Thursday, 11 June 2009

Absolute Beginners

Mark Wilson, 29, from South London, who works in advertising sales, had left home on a rickety mountain bike, feeling distinctly uneasy.

“My fiancée always says to me that she doesn’t want me to cycle because she doesn’t want me to die,” he said.

Sarah Clark, 28, a solicitor, was also commuting by bike for the first time. “I’m usually just too frightened to go through the Elephant and Castle junction,” she said,
referring to the chaotic double roundabout that scares the most seasoned of riders.

The government, the Mayor and the Metropolitan Police are all indifferent to safe cycling, so it's up to the individual. Here, an experienced London cyclist demonstrates how a junction such as Oxford Circus should be crossed.

(Below) Move well ahead of the Advanced Stop Line (if it exists) and the traffic lights. Position yourself as far forward as is safe to do so. This will give you a head start on any left-turning Heavy Goods Vehicles. Then wait for the right moment to cross at red.

(Below) Remember. If you think it is safe to do so, always cross at red. When you see a gap in oncoming traffic move forwards to take advantage of it, making sure you calculate vehicle speed and allow for drivers who are texting.

(Below) Almost there! The cyclist wisely looks left to make sure that there isn't an oncoming police car with flashing blue light, on an urgent mission to deliver the Superintendent's takeaway. After this all she has to do is find a gap in that line of crossing pedestrians and she's there. Alive and uninjured.