I have been doing an assessment of my own risk taking behaviours overnight as I couldn't sleep - the heat combined with hay fever, combined with a couple of frightening near accidents on my bike made for a restless night.
Without doubt the biggest single risk to my health is cycling about 8 miles across London to work 3 or 4 times a week. Yesterday I almost knocked an elderly woman over which frightened us both, this came shortly after a car pulled out very fast in front of me and just before a bus 'made contact with me' as it pushed its way across the road.
This type of incident is not that unusual, it is the fact that three near misses happened within 15 minutes of one another, plus the discomfort of riding in the heat that made me question how sensible it is to cycle and to unconsciously go through a process of assessing the risk.
But what interested me is that i didn't start processing the information thinking in terms of risk, but by the time I was done I had gone through a clear process of risk assessment - what benefit I get from cycling in London - do i like the buzz from these near misses? How likely am I to get hurt? What are the alternatives? What is the impact of not cycling on my health and frame of mind at work and at home? What can I do to minimise the harm if I am going to continue to cycle?
And it is that process of knowing why we do things and whether we like the buzz or not, identifying and assessing the risks, and then finding ways to manage them that we must teach children and young people - from crossing the road, to jumping out of an aeroplane, to having sex - the process of identifying, assessing and managing risk is the same - and we continue to do young people a disservice if we focus on risk taking behaviours without teach them this formula and provide structured opportunities for them to think about their own buzz and how that influences their risk taking behaviours as well as develop the skills to think through risk, including at the times when they are experiencing the fear or a buzz.