Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Winter arrives with a bump

We get a photo and a message "I had just dropped my child off from school and was on the way to work when I came off on this corner on ice. No warning, and now I am bruised down one side."

Well, at least your child had been delivered to school, so can still retain youthfull illusions about the infallability of parents, for a bit longer. And without injuries that would bring you to the attention of social services. It is worth remembering that the roads in the city that get gritted on icy mornings are the main roads, the ones with heavy motor traffic, not the quiet back roads used by bikes. The offroad paths are usually ok, but where cars go they can make things slippery. Station Road from Ashley Hill road down to the footpath under the railway line is particular entertaining in winter -you can get very hurt here without even trying.

This raises a question about safety wear. Not the "helmet question", that being the religous war that tears bicycle mailing lists apart. Something better: the Body Armour question. Knee and elbow pads have trickled over from Downhill MTB to cross country. Because it is quite pleasant to not be bruised and scarred after a day in the woods. The Body Armour question extends this to commuting in winter. Given that when you come off a bike, its your elbows, hands and knees that usually hit the ground first, should you wear body armour on the cmmute -if you already own some? Or should people find routes to school and work that aren't so icy?

9 comments:

SP said...

The best kind of armour is a car. Ditch your bike and start driving.

SteveL said...

I actually have a set of chains for my car from time in the US; while out there I've twice seen 4x4s crash out because they didn't notice they'd lost traction until they came to stop. With 2WD you'd notice earlier on, get on your knees and put the chains on (15 minutes of suffering) and then be off with a car that would fishtail badly but still be able to stop.

Cars do protect you, and they are less likely to drop you at a corner, but they still fail badly on ice.

Martin said...

I fell off my bike this morning for the first time all year, turning right from Belgrave Hill onto Quarry Steps in Clifton, an area I think would be very low down the gritters' priority.

Black ice is an occupational hazard for cyclists at this time of year. During the current cold snap, I shall be going more slowly round corners along the back streets.

Anonymous said...

I fell this morning but found an unexpected advantage of a hi-vis jacket; I slid painlessly on my back like an upturned scarab beetle for 10 yards and was unharmed.

Rick said...

A bike was down on the corner of Redland Grove and Kensington Road at 07:38 this morning. Ambulance in attendance but didn't stop to rubberneck. Hope he/she was ok.

InsanityIdeas said...

I too fell off this morning on a patch of black ice on a corner. Couldn't even see it when I was stood on it afterwards!! Fortunately I was weaving round a car at the time so only going walking pace, so when the bike slid out I just sorta dropped it and stood up, very nearly fell over but managed to save a bit of face. This was on a side road right by the entrance to a cycle path.

A work colleague also saw someone else who fell off on the cycle path, there was black ice there too.

First time I have encountered problems with black ice, I think we had the perfect conditions for it last night, there was frozen stuff everywhere! In a way I am glad it wasn't just me, but shame that so many people are getting bashed up.

I think body Armour might be overkill, not saying it doesn't work, just that I don't fall off often enough to make up for the inconvenience. Learning to fall, and luck seem better to me, but I shall regret saying that!

Emerald said...

Wimps! Remember the winter of 95/96? On your hands and knees one day, all the way.

Bikerchick said...

If only one could cycle in motorcycle protective gear! It's just not possible as the protective gear is heavy and not easy to cycle in however when you fall you don't get scratch or hurt (most of the time anyway).

As a biker I learned how to power steer on my mbike, which stops you skidding off your bike on ice, might be worth practising on bicycles too.

I couldn't find a link with a diagram to demonstrate how this technique is carried out, however it really does work if you get the hang on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countersteering

Stephen said...

I noticed they'd actually gritted the Bristol to Bath cyclepath (well the 1st 400 yards that I use anyway) last night.

Can't remember them doing that before. Progress?