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.

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

  1. I love it when you get all ranty.
    As a kid I scraped skin off the top of all my toes on one foot when the front end of me flip-flop got caught between road and pedal, then dragged my foot in. I would’ve been going at just over walking pace at the time but it happened very, very quickly. It’s always been closed shoes since then.
    I take fake email’s point about whose responsibility it is to be vigilant but pragmatically I’ll wear the retroreflectives.

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  2. Ouch! Yes, I remember stubbing my toe while cycling as a kid. Never again. Closed shoes for me too.
    And I’m with you on the reflectives. I’m certainly not going to be cycling in dark conditions without them in the vain hope that vehicles will see me. It’s like the idiot in the cycle shop who told me not to bother buying a headlamp because London streetlights were perfectly adequate!

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  3. I wear fingerless crocheted gloves in the summer when I’m riding my bike that has cork grips; otherwise, I’ll get rough little paw pads – not cute. I wear flip flops when riding my Dutch bike, I don’t think it’s much more dangerous than walking in them. If anything, it’s safer. But I get your point.

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  4. I agree on all points. I always wear gloves, and wear shoes I know aren’t going to cause me any problems whilst cycling the streets of London. I know its hot in London these days, so get some sporty sandles with straps. All of the big brand trainer companies make them, and they are great for cycling in.
    I have tweeted about the numerous people I see around London cycling in flip flops. I have even witnessed a couple of instances where people have had to flick their feet at lights, so to keep from losing their flip flop.

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  5. Don’t wear gloves unless I’m going cross country to stop my hands going numb, otherwise they just get very hot contribute to my overall sweatiness. Also, am I the only bloke I know who doesn’t wear a crotch cushion. My backside seems to be shaped 100% perfectly for my saddle. I’ve ridden 80 miles in a day in perfect comfort.

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  6. Hi there.
    I notice you have a keen interest in bicycle safety and was wondering if you could help. I’m sorry if this sounds a bit morbid but I was trying to track down the accident figures in London for 2008 involving bicycles. I can find pretty reliable ones for 2007 and 2006 but have not had any luck so far for last year. I was wondering if you knew where I could find them or (better yet) if you knew what they are. Serious injury versus actual fatalities would help me a lot. Also if you have any idea of figures to date for 2009 that would also help me. I am compiling a report on behalf of a client who is looking at ways to reduce serious injury and fatalities amongst the cycling community in London, so the information is for a good cause.
    Many thanks
    Many thanks.

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