|"Always use your head and think about safety," says the coach. "By starting now and learning to drive your bikes, you'll be able to drive an automobile when you're old enough. And you'll be able to do a good safe job of it."|
On the website for Carinsurance4cyclists.com, which appears to be U.K.-based, the insurance firm cites a number of reasons why bicyclists earn lower rates. "Your on-road cycling experience has made you more alert and road aware than the average car driver and that deserves special attention," says the company.
"Road Alert. Your experience on your bike means you're more alert to the dangers of road use and better able to anticipate hazards."
"Healthy Lifestyle. Physical fitness means you value your body. It also suggests improved mental agility and that makes you a more responsive driver."
As a lifetime bicyclist, as well as an occasional motorcyclist, I absolutely agree with that. I really believe that either type of cyclist learns to be more observant of their surroundings -- looking farther ahead, being more aware of blind spots, and spotting (and reacting to) dangers earlier. A cyclist develops senses that car-centric drivers never know about.
Here's an example. I was in my car, driving on a wide highway towards one of the major shopping-and-dining areas in our locale. There were two traffic lanes in both directions, separated by a turn lane in the middle. I was in the left lane, with another car just to my right-side rear quarter, and we were approaching an intersection with a traffic light which was green. Approaching the intersection from the opposite direction was a car with a young woman driving, and she had just moved into the turn lane to make a left turn.
It sounds weird to say it, because cars don't have "body language" exactly, but something about the approaching car told me that the driver was going to make the left turn despite the fact that two cars were coming right for her going about 45 mph. I was close enough to the oncoming left-turning car that I could literally see the driver through her windshield. I could see her face, and I could see her eyes looking ahead -- but something told me that even though she appeared to be looking right at us, it was as if she didn't see us coming.
Of everyone involved in the incident, being out in front I had the least time to react, yet I was the one who was able to avoid the crash.
Yes, this is totally anecdotal and hardly objective "proof," but I have no doubt that the fact that I was able to predict and react the way I did was helped by my experiences as a cyclist -- who is typically a more vulnerable road user. And I'd be willing to bet that many people reading this have similar stories to share.
On a related note, RoadCC also ran a story recently on this car insurance discount. I read in the comments section something that just has to be the greatest blog comment and expression of British slang that I've ever read:
|"Certainly I drive less like a monumental cockwomble since starting to cycle regularly."|
Oh my god, I love that. It sums it all up so perfectly.
Not everybody out there would agree that we cyclists drive better. The RoadCC article also cites a trucking company director who claims that "lorry drivers (that's 'trucks' to us yanks) are the best users of the road while cyclists are the worst." Of course we'd probably all disagree loudly, but I'd love to see some objective studies on the idea that cyclists really do drive better, as such studies might lead to more insurance companies recognizing us with better rates.
By the way - how does carinsurance4cyclists determine that a person really is a cyclist, and not just someone checking a box to get a discount? Apparently it is necessary to be a member of one of the U.K.'s cycling clubs. I suppose that works. I recall that I used to get a break on my motorcycle insurance for belonging to the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) and for having completed a sanctioned motorcycle-riding course.
It would be great if more insurance companies, like some of those here in the U.S., followed that lead.
|How about it, Flo?|
Don't be a MONUMENTAL COCKWOMBLE. Ride a bike.