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I used to cycle a lot, and decided to try taking it back up after last year's Olympics.

But it feels like almost every time I try to go out for a ride I nearly get taken out by someone passing far too close and giving no warning. As I'm partially sighted this is particularly terrifying. I can spot things ahead of me with plenty of time to avoid nasty incidents if I keep my concentration up, but that leaves me less aware of what's going on behind me, and I can't see well enough to pick out number plates if I need to report someone. I also rely on hearing to detect cars coming up but when the traffic is heavier I can't pick out individual cars over the general background roar of traffic.

I'm in a full time job and pay my taxes just like everyone else, I've every right to be on the road. But drivers, either through ignorance or malice are making me feel very unwelcome on the roads.

The idea of quitting to me is galling because like I said, I have every right to be on the road, and I can see well enough to avoid getting into trouble provided the people coming up behind me don't act like morons. But I also don't want to end up dead.

Have you got any advice for me?

I live in the Greater Manchester area

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This is really a discussion-starter and not an answerable question. Maybe it can be edited to ask, say, a risk-assessment question or something else? –  Neil Fein May 11 '13 at 18:29
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closed as not constructive by Neil Fein, jimirings, freiheit May 14 '13 at 23:43

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4 Answers

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All you say is absolutely true, the rest of us just put up with it I suppose.

But here's a suggestion that's specific to where you live - if you want to get back on the bike, how about heading for the velodrome? http://www.nationalcyclingcentre.com/t/velodrome-track

Obviously this would depend just how good your sight is, but this is something I've discovered over the last 6 months (not at Manchester but at Calshot on the south coast). Very exhilarating and of course no traffic to contend with.

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A quick Google indicates the there are blind/partially sighted events in the velodrome for the paralympics, so this is a possibility to consider. Even if you aren't interested in doing it competitively. Although from reading it seems that (at least some events) are on a tandem with one sighted rider. Seems to bring up other possibilities. –  Kibbee May 11 '13 at 19:37
    
@Kibbee yes a great idea. I was on a cycling holiday in Mallorca over Easter and the organizers said they had something set up for a partially-sighted group where they would ride tandems. Can you imagine though, that's some leap of faith on descents! –  PeteH May 11 '13 at 19:49
    
Yeah, you would have to trust the person you're riding with quite a bit. Probably something you have to work up to. Start off slow and work your way up. –  Kibbee May 11 '13 at 22:48
    
start off slow and stay slow methinks! –  PeteH May 13 '13 at 17:54
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A few suggestions:

  • Get some training. This will cover things like correct road positioning, which can make a big difference to how other road users interact with you.

  • Try quieter routes or cycling at different times of day when there is less traffic around. This cycle route planner will help with routes.

  • Try to find other people to cycle with. Cycling in a group is much less intimidating, but even one other person should make a difference.

  • I use a mirror which helps to keep track of what's behind me. I don't know if that would work for someone who is partially sighted, but it's probably worth trying.

It's also worth remembering that the majority of cycling accidents occur at junctions. It's relatively rare for a car to drive into the back of the cyclist.

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Contact your local bike shop and see if they sponsor a group road ride. I know several in my area offer rides for novices and explain how and where to ride safely in a group setting. They plan them during low traffic times so you can get accustomed to traffic. –  mikes May 11 '13 at 19:37
    
Sadly the only remotely low traffic period around here is night time, and I'm definitely not getting on a bike when it's not broad daylight. As for training, I already did cycling proficiency, I understand how to act around other road users. The problem is certain other road users either don't know how to act around cyclists when it comes to passing or just don't care. –  GordonM May 11 '13 at 20:43
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Have you explored corrective measures for the eyesight. If you have and are still struggling to see what is straight ahead it may not just be moving traffic coming up behind you that could pose a risk. The ability to read a number plate from around 30m is a fairly basic requirement and this might mean you are missing other risks and riding your luck a little. Even on quiet country roads not being fully aware of other road users or failing to see hidden junctions and emerging traffic could pose a risk as well. Probably not the answer you are seeking but please cycle safe.

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One tip I have picked up to avoid cars passing so close is to ride further away from the kerb (but not so far you're hogging the road and then drivers get annoyed).

This seems to have some pycological effect on drivers to give you more room. I can't explain it, but found it to work in most cases.

I have also seen bikes with mirrors fitted and some sort of plastic distance keeper (a pole that sticks out with a reflector on, I would imagine this needs to break if a car hits it.)

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