It’s New Year’s Eve and many people will be thinking about resolutions for 2014.
Many of those people will be thinking about cycling. Perhaps you’re one of them. Deep down you know it makes sense – cycling brings free travel, fitness, fresh air, freedom, security, sociability and well-being. Who wouldn’t want a year full of these wonderful things?
But perhaps you’re also someone who is fearful of riding a bicycle. With all the scaremongering around – which is disseminated, bizarrely, by cycle campaigners as much as the mainstream media – cycling can seem intimidating.
In actual fact, there is little to worry about. One report has summarised that the risks involved in cycling are ‘minimal’ and ‘outweighed by the health benefits by a factor of around twenty to one’.
Of course, safe cycling is very important – take some simple safety advice before you go. So is keeping your wits about you when you ride; don’t be a fool who cycles with headphones in. And you can always avoid heavy traffic by planning a route properly, sticking to quiet streets, parks and canals. That’s what I do.
But, at the end of the day (or, indeed, the end of the year), to confront your fear of cycling you just need to get out there and ride - just like you did when you were a kid. As the American cycling advocate Richard Ballantine notes, ‘the bicycle is its own best argument’.
All the best for 2014 – I hope it’s a great ride.
Ben Irvine, Cycle Lifestyle Editor.