In 2009 when I set out on my first end to end I had spent little time thinking about safety. I had devised a route that was built for speed, utilising busy main roads, many of which were dual carriageways. I was living in the invulnerability bubble that many cyclists inhabit before it is burst by an errant driver.
Since 2009 I have been knocked from my bike twice, once by a driver making a right turn without indicating, just in front of me, and once by a lorry changing lanes from the outside lane, though the inside lane and into the cycle lane!
My last two end to ends were a quest to find a safer route. Okay, it wasn’t hard to find a safer route than my original one but I wanted one as safe as possible without detouring miles and miles away from a relatively straight line. I was spurred on by the news of two fatalities on the A30: end to end charity cyclists on their first day. The lorry driver that mowed them down has recently been sentenced to eight years. Click here for my earlier rant on the sentence.
The first attempt was good but still had some very dangerous stretches in it. So I re-routed and set off again. This time the route was much quieter and safer.
However, just whilst I am in the process of creating the route as a set of downloadable gpxs, news of another end to end fatality has hit us. Again a lorry is involved and the cyclist was on her first day, this time starting from John O’Groats. (Link to story).
The accident happened in Bettyhill, right in the north of Scotland, the cyclist probably following the popular route to Lairg. I haven’t ridden on the road in question but imagine it is probably one of the quietest roads in the country. It has left me with the question hanging, can I promote a safer cycling route when cyclists are being killed on ‘safe’ roads? Is cycling end to end inherently dangerous and should I be encouraging people to cycle it at all?
I don’t have an answer yet…