Now that we are seeing a welcome increase in the popularity of cycling, I don’t want to put a damper on the proceedings or spoil anyone’s fun but I do think that a word or two about personal safety when cycling might prove to be a timely warning.
The fact is that whenever a population starts doing something new, participating in a new trend, or whatever, the ungodly are quick to find a way to exploit the situation. We already had a warning shot across our bows, so to speak, when, almost coinciding with the news that Bristol was to be the number one cycling demonstration city, there was a further report of a cyclist or cyclists being robbed on the Bristol to Bath cycle path. I’m afraid that I didn’t dismiss this as an unfortunate one-off.
It is said that if you want to avoid being a victim of crime you should try to think like a criminal. Well, there is plenty of good advice on-line about how and where to secure your bike when you park it and about insurance of the bike and other valuables and keeping good records including photographs for later identification etc. But what about the rest of the time when you are out and about?
How difficult would it be, in a quiet location, on or off the road, to ambush a cyclist and separate him or her from the bike, mobile phone and any other valuables? Very easy, I would suggest, but I am not about to publish a guidebook for criminals here (or anywhere for that matter) so I will leave the rest to your imagination – and if you can imagine that situation you are halfway to avoiding it by applying a few basic commonsense rules.
For example, avoid (if possible) cycling alone in unpopulated places. If you see trouble or suspicious activity, cycle away from it. Don’t carry valuables that you don’t need to have with you. Finally, isn’t it better to be safe, even if poorer, than seriously injured or worse while resisting a robbery? Unless you are a Black Belt in martial arts in which case you probably don’t need to be reading this!