28 November 2006

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With the long dark winter nights upon us, perhaps cycling safely is more pertinent at this time of the year than at any other. Certainly North Down Cycling Club has always taken safety very seriously and they are indebted to new touring secretary, Terry Nicoletti, for formulating a set of clear recommendations for all club members.

As Terry points out… ‘cycling is intended to be a healthy and enjoyable leisure and sporting activity and in pursuit of our chosen sport it is necessary to share the roads with other road users.’ With the tremendous increase in vehicular traffic on the local roads, Terry sees a real risk pervaling for not only cyclists but all road users. He argues that it is, therefore, important for…’ motorists, pedestrians and cyclists to establish a climate of mutual courtesy.’

The recommendations are simple common sense and have the objective of… ‘reducing risks when cycling and  helping to minimise potential or perceived inconvenience to fellow road users.’ Central to all the advice is the fact that all road users (including cyclists) must abide by the rules of the road and the recommendations of the Highway Code.

Whilst North Down members may have been the genesis of this initiative, there are clear implications for all those who cycle on our local roads. I know Terry would appreciate feedback on the recommendations, but I have included some of his suggestions:

1. Do not ride on the footway.
2. Do not cross the stop line when traffic lights are red.
3. Establish eye contact where possible with traffic waiting to pull out at junctions.
4 Be aware of what is going on around you at all times.
5 Aim to be seen by other road users.
6 Avoid “underpassing” motorists at junctions.
7 Use hand signals to indicate your intentions.
8 Carry an identification document with an emergency contact, plus details of any special medical conditions/medication.
9. When riding at night, use suitable lights and high visibility reflective clothing                                                           10 Wearing of helmets is strongly recommended.


It has been suggested that one simple step to help increase safety might be that the large bunch of riders leaving the clubrooms each Saturday morning could be split up. This could be easily achieved with those going as far as Portaferry leaving a few minutes before those going to Ballyhalbert and the group going to Ballywalter leaving last.

Ulster Cyclo Cross Championships

Newry Wheelers are promoting this year’s Ulster Cyclo-Cross Championships in Rostrevor on the 2nd of December. With generous sponsorship provided by J.C Campbell Citroen Honda, there is an extensive prize list, with prizes for all categories plus medals for Ulster riders. With such a strong squad in both the senior and youth ranks this year North Down riders should be confident of picking up medals.

The programme of events
11.45 Under 12, 10 and 8 racing
12.15 Mountain bike support race
12.15 Under 16 and Under 14 racing
1.15 Ulster Cyclo-Cross Championships

Recreational Cycles
Dates for your diary in December must include the hot port runs on Saturday16th and the 23rd. These popular cycles will take a similar route to previous years, leaving the clubrooms, Park Drive at 9am and traveling through Comber, Saul and Strangford before returning via the Salt Water Brig.

For those wanting to burn off a few Christmas calories then the Mince Pie Run on the 27th of December will be a must. This cycle is geared to the abilities of all. For example, for those who may have received their first bike from Santa there will be a short cycle in the park. For the slightly more adventurous then there will be a leisurely cycle to Donaghadee and back. Others will cycle as far as Millisle and the most experienced will complete a rather speedier cycle to Ballywalter and Greyabbey before returning. As usual, there will be mince pies and the warmest hospitality back in the North Down club rooms, Park Drive after each cycle .

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