Whilst in hospital with blood clot, I snapped this well meaning poster about cycling in the hospital waiting room (with 4 hour wait, there wasn’t much to do apart from look at this sign.)
It’s not the best quality iPhone photo, but it kind of epitomizes the ‘health and safety approach’ to cycling. It was made by a local school.
In case you can’t see the pic of the cyclists
- Always wear a helmet
- Helmets reduces risk of head injury by 85%! (I don’t want to dig out all the statistics on helmet use, just at the moment, but this does seem a rather ‘selective approach’
- Wear High Vis jacket.
- Long sleeved top in bright, light colour
- Wear reflective trouser straps
- Wear Long trousers
- Cycling shoes or sports shoes
- Reflective arm bands
- White front light and rear back light
- Do not Pass go, and do not collect £200
(A teenager may add, if you get dressed like this, make sure none of your friends see you)
What Should a Cyclist Look Like?
The funny thing is that it took about 4 hours of waiting in the hospital to realise this poster was about an activity I did. If this is how cycling had been promoted at school, I might have stuck to staying indoors playing computer games. Future trips to the hospital would have probably been have been due to sloth related heart and obesity problems rather than falling off the bike.
On the one hand, I have sympathy with the aims of the post. I do sometimes want to wear high viz jacket. I would prefer to be seen by motorists rather than than feel the rush of wind as a car squeezes past me at 70mph. But, at the same time, I wish that this wasn’t how we had to promote cycling. I wish a cyclist would be someone who just happens to get on a bicycle and cycle from A to B. If you walk to the shops, you don’t have to put on your long trousers, helmet, high vis, and flashing lights. But, if you want to use a push bike, there is a certain expectation that you have to jump through certain Health and Safety legislation.
I wish there were posters in hospital saying – why don’t you take preventative medicine and do a nice fun activity like cycling. It’s much better than getting diabetes because you’ve done no meaningful exercise in the past 20 years.
A bigger concern is that if cyclist doesn’t confirm to these top 10 rules of dressing like a cyclist, they somehow become responsible for crashes. ‘but officer, the cyclists wasn’t wearing high viz, how can I be expected to see him?‘ Cyclists may one day be unprotected from law if they aren’t wearing a helmet or if they aren’t bedecked in several layers of fluorescent yellow and flashing lights.
If you are cycling on British roads, it is definitely good to be seen. I guess I’m just envious of cities and countries where there is a real cycling culture and people on bikes have a greater freedom to just be themselves. (see: A Dutch Cycling Problem)
Actually, we all know a good cyclist should have a beard.
What do you think. Does it matter how a cyclist looks?