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Cycling in London – call for compassion

It’s that time of year again when we go about our daily business and many of us commute to and from work in the dark, often in wet weather, when road safety can be challenging on our over-crowded roads.

As a cyclist fairly new to London, I find the commute harder: clad in as much day-glo as possible and armed with retina-burning lights I try to make myself highly visible as I share the road with fast-moving traffic. Wet weather and surface water make conditions treacherous, reducing my braking power and increasing the time I need to respond to any threat. If that sounds melodramatic, try taking a Boris bike out for a ride and see for yourself! The daily free-for-all takes on a whole new dimension at this time of year.

Do we road users adequately consider the extent to which these seasonal changes in conditions affect safety on our roads and alter our behaviour to make greater allowances for one another? Many do yet others or just carry on as normal, running red lights, driving or riding too close to one another, pushing our way around.

Reduced visibility and tricky conditions ought to equate to greater care and a less frenetic/aggressive approach to road use. Perhaps we could adopt a gentler pace to allow pedestrians to cross in peace, cyclists to proceed safely and to give way to others?

Adding a few seconds to our journey time to show consideration for others won’t make much difference to the time we spend stuck in traffic but it will make a huge difference to how we feel in response to the situation.

I read recently that compassion is the new buzzword: if you display it in your dealings with others, not only will you feel happier but you will make others feel better too. What better way to start a new year?