Riding keeps Julian O’Loughlin connected and centred

Julian was 3 when he learned his first trick on his bike.

We used to have this paved ramp that ran down from the shed to a courtyard below. I remember starting at the top on this little red and yellow bike and bombing all the way down to the front gate. I did it so often I became confident enough to put my feet through the handlebars. It’s possibly the first and only trick I ever learnt, and is probably where I first became aware of safe cycling and the importance of it.

Socialising, serenity and fitness keeps Julian riding.

You get to spend time with friends, make new friends and just catch up and have a good old chat. You can also choose to be immersed in your own company and your thoughts; to reflect, reset and simply enjoy being out in the open air. Lastly, it's the fitness aspect and seeing your health goals eventuate.

It’s an activity he loves sharing with his dad.

We're forced to talk to each other when we’re out riding for 2-3 hours (laughs). It's nice to share a common interest and spend time together while enjoying something we both love. Sometimes the conversations are us just chatting away, sometimes we’re venting, and other times we’re talking about cycling. We’re not getting any younger so it's always great to spend a few hours together, followed by a coffee.

Riding to work is Julian’s preferred morning pick-me-up.

I feel better when I’ve ridden to work. I get to see the sunrise, and I feel awake and alert once I arrive. I'm lucky that I have an interesting nature ride. There's always kangaroos, emus and birdlife to appreciate. You don't get that in your car or on public transport. It might take a little longer but it's well worth it.

He’s vigilant about preparing his clothing and bike so he can be seen.

I’ve got bright and visible lights on both front and back, and use eye contact with drivers when I can. I never assume I've been seen, even if my lights are going full gas. I always anticipate a failure of being seen or a fault in judgement. That way I'm ready for the situation.

Julian urges riders and drivers to look out for each other on the roads.

For drivers, allow enough space to see past the rider, use indicators so everyone knows what you’re doing and pass with care. One person riding a bike won't hold you up for more than a few seconds. And for riders, positive reinforcement is the key. Give a driver the confidence that you've seen them, and acknowledge the driver’s attempt to make you feel safer with a wave or something.

A little extra respect will go a long way in keeping each other safe.

If our attitudes and respect don't change towards one another, nothing will. We all have different agendas, whether that’s riding a bike, making it to work on time or avoiding the school rush. But the end goal is always the same, and that's arriving home safely. Look past the lycra and you see a father, a daughter, a teacher, a paramedic, a truckie, a tradie or a student.

Julian learned about road safety early on from his dad, who was a paramedic.

Dad is all too familiar with the number of drivers that take their responsibility and duty of care towards other road users for granted. I reckon Dad drives as he rides; enjoying the freedom it gives him, while still being very tuned in to how he engages with other road users.