OK - the nights are closing in around us rapidly; it is now dark when I walk out of the office at 5.30. It is also not particularly bright first thing in the morning, and is going to carry on getting darker. So, I have a plea towards all users of the roads...
*DISCLAIMER* I am a pedestrian and a motorist, but not a cyclist...
Yes, your long black coat looks really rather nifty. Very gothic / Blade, and I'm sure that it also keeps you very dry. However, when you have the hood up, and you are wearing black, you become a little shadow moving through the night. Not very visisble. Please do not step out into the road without looking, even if it is raining, and you don't want to get your face wet. Especially if it is raining! And, to be perfectly honest, with the orange city lights, pretty much *any* colour either gets washed out into the surrounding light colour, or darkened to black. Scarily, it is actually quite difficult to see you if you are wearing white! In order to ensure that you are visible, it would be nice if you could wear something reflective; arm bands or high vis vests, (and yes, I practice what I preach - I wear both...), or a light attached to an arm. Use designated crossings if they are available (zebra / traffic lights etc) - even if it means walking an extra twenty paces. It might help stop a driver having a heart attack as they test their brakes to destruction!
A lot of what I've said for pedestrians also applies to you. If you have a black bike, you are dressed all in black, and you don't have lights on your bike (as the cyclist we saw on the way back from the cinema last week), then you are asking to have an accident! *PLEASE* put lights on your bike (it is the law (number 60)), and please also be aware that flashing lights actually make it harder for someone who is coming towards you to judge your speed, and therefore how far away you are. Steady lights in addition to flashing ones are so much better.
At this point, I would also normally put in a rant about how it is also against the law to cycle on the pavement unless it is a marked cycle lane (number 64), however, I do also know that Bristol is not a safe place for cyclists - the cycle lanes are small, and often disappear! But, if you are going to use the pavement, all of the above rules apply - make sure you are visible, wear lights, and give way to pedestrians - the pavement is for them, not you! Also, if you are old enough to cycle on the road, you are old enough to obey the laws of the road. This includes stopping at red lights and zebra crossings (I am talking to YOU - the lady who thought the red light wasn't for her, and knocked an elderly gentleman in front of me flying) - a little thought is all it takes!
Motorists (Cars, Vans, Lorries, Motorbikes etc).
OK - regardless of what I have put above, there are still idiots out there who are determined to commit suicide, and go out into the black night dressed all in black, they don't look when they cross the road, and they walk on and off the pavements because they don't understand that they can walk one behind each other. So a little bit of care is needed, particularly in urban areas. If the road speed is 30mph, then please stick to the limit. Please don't drive up the tailpipe of the person ahead of you just because *they* are trying to stick to the limit. It isn't going to kill you to take two minutes longer to get to your destination. However, if the person ahead of you stops suddenly, and you go into the back of them, then you are entirely at fault, and it will be you who might get the "Driving without Due Care and Attention" prosecution. If it is raining, your stopping distance is longer - be aware and don't go quite so fast! *You* know where you are going, you might have travelled this journey many times. However, the rest of us don't. Your psychic abilities are not as great as you think they are. So please SIGNAL when you are turning or pulling out. This includes roundabouts and lanes which have a little arrow painted on them to tell you which direction you are going in. A pedestrian waiting to cross the road ahead can't see those arrows, and doesn't know where you are going! It doesn't actually take that much energy to signal, and it will help with the heart attacks because the pedestrian who thinks you are going straight on won't step out in front of you!
I doubt anyone who actually reads this blog is guilty of any of the faults above, but after several near misses, I just had to get it off my chest!