On being WisWoB

I am, temporarily, WisWoB – Woman In Suit Without Brompton – as my Brompton is in BikeTrax having a bit of a service. I could probably do some of the jobs myself, but in the end I don’t know when I’d have time to, and it is quite good to have an expert eye on it. Anyway, this means I need to use the minibus to get from the station to the office, and that leads me to something that I always notice when I get the minibus – apart from the driver, I am the only person who puts on my seatbelt. It is interesting to me that my fellow minibus passengers don’t feel that they are taking a risk travelling without a seatbelt, and yet I suspect that many people would think that I am taking more risks by cycling on the same roads. I have no idea which activity is actually statistically more dangerous – my suspicion is that there simply aren’t the statistics to answer the question! The truth is, of course, that the consequences of an accident in either mode of transport would be bad.

Perception of risk is such a strange thing – I’ve seen someone on a rock climbing forum declare that they wouldn’t ride a bicycle on the road because it is “too dangerous” – this from someone whose chosen sport has the participation statement “…climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.” I’ve been on Scottish mountains in winter as well as summer, and I’ve done a bit of rock climbing and scrambling. I’d say all these things are more dangerous than riding a bicycle. I wonder if it is the sense that your safety is in someone else’s hands when you’re sharing the roads with vehicles that is one of the things that mean that people perceive it as dangerous? Note the bit about “…responsible for thier own actions…” . And yet, mountains are by their nature dangerous. The only way to avoid the dangers is to keep away. There are lots of ways to make cycling safer. You can avoid places with traffic. You can slow the motorised traffic down (traffic dangerous thing, of course – I don’t think many people would claim that riding my bike along an empty road is dangerous…) You can segregate bikes from traffic.

And yet, I’m going to go on remembering that cyclists live longer on average, and that I like cycling. Anyway, I should be getting the Brompton back later. But, when I get the minibus back to the station, I’ll be putting on my seatbelt…

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