PN: When did you start cycling?
KR: I grew up in Mersea, and have had a bike since I was really young. It was so easy cycling there, by far the best way to get around the island. I don’t remember much about my first bike, just how much I really enjoyed riding along the sea wall with my friends. When I was 14, I got a mountain bike, and I remember a group of us would occasionally ride as far as Friday Woods. I guess there was less traffic around then, and perhaps we just didn’t worry about it, but I don’t think I’d want to ride that way now.
PN: Do you cycle to work?
KR: I did to start with, when I joined the Borough Council four years ago. But it only took me three minutes, so I find it easier to walk instead.
PN: How about your daughter, does she share your enthusiasm?
KR: She has always enjoyed riding around with me or her Dad. We’re not far from Hilly Fields and Abbey Field, so there are some great places to ride, right on our doorstep. She’s a bit wary of riding on the road, but we have some really close friends who moved to Layer recently, so we rode there around six weeks ago. I cycled behind her on the road, and took the lead when we went around the mini roundabouts, but on one of them, there was a car that came far too close to us. So I was really pleased when I heard about Cycle Colchester’s free Bikeability courses over half term, it sounded just what we needed.
PN: So how did you get on with the training, did you learn anything new?
KR: Yes, I really did, things like riding in pairs between two cones, with the instructors making the space between them narrower and narrower. And the on-road training was so different from the old cycling proficiency in the playground. For example, it really makes sense to me now, to cycle in the middle of the lane if you feel there’s not enough room for a car to pass. Anna and I rode to the training venue and back, and the difference in our confidence on the way home was really noticeable. On our return, a car came up very close behind us, just as we were preparing to turn right into our drive, and instead of pulling in, out of his way, we were happy to hold our position and make our turn. We’ll be going to see our friends in Layer again in a couple of weeks, and we’re really looking forward to the journey now.
Watch this YouTube video to find out why cyclists sometimes cycle in the middle of the road and how driving instructors play a vital role in teaching the next generation of drivers that everyone has a right to use the road and not just motorists.