4 May 2010 5:55PM
I've been riding recumbents through Glasgow for 15 years, and always, always feel a lot safer than I do on my mountain bike.
It's not that car drivers don't see cyclists - car drivers can easily spot things like kerbs and potholes - it's that drivers often blank out cyclists, possibly because they look subconciously a bit like pedestrians (hence slow-moving and on the pavement).
Almost every urban cyclist has had that horrible experience of a driver looking right through you, and pulling out anyway - their eyes have seen you, but you've not registered on the brain. On a recumbent, this isn't a problem - the unusual shape makes drivers pay attention.
Other safety advantages of recumbents:
- you can brake much harder than on a conventional bike - you're not going to go over the handlebars.
- if you do hit something, you hit it feet-first with your legs as shock absorbers, not head-first and rolling over the obstacle.
- If you fall sideways, you don't fall far, and you usually land on your hip, not delicate knee or wrists.
- you are usually at the same eye level as car drivers, so you can eyeball them properly instead of being higher up.
- you can accelerate faster to get out of trouble.
Some recumbents aren't suitable for city use, but that's due to rider visibility - if you're below car bonnet level, junctions (especially T junctions) can be very tricky. So low trikes and lowracers aren't brilliant in traffic.