Sunday, 30 October 2011

Final Destination: The horror of London streets

HALLOWEEN DISCLAIMER: Before you read this post, I want to remind you that the positives of cycling always outweigh the negatives, so don’t let my Halloween post put you off cycling!!
I’m scared of a few things in life (SPIDERS), but when it comes to the roads I have a few terrors. And on this Halloween,  I thought I’d share with you my top 3 cycle horror scenarios I fear most when cycling in London everyday; you may call it my very own cycling nightmare...
1.       The Car Door
It starts off with the car door. In the summer, I learnt of the sad news of Sam Harding who sadly died after a collision with a car door on Holloway Road. Hearing this news has made me wary and fearful when cycling down streets lined with parked cars. Only on Friday my partner narrowly escaped being knocked off his bike by someone carelessly opening a car door in his pathway. It also doesn’t help that I stumbled across this website [BE WARNED, it might make you want to stop cycling!]. I am now completely paranoid of car doors and try my best to cycle more central in the road. Of course, sometimes this is unavoidable when cycle lanes are placed right alongside stretches of parked cars like on Percival Street in central London.  Let's put in bike lanes away from parked cars Boris!
2.       Heavy Goods Vehicles
Source: Cyclists in the City Blog (minus the red horns)
HGV’s, the ultimate beasts of the road! The thunderous sound of the engine and the heavy load pounding the pavement behind you is enough to make you want to crawl into the gutter and hide. Well this is not advised!! My fear is accidentally falling off my bike in the path of an HGV revving up behind me, or being trapped on the inside of an HGV making a left turn, or being in the advanced stop line and the HGV driver not noticing I am there and running me over.....just a few things which pop into my head on a daily basis. These beasts are a continual haunt!
3.       Potholes
Lastly, this might not sound scary but when it’s dark and if you are cycling in Islington/Camden then you are in for a frightful ride. Visibility is low at night-time which means I am often unexpectantly flung to-and-fro on my bike from cycling over potholes. I cling onto the handlebars hoping my grip will remain and won’t be knocked off by the lumps and bumps of our roads. Watch out for Hornsey Lane, it’s like a scary rollercoaster.
So there we have it, my top 3 terror list of the roads! Let’s get an exorcist and remove all these frights from our rides forever. Happy Halloween cycling!


commuterjohn said...

If I come across a cycle lane alongside parked cars I just ride down the road alongside it.
There basically is no law to make you ride in a bike lane so be safe and stay clear of car doors.

Iainecg said...

Trucks shouldn't be scary, just keep yourself where you can be seen, if in an ASZ get as far forward as you can, and check behind you - if you can see the driver, they can see you. If in doubt stay behind where you can see their mirrors.

Potholes seem to be everywhere - even on roads resurfaced recemntly (top of Clapham High St...) My new rear light has been well tested by some as it tends to go flying from the bike bin pannier when I hit a hole at 20+... I've lost count ofthe number of holes I've reported, but it seems unless Chris Bonnington is exploring it, it's not big enough to fill in...

Oh, and my no 1 has to be badly adjusted headlights - had a scary mile on the way home going down hill on a 40mph road knowing there was roadworks barriers across the cycle lane but unable to see anything oher than headlights coming the other way... Tempted to set my bike lights up to poiint into the eyes of oncoming traffic, but then I'd not have the holes lit up... Funny how few people seem to know how to turn their lights on, or that fog lights are for foggy weather... bit worrying really... Ninja motorists!

Maybe ninja cyclists could have sparklers fitted...

Jemma said...

@commuterjohn This is what I have just started doing! I'm trying to be more conscious of car doors.

@Iainecg That's a really good tip about checking if the driver can see you, I will definitely try that next time. Yeah, I just can't stand potholes! When I come across a smooth road it feels blissful to cycle over it. As for the headlights, I feel your frustration. Now the nights are so dark I have experienced a few occasions of being blinded, not what you need!! And wow, sparklers would be ace on a bike. Good idea!

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