THE SUNDAY STORY Cyclists in the U.K. are at serious risk of severe injury or death from accidents involving motor vehicles

For many decades I have used a bicycle for all local transport, shopping, and commuting to and from work in the U.K. For longer journeys within the U.K., I use trains, and occasionally local buses; both those services are expensive and can be unreliable. I have not owned a car for nearly 25 years, and have ridden a bicycle at all times of day and night, in temperatures ranging from minus 18C to plus 37C, and in conditions from perfect visibility and dry roads to ice, snow, sleet, heavy rain, 60-knot winds, and fog.

Despite the extent of regulation and self-regulation of British road traffic in comparison to Indian traffic, cyclists in the U.K. are at serious risk of severe injury or death from accidents involving motor vehicles, and I have myself been very fortunate in that on one occasion I was not killed when in clear conditions with very little traffic a car turned directly across from the opposite side and struck my bicycle. I wear a yellow-and-black helmet, display lights even when these may not be legally required, and regard every operator of a motor vehicle of any kind as a potential killer.

In Chennai I ride a bicycle for local shopping and general exercise, but in general at times when traffic is quieter, and over a much smaller area than I used to cover even five years ago. I have nothing printable to say about the standard of Indian roads, road layout and maintenance, signage, or road behaviour, and cannot foresee any improvement in any of those. It has occurred to me that the safest way to ride a bicycle in India is to enclose your bicycle in a large box of armour-plated steel, which must then be equipped with caterpillars as well as a four-inch gun and a remote-controlled machine-gun on top of the turret. It is called a tank.

Keywords: bicycleIndiaUKroad traffic

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