Thursday, 2 February 2012

Be Seen Don't Die

A few days ago, driving home from work, I pulled out of a side street onto the main road and nearly killed a cyclist.

Reflective man: not dead
Those are horrible, awful words to write. The evenings are very dark at the moment, and this cyclist was wearing dark clothes, with no front-facing lights on his bike and no helmet. I only saw him because he passed through the headlights of another car waiting to pull onto the road. I slammed on the brakes and he swerved, almost into oncoming traffic, in the nick of time. He gave me the finger and ploughed on into the night, living to die another day.

The old ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ slogan doesn’t go far enough for me. ‘Be Seen Don’t Die’ would probably get the message across better. Being as I am hugely in favour of people cycling, walking and running their commute, I must in the same breath be hugely in favour of reflective and hi-vis gear for everyone doing these things, in addition to helmets as a matter of course for cyclists. I was asked recently why I wear my bike helmet even for laughably short journeys and for cycling on bike paths (as opposed to roads). I replied that I have to wear it because I am horribly allergic to brain damage.

When I run at night you will see me with at least one, often two sets of lights (red flashing LEDs on my rucksack or ankle and sometimes a headtorch if going anywhere without streetlights), as well as a hi-vis and reflective jacket. I wear light colours and even have reflective strips on my gloves. All that and I’m only using pavements and footpaths for the majority of the time.

For cyclists, it is required by law to have both white front and red rear lights when cycling at night. I’m starting to think that the something similar should apply to runners – at least a hi-vis requirement. If as a cyclist you’re not using lights, not only are you committing a crime but are endangering your life and possibly other people’s. What a stupid and reckless way to behave.

It’s so simple and obvious to me. I don’t want to die under the wheels of a bus in pursuit of a few seconds shaved off a PB.

I run because... is happy to endorse not dying pointlessly. Glad I could clear that up.

Happy running


2012 to date: miles run - 16.3, miles biked: 6.4, metres swum: 750

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