Wednesday, 15 October 2014

See and be seen!

Lights are on now for the school run and we all need to allow extra time to look out for everyone else on our journey to school. Unfortunately SMIDSY collisions ("sorry mate I didn't see you") happen at any time of year, but in the dark and wet it's worth making an extra effort to see and be seen.

How to learn good road positioning - to see and be seen

Good road positioning for our children crossing the roads or cycling to school becomes even more important when drivers' visibility is worse due to the weather, low sun, mist, fog, rain, darkness. Some drivers set off before completely clearing a frosty windscreen so have a very narrow field of vision. Others are distracted by mobile phones or toddlers. And all brakes are less efficient in the wet.
  • If you haven't taken advantage of the free cycle training from Cycle Confident we strongly recommend that the whole family signs up. The course includes where to position yourself on the road and at junctions as well as making eye contact and clearly signalling intent so that you can best see and be seen. This teaches valuable traffic skills and awareness whether or not you ride a bike regularly, and can help us all become better and more considerate drivers too.

Light up your bike

Make sure you and your children have bike lights and use them. It's illegal to cycle on a public road after dark without white front and red rear lights, a red rear reflector, and amber pedal reflectors. Any local bike shop will be able to help and can also check your brakes and tyres at the same time.

Once you've got the essentials covered you can have lots of fun blinging your bike with any other sparkly stuff including extra lights, and material which reflects light from car headlamps in the dark.
  • Try reflective tape on jackets, gloves, bags, frames and more, or buy reflective panniers or rucksack covers.
  • You can fix extra lights on your spokes, hats, shoes, gloves...
  • Reflective ankle bands are useful as their up and down movement gives a good clue to others that you're riding a bike (performing the same function as pedal reflectors). 
  • You can buy ready-made reflective gear, or add reflective stickers or tape yourself.

Be visible during the day too

In daylight, colours that give contrast to your surroundings can help you stand out. In a grey urban environment this usually means a mixture of bright / light colours.

Make sure you can see - shield your eyes

A peaked cap can help keep rain, sleet or snow out of your eyes, so that you can see what's going on  in plenty of time to make manoeuvres safely. This is especially useful if you wear glasses which can get steamed up and don't have windscreen wipers! If you like to wear a helmet, you can get a helmet with a peak, or wear a cap underneath it.

On foot

  • We all know it makes sense to 'stop, look, listen'. Taking care crossing the road ideally also means finding a well-lit space to cross away from parked cars. 
  • Be patient - remember that cars take longer to stop in the wet, and the bigger and heavier the vehicle the longer it takes to brake. 
  • Depending on the age and road sense of your child, you might want to encourage them to wear a reflective jacket or bag that makes it easier to be seen in the dark. 
  • Some Dulwich roads and paths are not well lit; it can make a walk home in the dark more fun if you carry a torch too.

Behind the Wheel

  • When you're driving in winter, give plenty of space to people on bikes or on foot who might be difficult to see and slower than usual, and might make unpredictable movements if they slip or swerve.
  • Take extra care at junctions, and give way to pedestrians who have started to cross. 
  • Please don't park on double yellows or zig zag lines during their operating hours. It's illegal and makes it much harder for children to find a safe place to cross the road or a safe place to cycle.