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Fighting the fear: how I got confident on the road

spokeswomen

Theres a lot of talk about women being more nervous of cycling on the roads than men.  I don’t know if I agree with that.  I do think they’re often more prepared to admit fear, which is definitely not the same thing. I suspect that men often mask their nerves in lycra and bravado whereas women decide that cycling is not worth risking their lives over. However, scary facts about women being knocked off their bikes by lorries suggests that they can also be victims of their own wariness.

I certainly had loads more hairy moments before training to become a cycle instructor. I was definitely a curb hugger and would often dash for the pavement if things got beepy. The instructor course was an eye-opener for me. There were a few simple tips and techniques that instantly made me feel less vulnerable and defensive when navigating the bike-hating streets of Leeds. It didn’t save me from the idiots but it made me feel safer and in charge. I thought I’d share some of the most useful, just in case they help you too…

  • Look drivers in the eye whenever you want to do something
  • Take up the position of a car (i.e. in the middle of your side of the road) whenever at a junction, don’t let yourself be overtaken when turning – this includes roundabouts
  • Get to the front of traffic at a red light if you have time.  If you don’t, get in between two cars and become a car yourself
  • Don’t worry about pissing off drivers – they’re pissed off because they’re stuck in a metal box, not because of you.
  • Cycle lanes are not always the best place to be
  • Look over your right shoulder, a lot
  • Don’t assume other cyclists know what they’re doing
  • Beware the gutter, its often the most dangerous place to be
  • Cycle two-abreast its not only legal (and more fun) but recommended by British Cycling
  • The more confident you are, the safer you will be

This stuff is kind of obvious I guess, I just wish I’d been told it earlier.

This video is great too :





 

Beryl Burton drama on BBC radio


Catch this amazing drama about the life of Beryl Burton on BBC Radio written by and starring Maxine Peake by periodically checking on iPlayer for repeats here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p0fpl

A Woman’s Hour talk about Beryl and how Maxine Peake portrayed her is available here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nxzcd

Beryl Burton was an English racing cyclist and one of Britain’s greatest athletes. She dominated women’s cycle racing in the UK, winning more than 900 domestic championships and seven world titles, and setting numerous national records. She set a women’s record for the 12-hour time-trial which still stands today (and exceeded the men’s record for two years).

The BBC World Service made a programme about Beryl here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02k1swc


She inspired spokeswomen’s very own Beryl’s Night run by the wonderful women of the Broken Spoke Bike Coop in Oxford.