The College's Cycling Officer Emily discuses the benefits of cycling and how to stay safe on the road.
When many people think of a cyclist, they imagine a lycra-clad lunatic manoeuvring dangerously through traffic. If you have driven through any city centre at rush hour, you will have no doubt witnessed this bad behaviour and felt frustrated by it. To make matters worse, these cyclists will often erupt into a self-righteous fury when confronted with a car horn. We’ve all been there. But it’s important to remember that these cyclists are, in reality, a minority of people who use bikes. In fact, the Dutch have two words for cyclists according to whether they use bikes for transport or sport; normal cyclists are called fietsers, and those wannabe Tour-de-France competitors are referred to as wielrenners. Maybe it’s time we make a similar distinction in English? Either way, more and more people are discovering that cycling is a great way for everyone to travel. Commuting on a bike will improve your health, save you money and cut travel time. Read on to learn more about why taking up cycling is the way forward!
Should I start cycling?
Whether you want to be healthier, more sociable or more money-conscious this year, cycling is a great option for you. Here’s why:
Cycling helps you lose weight. Commuting by bike for an hour every day (only 30 mins each way) will burn 22 pounds of fat in a year. That’s nearly two stone!
Cycling is good for your heart. It helps lower your blood pressure which reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Cycling reduces stress levels and fights depression. Exercise releases hormones called endorphins which improve your mood and reduce depression. If you commute by bike, you’re more likely to be productive and enjoy yourself at work!
Cycling is gentle on your joints and helps to improve muscle strength. Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, meaning you are very unlikely to injure your ankles, knees or hips. Your muscles will also get stronger and more toned which, in turn, helps to reduce pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Cycling is cheaper than driving or using public transport. Once you’ve bought a bike and a helmet, you have access to a completely free mode of transport. See below for ways to get your hands on a reliable bike that won’t break the bank.
Cycling can improve your social life. Many people who start cycling as a way of getting around enjoy it so much they join a cycling group and make friends for life. You don’t have to do this though – many others prefer to use cycling as an opportunity to get some ‘me time’!
Cycling is good for the environment. When you choose to cycle, you are not only choosing to stay healthy. You are also playing your part in reducing harmful air pollution in your area, making it a nicer place to live and work.
Where can I buy an affordable, reliable bike?
Getting your hands on a good quality, reliable bike doesn’t have to be expensive. If you are a staff member, you are eligible to use City of Glasgow College’s Cycle-to-Work Scheme. This allows you to buy a bike through a small monthly payment deducted from your salary.
Alternatively, anyone can buy a used bike. Bike for Good – a fantastic cycling community with shops in Queen’s Park and Kelvinhaugh – sell high-quality refurbished bikes starting at only £85. Visit the Bike for Good website for more information.
Is Cycling Safe?
If you’re thinking of taking up cycling, you may be daunted by the bad weather and darkness during winter. Cycling in the dark, and in wet and slippery conditions, certainly does require extra care but if you are sensible it is very safe! Wearing reflective clothing and using bike lights is especially important in winter.
For Road Safety Week 2020, City of Glasgow College organised a free webinar in collaboration with cycling accident law firm Cycle Law Scotland. Specialist lawyer Jodi Gordon highlighted the main dangers to cyclists and provided legal advice on what to do if you are involved if a cycling accident. If you missed the webinar, we have put together a list of FAQs.
1. What are the most common accidents involving cyclists?
The most common cycling accidents are usually caused by the following:
- Road surface
- Diesel spills
- Negligent motorists
- Uninsured drivers
- Hit and runs
- Group cycling
You can find more in-depth information on each of these accidents on the Cycle Law Scotland website.
2. What can I claim compensation for if I have a cycling accident?
Cycle Law Scotland can help you claim compensation for any of the following sustained in a cycling collision:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Multiple injuries
- Brain injuries
- Fatal injuries
- Rehabilitation costs
You can find more in-depth information on each of these accidents on the Cycle Law Scotland.
3. What should I do if I have been involved in a cycling accident?
Firstly, stay calm and don’t admit fault. Try and remember the acronym SCOP.
- STOP at the scene. If possible, alert oncoming traffic.
- CONTACT the police if anyone is injured, the collision is causing a hazard or someone has left the scene without exchanging details.
- OBTAIN the registration number(s) of vehicles involved.
- PHOTOGRAPH the scene of the accident and note road number/specific location. Photograph any road surface defect that may have caused the accident.
When you get home, record your own description of the accident. Include as much information as possible.
4. What should I do if the person who hit me won’t provide insurance details?
Make sure you record their number plate. It is also helpful to note the make/model of the car, as well as the driver’s name and contact details. However, the Police can obtain this information later if you have only recorded the driver’s number plate.
If the driver is aggressive or starts to drive away, take a quick photo of the car’s number plate instead of trying to write it down.
If you are injured and taken to hospital before you could obtain the registration number, the information will be held by Police Scotland if they have attended the scene.
5. What can Cycle Law Scotland do to help?
Cycle Law Scotland provides cyclists with unrivalled, specialist, personal representation with cycling accident claims.
If you have been injured in a cycling incident in Scotland within the last three years through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your loss, injury and damage.
If you are involved in an accident, Cycle Law Scotland can provide you with all the help you need. They will discuss your claim with you and provide answers to any questions you may have regarding responsibility for the accident and what you can claim for.
6. How can I contact Cycle Law Scotland?
You can phone Cycle Law Scotland on 0333 555 7783 or fill out the Contact Us form on their website.