'Cyclists don't have a shield of metal to save them from harm'

Readers have welcomed our campaign to make travelling on two wheels safer
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James Hoggarth, 36, a civil servant from London: Last April, a van driver deliberately swerved at Mr Hoggarth while he was cycling through central London. Mr Hoggarth reported the driver to his boss, who sacked the driver after reviewing CCTV evidence.

"It was shocking: you don't expect someone to use half a ton of metal to win an argument," he says. "This is an absolutely brilliant campaign. Cyclists are quite vulnerable road users as they don't have that shield of metal to protect them from harm. The more cyclists on the road, the more aware drivers will be. Ultimately, that's better for everybody."

Michael Sayburn, 51, accountant from Winchester: Mr Sayburn was thrown off his bike 11 weeks ago after slipping on diesel that a van sprayed in front of him. He had three pins placed in his hip, and can now walk only with a stick.

"I am itching to get back on my bike," he says. "Accidents sort of go with the territory of cycling... but nothing can put me off. What we need is more awareness on the part of the drivers. They need to give cyclists a wider berth and we need more cycle lanes. Campaigns like these are fantastic. The thing that scares people off cycling is the state of the roads and the way that car drivers and truck drivers behave. You can ride along lit up like a Christmas tree and you still get: 'Sorry mate, I didn't see you.'"

Jill Truman, 75, from east London, a cyclist for more than 60 years: "In London, it comes down to the fact that there really aren't any safe places to cycle. The cycle lanes are rubbish and cars drive in and out of them. I almost never go on a busy road and feel like cyclists are treated as third-class citizens. Transport for London has put the cart before the horse by encouraging the use of bicycles before the roads are safe. The "cycling superhighways" turn out to be car, lorry and bus superhighways, with patches of bright blue paint and pictures of bicycles on the tarmac, and a few timid signs."

Graeme Hitchen, 51, from Sheffield: Mr Hitchen was knocked off his bike in 2008. "I lost all the feeling in my leg. I had on a luminous jacket, a helmet, and had my lights on. I just don't know how the driver didn't see me. All I can remember saying is: 'Why didn't you see me?' I am much more wary and defensive now; some people on the road are completely inconsiderate."

10 ways to keep safe

Avoid lorries

Never wait between the kerb and a lorry. If it turns left, the driver may not see you.

Don't kerb-crawl

Staying in the middle of the lane forces drivers to steer around you rather than scrape past.

Show your face

Eyeballing drivers helps them view you as a fellow road user. Smiling helps, too.

Use your neck

Learn how to look over your shoulder without wobbling and do so regularly.

Obey the code

Egregious violation of the Highway Code can damage you – and the image of cyclists.

Overtake buses

Look over your shoulder and move to overtake. If you can't, wait. Never undertake.

Be bright

Reflective clothing and strong lights, while rarely cool, will help you get noticed.

Wear a helmet

You're better off with a helmet. Just don't think it will protect anything else.

Don't get cross

Banging on windows just re-inforces the dangerous view that cyclists are the enemy.

Keep it clean

And well-oiled – to avoid, say, a chain jam at 20mph when there's a bus on your tail.

By Simon Usborne, who writes The Independent's cycling column, Cyclotherapy