Last May, BikeBiz.com took to task the Institute of Advanced Motorists for releasing a press release claiming that 57% of all cyclists run red lights. It turned out the website poll "research" cited in the release was highly misleading. IAM had singled out cyclists yet even though it had data on motorist red light running it did not release this data.
Now, perhaps to make amends, the organisation has issued a release urging people to get out on bikes. This is a good thing, but some of the advice is terrible. Despite IAM having a cycle training section on its website the cycling press release – full text of which is at the base of this article – was based on advice from "Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger."
The press release – headline: "Have a bank holiday bike binge" – is littered with duff advice.
"You’ve got the right saddle height when you’re sitting on the saddle and touching the ground with the balls of both feet," claims Rodger. This is woefully mistaken advice and would lead to an ungainly, uncomfortable and inefficient position on the bike.
"Ride defensively and always make the assumption that you may not have been seen by other road users," says Rodger.
Freelance journalist Simon Munk, who writes for national newspapers, sometimes on cycling, said:
"I’m not even sure what riding "defensively" looks like. But I’d suggest that to many non-cyclists it might imply, for instance, hugging the kerb. I’d suggest riding "assertively" is the term that was being looked for?"
"Remember that getting to the front of a queue is a great advantage – but sometimes it’s better to be as a cyclist a little more relaxed and less rushed, just as a car driver might be," asserts Rodger.
Munk counters: "As most cyclists, drivers and pretty much all road users know, the reality is it’s far from likely that the average car driver will be "more relaxed and less rushed". It’s hardly good advice to tell cyclists to behave like drivers, or to pretend that the average driver is relaxed and not rushed when the reality is evident to anyone who goes near a road, just about ever."
Rodger’s advice on spacing is OK but he seems to think car doors have a life of their own:
"Keep a door width’s space between yourself and parked cars in case anybody opens the door without looking – collisions between car doors and cyclists are worryingly common."
Naturally, Rodger’s advice ends with the admonition to don headgear: "And though they may not be a legal requirement, helmets are a must."
Monk said: "The "tips" presented in the press release seem to have been written by someone with little real-world knowledge of cycle training, cycle safety or cycling. They’re not in many cases based on evidence or the latest in cycle training ideas.
"I doubt IAM would want to put out such an uninformed tip sheet for motorists – why does the organisation think that such an approach is acceptable for cycling?"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
02 May 2013
Have a bank holiday bike binge
Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from
Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is advising
on getting back into cycling in time for bank holiday weekend.
Inflate your tyres to the right pressure, adjust the saddle to the
right height for you, and make sure the gears and brakes work
properly. You’ve got the right saddle height when you’re sitting on
the saddle and touching the ground with the balls of both feet. If you
set your saddle too high, this could lead to balance issues when you
come to a stop.
Ride defensively and always make the assumption that you may not have
been seen by other road users.
At a junction, never wait on the left of lorries or buses – wait where
you can see the driver, and try to make eye contact so you know
they’ve seen you too.
If you can’t be certain you will get in front safely before the lorry
or bus moves away, wait behind it, and avoid cycling up the left of it
– the driver probably cannot see you in the mirrors, especially if the
light is dim.
Remember that getting to the front of a queue is a great advantage –
but sometimes it’s better to be as a cyclist a little more relaxed and
less rushed, just as a car driver might be.
Keep a door width’s space between yourself and parked cars in case
anybody opens the door without looking – collisions between car doors
and cyclists are worryingly common.
Keep looking well ahead, so you can see potholes and don’t have to
swerve to go round them. As you tire, or work harder up a hill you
tend to look down more – remember to keep your head up, looking far
enough in front.
Keep a good awareness of what traffic is doing behind you, so that if
anyone passes too close it doesn’t startle you, and you can plan how
to deal with things before they happen.
If you haven’t ridden for a while, get used to it again on shorter
trips – don’t make the 12 mile commute the first ride you do in 6
Get the right equipment to maximise your visibility. In dull or dark
conditions you must have a white front light and red tail light. Wear
something bright or reflective so you can be seen more easily. And
though they may not be a legal requirement, helmets are a must.
IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “With hopefully improved weather
over the next few months, why not dust off your bicycle and use it for
short trips you would normally make in the car? It’s a great way to
exercise and saves on fuel.”
Notes to editors:
Follow us on Twitter @IAMgroup.
Peter Rodger is the IAM’s chief examiner
The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated
to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and