A mantra that I try to live by. Treat each commute as an adventure, don’t take the shortest route. Explore more and push yourself to travel further! But most of all, enjoy it!

A few months back TrafficDroid posted a short video of him being knocked off by a Taxi in London. Recently an update has been posted with the results.

So the basics of this is the cyclist was travelling in a straight line, thought the overtake was too close so sounded his horn. Driver stopped whilst moving to the left in an attempt to block the cyclist, cyclist carries on, driver passes again this time much closer, moving left and knocks the cyclist over and in between parked cars.

The results of this are 6 points on his license and a £700 fine + court costs.

Some might say, good result. But if I’m honest, I’m disappointed in our system. This was clearly a purposeful act and yet he only gets done for driving without due care, 6 points and a £700 fine.
Because Taxi drivers are self-employed, it is hard to say how much one earns. It’s often thrown around that they are tax dodgers. I don’t think the £700 fine is that much.

But lets put it this way. A professional driver purposefully used his vehicle to knock a vulnerable road user over and into some parked vehicles. If anyone in any other occupation did something comparable, they would be fired from their job and struggle to work in the same field again. Yet when it comes to professional drivers they are let off, back into the street to do the same to the next cyclist that doesn’t agree with him.

Why does our legal system allow this to happen? This sort of driving is not by mistake and it’s clear from his response of “what are you doing?” And not “oh my god are you ok? I’m so sorry” that he did this on purpose.

I won’t even mention the false witness statements that other taxi drivers who didn’t witness it are willing to put forward to help their buddy.

A common theme on post coming from various sites recently. The days are getting shorter, your commute is going to be in darkness, so buy some lights.

A few years ago I took a different look on using lights. I did, like many, used lights only when riding in the dark. But in 2008 when the EU regulations were announced that in 2011 all new cars sold in the EU would have to have Daytime Running Lights (DRL), things had to change. When cars started to have lights during the day because for a basic reason of better visibility to other road users, then surely us skinny two wheelers have should do the same and run perhaps even better lighting systems to stand out against everyone else and keep safe.

I noticed, and this is only from my own personal perspective, that I got less issues when I ran lights all the time, this unfortunately is very hard to prove and it could be down to many things but I have no doubt that running lights in all conditions makes a difference.

The only issue is during the day a small light isn’t going to cut it, you are competing with the natural light from the sun. Any light that is going to get you seen from a good distance is going to have to be powerful, and generally that means costly, especially if you want the battery to last at least several days.

So don’t just run lights during the night, run them all the time, every little helps!

Mintel released a press release last week about the cycling market in the UK and one of the things they commented on was the average price of a bicycle.

In 2012 that was apparently £206, in 2013 it had risen £27 to £233. This seems remarkably low and I have asked Mintel to comment on how they worked it out, I have yet to have a response.

The average selling price of a bike has risen £27 from £206 in 2012 to £233 in 2013.

Note that they state selling price and not sold price. So it should be prices of the bikes on the shelves and has no relation to those actually sold or what quantity.

As I thought this was so remarkably low I decided to look into a couple of the online sellers of cycles in the UK to find out what the average selling price was. These sellers are Argos, Halfords, Sports Direct, Evans, Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles. Being knowledgable about the internet, I know a fairly easy way to get the information from the websites and was able to get all the prices of all the bikes on all the sites. This included kids bikes, which are mostly under the £233 mark.

Bike Shop Average cost of cycle
Argos £234
Chain Reaction Cycles £1015
Evans Cycles £1454
Halfords £420
Sports Direct £124
Wiggle £1430

From those 6 bike shops we have over 3566 bikes with an average price of £779.

I’m highly surprised at the average price of a cycle in the UK being £233, and my findings show that the number is nowhere near when looking at a range of shops.

Reflective clothing makes up part of high visibility clothing, the other half being a fluorescent material that reacts with UV light and emits it back out in the visible spectrum so the clothing appears brighter.

The reflective part of the clothing is for night-time use, where there is obviously no UV light so the fluorescent material is ineffective.

Many people think that a fluorescent jacket is the be all and end all of safe visibility on the roads, be that for cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists. But is that true?

There was a study a while back in Australia called “Cyclist visibility at night: Perceptions of visibility do not necessarily match reality” it’s a very good read and states that reflective clothing is best placed on the legs, as this is a moving part of the body and is in the main beam of a car headlight, as such, stands out more.

Hi-viz clothing is built with retroreflectives, which is made using small glass balls that reflect light back to the source within a very tight angle. The performance of a reflector is still noticeable just outside of the reflected range, but the performance decreases. This means that the greater the angle between the light, the reflecting object and the observer, the worse the performance. To put this in real world terms, it means the performance of reflectors is better for cars than it is for a HGV, as the observer’s eye is much higher up from the lights.

This creates an obvious issue, for the reflectors to be bright to the observer, they must have a light source shining towards it from the observer. A common scenario where this doesn’t happen is when a vehicle is turning out of a side road, the driver does not have a light source shining at cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists, and as such, the reflectors don’t appear bright!

If we look at how head lights work on a motor vehicle, the majority of the beam is aimed at the ground, there is a cut off point that happens bellow the hip. A small amount of light is shining higher up than the cut off, but a very small amount in comparison to the main beam. As pointed out earlier, the Australian study shows that reflectives on the legs (which would be in the main beam) are more visible than reflectives on the top.

A couple of cycling related stories recently have shown hi-viz to be better than it actually is. Wiggle for example in their Conquering the commute… Top Tips for Cycle Commuting blog post showed fluorescent material to be very bright at night and the reflectives to be very poor. I suspect some lighting behind the camera and some editing on the picture has made this a little far from the truth.

Hi-viz from wiggle blog post

I have taken some photos to show how reflectives work in the real world. I’m using my car with the main beam on (unless otherwise stated), I have a hi-viz jacket set up on a coat hanger hanging from a tripod at around the hight of a 5ft10in person, with two strips of reflective material taken from the same kind of jacket.

30 paces away, the bottom reflectives appear brighter

Main beam turned off. Jacket despite being yellow, is barely visible

High beam on

main beam of the car on, standing next to the car

Standing behind the car, reflectives still visible

Standing further to the side, bottom reflector is twisting, so shining slightly

within 5 paces of the car, showing the cut off on the headlight.

the bottom part is twisting, so again, shining slightly.

torched pointed at the hi-viz, much more effective! The torch is much no where near as powerful as a the car headlights.

The point of this post? To point out that hi-viz is not the be all and end all of being seen. Like helmets, we should be not disillusioned to the safety that they provide!