I live in Roath, in Cardiff. I have two kids. I don’t own a car. Occasionally, I find I need to borrow one. Sometimes I find I need to hire one. Otherwise I commute to work, travel for work, shop, go to leisure activities and do just about everything using my bike. Sometimes I take it on trains. And sometimes of course I walk.
I’ve lived in Cardiff, doing most things by bike, for fifteen years. In that time, I’ve been
- doored by a careless car passenger while cycling in a painted bike lane with my infant son in a bike seat.
- been spat at from a car
- been driven into by a driver who turned right without indicating or looking
- been driven at deliberately on several occasions
- been subjected to death threats and obscene verbal abuse by drivers
- and also been subjected, nearly every time I get on the bike, to dangerous close overtakes, drivers cutting me up at junctions, drivers ignoring my priority at chicanes etc etc etc.
Following an incident in 2017 where I was verbally abused and threatened with violence by a Range Rover driver one night on Albany Road, I got myself a helmet camera. Since then I’ve been sharing incident videos on Twitter, mainly to raise awareness of how badly cyclists are routinely treated by drivers in Cardiff – incidents that stem from carelessness mostly, occasionally from malice, but each of which has the potential to be highly dangerous and even lethal. I share videos of these incidents not only to raise awareness, but also to help campaign for changes – to improve infrastructure in order to prioritise vulnerable road users, to improve how drivers are trained so they actually know to look for cyclists, and to improve how offences committed by drivers against cyclists and pedestrians are prosecuted and punished.
If this sounds a bit partial, a bit biased – well, it is. In the same way the Highway Code is partial and biased, if you like. Did you know, for example, it has a whole section directed at drivers entitled ‘Road Users Requiring Extra Care’? If only more drivers were trained to understand that bit of a text that (let’s face it) most of them scan once then put aside, there’d be a lot less of a need for any cyclists to have helmet cams, and also for websites like this.
I want to see in Cardiff safe, convenient bike infrastructure – which means protected lanes, taking some of the road space that has been allocated to motor vehicles over the last century. Bike lanes that go where people want to go, and maximise the opportunities to travel actively, healthily and safely for people from 8 to 80 and beyond, able-bodied and with disabilities.
Cardiff Council has started a journey towards that destination by building strategic cycle routes. But it’s a long one. And on the way, the issues that people on bikes have had to deal with – every day, for years – are not going to suddenly vanish.