A while ago I was asked at work what was the most dangerous part of my job, and at the top of a long list of things that could kill, maim, harm, or injure me was ‘Pedalling to Work’.
Many years ago I dragged my bicycle, Pubtruck Mk1, from the shed, oiled the chain, and sailed merrily off to work. The one thing you forget about Gladstone when you drive a car is just how hilly it is, and I eventually arrived at work looking like I’d stumbled from a plane crash. One workmate was so concerned for my health that he told me to go home. Just the thought of getting back on my bike made me want to vomit.
Happily I persisted, and since then, I’ve been an avid cyclist; of sorts. But over the years I’ve had numerous close calls. Motorists have flung their doors open in front of me, I’ve been cut off, sideswiped, yelled at, had stuff thrown at me, and been attacked by dogs and magpies. All this in my own driveway; out on the road it’s much worse.
Pedalling to work in Winter is my greatest worry. Firstly because it’s cold, and secondly, because some lunatic decreed that five a.m. is a good time to start work, I’m pedalling in pitch darkness. Armed only with a bright orange flag, two lights, and numerous reflective strips, I try to outmanoeuvre four wheel drives and B-doubles while avoiding numerous storm water grids, manhole covers, toppled wheelie bins, broken glass and the remains of shattered cyclists who didn’t quite make it.
And for those of you who have firm views on the topic, yes, I do use bike paths; when they are available. Unfortunately so do a lot of other folk: joggers, walkers, people with dogs, dogs without people, magpies, kids on motorbikes, skateboarders, scooterers, and other cyclists who seem to have a deathwish.
Footpaths are just as dangerous, as cars tend to rocket blindly out of driveways. And once I avoided hitting a pedestrian who popped out from behind a hedge, only to run into the lead which connected him to a very large, and surprisingly angry, dog.
Ah, cycling, the transport of choice for the young, the poor, the frugal, and the environmentally conscious. It’s good for your health, and calming to the mind; apparently.
Anyway, I’ll see you on the road; hopefully you’ll see me too.