oops, posted half of it, I’ll try again
In the UK riding a unicycle you’re legally a vehicle, the road traffic act is very specific about this fact. So,
- You should be on the road
If you’re not confident or you’re riding a small wheeled unicycle, it’d be dumb to ride on the road and I’m pretty sure no-one is going to pick you up on this one. However, if you’re riding fast on a 29er or a coker, the place for you is in the road (or on a cycle lane if you like to ride them) or offroad on public bridleways, not on the pavement.
2)You should be obeying the rules of the road.
As a road user you’ve got the responsiblity to everyone else not to do anything stupid. Even the most stupid of car drivers don’t actually want to run you down, you should do everything you can to make it easy for them not to. You shouldn’t ride through red lights at junctions, because some poor driver might go through their green and run you over. You should also not do anything that might hurt pedestrians, like riding through red lights on pedestrian crossing. Signal if you’re turning. If you signal, most drivers will let you turn and be much more polite to you than if you just swerve across their path.
- You’ve got a right to be on the road
Sometimes if you ride a unicycle on the road, you’ll end up in arguments with people who say you should be in the pavement. These people are wrong. At big junctions, you’ll sometimes need to be in a filter lane, sometimes car drivers will not like this. The safest thing to do in this situation is stay right in the middle of the lane and let them overtake only when there’s another lane for them to do it in. At a red light, idling or hopping on the spot is a perfectly sensible thing to do, just be confident that you can start again without falling off. Be confident of your right of way, for example on roundabouts or when going along main roads.
- If you’re on the road you need lights at night.
Legally you need a British Standard or equivalent front and rear light. Vey bright lights aren’t actually BS, but fortunately thanks to the EU, you can use anything that fulfils a similar standard in any EU country, so you can use bright offroad lights. Also, there’s no rule saying you can’t have extra lights. You’re also supposed to have a rear reflector, I’ve got a cateye light & reflector combined and have a 12w front light and a bright red light on my helmet. I’ve also got red and white reflective tape from halfords on my unicycle.
- You should be nice to other road users
It’s also nice to generally be polite, if someone is stuck behind you for ages and isn’t beeping their horn lots or being rude, then let them go past if you can. Falling off in front of people is particularly impolite, you definately shouldn’t ride on major roads if you still fall off when riding on tarmac. Ride a bit below your maximum speed so you don’t fall off.
- Everyone is out to get you
90%(*) of car drivers drive like nutters. Always assume they’ll do the wrong thing and be ready to stop quickly or swerve. Keep your eyes open for cars coming off side roads, or cars going fast across roundabouts, or for people driving through red lights. From experience, if people cut you up don’t give them the finger in case they turn out to be a car full of very scary looking geezers and stop and run after you making you feel very lucky that you can ride faster.
- They’re not really out to get you
The more you ride out, the more you’ll find that the encouraging comments outnumber the get out of the road comments 20 to 1. You’re doing something odd and most people seem to respect a little bit of eccentricity. Most other road users will be lovely to you most of the time. If people are nice to you, be nice back, a friendly wave doesn’t cost anything.
- Don’t have the helmet debate.
This always comes whenever bike or unicycle safety is mentioned and it’s a waste of time going over it again. Some people wear helmets. Some people don’t wear helmets. There’s not much scientific evidence that helmets protect you very much, there’s even some evidence that says they make you take more risks. In the end, outside of organised events the helmet thing is up to you and its a waste of time arguing it. If you want to know the arguments either way, google for “helmet debate” or something.
- Do have the argument about riding unicycles on the road
People will tell you several reasons why you shouldn’t ride unicycles on the road. They’re all rubbish. A few common ones are listed below
a) It isn’t safe
A unicyclist is in full control, far more than any other vehicle user, they can stop on the spot, turn 180 degrees, ride a perfectly straight line deviating less than an inch either way. A good road unicyclist only gets off when they choose to and doesn’t fall off unexpectedly. You’re more visible on a unicycle, so people are less likely to crash into you.
b) You’ll slow people down
Almost all the time when people slow down for any kind of cyclist, they’ll just accelerate afterwards and get behind the same car they were behind originally, so not losing any time. Anyway in London, the average speed for cars in the rush hour is 8.5 mph, a good unicyclist can average 11 or 12mph in the same conditions and is only held up by car traffic. Using the same logic, we should ban car traffic in London and only allow cyclists.
c) You’ll cause a crash, someone will get killed etc.
Firstly, yes bad driving / riding can cause someone else to crash. That’s the same for any vehicle, so unless we’re banning all drivers, it doesn’t mean unicyclists should be on the road. However, there are very few cases where a cyclist has been charged with causing a dangerous accident and as far as I know no unicyclists have. Its definately far fewer than car drivers who caused accidents.
Secondly, people will say that it’s odd and people might crash because they’re looking at you. It’s true that’s a possibility, but then should we ban women wearing low cut tops in summer, morris dancers dancing on village greens, fireworks, odd cars, or anything else out of the ordinary, just so that stupid drivers don’t get distracted.
(*)Okay I made that figure up.