A Bad Week

As I just said on Twitter…

“It”s been a tough week, cycling wise. Last night I was feeling fragile and rethinking if I should be cycling on roads, cycling in Swindon feels unsafe right now and that makes me sad. What can I do? I shouted through 2 windows and reported a police driver but apart from individually educating as many people as I can, what can I do to make people give cyclists respect and space??”

I’ve had numerous close calls this week. At least one incident each day (apart from today. I’ve not been hit or hurt at all, but the sheer lack of space and thoughfulness on the part of drivers has really shaken me up to the point where I’m really considering my options.

Then @t1mmyb quoted (so he thinks) Benjamin Franklin who said: “Those who sacrifice a little liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. I’m not sure if he directed that at me at all, or if he had his own reasons for quoting it, but it made me think.

I could give in. I could revert to using cycle paths more and stay away from cars. I could sacrifice my right to be on the road. I could give up the wonderful freedom of being able to cycle fast and direct routes. I could do all this for my safety. But should I be giving up my rights and my freedom?

Today was better. I did a half-decent ride up to Elcombe and back via Croft Road and Old Town – 11 or so hilly miles. One guy held back, gave me loads of room and accepted my thankful wave with a smile as he passed. Someone else in a residential area was very helpful. My faith in the majority of road users was restored slightly.

I will write more on this topic. I still feel fragile and the events of this week have spurred me to action. But I might need help.

Thanks to all the folks who gave support and encouraged me in little ways. And if you read anything I wrote and gave a cyclist a bit more room when passing in your car then, really, thank you. Please spread the word – cyclists need space on the road, and if you give it us you might get a cheery wave of thanks and the warm glow that you made Swindon a safer place.