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Cycling Time Trials teams up with law firm for advice to new bike commuters

Tips come as evenings draw in and autumnal weather arrives

Ahead of the clocks going back later this month, solicitors Irwin Mitchell, who often acts on behalf of cyclists injured in road traffic collisions, has teamed up with Cycling Time Trials (CTT) to give advice to people who will be commuting by bike in the dark for the first time.

The law firm says that research it has commissioned shows that in the wake of lockdown, cycling is now more popular than public transport as a means of commuting, with many turning to two wheels to avoid trains and buses.

Irwin Mitchell says its research suggests that many new cyclists want to continue riding but at the same time the firm points out that shorter daylight hours plus colder and generally more inclement weather may put many off – leading it to draw up hints and tips in partnership with CTT.

Peter Lorence, a senior personal injury solicitor at the firm and its spokesman on cycling, said: “Every year the arrival of dark nights heralds an increase of accidents on our roads and it’s important all of us, but particularly those new to cycling are aware of it.

“Sadly, we see the often life-changing results of accidents on the roads and we urge everyone to take that bit of extra time to be ready for the change in the weather and those darker mornings and nights.

“No matter what form of transport you use, it can be daunting to be on the road in the dark for the first time in months.

“It’s easy to be caught out by those first nights commuting home in the dark, particularly after a morning commute in daylight.

“Potholes easy to see in daylight are harder to spot at night and obstacles such as tram tracks can become more of a hazard.

“As we have a lot of people on bikes experiencing this for the first time this year, it is well worth making the effort to be prepared and take extra care as we all adjust to a darker commute,” he added.

Stewart Smith of CTT commented: “It’s always comes as a surprise how much of a change the dark nights make after months of daylight riding. Even familiar roads can look very different.

“Our advice holds true for most forms of transport, as no one wants to be making repairs or changing a tyre in the dark, cold and rain. However, for those new to cycling, the change can make you feel especially vulnerable.”

“Taking the time to get the basics right, by double checking junctions for traffic and taking account of it being harder to judge distance at night can make all the difference. With the right preparation and taking a few simple precautions, we can all continue to enjoy cycling in safety.”

Here are their hints and tips, all of which will be familiar to experienced cyclists, while providing sound advice for those commuting through the autumn and winter months for the first time.

Consider your route – having enjoyed the light of spring and summer, your familiar route can look very different in the dark and may no longer be suitable as the light fades, such as a canal path, due to being entirely unlit.

Be seen, be safe - make sure your bike lights are operating and fully charged and that you and your bike are visible.

Stay dry – the UK’s weather can be volatile, so ensure that you have waterproofs with you, ready for those sudden showers.

Keep warm – becoming cold can affect your concentration whilst riding, so ensure that you are wearing layers that you can adapt for the conditions.

Watch out for leaves – not only can they be slippery, but they may hide hazards such as drains and pot holes. Manhole covers and painted lines on the road can also become slick in damp and wet weather.

Judging speed and distance is more difficult in the dark, so take care around other road users and at junctions.

Be mindful of the weather – as temperatures drop, roads can become slick with frost and ice, which presents dangers to all road users. Take extra care when riding through shaded areas that don’t catch the sun during the day.

Make sure your bike is roadworthy – to ensure that everything is in full working order and to guard against making roadside repairs in the cold, dark and rain.

In the event of a mechanical, make sure you have the correct tools and knowledge to be able to complete roadside repairs, or have a phone with you so that you can call for help.

Be aware that many other road users will be travelling in the dark for the first time too and while you may be prepared - they may not be.

Carry a mobile phone and, if possible, inform someone of your route and expected ride time.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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12 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 3 years ago
2 likes

Successful prosecutions are the only useful measure of actions to protect cyclists, with the possible inclusion of the compulsory joke driving course. All other supposed actions, like 'having a word with the driver', the 'warning letter' etc. are worthless fictions intent on appearing to be doing something.

Avatar
eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

Not sure I'd be happy to take safety advice from solicitors who support both Headway and Brake, and are happy  to push helmets.  I'm not sure why a sports organisation like CTT is quite so concerned with commuting cyclists either.

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Boofus replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
0 likes

Yeah. Those evil helmets. Pushers. 

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Brightspark replied to eburtthebike | 3 years ago
2 likes

This does not make sense. Surely commuters are outside the remit of Cycling Time Trials?

Is there something else going on here?

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MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
6 likes

Not too awful advice, but considering the majority of driver/cyclist collisions are the driver's sole fault, way too much emphasis on cyclists protecting ourselves. I do hope Irwin Mitchell and CTT have circulated something to motorist publications that can be summarised as 'tell your readers to look where they're bloody going and drive to the conditions', but I doubt it. Even organisations that are supposed to be on our side are far too willing to imply it's our fault if we get hit.

And of course they forgot:

  • There's nothing you can do about drivers who fail to look, and they cause about half of driver/cyclist collisions, so make sure you get all their details when if you're hit and under no circumstances admit liability in any way at all.
  • Be a member of an organisation that provides legal advice and representation if you get hit. You won't get justice from the criminal courts, but you should do better in a civil action
  • Tell your loved ones that if a driver kills you around dusk they'll walk free after bleating about low sun.

 

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mdavidford replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
0 likes

Most of the advice has nothing to do with collisions, though - it's about staying comfortable, not falling off or getting stuck with a mechanical, etc. - so that's a bit like complaining that a buyers guide to shoe covers doesn't warn you about the pitfalls of buying cheap gloves.

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MiserableBastard replied to mdavidford | 3 years ago
3 likes

Opening quote from the lawyers: "Every year the arrival of dark nights heralds an increase of accidents on our roads"

When they involve cyclists, those crashes — not accidents — are overwhelmingly caused by drivers. If the intent is to reduce them, drivers are the people CTT and Irwin Mitchell should be addressing.

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mdavidford replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
0 likes

It's your assumption that they're referring to crashes rather than accidents. Given that most of the advice is about things like avoiding sliding out on leaves, it seems more reasonable to assume that they are actually talking about accidents.

Just because every other cycling article is War On Britain's Roads™ item, doesn't mean that the rest need to be turned into that too.

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Secret_squirrel replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
0 likes

And how do you suggest they do that given that they dont have an audience among those drivers?   I dont have any issues with them doing what they can within their remit/area of expertise.   There are multiple ways to skin a cat.

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MiserableBastard replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
1 like

How they should reach an audience of drivers is their problem (but there's this thing called "PR" they could try). I'm pointing out that an organisation that's supposed to be on our side is indulging in the same lazy victim-blaming as everyone else.

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eburtthebike replied to Secret_squirrel | 3 years ago
0 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

And how do you suggest they do that given that they dont have an audience among those drivers?   I dont have any issues with them doing what they can within their remit/area of expertise.   There are multiple ways to skin a cat.

Well, they could start by dropping their support of the car-centric Headway and Brake, and support the organisations which really are concerned for the safety of cyclists.  Not promoting helmets would help too. 

Claiming that you're really interested in the safety of people when you support organisations which blame the victims is hardly likely to engender trust and belief.

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jh2727 replied to MiserableBastard | 3 years ago
0 likes

> Not too awful advice, but considering the majority of driver/cyclist collisions are the driver's sole fault, way too much emphasis on cyclists protecting ourselves.

I for one have proven several times that it is possible to crash a cycle without any involvement from a motorist - and even without any involvement from anyone apart from myself.

> Tell your loved ones that if a driver kills you around dusk they'll walk free after bleating about low sun.

Thats only in spring, summer and autumn. In winter that excuse applies anytime between sunrise and sunset.

If there is any advice to motorists I'd like to see in the above... it is that all the above mentioned increased risks mean that it is even more important that they follow and pass at a safe distance.

The one risk they've neglected to mention is all the pedestrians that'll will walk or jog in dark clothing on unlit shared use paths - need to be extra careful of things like extendable dog leads (they're bad enough in the daylight).  Actually, my last off due to the dark (or rather Thames Water's negligence) was from hitting the hose from Thames Water truck that was pumping water into or out of the Kennet (actually they had finshed what they were doing, but had stretched the hose out about 30m from the truck, so they could reel it in straight) - the lights from the truck were so bright I couldn't see the hose on the path, despite my own lights being fairly bright (but not bright enough to blind oncoming cyclists).

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