Cycling around Britain: Bikes are horses too!2 minute read

Every single day I’m on my bike there are moments when I think: ‘I could have been killed there.’

Cars passing at speed too closely is the most common one. Yet, every now and again, I come across a horse and rider enjoying the same country lanes as me and watch in awe as these same lethal cars slow right down, pull over to one side or stop until the horse has passed.

I wish that our nation’s car drivers understood that cyclists are as vulnerable (and as unpredictable) as horse riders. We sometimes swerve to avoid potholes that you can’t see; we sometimes are blown around by wind that you can’t feel. And our flesh tears as easily as any horse’s, I promise you.

While riding, I daydreamed of starting a cycle-protection campaign: Bikes are horses too!

Then I learnt that the government are currently consulting on a raft of changes to the Highway Code that would recognise the vulnerability of cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders to inadequate or inattentive drivers.

It can’t come soon enough.

So please, if you’d like to see fewer human or animal carcasses on your roads (or bodies taking up space in your hospitals), take five minutes to respond to the government consultation here: Changes to The Highway Code: improving safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

Cycling UK has summarised the changes that will protect cyclists, but it’s worth adding that the proposed ‘hierarchy of responsibility’ will also establish in law the duty of all road users to protect pedestrians—and that means cyclists should ride considerately too.

Finally, if you see someone driving dangerously then please (when safe) make a note of the vehicle’s registration, colour, make and model (a quick photograph works well) and report the incident to the police on their non-emergency number 101. It takes a few minutes and your phone call could save lives. The AA has more information on how to make a report.

I don’t know why drivers think they can get away with dangerous overtaking manoeuvres when their numberplate identifies them so conspicuously. It’s like a bankrobber politely presenting their passport to the teller before pulling out an uzi and screaming, ‘Open up the safe, bitch!’

If only attendance at the Ogmios School of Zen Motoring was compulsory…

One more thing…

If you liked this post, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy my newsletter. You can check out the most recent issue on Substack. See ya there - dc:

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David Charles is co-writer of BBC radio sitcom Foiled. He also writes for The Bike Project, Thighs of Steel, and the Elevate Festival. He blogs at davidcharles.info.

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