Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Cycle Task Force// Exchanging Places

Remember when you were a kid and Firemen came to your school, let you wear their hats and pretend to ride in their fire engines? That is how excited I was when I heard about 'Exchanging Places'. Run by the TFL sponsored cycle unit 'C015 Traffic' these events offer cyclists a chance to sit up in a HGV to see the drivers view of the road.

None of the PCs wanted to try on my hat.
I sat in the driver's seat next to PC John Waltors as he talked me through the legally required mirrors. Not only did the HGV feel much bigger than I imagined but I also felt really far away from the road. 

I can just see the heads of the PCs. On a bike you are much lower and out of sight. See.
Outside the vehicle another PC maneuvered my bike into various positions on the road. At times my bike would have been completely invisible if certain mirrors weren't in place. It was really insightful seeing my own bike as a HGV driver does. If it weren't for my bright pink my guards I would find it very difficult to notice my bike. 
These are the all the mirrors that should be fitted to all HGVs.
At this point I was scolded for my vanity and urged to get over my high-vis issues. Apparently a few reflective strips on a navy polka dot coat may not be enough as HGV drivers often expect cyclists to be in high-vis jackets. "If you want to be seen as a cyclist you should dress like one" I heard as I hung my head in shame. 
My bike in a blind spot.
Meanwhile, PC MacDonald had my bike upside down registering it and reassuring me that it wasn't the dirtiest he had seen today. Liar.

I highly recommend everyone attends one of these events around London. It has given me a different perspective and showed me ways to make sure I am seen.
Also, my bike is now marked. If it gets stolen these guys will hunt you down.

Pictures by Jude Brosnan.

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