If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, a speeding cyclist recently knocked down a 3-year-old boy who was jogging for the first time at a park connector (PCN) with his father. The father estimates that the cyclist was riding at 40 kmh (!) at the time. The accident knocked out one of the boy’s teeth and left him with bruises, a swollen lip and a 1 cm cut on his chin. And here’s the thing that really enrages me:
He (the father) had asked the cyclist why he did not stop.
The latter said his bike had no brakes and his feet were clipped to the pedals.
WHAT?! This is what we save vulgar language for (but I’ll try to restrain myself). He was probably riding a fixie (YouTube video on how to stop), and stopping distance at that speed with no brakes is really, really far (see, for example, this video at 0:32) especially if the cyclist didn’t know what he was doing (likely).
I’m an avid cyclist (~115 km in the last 5 days, woohoo!), and I ride mostly on PCNs. There are peak periods on PCNs — weekends, evenings, and so on — when families are out with little children who aren’t really aware that there are idiotic cyclists sharing the paths with them. Many cyclists are sensible, but some are somewhat lacking in common sense.
So, here are a few tips for cyclists on the PCNs.
(For the rest of you, just be very careful! Hold on to your children! Keep to one side!)
Tips for cyclists
1. Go fast only when the path is completely clear.
I’ll admit that I break the nParks speed limit (15 kmh) pretty often. But I only do it when I am absolutely certain that the path is clear. When there are human beings in front of you, slow down, especially if there’s a chance that they will suddenly swerve into your path.
Watch out especially for:
– teenagers who might playfully push their friend(s) directly into your path
– joggers who might execute U-turns into your path
– cyclists who aren’t paying attention
Even if you’re riding slowly, be very careful.
I was once cycling with my girlfriend, and we saw a toddler playing ahead of us. We slowed way down (jogging speed). The mother of the toddler was telling him to be careful, and as she did that, the kid swerved right into our paths. It was a narrow miss. Even at that speed, you still have to give allowance for some stopping distance. God help you if your brakes are worn. (I have nice fancy disc brakes! :D)
2. Be aware that your bell can make people panic
When approaching joggers/walkers from behind, be prepared for people to jump into your path as a reflex, especially if your bell is loud or if you ring it too late.
I’ve found that shouting ahead (e.g. “Hello! Can I pass please?”) tends to give better results, since people can register both your position and speed with a little bit more ease. Saying “thank you” will also sometimes get you a cheerful response!
3. Keep your eyes open, all the time
I understand that some of us ride to near-exhaustion, and it gets very tempting to put your head down (i.e. staring at the pedals) at that point. Please, avoid doing that. Squishy humans can come out of nowhere, and you really, really do not want to be surprised by a kid running out from the bushes.
4. Keep to the left — but not all the time
There are certain PCNs where it makes sense to keep to the right, rather than the left. Exercise your judgement.
5. If you’re going as fast as a car, use the roads
Pls. AND GET BRAKES.