A Motor driver friend of mine was recently involved in a collision with a cyclist. While I would hate to pass judgement on who was at fault, the fact of the matter is that in car and bicycle collisions, the bicycle rider is usually the more vulnerable of the two. Drivers are taught right from wrong on the road and are required to pass both a theory and practical test before they can drive unsupervised in the UK, yet cyclists can hit the roads from an early age and in most cases rely on common sense and the diligence of other motorists to avoid collisions. If the worse should happen and a cyclist is involved in a collision then for a number of reasons motor drivers are far more protected.
Thanks to her seat belt, my friend was unharmed, but had she decided to ignore the law and not take this precaution, it may have been a different story completely. In fact all she suffered other than the initial shock of the accident was the inconvenience of having to fix damage to her car. Not only was she protected from physical harm by her seat belt, she was also protected against huge monetary loss by her Car Insurance provider. Apparently it is only when you are unlucky enough to be involved in a collusion of this kind that it suddenly becomes glaringly obvious why wearing a seat belt and having Car Insurance are both legal requirements for all car drivers.
What about Cyclists though? Thankfully in this case the above mentioned cyclist was relatively unharmed, but shockingly, like 77% of student cyclists he wasn’t wearing a helmet! It took a while for my friend to recover emotionally from this fact and while she discussed the details with me over a coffee she said ‘what if it had been so much worse’? The scary thing is that it very well could have been far worse for the cyclist who had been gambling with his safety by wearing no helmet.
Amazingly the only thing the cyclist had to worry about on this occasion was replacing his bicycle that had been left practically unusable. Unlike my motorist friend however, who had her vehicle protected, he didn’t have Bicycle Insurance. My friend found this out as while she waited for the police to arrive, she watched him walk up and down the side of the road in disbelief wailing at the fact his £800 bike had been ruined and how he would never be able to afford a new one.
So why are so many cyclists taking chances when it comes to taking safety precautions? Cyclists take a risk every time they choose to ride in mainstream traffic. It can be harder to be seen by motorists and the risk of collision is increased. According to www.rospa.com around 19,000 cyclists are injured or killed in the UK and that doesn’t even take into account the accidents like the one my friend was involved in where no injury occurred.
Currently the choice of whether or not to wear a bicycle helmet is a personal one. Unlike motorists, cyclists are not required by law to take safety precautions such as wearing a helmet, the correct visibility clothing or investing in Bicycle Insurance. This unfortunately is leaving many exposed. Considering a good Bicycle Helmet can be purchased for around £30 from retailers such as wiggle and lasts for years, it seems ridiculous that more cyclists are not taking precautions to protect themselves.
Bicycle Insurance is also a decision of personal choice and one that many cyclists are choosing to gamble with. Insuring your bicycle can be done for as little as £2.49 per month. This amount from your bank account each month is likely to go relatively unnoticed, unlike the hundreds of pounds that you would need to fork out in one go to replace your bicycle if it should get ruined in an accident or even stolen.
The fact that whether or not cyclists choose to protect themselves against physical harm and monetary loss is one that hasn’t gone unnoticed and many have campaigned for the law to change and for certain protection to be mandatory to cyclists as it is to other motorists. Had the cyclist involved in the collision been seriously injured or even worse, the effects on his family and friends but also potentially on my friend would have been very hard to deal with. Luckily she only has to live with the guilt of destroying his £800 bicycle, but then again I guess he did choose to ride without Bicycle Insurance.
It remains to be seen if the law changes anytime soon, but for now cyclists simply have to rely on common sense when it comes to protecting themselves. Thankfully many cyclists do have this common sense but if you are in two minds about whether or not you want to take the risk then think not only of yourself, but other road users and make sure you invest most importantly in a good bicycle helmet and the correct clothing. If you want to protect your bicycle as well as yourself then Bicycle Insurance is a great idea too – just make sure it takes second priority to the helmet.