Following on from yesterday’s blog entry, ‘Cowspiracy: How Animal Agriculture Is Destroying The Planet & What You Can Do About It…’ here’s another podcast with Kip and Keegan the makers of Cowspiracy. This is an earlier podcast and should be listened to before yesterdays…
Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s a great podcast to listen to with Kip Andersen & Keegan Kuhn, the makers of Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret…
There’s no excuse for ignorance any more. No one can now say they didn’t know.
People usually look at me like i’m quite mad when they find out that i go out cycling between 4.30 and 5.00 am.
The main reason i do this is because there’s hardly any mettle monsters on the roads. Not only is this safer, but also a hell of a lot less stressful and also it means i don’t have to breath any of the pollutants that come out of their tailpipes.
No matter where you live the air will always be cleaner in the early hours of the morning, so it makes more sense to do your exercise then if you really care about being fit and healthy. Just stop watching that stupid television in the evenings and go to bed early instead. Today is far more fulfilling if you start with some good exercise and didn’t end yesterday watching a load of soul numbing shite on the moron box.
The other advantage to this, if you have a job, is that you do your post exercise, knackered bit on the company time. No point in ruining your own spare time being knackered after exercise if you can do it on company time!
And the other thing is that there’s also no one around to look at you funny when you ride along talking to yourself or singing songs, which can attract odd looks, to say the least, at more busy times of day when the madding crowd are out and about and being their judgemental selves. A good long cycle ride is a great time to have that conversation with yourself that you’ve been putting off for ages because you don’t want people to think you’re mental when you sit there talking to yourself.
But all that aside, i really do think the best reason for getting out and about so early in the morning is the wildlife. British song birds giving their dawn chorus has to be one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. We really do have the most amazing dawn choruses in this country, and sadly most people will never hear it.
And talking of wildlife, this very morning i was riding out of Otterton to ascend Peak Hill and there, running along the hedgerow in my general direction, was a polecat. All these years i’ve lived on this planet and i had never before seen a polecat in the wild. Such beautiful little animals, their markings all the more striking in the glare of my LED front lights. There is such an abundance of wildlife around early in the morning, just before dawn, and they don’t tend to run and hide from bicycles as they haven’t learned to fear cyclists because we’re such lovely people, so get a bike and get out there and enjoy our beautiful countryside and its wildlife in the peace and quiet.
Do be careful with deer though, you don’t want to go charging towards a rutting stag on a bicycle – somehow i think the cyclist will lose that battle. My advice for when encountering deer is to simply stop as soon as you see them and wait for the deer to move away in its own time. When possible, stand still and enjoy the time you spend with these beautiful animals whenever you’re given the opportunity – it’s something you never get the chance to do in cars as you just tend to kill them as you run them over at 80mph.
Their latest one is ‘Headphones dilemma for cyclists’.
Anyone watching the video must come to the same conclusion as i do. Why are you taking calls on your mobile phone while cycling? I’m not sure what’s worse, waiting for calls on your mobile phone without music playing, or just listening to your MP3 player. Then there’s obviously the third option, listening to MP3’s on your mobile phone while waiting for calls and texts while cycling.
Personally, i can’t think of a better way to get yourself killed.
Please note my very early post on cycling where i put forth my top ten tips on keeping safe while cycling. The very first one is ‘Do not wear headphones’!!!! And the reasons are very clearly stated.
You ears are as important as your eyes while you are cycling. They really are.
Now i do accept the argument that deaf people should be allowed to cycle as well, that may be so, but it’s their risk to do so with limited senses. But we should also consider that deaf people will probably be much more acutely tuned to vibrations in their environment and also have a heightened use of their sight to compensate for what they don’t hear. They most certainly aren’t off in la la land listening to the latest beats on headphones or answering a phone call. As a life long cyclist with many years of Urban Combat Cycling experience in London, i absolutely stand by my point that listening to your environment while cycling is without a doubt one of the biggest safety measures you can take on a bicycle.
Your ears are really, really important when cycling. They allow you to sense things that your eyes cannot see. You do not have 360 degree vision, but you do have 360 degree hearing. It’s simply one of the best weapons in your ‘keep you safe’ arsenal. Why would any cyclist willingly want to destroy this valuable sense?
Should it be illegal?
No, i don’t think so. If people wish to cycle with headphones then that should be their choice, but it should be made very clear in statistics which cyclists involved in accidents were wearing headphones at the time and then cyclists can make an informed choice of their own. And any cyclist causing an accident who is wearing headphones should be prosecuted fully.
But my personal stance is that my first and foremost rule for cycling is… DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES!!!!
And don’t be taking calls on your mobile phone while cycling. The calls will log and you can ring them back later, and texts will be waiting for you when you stop somewhere safe.
The only thing i use my phone for when cycling is for running IBike, which logs my heart rate, cadence, speed and maps my route while i cycle. Other than that, you don’t need your phone!
Very oldest populations
3 King’s Lynn
6 Wealden, East Sussex
8 South Lakeland, Cumbria
9 Budleigh Salterton
It does leave one asking the question why Exmouth, along with the next town over, Budleigh Salterton and the next town over from that, Sidmouth, all get in the top ten. What is so special about this little part of the UK? Lovely views? Lovely fresh air? Lovely people? Lovely weather? Or is it the water? We don’t drink reservoir water in Exmouth, our water is spring water tapped out from sea springs that run under the beach. It would be interesting to look at the water quality of each area and compare that to the life expectancy.
But, anyway, it does show that there is a nice way to live longer, just move to one of the above towns and grow young again.
Unfortunately, more cyclists are being injured or killed on our roads, which one might think strange when there are less people using bicycles regularly now than 40-50 years ago when i was a child.
But then, there’s far more HGV’s, vans, cars, etc., on our roads now. So looking at that statistic, one could infer that with less bicycles and more vehicles on the roads the fact that more cyclists are getting injured or killed must mean that it’s not the fault of the cyclists. Food for thought!!!
Anyway, back to the BBC. Today they had a hi-tech article which i thought i’d talk a little about… Could hi-tech accessories make cycling safer?
First, the laser thingy. At £125 one has to think, “Is this really worth it?” You still need to have your normal lights on your bicycle, so essentially you’re going to spend £125 for one extra light on the front. Now let’s face it, most cyclists in the UK, cycle because they haven’t got much money, so £125 for one light is a little over the top, IMHO. Wouldn’t it be far better to spend £125 on all round lighting for your bicycle? You can go and buy 4 sets of, very good brightness, front and back lights, ten reflectors to fit in your spokes on each wheel, the most amazing hi-viz vest, lots of hi-viz reflective tape, and still have plenty of change from £125. Seriously!!! Think about it!!! I know what i’d rather have on my bicycle.
The other thing about the laser is that it projects an image onto the road 5 metres in front of the bike, thereby distracting any driver’s attention away from the bicycle itself – whoops, didn’t see you as i was totally distracted by the green bike sign drifting along the road.
I like the idea of the inflatable helmet, but the cost is, once again, ridiculous. But as some of you probably noticed in my last Cycling blog entry, i didn’t mention helmets at all. Why, because i don’t think they’re the most important thing to consider for safety. It’s far far far more important not to get hit by something in the first place!
I also think, like the article inferred, that you are actually safer not wearing a helmet. If you’re wearing protective equipment of any kind, you are more likely to take risks that you otherwise wouldn’t. This is a natural thing that most people are prone to. And also, people seeing other people wearing protective equipment are more likely to be a little more dangerous around them. I would like to see statistics of how many cyclists are involved in accidents with helmets as opposed to without.
And just for a little bit of a giggle… The bike test that shows what we’re really like at work
Maybe that’s why i don’t have a job. LOL
So today in the news… Readers’ radical solutions to protect cyclists
While i agree with some of the points made, i really don’t think that list is very good for keeping people safe on bicycles.
I’ve been a life long cyclist and spent over 12 years living and cycling in London – so i know what i’m talking about when it comes to “Urban Combat Cycling” as i call it. And when i use that term, i really mean it. London roads can be like a war zone for cyclists, and it’s a good thing to keep reminding yourself of that.
How to keep safe while cycling…
1… Do not wear headphones. Listening to music, podcasts, etc., is one of the quickest ways to get you in trouble on a bicycle. Your ears serve as a second set of eyes, you need to be attentive to what is behind you and listening carefully is like having eyes in the back of your head.
2… Wear bright colours. Hi viz vests can slip over the top of whatever you’re wearing and can be removed quickly and shoved into a pocket when you get to where you’re going. Remember, you cannot be bright enough, pile on the dayglo during daylight hours (there’s a clue in the name dayglo) but once it gets dark you need lots of white and reflective stuff – dayglo does not work at night. Also to remember is that other road users need to see your signals, so if you’re wearing dark gloves and sleeves then they probably won’t see you signalling even in daylight and especially at night – so make your arms and hands stand out as well.
3… Be aware that vehicles do have blind spots. If you don’t understand this, just go and stand near a busy junction and watch articulated vehicles turning and see how they behave and how the mirrors lose sight of the side of the vehicle when they’re turning, and watch how the back wheels cut the corner. Don’t put yourself anywhere near a big lorry at a junction, even if they’re not indicating, the driver just may have forgotten to indicate. Remember also, with large vehicles you as a cyclist cannot see what’s on the other side of them, so be fucking careful!!! Holding back when large vehicles are around may add a minute or two to your journey, but it can save your life.
4… Use lights at night. Bright ones. Several. At least two front and two back ones. Super bright modern LED bike lights are not very expensive and run great on rechargeables. Fill your bike up with light if you cycle in the dark. My best advice for lights is to go on eBay and buy two Cree T6 front lights with 18650 batteries. Most come with a free back light that runs on 2 aaa batteries. 18650 batteries are great and can be recharged lots of times if you use an intelligent charger. A good charger is well worth the money because it looks after your batteries and doesn’t cook them making them last for a very long time. I don’t recommend rechargeable lights as they can run out of charge and then you’re left with no light. If you have battery powered lights you can take several spare batteries just in case. On a long ride at night i can easily get through 7 18650 batteries across 3 Cree T6 lamps, one rechargeable bike light would be useless for me.
5… Be confident and assertive – where appropriate (see warning on lorries above)! There really is nothing worse on the road than a dithering, mincing, cyclist. Vehicle drivers should be left in no doubt whatsoever of your intentions. Ok, i probably do take this one a bit too far as i have been known to play chicken with cars, never lorries, but i don’t recommend it for the faint hearted. But my point is that drivers really do not want to kill or injure you, if you make them fully aware of what you’re doing they do their utmost to avoid you.
6… Buy a tax disc holder for your bicycle and put a tax disc in it. Apparently there’s lots of car drivers who think that the reason so many people are injured on bicycles is simply because they don’t have a tax disc. I’m obviously being facetious here. But it’s in the BBC article linked to above and sadly there doesn’t seem to be anything facetious in Alexander, Birmingham’s remarks. Let’s get something straight… no one pays road tax. There is no such thing as road tax, just vehicle excise duty, charged on a level appropriate to the gas guzzling nature of the vehicle in question. I pay vehicle excise duty on my moped, and to be honest, i get treated no differently by car, van, bus or lorry drivers on that than i do on a bicycle. So **** off with your road tax comments!!! Surely it would be better to just scrap VED altogether and put the price of petrol and diesel up. At least then those who pollute the most, pay the most, and the government would save millions by not employing all those people at DVLA to administer a stealth tax that causes so much bad feelings between road users.
7… More congestion charging zones. Any cyclist who remembers the centre of London pre-zone, will tell you how bad it was. Most people wouldn’t cycle there because it really was incredibly dangerous. Then came the congestion charging and the traffic dropped massively and drivers were less stressed out and grumpy and cycling through the city was very easy and relatively safe in comparison to what it had been. If more cities and towns brought in congestion charging – and used the money made to fund better public transport and cycle lanes, things would be a lot safer and healthier for everyone. It would also help the country to meet our carbon limits.
8… If you’re just pottering around town then ride a bicycle that you can sit up straight on (Dutch style). They’re far better for your back than being hunched over the handle bars, but most importantly, if you’re sat up straight then you can see very clearly over the tops of cars and they can see you. Being hunched down and bent over limits your field of vision massively, and hides you behind vehicles and all the dayglo in the world ain’t gonna help if you’re hidden from sight. So get your bicycle a long stem for your handle bars and sit up properly. You only need to be low and aero if you’re doing some serious training.
9… Turn your phone off!!!!!!! You do not need pointless distractions while cycling. Don’t worry, the text messages, tweets and facebook updates will arrive when you switch it back on, and people can call back later – when it’s safer for you to answer.
10… Keep your bike in good running order, and know how to use it properly. You do not need something going drastically wrong with your bicycle, like your chain coming off or getting your trouser leg stuck in the chain, in the middle of a junction surrounded by moving vehicles.
And that’s my ten most important cycling safety things.
Have fun cycling safely.