Most Oxonians have some affinity with cycling. Be it gowned students zipping down The High to Examination Schools, lycra-clad rowers on their way to the river, or dons pedalling to a black tie dinner, Oxford is a haven for all things bicycle.
That isn’t to say, however, that Oxonians are naturally good cyclists. Despite the fact that Oxford is now largely pedestrianised in the city centre, there continue to be tragic accidents year-on-year, some of which could be avoided if cyclists took time out to ensure they rode more safely. Fortunately, experienced cyclist and road traffic expert Jared Spier gave a talk at the University recently to pass on some of the lessons he’s learned after spending decades in the saddle.
His talk is loaded with sage advice, much of which is centred around the central maxim “cyclists fare best... when they act and are treated like vehicles.” From that simple rule flows a glut a of commonsensical advice, much of which boils down to making oneself both visible and predictable on the road.
Of course, all the reflective clothing in the world won’t necessarily keep you safe. Instead, it’s important to ensure your position on the road keeps you visible and to communicate effectively with other road users. Much of this is made possible by forgetting the typical English reserve, and taking a much more bold and forthright approach to cycling.
What’s wonderful about this talk, though, isn’t the basic road safety advice — it’s the fact that Spier has lived in Oxford for a number of years, so knows the roads well. As a result, his talk is peppered with practical examples of how to cycle in the city, including how to take on the dreaded Plain roundabout where the Cowley and Iffley Roads meet at Magdalen Bridge.
If you’re a cyclist in Oxford or elsewhere, you can bank on learning a lot from this wonderful video podcast. Take a watch.