To say that there's a tension on the road between cyclists and other road users is an understatement - at times it feels like Mad Max out there! For us cyclists the roads can be an intimidating place. It often feels as if it's only a matter of time before someone drives too close, cuts us up, squeezes us in or vents some violence in our direction.
But to be fair, an equal amount of the blame lies on the cyclist. There will be plenty of whinges about this post, but as a cyclist trained to teach others to ride in the city, I can assure you cyclists need to wise up!
Here's 5 things cyclists never do:
1. Look Behind
Even some of the better riders pay little attention to what's going on behind them. In a car you have mirrors and you need to check them before you manoeuvre; well on a bike you've got your eyes and you better start using them!
With a road narrowing ahead, or even just approaching a junction you should be having a long look over your shoulder each time.
This helps you assess the stream of traffic to your rear and indicate in time to then get into the flow to go around any obstacle.
2. Ride Straight
Next time you cycle into town observe the cyclist in front. Chances are they'll weave in and out of all vehicles parked on the kerb.
In most cases it's because they feel intimidated by passing traffic and hug the roadside. But it's not the safest way.
Yes, when there are long gaps between parked vehicles you should pull closer to the side (known as the secondary riding position).
However, coming and going from the stream of traffic is dangerous and you are often better to keep your line - (see picture)
3. Put their lights on
Inexcusable! Cars use lights, motorbikes use lights, yet every night roughly half the cyclists I see don't bother. From early evening onwards to cycle without lights is deadly - you merge into the background when you should stand out for your own safety.
Lights are inexpensive - this LED set from Halfords is under £25.
In top spec they are powerful and the rear ones are rubberised and fit nicely to the seat post.
Get yourself rechargeable batteries and use them in all conditions - can only help get you seen.
Why not make it a legal requirement to sell every new bike with lights? It's a legal requirement to use them on the road.
4.Take their headphones out
Riding in the city you need every sense you have to survive. Listening to music not only takes one away, I'm sure it also affects the other senses by leading you to switch off a little - when you should be completely focused.
5.Wait at the lights
I don't care what you say: It's a road, you are road users, not children playing around outside your house on your Christmas present.
Each time you jump a red light you wind up drivers - the same drivers you want to be patient with you when the road narrows, the same drivers you need to back off a touch and respect how vulnerable you are, and the same drivers who we need to share the road with on an equal footing.
I love riding in the city. It's unpredictable, difficult, tense but massively rewarding if you make it through and feel you've cracked it. And I don't always get it right - there's a lot going on and any cyclist who is honest will tell you they make mistakes.
But it's not a fun ride. It's a road, it's dangerous and there are some nutters out there. Don't be one of them!
And get some cycle training. It's not just for kids, and it's not about riding round cones. The Bikeability scheme is an excellent way to get the skills needed to ride and stay alive on the street.