An interesting article in the Evening Standard caught my attention last week.
Inside, behavioural psychologist Crawford Hollingworth, suggested some quick changes cyclists can make to their next bike ride.
Let’s take a look at three of the suggestions.
1. Vary up your cycling route
Over time, we all pick our favourite routes through London and use them consistently. This familiarity however, can lead us to cycle in autopilot mode where we are not looking out for dangers as much as we might be in an unfamiliar route.
According to Hollingworth, choosing a new route could heighten our focus and alertness.
It’s an interesting suggestion and clearly with some merit. Although, you could argue that the benefit of cycling along a route that you know well means you know where the dangers are likely to come from and how to avoid them. Additionally, on a new route, you might be too busy trying to work out where to turn, as opposed to looking for dangers.
2. Use two sets of rear and front lights on different modes
The article states that a flashing light can increase awareness, whilst a static light helps with judging perspective and distance. Two bike lights are safer than one, seems like a reasonable finding. Just make sure you are not blinding other cyclists or drivers with lights that are pointed too high. We’ve got a roundup of some of the best selling bike lights here.
3. Use bike light symbols
The final suggestion is to use a bike light that projects a cycling symbol. According to Hollingworth, we process familiar symbols very rapidly. The cyclist symbol would therefore make a difference in how quickly a driver reacts to a cyclist.
There are a two products I know of that can do this. One of them is the Blaze Laserlight (which we looked at here) and the other is the Brainy Bike Light, sold by Hollingworth, the author of the suggestions.
It’s certainly an interesting idea and Hollingworth appears to have the research to back it.
Overall, I still believe that going on a two hour free cycle training course is one of the best things you can do to improve your safety when cycling in London. When you combine that with safer cycling infrastructure you can see a future where no cyclists are killed on London’s roads. Fortunately, with work starting on the new North / South Cycle Superhighway in the next few days, that future seems to be finally becoming a reality.