Drivers urged to look out for cyclists as Wiggle says this is busiest week of year for commuting by bike

Online retailer says sales data point towards late August peak, AA highlights safety message

by Simon_MacMichael   August 25, 2014  

Cyclists at traffic lights (©Toby Jacobs)

Hopefully you’ll be enjoying a day off work through today’s bank holiday - but Wiggle says that this week is the biggest of the year for commuting by bicycle. The AA has teamed up with the online cycling retailer to urge motorists to be vigilant for cyclists, and to give advice to people travelling to work by bike for the first time.

Wiggle’s assertion that more people take to two wheels to arrive at their workplace this week more than any other in the year is based on analysis of sales data from the past four years, which it says build up to it, the absence of school traffic, and better weather.

The latter may be hard to believe for anyone waking up to drizzle on a what is an unseasonably cool morning in London, for example, though the forecast from the Met Office following a fortnight of unseasonably poor weather is for warmer and drier conditions later in the week.

AA president Edmund King, who often commutes by bike himself and has called for an end to the “two tribes” mentality that sees cyclists and motorists pigeonholed into separate groups even though most adult bike riders are likely to own a car, welcomed the finding that more people are taking to bikes at this time of year.

However, he said: “There will be a lot of inexperienced riders among these and it can be very threatening and dangerous when a car passes too closely.

“We’re therefore asking drivers to think about the space they give and to create as much as possible. And asking new riders to think about road positioning, to make sure they are as visible as possible to the drivers behind them and in the mirrors of the drivers in front.

“This was the positioning advocated in our ‘Think Bikes’ sticker campaign which was launched earlier this year,” he added.

Chris Peck of national cyclists’ organisation CTC emphasised that while the perception of danger puts many off cycling, it is safer than many other everyday activities.

“Cycling is one of the safest activities and one of the fastest ways to commute, in fact you’re more likely to be injured while gardening than cycling,” he said.

“Its health benefits are considerable too, with cyclists living two years longer, on average, than non-cyclists and those regularly commuting by bike have a much lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”

He went on: “Many councils provide excellent one-on-one training to help teach you how to cycle with more confidence and in ways that will keep you safer – have a look on your council’s website to find out more.”

Wiggle says that each year, the Tour de France causes more people to search online for information about bicycles, as well as a sales spike in all kinds of bicycles, not just road bikes,

While British cyclists saw slim pickings from this year’s Tour, Adam Ryan from Wiggle said that the successes of Mark Cavendish, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in the previous three editions of the race had “led to a love affair with two wheels in the UK and each year there is spike in sales and searches around the Tour.

“This is for both high end racers and every-day commuters and, with the Tour starting in Yorkshire and with the likes of Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell winning gold at the Commonwealths, this spike has started early and has continued strongly,” said Adam Ryan of Wiggle.

“The highest sales of the summer typically happen in late July and early August and this, combined with the reduced school-holiday traffic levels means people make the switch to two wheels to avoid overheating while sat in a stationary car or on a packed bus or tube. And while the weather has been changeable of late, temperatures are predicted by the Met Office to rise again during this week.”

Wiggle also said that independent bike shops were also experiencing similar sales patterns, and Luke Finlay, who owns and runs Bike UK in Bristol and Ralph Colman in Taunton, said: “There has been a huge rise in cycling in recent years and these aren’t just languishing in garages. We give free servicing for life and a six week check up on bikes sold and they are, invariably, brought back having been well used and loved.”

According to Wiggle, road and utility bike sales rose by 44 per cent in July compared to the previous month, and sales for the opening six months of 2014 are up 55 per cent against the comparable period last year. It also says that Google Trends show an 11 per cnet rise in people searching for “bike review” compared to June, and a 27 per cent rise in searches for “cycling.”

Ryan added: “Even with Cavendish and Froome out of the Tour, we’ve still seen a good spike in traffic and sales, suggesting the Tour’s Yorkshire stages, as well as recent successes haven’t dimmed the enthusiasm for cycling,”

The retailer also cited cycle safety tips from behavioural psychologist Crawford Hollingworth, inventor of the Brainy Bike Light, who said that “very simple changes can significantly improve safety.” 

His advice is:

1 - Change your route: this takes you off autopilot and improves rider alertness

2 - Use flashing and static lights – research shows that flashing lights improve alertness and static ones help drivers judge perspective and distance more easily

3 - Use reflective clothing on the lower legs – movement catches the eye more easily

4 - Ride defensively – drivers are also on autopilot so position yourself away from the kerb and give parked cars a door’s width of space

5 - Don’t dazzle drivers – using a light that is too powerful can dazzle drivers and make it harder for them to judge distance.

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

No.2 is sound advice, but my experience in a car, based on an annual business mileage of around 35,000 miles a year (for around 30 years now), leads me to believe that most car drivers could not judge perspective and distance correctly even if you have a pole dancer performing on your handlebars, let alone a light or bright clothing.

I'll take a flashing light every time, as it gives me a better chance of seeing a cyclist when I'm driving, and being seen when I'm cycling.

Face it, the majority of road users are just cr@p at driving... something I live with every working day.

posted by Grubbythumb [44 posts]
25th August 2014 - 8:30

57 Likes

+1 for @GrubbyThumb - stole my thunder pretty effectively

BTW - the weather is beautiful in Glasgow, if a little chilly, so - "on yer bike, pal!"

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [555 posts]
25th August 2014 - 9:16

40 Likes

+1 @GrubbyThumb for me as well.

Damp and drizzly in Birmingham (makes it look prettier) best Bank holiday ride ever! Going back out again as the roads are empty Cool

posted by Binky [115 posts]
25th August 2014 - 11:01

29 Likes

@grubbythumb

Swap 'crap' for 'dangerous due to inattention' and it becomes more of a concern to vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians.

In your experience based on your high mileage as a professional driver, is there a case for restricting the provision of the driving licence to the wider population?

posted by hampstead_bandit [169 posts]
25th August 2014 - 11:30

41 Likes

This just reads like an advert for Wiggle, hi-viz clothing and a 'brainy' bike light.

The headline might say "drivers urged to" but most of it is targetted at cyclists (again).

"Change your route" - Why? There's no time to daydream when cycling in traffic!

"Don't dazzle drivers" - is this really key advice for beginners... in August? FFS!

Drivers should feel obliged to give adequate space to other road users but too many of them don't.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2000 posts]
25th August 2014 - 13:31

54 Likes

1. My commute is around 3km and I can only go two ways and they involve which way around parliament I want to go.

2. I have my lights on (pulsing) all the time to counter sacaddic masking.

3. My legs are usually a blur with such a high cadence. They dazzle & hypnotize drivers as it is.

4. Considering all the RLJing by vehicles at the south side of Lambeth bridge, it's the only way to cycle.

5. See answer 3.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [559 posts]
25th August 2014 - 14:28

45 Likes

Quote:
2 - Use flashing and static lights – research shows that flashing lights improve alertness and static ones help drivers judge perspective and distance more easily

Good advice.

I've come to the same conclusion after riding my motorbike through Aldwych at rush hour. The dazzle of dozens of flashing rear lights was like the way a zebra's patterning is designed to dazzle predators and hide the zebra in the herd. I don't think cyclists understand that from inside a car, or behind the visor of a motorbike lid, the multiple reflections of all these flashing lights creates a blurred herd effect.

I keep my CatEye and Leyzne on static now at night time; it's much easier for drivers to judge distance. In the day time I switch them to flashing because I'm visible in daylight and a flashing light helps them notice me.

Quote:

3 - Use reflective clothing on the lower legs – movement catches the eye more easily

I've long noticed this effect and wish someone would make hi-viz shoes like footballers have (but don't need). Fluorescent for the day and a line of Scotch-Lite for the evening would be very visible.

Username's picture

posted by Username [63 posts]
25th August 2014 - 15:34

25 Likes

hampstead_bandit wrote:
@grubbythumb

In your experience based on your high mileage as a professional driver, is there a case for restricting the provision of the driving licence to the wider population?

Not really, not unless you are going to ban most BMW/Merc/Audi drivers, the elderly, young women, especially those with their hair in a pony tail (don't ask me why, but they are worse than the rest), women in SUV/ 4x4/ or in fact any other car when on the school run, the list is almost endless.

The major worry, along with text / e-mail reading / sending while driving, is the 'it's a race' culture', where everyone seems to think the roads are a racetrack, and they are in contention for the win if only they can just get in front of you, pull out from the junction before you get there, shoot past in the outside lane of the motorway, then cut across to the exit they have already driven past... another endless list of sin which we all see examples of every day.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do know it's getting worse.

posted by Grubbythumb [44 posts]
25th August 2014 - 20:38

38 Likes

Grubbythumb wrote:

Not really, not unless you are going to ban most BMW/Merc/Audi drivers, the elderly, young women, especially those with their hair in a pony tail (don't ask me why, but they are worse than the rest), women in SUV/ 4x4/ or in fact any other car when on the school run, the list is almost endless.

Almost there, let me assist...BMW/Merc/Audi SUV on the school run. Big Grin

My brain takes on routes my lungs & legs can't deliver.

matheson's picture

posted by matheson [21 posts]
25th August 2014 - 21:16

11 Likes

Grubbythumb wrote:

Face it, the majority of road users are just cr@p at driving... something I live with every working day.

Yeah, but you aren't………... That's always the problem every one believes they're a perfect faultless driver but those other road users around them are ignorant careless homicidal maniacs. Every one else is lazy/crap/careless/dangerous except you ……… If they weren't on the roads then everything would be fine ………..

Some times the faults you see in others are the very ones you yourself have.

Rolling On The Floor

Airzound

posted by Airzound [374 posts]
25th August 2014 - 21:49

17 Likes

Quote:
1 - Change your route: this takes you off autopilot and improves rider alertness

My personal feeling is that when I've done a route a few times, I get to know the best way to ride it, and what the dangers are that I need to look out for.

posted by HarrogateSpa [110 posts]
25th August 2014 - 21:52

23 Likes

I am a commerical driver (in London) and a very keen experienced road cyclist, cyclists must also obey the Highway code!!
It does state in the Highway code that a static light must be used when riding a bike once lighting up time has been reach!!
I have seen some stupid antics by cyclists in London in my 23 years of commercial driving but i have also seen some bloody stupid driving by motorists too.

There has to be some give and take from both sides on the roads.

Britspeed

britspeed's picture

posted by britspeed [2 posts]
25th August 2014 - 21:56

25 Likes

Why this week. Nights are drawing in, surely earlier in the summer is more logical. What am I missing?

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [347 posts]
25th August 2014 - 23:55

15 Likes

Username wrote:
I've long noticed this effect and wish someone would make hi-viz shoes like footballers have (but don't need). Fluorescent for the day and a line of Scotch-Lite for the evening would be very visible.

http://road.cc/content/review/109993-sugoi-zap-shoe-covers

http://road.cc/content/news/108514-sugoi%E2%80%99s-new-zap-jacket-takes-...

Sugoi Zap reflective overshoes. Hiviz yes, yellow NO!



Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1348 posts]
26th August 2014 - 0:22

15 Likes

Airzound wrote:

Yeah, but you aren't………... That's always the problem every one believes they're a perfect faultless driver but those other road users around them are ignorant careless homicidal maniacs. Every one else is lazy/crap/careless/dangerous except you ……… If they weren't on the roads then everything would be fine ………..

Some times the faults you see in others are the very ones you yourself have.

I'm sorry, why the personal attack?

posted by Grubbythumb [44 posts]
26th August 2014 - 8:09

10 Likes

Just to mention that when there are lots of cyclists on the road it's safer. This Wiggle comment misses that point. They are urging drivers to be more careful (as if most of them listen to Wiggle PR) and by implication saying that it's more dangerous when there are lots of cyclists on the road.

What Wiggle are saying is

more cyclists = less safe
ipso facto
fewer cyclists = more safe

Big hole in foot really.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [660 posts]
26th August 2014 - 11:48

11 Likes