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Cycles of Life

Tuesday, 18th November 2003
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

blackbirdApart from a blackbird bathing at the corner of the pond I don't see much wildlife today. Going to the post office on my newly serviced bike I don't see as much as I would walking.

bike fallbike and busesBesides, as this is the first time I've taken my bike out for a couple of years and I feel uncomfortable: I'm very much on the lookout for hazards.

A friend told me she gave up using her bike altogether following three incidents:

    1. she went over the handlebars
    2. she got caught between two buses
    3. a lorry shed part of its load over her

Back in the summer another friend called in the library to return some books, leaving her bike by the door. A few minutes later when she came back out her bike had gone.

'It's my fault,' she said, 'I should have locked it up.'

Even so, I wish we lived somewhere where, as a cyclist, I didn't have to be constantly on the look-out for hazards and I didn't to have to assume that wherever I leave my bike, for however short a period, someone is going to try and make off with it.

Road to Ruin

in a rutMy brother-in-law came off his bike simply by hitting a rut as he headed for the cycle track and injured his shoulder as he hit the ground.

Another friend was hit from behind by a car with similar results. Cyclists invariably come off worst following a collision with a car and there has recently been a fatality on a local road.

Trans-Pennine Trail

Trans-Pennine TrailMy idea is to keep away from traffic as much as I can and explore the Trans-Pennine Trail, a long distance cycle path which we can connect with locally and head towards Southport on the west coast or Hornsea on the east. There's also a north-south spur from Leeds to Chesterfield which would be a good route for me to explore to start with.

Let the Biker Beware

Just one last tale about cycling safety: someone was telling me that at a bicycling event the leading cyclist was speeding down a lonely mountain road. Suddenly ahead of him were too cars pulled up alongside each other, completely blocking the road. The drivers were friends and as they'd passed each other going in opposite directions along on this quiet road, they'd pulled up for a chat.

With no room to stop the cyclist headed for the gorge at the side of the road and landed in a bush. I'm glad to say he continued the course mud-spattered but unhurt.

The woman explaining this was emphatic: 'Those too drivers shouldn't have been there!'

Well, no they shouldn't, but supposing it had been a tree that had suddenly fallen across the road: that shouldn't have been there either. Or a hay cart that had overturned: that shouldn't have been there. Or an overnight landslide.

My idea is that drivers should be far more aware of cyclists and considerate of them but as cyclists we should take some responsibility for our own safety.

O.K. I'm speaking as a cyclist who's only just got back on his bike after 2 years off the road, but that's what I feel. next page

Richard Bell

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