With so many people going back to cycling or starting cycling for the first time, it is time to talk about safety for both city cycling and mountain biking.
Many people have no interest in dirt tracks but plenty of interest in riding. Some enjoy road riding but the vast majority avoid roads. For me, this is the typical city cyclists. Cycling is just what we do. It is normal. The city cyclist is hard to describe because they are everywhere and can be anyone.
Many new cyclists have discovered riding a bike as a result of COVID-19. This welcome trend comes with risks. The cycling infrastructure in most cities, including Canberra, is underdeveloped and not ready for the load. The pedestrians are certainly not ready and are most surprised when they don’t see you coming. The pedestrians may jump in front of you, as might their dogs or children.
We would like all new cyclists to have a positive experience but unfortunately at the moment the experience may be a poor one. Canberra hospital has reported an increase in cyclist injuries and mostly beginners. The recent ABC News video, warns that the surge of cycling in Melbourne may bring with it an increase in accidents.
Pedal Power ACT has anticipated the problems and is putting up signs warning both pedestrians and cyclist to take care. They are also warning motorists to make space on the roads for cyclists in the ongoing “metre matters” campaign.
Active travel is a wonderful thing but it is a change – and paradigm shift – for us and we will need time to adjust.
Mountain biking and skiing have a lot in common. First, you learn to fall and then not to repeat the mistake. I am not suggesting that only masochists cycle, rather I am suggesting the opposite.
It is not uncommon with YouTube mountain bike clips to show impossible feats and we are amazed. What we should remind ourselves, is that for mere mortals these feats are impossible. It is perhaps better to focus on developing skills before we attempt the more difficult trails.
Mountain biking clubs are a great way to get into mountain biking, as the clubs are social and interested in retaining their members. Accidents stop people from doing what they love. The clubs are keen that riders avoid common mistakes.
CORC in Canberra runs courses to teach mountain bike skills. We can always learn more. It is always useful to learn first what not to do.
There is no time like now and I would encourage everybody to go out and ride. Enjoy the day but ride safely. 🙂