Once a Penny-Farthing rider has gained sufficient competence, the risks to their safety are largely of (2) types:
Static Risks: Due to their predictable nature, most static risks can be mitigated successfully with Risk Avoidance planning. A deep pothole doesn’t move an it’s in the same place every ride. We check the weather before cycling to avoid dangerous conditions. We know rush hour happens the same time each day. Predictable, known risks need not be a threat to safety and are easily avoidable with Risk Avoidance Planning.
Dynamic Risks: Variable, unpredictable risks. These can be a threat to life and difficult or impossible to hedge against with even the best Risk Avoidance planning. Although pedestrians & joggers move, by observing sidewalks these are- generally– easily avoidable. That leaves animals & vehicles as the most serious dynamic risks to any cyclist- Penny-Farthing or otherwise.
Urban Areas: When cycling in urban areas, remain vigilant for domestic pets and foxes. Beyond striking an animal being a terrible thing, you’ll almost certainly wreck and on a Penny-Farthing that could result in serious injury. Scan for creatures as you would walkers, joggers & vehicles. Unleashed dogs can chase after a cyclist and cause you to wreck, either fouling you directly or causing you to cycle unsafely to escape it. Also, what appears to be an “unleashed” dog in low light conditions might in fact be leashed!
Greenfield Areas: When cycling through greenfield areas you must assume the presence of unseen creatures such as foxes, badgers & deer and moderate your speed and be ready to brake or halt completely. I captured the below video freewheeling down a steep hill on my pegs at sunset in some greenfield area near Bishop’s Stortford. A Muntjac deer is running- quite fast- parallel to the road I’m cycling down. By riding on my pegs my braking is more effective and the PF is more balanced. I applied some brake in case it did something random and crossed the road in front of me. Wild creatures tend to be more active at sunrise and sunset, so be extra vigilant cycling during these hours. If you were to strike a Muntjac on a Penny-Farthing travelling at a high speed, the odds are pretty high that both you and the Muntjac deer would be dead. And while you’re scanning for animals, you still need to look for debris on the road ahead; greenfield areas are favoured by fly-tippers.
Drivers operating their vehicles according to the Highway Code in a predictable, rational manner are NOT a risk. However, drivers who are maniacs, aggressive or Inattentive ARE an unpredictable, dynamic risk and all equally deadly; the only thing that differentiates them is intent to injure or kill the cyclist.
Dangerous Driver Types:
These people aren’t “motorists“, they’re “murderists” and view driving as a competition rather than a means of transport. Anything can trigger these nutters. They have personality disorders and their behaviour can escalate to criminality, using their vehicle as a weapon. Maniac motorists have an infinite capacity for rationalizing their bad behaviour and always form the view that their victim “deserved it”. A tiny minority of road users to be sure, but I’ve run into a few of these maniacs who both sped-up to beat me to a roundabout. Maniacs are out to “win” and both capable & prepared to kill cyclists. Since maniac drivers are criminally minded and calculating, the presence of a cycle cam might deter them. However, if blinded by rage, either they will not remark the camera or if they do, they might proceed with an attack notwithstanding.
The below video shows a driver seconds from his destination- Grange Paddocks Gym– who’s willing to cut a roundabout to beat a 9′ high PF cyclist with flashing lights to the roundabout. In his maniac mind he’s entirely justified in striking & killing me if I’m in his way. Were there any doubt as to the driver’s malicious intent, he screamed abuse out the window at me. These people are criminally insane and view everybody else as “the problem”…
These drivers aren’t necessarily maniacs, but rather extremely impatient, high-strung types who are perpetually late due to poor time management or are possessed of a sense of urgency for ALL matters, no matter how trivial. These folks will drive a 100 MPH to buy a loaf of bread. They’re not in a “race” with you like the maniac is, but instead are in a race with themselves and take huge risks for little reward to arrive at their destination 2 seconds sooner. These drivers are irrational and make very bad and very deadly choices.
Below is a video of an aggressive driver who ignores my signal, proceeds to pass me on a very busy road and to avoid a head-on collision rams his way back into the lane to save his own neck- quite happy to sacrifice my life to which he is completely indifferent. This is as ugly as it gets:
A driver who is impaired or otherwise not fully engaged mentally with driving being distracted by daydreaming or using their phone is as deadly as the “Maniac” and “Aggressive” driver types. These drivers largely present a risk trailing a cyclist rather as passing them as this manoeuvre requires active attention and deliberate intent. I see fewer motorists on their phones these days, but I still see them. They are still about and they are deadly.