New course promotes safe cycling in the city

As trainees on a bike training course stood and watched, a cyclist rode around one of the busiest roundabouts in London without his hands being on the handlebars.

Another rider then headed at speed towards oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road and used a 3 lane exit route on the roundabout at the Elephant and Castle, one of the most congested road junctions in London.

These are extreme examples of how not to ride a bike, said cycle trainer Jon Pook, who with colleague Mathew Styman were recently with National Grid employees observing road users as part of a cycle training course for commuters.

Trainers with TTC Group’s Cycle Experience, they were demonstrating the lack of observation by some road users.

“Untrained cyclists rarely look over their shoulders to see what is going on behind them. Observing how road users interact with each other is a very good way of showing people how not to do it,” said Jon.

“But most people who take the bike to work are experienced cyclists and may not have considered the benefits of training. We aim to teach them how to stay safe in towns and cities and avoid the many traffic hazards on the road today by developing a safe riding strategy.”

Keen cyclists from the National Grid’s Strand office were on a one day theory and practical cycling course as part of the firm’s corporate responsibility in making staff safer when cycling to and from work.

A classroom session was followed by the traffic observation and a ride taking in the less congested Lambeth Bridge roundabout at its junction with Millbank.

There are 200 million bicycle trips made in the capital every year and the introduction of the popular “Boris bikes” just over three years ago has also encouraged cycling in the City. Over the past five years, cycle deaths have remained at between 11 and 14 each year.

“The practical session provided real live examples of how everyone can make their own cycling safer,” said National Grid Committee Secretary Antonia Dennis.

“It was a really good idea to watch traffic at a busy roundabout. I was quite surprised by the lack of communication between driver and cyclist. It’s certainly an eye opener to watch cyclists interact with drivers, or not in some cases.”

A mix of experienced and novice cyclists learned more about hazard perception, road position, traffic signs, defensive riding, and how to protect themselves from lorries and buses, she added.

“The training was impressive and well worth doing,” added Antonia, whose firm has educated, through TTC Group’s Cycle Experience, a total of 60 cyclists from offices in London, Wokingham and Warwick.

“National Grid does also have it’s own instructors but will certainly be liaising with TTC Group Cycle Experience in future to share best practice and to use TTC to cover specific training needs such as with our London office where we felt the candidates would have more confidence in trainers experienced in London cycling.”