to cycle every single street in the centre of London.
His laudable efforts have been recognised in national media, and Davis went from a cyclist bored with his daily 25 minute commute, to a respected source of motivation within the sport.
One year on, his tips for cycling safely are more important now than ever as we experience a record number of cyclists on the roads due to Covid-19 and amidst a second national UK lockdown.
Davis still hopes that his adventures will encourage others to get on to the saddle, and with such huge focus on environmental awareness and health and fitness, we want everyone to get on board too.
It’s no secret that at times there can be a firm motorist-cyclist divide, with animosity on both parts. This, coupled with many excuses such as a lack of time and bad weather, can make a strong case for reasons not to cycle. But we want to change this; to boost knowledge surrounding road safety, and improve attitudes towards a more cycle-friendly UK.
Wear a reflective vest with you – I understand, it may look silly, but your visibility is much more crucial.
As the dark nights draw in earlier and earlier, it is especially important to be aware of cyclists. So, to coincide with Brake’s Road Safety Week, we’ve teamed up with expert authority Davis, who has kindly imparted his top tips for staying safe on our roads.
To cycle safely in the city, you need to be visible at all times by other members of the traffic. Especially when it’s dark. Make sure that you have head and tail lights.
Check that they are always charged or the batteries are good, and if you have, take spare ones with you. Wear a reflective vest – I understand, it may look silly, but your visibility is much more crucial. Besides, there are some modern-looking vests available now. The green or orange vests are better because they are very visible during daytime as opposed to fully reflective jackets.
Use Bell Or Horn
If you have a suspicion that the members of traffic may not see you, it is best to use sound signal to inform them about your presence. Try not to overuse it because it may diminish the value and could annoy other members of traffic, so try to use it only in the case of need.
Slow Down When You Approach Pedestrian Crossings Or Road Junctions
Even if the traffic appears visible on all sides, consider slowing down when you approach these places. If you are cycling on the left by the pavement while there is a traffic jam on your right-hand side, in the city centre and high street pedestrians may try crossing the street in random gaps between cars. Be careful and even it seems that the road is clear, it can change in a split second. Always be ready.
Stay Away From Lorries And HGVs
Sometimes, even if you have the road preference, be aware of large traffic members. Their visual field is low, they can drive very fast, and speed and force generated by them could be very dangerous in unexpected situations. It is better to stay behind them if you see at the road junctions because they can be turning left. Everyone on the road is different, and you have to assume that not everyone will follow all the rules and indicate their movements. Start your move only if you see what the vehicle is going to do.
Be careful and even it seems that the road is clear, it can change in a split second. Always be ready.
Take Red Lights Seriously
Not just for you. If you cross the red light and there are a lot of other drivers around, it contributes to you and other cyclists being given a bad name. Your fellow cyclists may experience road rage, because, some of the upset motorists may express their anger on other cyclists instead of the person whose fault it was. We all have to be understanding in the traffic and respect each other.
Finally, Davis concludes his top tips with perhaps the best one of all: “If we want to see more people cycling, I believe that cycling must remain simple… because it is.”
Cycling and Covid-19
As we approach Road Safety Week 2020, we caught up with Davis to see what he’s been up to and how Covid-19 has affected his approach to cycling.
“Unfortunately, the coronavirus situation forced me to sit home. I did my cycling project while commuting to work, and now I don’t have this option anymore. I still try to use my daily exercise and have a ride to some lesser to me known areas in London. I still love cycling and am forever trying to find new routes and challenges.”