To stay in one piece, ladies, cycle like a macho man

Although approximately twice as many men as women cycle in London regularly, according to Transport for London, 10 out of 13 cycling fatalities last year were women.

It's a strange and disturbing statistic, especially given that the same set of figures also show that male cyclists have more collisions and crashes than women, and are also more likely to be seriously injured.

Is there anything that women cyclists can do to reduce their risk, other than waiting for Boris's new measures, which include the possibility of cyclists being allowed to turn left while the lights are still red, to become law? The short answer is yes: behave more like a man.

For there's no doubt that by and large a bloke on a bike, like everywhere else in life, is more aggressive, more confident, takes more risks and goes faster than a woman does. My advice is that, for once, it may pay to take a leaf out of his macho rulebook.

You have only to wait with a group of fellow cyclists at a light to observe the complete range of gender characteristics. It's the men who park themselves squarely out in front of the waiting traffic; it's the men who fly ahead at top speed; it's the men who get into arguments with drivers. It is also more likely to be the men who shoot the lights, ride the pavements and squeeze through potentially dangerous traffic jams. I'm not saying that women don't — but they are less likely to.

While these characteristics hardly constitute a superior moral code of behaviour, they almost certainly go some way towards asserting the rights of the cyclist to occupy the same turf as the driver. In so doing, they may also offer better protection against the lorries that have been responsible for most of last year's cycling deaths.

I only fully came to realise all this after I was fined by the police for shooting a red light, even though at the time there was not a pedestrian in sight. I didn't question or challenge the offence but I did make the decision that if I was going to be treated like a motorist, I was jolly well going to behave more like one in future. And a male one at that.

Since then I have become a veritable road hog in a fluorescent jacket, perfectly happy to pull right ahead and claim the middle section of the middle lane whenever I go round a roundabout, even if it means making the cars and lorries behind me slow down. They can honk all they want to, but the point is that they can see me.

Nor do I have any hesitation in pulling out to cross a lane, having made eye contact with the driver behind me, holding out my right arm, to slow him down with imperious confidence. I've even started rapping boldly on the car windows of drivers who drive and talk on their mobiles.

Perhaps when we can turn left on red, I might be able to return to being a little more ladylike. Until then, staying alive seems more important.

From the London Evening Standard