Breaking the Cycle

Hello everyone, some of you may know my name from Twitter or have seen one of my videos (sorry for the swearing), but even if you have or haven’t, my name is Thomas and I am the newly elected Co-Convenor for the GoBike group.

I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself via my first blog post on GoBike website to let you all know a little bit about me and how I got here!

This is one my most viewed videos, and has been used by few members and folk on Twitter to show the issues of new junctions that don’t show or give proper priority to those on bikes.

It was a beautiful spring day in April last year (2019) as I was commuting by bike from Clarkston to Glasgow Green to a new job. Due to parked cars, junctions, and my own safety, I found myself cycling in the middle of the lane, however luck was not on my side, and this sunny day very quickly became clouded. A grumpy SUV driver took me off. I don’t remember coming off. What I do remember was swearing and shouting as he drove off. He had decided that saving five seconds on his journey was of more importance than my wellbeing. However, he did seem to find the time to come back and accuse me of damaging his car, not once saying sorry. It took a month, but he was charged with careless driving. Result! As to be expected, I was angry, but I was not going to let a wee minor cut and feeling a little sore put me off being on a bike. 

Cycling to my next work shift and was determined to get back on my bike, if only to make a point in showing that I can and that I should be able to cycle. I was on the Clarkston Toll roundabout – if you know it, you will know it is not round but oval, and very outdated – I made a shoulder check and then looked forward, giving me only a spilt second to witness the car failing to give priority and pass the give-way line. I slammed into the tarmac six metres away and ended up in back of an ambulance – laughing away on laughing gas. My wrist was broken and it seemed my faith in safe cycling had crumbled.

These two incidents occurred within nine days. Just over a week. Some would call it unlucky, but I cannot help but feel that there was more to it than just bad luck. Why do we have a world like this? A world where we play cat and mouse just to be able to get from A to B on a bike (walking and wheeling too). We see the Dutch, the Danish, and a few other places moving forward; changing with the times. We see them making cycling safe and available for all ages and abilities. Why aren’t we? Why are we falling behind?

So, I got myself GoPros and I turned to Twitter, where I complained about it to anybody that would stop and listen. I had become a “ranty” cyclist. An angry and annoyed tweeter. I had found a platform where I could moan. Where I could tag councillors in tweets. Where I could have arguments, albeit it not always civil, with anybody who I disagreed with.

Along with expressing myself on Twitter, I went and joined the group GoBike; a group who are pushing for the change we need in infrastructure in order to make cycling available to all ages and abilities. I started to follow more and more accounts on Twitter, and I started to see that I was not alone in this. There is an entire community of people like me. People who want to see a better and safer world. One where cycling is truly available to all those who want to or need to.

As I immersed myself into this new found community, I also began to calm down and started having more constructive conversations. I was happy to see that I am not the only one, but that there are so many groups and people pushing for good change, be it, volunteers in GoBike, or those at Cycling Scotland and their cycling officers, also Bike for Good, as well as councillors and politicians. 

I slowly came to the realisation, that we will not be able to achieve change and get the future we so desperately want by being “ranty messes”. We need to be constructive and we need to show others that cycling is a net positive for all, even if you are not the one cycling. 

My journey into this new community began with the horrible luck of two road traffic collisions, which I was fortunate to walk away from with only minor injuries, to now writing this blog post, albeit with a slightly dodgy wrist.

I now ask everyone, those who never want to cycle, those who do, or those who want to cycle more, to join the communities (join our discussions on blogs and twitter, if you wish or become a member to GoBike and join our lively Slack group where we bring ideas and discuss how to respond to issues and matters). We need your voice and support to help bring about the change for a better future. It is an uphill battle, but I know we can make ours and lives of others better, and after all, that is what matters most.

How I use Twitter to document issues, and share them with others.

Stay safe, have fun cycling! 

Thomas’ Personal Twitter Account