Why you need gloves, don’t need flip flops and should wear high-viz clothing

I remembered why I normally make sure I’m on the road by 7.45am when I got stuck in never-ending bumper-to-bumper traffic at 8.45am today! Yes, I left the house very late this morning. I wasn’t quite with it and left my sunglasses behind. I went back to get them, only to get out on the road to find I wasn’t wearing my gloves! Well, too bad. I wasn’t going to return for those as well or I’d be really late to work!

Mind you, I don’t see that many cyclists wearing gloves. I don’t know how people commute without them, to be honest. Perhaps they just think it’s too hot to wear them?

I’ve said all this before, but gloves have multiple uses, even in summer. They make it easier to grip the handlebars, they help soak up the sweat and, if you have gel ones, they absorb some of the road shock. And, if you fall off, they might just save your hands from a nasty case of gravel rash.

Which reminds me, I think it’s wonderful that so many people are out and about cycling, but some of them need to seriously re-think their footwear. I have seen countless people, men and women alike, cycling in flip flops and slides. How is that a good idea, particularly when you are cycling in heavy traffic? You only have to get your flip flop caught underneath the pedal and you’re in trouble, and if you put your foot down too quickly, say to save yourself from an accident with a vehicle, you’ll seriously stub a toe or shear off a layer of skin. Ewww.

(I know everyone in Copenhagen cycles with flip flops, as someone is bound to point out, but London isn’t Copenhagen, and bikes here fight for road space with everything from double decker buses to motor scooters: I believe you need to dress appropriately for the conditions.)

On another note, I got told off by a fellow cyclist on my route home tonight. She was quite right, because as I merged into the traffic I did not see her and almost collided into her. The thing is, I had seen the chap in front of her and let him go by, but I did not see her at all even though I looked.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry!” I said, as I swerved to avoid her.

“You should look where you’re going,” she said in a very calm, posh voice, as she whizzed on by. I mean, if the situation was reversed I would have been effing and blinding, but she was so darn polite about it all, I kind of felt like I’d been told off by a school marm.

It was only later on as I tried to analyse what had happened that I realised I had not seen her because she was wearing dark clothing and cycling in the shade. I had seen the cyclist in front because he was wearing high-viz clothing, but I missed her completely. I know this doesn’t alleviate me from responsibility, but it does prove my point that cyclists need to be highly visible on the road at all times and in all conditions.