Get on Your Bikes and Ride



Get on your bikes and ride!Steve's piccy 1

This time around we have a little introductory blog from PC 5815 Steve Hudson the “diesel engine” of the Safer Cycling Team. We did promise a piece on the use of on board camera’s in cycling and their role in prosecutions, this is on the way, a couple of us are using camera’s ourselves on our commutes so it should be well worth waiting for. But for now here’s Steve, he shares the workload on the Safer Cycling Team so you’ll be getting a few pieces from him in the near future…

Hello all and thanks for taking the time to engage with us again.

I would like to take the time to discuss more cycling related issues, and hopefully give you another view of not only the Safer Cycling Team, but also a cycling Traffic officer.

Firstly I would like to introduce myself. I work with Mark Hodson on the Safer Cycling Team, and am also stationed at the same Traffic office in Chelmsley Wood, working 24/7. I have over 18 years of service as a Police officer, 30 years experience as a road cyclist, and even longer as a Star Wars fan!

Steve's piccy 5

The “Diesel Engine” on tour

Now as we all know, there are many different types of cyclists. From the elite racers, all the way down to the youngest of cyclists starting out on their first balance bike, and we all have our part to play in the future of safe cycling on the roads. I am what can probably be described as a reliable diesel engined cyclist. I’m never going to trouble any Strava records, but I’ll be the one with a little left in the tank at the end of a long ride to enjoy my tea and cake, after carting too much luggage around the countryside!

I would consider myself a pragmatic cyclist in that I am a believer of being safe above all else. We have all seen instances where road users, cyclists included, have put themselves in appalling road positions, even though they are putting themselves and others at personal risk. I have seen motor vehicles perform unnecessary overtaking manoeuvres close to junctions and other hazards, and cyclists undertake moving vehicles with no escape plan in place. There are, of course, countless other infractions from all road users that not only put people in danger, but openly contravene road traffic law, but these offences have been covered before, and will be done so again in the future. Bad road use is not the sole property of the motor vehicle, however the risks are obviously far greater due to the size and weight of a motor vehicle over that of a cyclist and bike.

Now before I am lambasted from all angles, I am aware that all road users have the right have their views heard, and I am always welcoming of feedback from all groups, however, this blog is being published with a slightly different agenda, and really as an introduction from me to you. We will continue to address road traffic law, for all road users, and will publish more on this in the future. To plagiarise a great teacher, “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” Moral victory to the first person to guess the teacher!

For those that have met me at our cycling events, you will know that I am always keen to promote the use of cycling as a means of transport, as well as a leisure interest. The thought of sitting in a line of single occupied vehicle’s, in a daily slog to and from work, only to be overtaken by cyclists, and sometimes pedestrians, would be too much for me. I know there are many that have no other choice but to commute by car, but there are also many that do. For those that haven’t tried it yet, give it a try, you’ll be amazed at how much livelier you’ll feel at work in the morning after a cycle ride. I am aware that barriers are in place that prevent lots of people being able to cycle to work, childcare, insufficient facilities at their place of work, length of journey being just a few, but I also know that there are a large percentage of motorists without these barriers, who would benefit the overloaded roads network by the occasional cycle to work. I am expecting the usual feedback on this subject, so don’t hold back!

I would like to take a moment to just cover a couple of points from an earlier blog relating to helmet use. I know that there are still a large number of cyclists who don’t wear helmets during their daily commute, and I also know that the compulsory wearing of helmets is not law and probably won’t be anytime soon. I do cycle myself without a helmet on rare occasions, however these are usually as a heavily laden cycle tourist cycling up some of the wonderful peaks of our country, at little more than walking pace and with very little road traffic. I am not going to get on my soapbox to quote statistics on the virtues of helmet use, but I would like to say in my years of experience, I’ve yet to see a cyclist related road traffic collision worsened by the wearing of a helmet. I can genuinely say that since joining the Traffic department some years ago, and seeing the consequences of collisions involving cyclists, I wear my helmet far more than I used to.

What I am seeing as a growing trend of commuting cyclists, is the use of headphones either to listen to music, or converse on the phone. Now without pointing out the obvious risks, consider this. Your vital 2 senses as a cyclist are vision and hearing, and when you intentionally deprive yourself of one of these senses, your awareness of the dangers around you obviously decreases hugely. Before I am reminded, there is no law preventing you from listening to music whilst cycling, but you wouldn’t cycle with your eyes closed, even using the force, so why risk it?

A Safer Cycling Exchanging Places event in action

A Safer Cycling Exchanging Places event in action

We, as the Safer Cycling Team, are lucky to have the opportunity to share our views and thoughts with you in a public forum, with our growing commitment to our Cycle Safety days with support from our partnership agencies and the ongoing assistance of Jaguar Land Rover. Our events will always be advertised unashamedly on our Twitter feed, and it would be great to see you there. Whether it’s to take a HGV eye view of the road, sample the freebies on offer, or just chat about anything cycling with us. Please come along, despite reports to the contrary, Traffic officers are approachable!

And finally, to quote a great man recently passed, “I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.”

Steve Hudson




3 thoughts on “Get on Your Bikes and Ride

  1. Dave H (@BCCletts)

    Love the digital “I speak your speed” sign just leaving Chelmsley Wood when I ride from Coleshill Parkway to the NEC – clocked in at 26mph last trip with the trailer in tow. It would be handy to make the ‘back route’ clearer as the first couple of trips saw me using the main road dual carriageway. In via the Premier Inn access to the NEC site takes <25min Station to NEC, and saves going via New Street and changing trains.

    Would also be nice to find a better way out to Browns Lane for Solihull as the A45 – Bickenhill/Airport junction can be a bit challenging. Last trip I had to eyball a Police tow truck just to make sure we knew who had priority (in practice as well as theory) That trip was after the Bus Show at NEC – I left the new halls area at same time as a coach – it caught up with me abiout a mile South of A45 junction and then I overtook it again going through Solihull – got to the station roundabout just ahead …

    Now to also plot a route to Water Orton – that looks a bit more of a challenge.

    Did you get along to the CV Show last week? Several direct vision trucks on show including the first 32T rigid tipper (which has been a bit of a challenge to get the 4th axle fitted). These trucks are safer for drivers (they don't hurt themselves climbing up into the ridiculously high cab, and slipping or jumping out – commando style – and landing badly) but they also deliver a driving position at eye level with pedestrians & cyclists outside.

    Direct vision, using the Mk 1 eyeball safety system has around 2.3bn years of product testing. a directly viewed moving object triggers the brain to take notice, a detail that does not happen so readily with a mirror image, but better than that over 80% of the information the brain processes goes in via the eyes, and a lot of outbound communication also goes via the eyes to people who are looking at you. It is non verbal and very much faster than spoken words.

    Thus my road safety message is "Make Eye Contact the Only Contact with another road user"

    Ears make the system complete (as long as the brain is also switched on) the big downside of human eyes is that they only have 120 degrees of vision at any one time. Ears are 360 degrees in every plane, and the use of that facility to alert the eyes to look somewhere different has again been a proven safety system right from the days when we were dodging dinosaurs. Hence the great value of using the audible warning of approach when you want to be certain that another road user takes a look in your direction. Every road user has an audible warning of approach, and should use it if there is any doubt about what another road user is about to do. Of course if the windows of the car are wound up and the radio is on, or the headphones are in the ears we have a problem – of the 3 fatal crashes between cyclists and trains that have been investigated by RAIB, every one had clear evidence that the cyclists were 'deaf' and partly blind through wearing headphones and a hood over their heads.

    Drivers especially might reflect that the correct use of the car horn is BEFORE the other road user makes that daft move, with a short toot, and the practice of the railway (where the last passnger was killed on a train in 2007 – compared to around 2000 deaths per year on the roads) bears thinking about. When a train driver sees orange jackets ahead they sound the horn. Every person working steps clear to a place of safety and raises an arm above their head to show that they have heard the horn and are acting appropriately. Maybe we need to do this a bit on the roads.


  2. Dave H (@BCCletts)

    PS – for getting back after a breakdown or late at night on unlit rural roads why not consider putting the bike in a taxi (2 will fit in a standard black cab) or – if the local bus company can be persuaded, take it on the bus (we get up to 10 kids with BMX bikes on the coaches that run in parts of Scotland, getting in to the indoor skate parks in the main towns). Cycling to the pub and then taking the bike home with you in the taxi, may even be a better plan than driving and coming back the next day to collect the car.


  3. Peter y

    Hi Steve,
    I grew up in Coventry, UK and live in Newport Beach California which is actually a brilliant place for any kind of Cycling, I’m a Roadie myself.
    I really enjoyed your very well written Post.
    There is no Helmet Law for Cyclists over 16 here either but there should be. I had a really bad crash while doing a Century up in Malibu a few years ago, I went down head first at 25 mph, I suffered a broken neck, in 3 places, 5 broken vertebrae, 3 brain bleeds and everything that goes along with it. After 9 weeks in Hospital and 8 months of Physical therapy I’m pretty much OK now.

    The thing is, if I wasn’t wearing a Helmet I wouldn’t have survived, although it was pretty much destroyed it did it’s job.

    Here in Southern CA we refuse to ride with those who don’t wear a Helmet, so unless someone prefers to ride alone and take their chances, they had better wear one!!

    I think it’s just a matter of getting into the habit of wearing a Helmet, just like we do when we fasten our Seat Belts when we get in the Car, after all, a spill at 5mph can be just as damaging as a crash at 30mph.

    Anyway Steve, keep up the great work you do every Day, Ride safe and I’m looking forward to reading your next Post. Mate!!

    Cheers then,
    Peter Y.



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