As someone who teaches others to cycle on our urban streets, I always recognize truly bad cycling. It’s an occupational thing. The usual infringements tend to range from poor road positioning and blatant road traffic violations to cycling with no hands in busy traffic or cycling in too low or too high a gear. Taking your dog for a walk while you sit on your bike and texting your mates may sound like a great idea but who is really in charge of the bike? Not you.
The Emperor of London, Boris Johnson has taken it upon himself to be the city’s cycling champion. Fair enough. Urban cycling needs all the champions it can get. The take up of his bike hire scheme (well, it was Ken’s idea actually) has been high and more bikes are to be rolled out in the coming years. But for a very visible champion of cycling, Bojo is setting a bad example.
Boris likes to be photographed cycling; it’s good for his public image. But it would help his public image even more if he learned to do a couple of simple but useful things. First, there’s his helmet – if he wears it at all. He needs to make up his mind whether he wants to wear it or not. There is no legal obligation to wear a helmet but it can help to prevent a serious head injury in the event of an accident. When he does wear his helmet, it sits on the side or back of his head. It isn’t much use there. The straps tend to be loosened and if he should be unlucky enough to have an accident, the helmet won’t be of much use. In fact, it could be a liability. Tips for fitting a cycle helmet can be found in this video,
I would add that you should only be able to put no more than 2 fingers between your chin and the strap. It’s also a pretty bad idea to hang your helmet from the handlebars for two reasons: the straps can loosen and it can impair your ability to properly control your bike.
Second, Bojo tends to scoot when he starts cycling. While this is better than throwing yourself at the bike, the disadvantage of scooting is that you start with little power. By setting the pedal in line with the down tubing – what we call the 2 O’clock position – you get much more thrust from a single pedal stroke.