Problem With Transport - Any Ideas As To What I Should Do?

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Problem With Transport - Any Ideas As To What I Should Do?

Postby snail » Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:04 pm

Hi PPers

This isn't a serious problem, but it's really causing me difficulties and I'd be grateful if anyone had any ideas I haven't thought of.

Here's the facts: I work from home. I live in a mostly rural area on the outskirts of a large village. It's about a mile and a half from my house to the centre of the village. The walk there is lovely, and safe, and I enjoy it because it gets me out of the house and looking at birds, trees, fields etc. The village boasts a smallish supermarket, a doctors, chemist, post office, church, school - basically everything anyone could need (I even do my banking at the post office). So essentially, I never need my own transport. I occasionally go in to the nearest town but there's a decent bus service there, and the bus stop is literally just outside my front door.

So I decided to get rid of my car, as it just sat in the driveway 6 days out of 7 seizing up and costing me money all the time (I don't earn that much). But of course I still needed some form of transport to do things like visit family, see friends etc. I bought a bicycle, took up cycling, and cycled to all these places. I loved it. I loved the sensation, it helped with my weight and my health, and also made me feel somehow powerful and in control, to be getting to destinations across miles of road purely under my own muscle power.

I was always extremely careful (not to say paranoid) about road safety. I wore a reflective jacket and a helmet, I never rode in busy town centres, I took the quietest routes, I paid careful attention to the traffic and the cars around me and tried to anticipate them etc. Despite this, one day a few months after I'd started cycling, a lorry driver decided he couldn't be bothered to slow down and sit behind me and would just overtake despite a blind bend. At least that's what I was told - I have no memory of the accident or being hit at all. No memory until coming round at the side of the road. Ironically, my friends and family thought I was a bit overly-cautious to wear a cycling helmet, but the police who attended the accident told me I only survived because of this.

I am now recovered, apart from some permanent damage to my back, and could take up cycling again, but not surprisingly I now don't feel it is really safe enough. As a cyclist you are constantly overtaken, and so few people do it safely. I always thought I would be able to see trouble coming and get out of the way - I watched the traffic around me constantly - but whatever happened with my accident I clearly didn't. The other thing is 'stranger danger' - it's obvious I'm a woman no matter what I wear, and you're not as safe on a bike as you are in a car. The accident brought this home to me as I was sitting dazed/injured at the side of the road for some time and anyone could have abducted/murdered me at their leisure. It would even be possible to use your car deliberately tip a female cyclist off her bike on a lonely road, if you were that way inclined.

But this leaves me with no transport. I really don't want to get another car - I know I won't use it enough and I'm pretty hard up (thanks to my ex who took all my money). Plus I didn't really like driving and I disapprove of cars with one person in them a bit as I'm a tree-hugger type. I've wondered about getting a small, economical moped type thing, but everyone says they're too unsafe, much worse than bicycles. I wondered about electrically-assisted bikes (so you can go a bit faster when you need to and maybe get overtaken less) but I don't know if they would really be any safer than the normal kind.

I've puzzled and puzzled over this, wondering what's the best thing to do. Get another bike, and hope for the best? Get a moped type thing, and hope for the best? Grit my teeth and get another car? Would a road safety course help with safe cycling? Or are there any carshare schemes anywhere? Until the problem's solved I've got a severely restricted social life!

Does anyone out there have any other idea I haven't thought of?
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Postby bellajennie » Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:27 pm

I'm not surprised you are loathed to get another bicycle and can only commend you for you decision to wear a helmet because it obviously saved your life.

I too live in a country town and feel the nightmare of driving through narrow lanes where people are unfamiliar with the roads and rarely follow the speed limit. I think this is more of a problem than the dangers of a bicycle. I think the accident may have highlighted the dangers of country roads rather than this.

You seem to have paid all the right attentions to safety and have been unfortunate. I can see why you would be put off. However, any vehicle has the same risk in these situations, you could have just as easily had an accident in another vehicle if the lorry driver had been that impatient.

With regards to personal safety, a car may be the only option if you are feeling unsafe. Assisted bicycles go faster but not that much faster, the power is usually reserved for helping you go up hills. A scooter goes faster obviously but you would still have the same problem of overtaking.

In this respect I would encourage you really to get back on the bike. You enjoy it and I would see no reason for you to be any more safe in anything else on country roads. Perhaps use the good bus service more if it is late or dark or with poor visibility.

Don't let one poor driver cost you your enjoyment.

Jennie x
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Postby missyx » Sun Jan 20, 2008 8:54 pm

I agree with bellajennie. I live near London now, but was brought up in a tiny rural town where my mum still lives. Mum was in a bad cycle accident some years ago - not as bad as yours, but bad enough that she still has the scars, and like you, didn't want to get back on a bike.

After weighing up the alternatives, she eventually got another bike, and has never looked back. She still cycles to work and back every day.

The first time you get back on a bike will be scary but I really think you will quickly get your confidence back. As bellajennie says, these days you aren't much safer in a car anyway.

The other option that you might want to consider is something you mentioned - carsharing. If there isn't one near you, why not look at starting one? Do you have a neighbour that might agree to give you lifts or loan you their car in return for petrol money / gardening / babysitting for example? It may be worth putting a notice in your local newsagents.

I would give the bike another go though - you obviously used to enjoy it, and you can't let one idiot spoil it for you.
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Postby snail » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:13 pm

Thanks for your replies, guys (or gals, in this case!).

I'm really (pleasantly) surprised at your opinions - I thought you'd say I should just be normal and get a car like everyone else! (That's what my family constantly urge me to do.)

The thing with the lorry driver was made worse by the fact that he then lied about it, and said I'd crashed in to him!! Wasn't satisfied with hitting a completely innocent person, he then blames that person. Luckily he couldn't get it to stick in the face of the evidence.

I'll start looking into getting a new bike . . .

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Postby HappyGoLucky » Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:42 am

snail wrote:The thing with the lorry driver was made worse by the fact that he then lied about it, and said I'd crashed in to him!! Wasn't satisfied with hitting a completely innocent person, he then blames that person. Luckily he couldn't get it to stick in the face of the evidence.

Horrible driver! Pity I can't yell at (or slap!) him for that since I'm far far away! :evil:

Getting a car would only make air pollution worst (even though it's just one car, lol) Get your bike (which is so SO much cheaper than getting a car) and I'm sure you'll gain your confidence back but you better continue wearing your helmet! :P

I'd worship that helmet that saved you! :o :oops: #-o[-o< :P
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Postby retrochav » Wed Jan 23, 2008 11:45 pm

Depending on the extent of back injury you may be entitled to a mobility aid, such as subsidized taxis or a mobility scooter.

Assuming that as you could ride a bike, that this isnt the case, i would suggest sharring a car with a local driver. You could splilt petrol costs, as it is at least better than driving a car alone - enviroment wise.

I would say that riding your bike is a good idea. Maybe do this on lighter evenings and walk when on lonely lanes. I would hope that this accident was a rare ignorant driver who ideally should be banned from driving. In London where i live i would neither drive nor ride a bike as its both too risky!

Instead i walk or use buses and trains.
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