Environmental concern, Olympic successes, public transport unreliability and crises have all contributed, in some shape or form, to the growing number of people who have taken up cycling in recent years. Be it as a hobby, a new means to improve fitness levels, a change in commuting habits, a delve into competitive sport or a step to reducing personal carbon footprint, whatever the reason, cycling is on the up.
It is great to see more cyclists on the road. Also that the government is looking to make a multi-million pound investment in developing cycling and walking paths around the country on the National Cycling Network (Department for Transport: 5th September 2019) in its drive to get more people into active travel as it delivers on its cycling and walking investment strategy.
But with increased cyclists on the roads come increased safety risks, particularly in the freneticism of so many people’s daily lives and the rush for vehicles, large or small to get from A to B in the shortest time possible. Tight schedules, roadworks, congested routes, frayed tempers, and road rage can make the roads a dangerous place to be. As a cyclist you are more vulnerable than most other road users. It is therefore paramount that you do all you can to keep yourself safe on the roads so that you are not at risk and can enjoy stress-free cycling whatever your motive for getting on your bike.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together the guide below to give you some top tips on how to be legal and to stay safe whilst out on your bike.
Cycling Safety Tips
1. Wear a Helmet
Obviously, cycle helmets are not going to prevent accidents from happening, but they do significantly reduce the risk of major trauma or fatal injury to the head when worn. They are not a legal requirement but highly recommended, not just by cycling clubs but also by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Be sure in choosing a helmet that conforms to the latest British or European safety standards. Do your homework beforehand, select one that it is the correct size and ensure it is always securely fastened: a loose, ill-fitting helmet might just as well be left at home.
2. Check your Bike is Legal
Your bike is required by law to have white front and red rear lights, a rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors. And it’s easy to understand why, given how difficult it is to see a cyclist with no lights when it is dark outside.
Whilst bells must be fitted in the bike shop, there is no legal requirement to keep them on the bike once purchased, the only stipulation in the Highway Code being that cyclists “should be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted pedestrians. Let them know you are there where necessary, for example by ringing your bell”. Effectively anything audible is acceptable although a bell is considered more the norm for cyclists.
3. Be Seen
Hi-vis clothing is highly recommended particularly when out on busy major roads, but it won’t make you visible if you are in a driver’s blind spot.
4. Correct Road Positioning
Being in the right place on the road is so important when riding on public highways. Whilst the temptation might be to hug the kerb, you really need to avoid the gutter where the surface is most likely to be uneven and littered with loose gravel, broken glass, general debris and of course drain covers – all significant accident hazards. Give parked cars at least a door’s width of space and be alert to doors swinging open in front of you unexpectedly.
Don’t be afraid to take control of the road when turning right but be sure to check behind, ensure you’ve been seen, indicate your intention clearly to other road users both behind and oncoming, and position yourself safely for your right turn. Remember you have as much right as any other road user to be on the road and to be safe.
Be particularly careful when on the inside or outside of lorries, buses and other long vehicles and never undercut on the inside as the driver simply will not see you, especially if they are about to turn left. Be aware too that large vehicles also swing out to the right before turning left to give themselves clearance and are highly likely to clip anyone in a blind spot.
5. Keep your Bike Roadworthy
It’s easy to forget to do this but do get into the habit of checking tyre pressure, brakes, chains and gears on a regular basis. Worn brakes may mean you are unable to stop in time should you need to brake suddenly. Reduced tyre pressure can increase your risk of skidding. A chain coming off unexpectedly or gears that jam can throw you off your bike in the middle of dense traffic. It doesn’t take long to perform these checks that are so important in terms of keeping you safe on the roads.
6. Limit your Distractions
Whilst it might be tempting to listen to your favourite music whilst out on the open road, it isn’t advisable. If you’re plugged in to some music device, you won’t be alert to what’s going on around and won’t hear the emergency vehicle approaching from behind at speed. Stash your electronics in your bag or pocket, disconnect from the busy-ness of everyday life and enjoy the ride!
7. Use Dedicated Bike Lanes and Well-Lit Cycle Routes
There are so many of them out there and avoiding main roads and busy junctions will not only keep you safe but will make your ride more enjoyable too.
Here at solareye, we help local authorities, councils and private landowners install user-friendly ground lighting to make foot and cycle paths safer and more enjoyable to use.
Learn More About Solar Eye
We hope the above has given you some useful advice on how to keep safe whilst out on your bike.
At Solar Eye, we are at the forefront in solar lighting technology for your cycle track or pathway. With our lights low cost, fully waterproof and providing renewable and maintenance free green energy, we know we can provide the perfect product to meet your needs. For an informal discussion around your requirements, simply get in touch with us today.