Several things this week have made me think about cycle helmets and cycle safety. And I hope you don’t mind me sharing them with you.
i) 4 times in the last week cars have cut me up while cycling to or from my local station – the last was this evening was on the road coming out of the station car park – a car overtaook me coming up to the T junction and pulled in while along side of me – what an impatient arse – I had lights on and high-viz jacket and backpack – luckily we didn’t hit – I took avoiding action. What the hell is wrong with these people – is it the effect of the long winter?????
ii) I was saddened but not suprised earlier this evening with the news that Michael Schumacher is unlikely to make a full recovery – yes I know he was skiing – but what would have happened if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet?
iii) It is one year and one day from when I almost killed myself coming off my bike – I had been “retired” almost 4 weeks and the weather had been foul – but I was determined to go for a ride – I had decided which train I was going to catch to the “downs” but was running late – instead on being sensible I hurried a bit and must have just misjudged a 90 degree bend – the road was slippery – my front wheel went – and I head butted tarmac at about 20mph. This is a bend I had cycled round almost every working day for 13 years. My helmet was somewhat compressed by the impact but saved my skull, my jacket and leggings were torn – but I was able to get up and walk about a mile to our local A&E. Nothing broken but it took me many, many, weeks to feel close to normal – and sometimes I swear in damp weather my head still aches at the point of impact – and I am not really sure If I am the same as I was before the accident. Which bring me to…
iv) Walking round central Amsterdam you can’t be help notice the cyclists and bikes locked up everywhere. What is surprising is the massive difference there is to both London and Brighton in behavior, dress and bike style. In Amsterdam the bikes whiz round pedestrians, cars and lorries like flies – yet no one gets angry. You do that in London and…… There were kids in kiddie seats, young and old alike pedalling fast, but not racing – was anyone wearing a helmet? NO! was anyone wearing high-viz clothing? NO! In London late last year there were a spate of cyclist fatalities in a space of a week or so, and a sorry tale of a kid who didn’t listen to his dad and then wasn’t able to listen to his dad. Is Amsterdam different? I thought I would look for some statistics on the web – wow there are some interesting comparisons – but what caught my eye was a quote from a woman who I think had moved from the US to Amsterdam, taking her cycle helemt with her but not using it in the 10 or so years she been there because it was safe because of the culture and acceptance of bikes – all I can say is don’t make a mistake – I have first hand experience and have seen others come off bikes with their helmets bearing the brunt of the damage.
I’ll come back to less serious stuff next time. XXXXXX