Cycling safety has been thrown into the spotlight after a series of crashes with Olympic heroes knocked off by other road users. City biker Daniel Watson, from cycling shop On Your Bike, kept a diary of a week on the mean streets of Birmingham.

Birmingham was recently ranked one of the worst cities in the UK for cyclists.

The Campaign for Better Transport study ranked it near the bottom of the league, 25 out of 26 cities, finding that Birmingham "scores badly for both pedestrian safety and commuter journeys by cycle".

According to the campaign, a fifth of car journeys in the city are less than two miles and could easily be made by cycling or walking.

But that isn't happening - in part due to a combination of heavy traffic, lack of cycling lanes, and dangerous drivers.

Olympic gold medallist and Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins, team Sky head coach Shane Sutton and former Green Jersey winner and world champion Mark Cavendish have all been involved in collisions with cars or vans in recent weeks - offering city people an even better excuse to stay off their bikes.

Keen city cyclist Daniel Watson, aged 30, who works at On Your Bike in Bradford Street, Digbeth, commutes to work each day on two wheels.

A keen rider for the last 18 years, he agreed to keep a diary of a week's experiences on the roads and cycle paths of Birmingham.

With swearing pedestrians, near misses with lorries and long traffic jams, Daniel's experiences expose the perils of pedal power on the city streets.

Here he charts a week on two wheels in the city:

* Monday - Stirchley to Digbeth

Despite the unrelenting drizzle I choose to ride to work. The car takes twice as long to cover the four-mile journey and I only use it if the rain is torrential or I need to carry something larger than my pannier bags allow. Decent waterproofs keep me warm and dry.

I'm lucky enough to live adjacent to the Rea Valley Cyclepath; a mostly off-road cycle path running from the southern suburbs right into the town centre through Cannon Hill Park.

Today, like most days, my ride is free-flowing and far more rousing than sitting behind the wheel in a traffic jam. You can see if you live near a similarly traffic-free route at

* Tuesday - Digbeth to Central Library

Birmingham city centre can be infuriating to navigate by bike. The central shopping district is practically a no-go area, and the one-way system can be daunting.

I leave work and make my way around the markets on Upper Dean Street. There are some markings for bike lanes, but they're so heavily faded as to be useless. Cars routinely stop in the bike-only ASL (Advanced Stop Line) boxes, negating their purpose which is to allow bikes a head start at junctions.

A Volkswagen lurches past me, but has to stop almost immediately at the next queue and I filter through to the front, as I'm allowed and encouraged to do.

Leaving the library, I'm faced with walking 500m or so back down one-way Hill Street, or taking Paradise Circus Queensway.

Inner-city highways like this demand confidence and sometimes bloody mindedness in order to defend your patch of road against surging cars so maybe it's these relics of car-centric planning that do most to discourage potential new cyclists.

Bikes are certainly noticeable by their absence in Birmingham when compared to most UK cities, let alone continental ones. Back on Hill Street now and on to the contraflow bike lane coming past Mr Egg.

A texting pedestrian looks set to wander across my path, understandably not anticipating bikes to be coming the 'wrong way'. A ring of my bell is enough to alert him and stop him in his tracks.

* Wednesday - Stirchley to Stratford

Like many commuter cyclists, I also cycle recreationally. Today is my day off, so I leave my sensible commuter at home and take out my lightweight racing bike. It's refreshing to get out of the city, and it only takes about ten minutes to be on quieter roads where I can give my legs free rein.

Fifty miles through Warwickshire and Worcestershire lanes takes around three hours and in that time I'm overtaken too closely by a few impatient motorists, but so many more are considerate and wait for a safe moment to pass. As in the city, it takes time to learn cycle-friendly routes, particularly if you're used to driving, but I assure you they are there!

Later in the evening I go and play bike polo (see - yet another way to enjoy yourself and get fit on a bike.

* Thursday - Stirchley to Digbeth

Today's commute is less than idyllic. An oncoming pedestrian swears profusely as he informs me I've got my lights on; an example of the misplaced animosity between those on foot and those on two wheels.

I use lights at all times to draw attention to myself, as no amount of hi-visibility clothing seems to prevent motorists pulling out in front of you - the SMIDSY or 'Sorry Mate I Didn't See You' effect.

Coming through Horton Square in Highgate, two illegally parked cars cause an approaching lorry to swerve well wide into my lane. I'm hard on the brakes and into the gutter to avoid a collision.

There are two free car parks serving the shops here, but an inconsiderate minority don't know or don't care that their laziness endangers other road users. Traffic police don't seem to prioritise this route and many motorists ignore the 'Bus and Cycle Lane Only' signs and proceed straight across Belgrave Middleway.

* Friday - Digbeth to Moseley

I'm heading out for a post-work curry, so take a different route than usual. I take the back streets to avoid the A4540 dual carriageway and pop out onto the Alcester Road in Balsall Heath. Traffic is always backed up here, but as a cyclist you're allowed in the bus lane.

It pays to be cautious as drivers occasionally forget to check their mirrors when they turn across it, although tonight there is no trouble. The cars are moving so slowly that it actually feels quite safe cycling along Alcester Road although potholes are a perennial pain.

It's been a fairly typical cycling week for me; overwhelmingly safe, enjoyable and convenient, but sporadically punctuated by annoyance and danger.

Experienced cyclists like me can get on okay despite the unhelpful infrastructure, but I can fully understand why non-enthusiasts are reluctant to drag their bike out of the shed and give it a go.

It's a sad admission, but Birmingham has a long way to go before it can be mentioned in the same breath as Amsterdam, Copenhagen or even Bristol in terms of cycling friendliness.