How to Stay Safe on Your Bike

05/04/2013

The Government recently announced that they will be investing £40 million into a new scheme to make cycling on our roads safer. The money will be used to improve the design and layout of dangerous roads and junctions at 78 locations across the UK.  Whilst improvements to our roads aim to make them safer for cyclists there are some simple rules and tips cyclists should follow to avoid harm, here are some of them.  

Stand Out


Many cycling fatalities occur because the cyclist has not been seen by other road users, highlighting the importance of staying visible on the road. Wearing a hi vis jacket or vest along with hi vis snap bands on wrists or ankles will help motorists spot you. When cycling at night it is compulsory that you have a white front and red rear bike lights switched on. It’s also advisable that lights are used in rain and overcast conditions.

It may seem counter intuitive but making sure you don’t cycle too closely to the kerb will help keep you safe. By cycling in the middle of the lane you are more visible to other vehicles and pedestrians who may be crossing. By cycling close to the pavement you may also encourage impatient drivers to overtake when it is not safe or there is not enough space to do so. Do however bear in mind your speed; try to ride as close to the speed of the traffic as you can to avoid causing a hold up.

Make eye contact

Making eye contact with drivers, especially before you make a manoeuvre, will let them know you have seen them and visa versa. If you know they have seen you this should avoid any ‘I didn’t see you there’ situations.

Be Vigilent

As a motorist you are taught to use your mirrors so you are aware of what is happening around you, this is equally as important for a cyclist. Make sure you look all around you before pulling away from the kerb, turning or manoeuvring. Regularly looking over your shoulder whilst on the move will make you aware of traffic approaching from behind so you can anticipate any potential hazards. Spotting obstructions such as drains, potholes, parked vehicles or car doors being opened early will help you avoid having to swerve suddenly.

State Your Intention

It is important that other road users know what you plan to do in good time. If you intend to move or turn left or right make sure it is safe to do so and signal clearly with your arm. Don’t suddenly change direction without signalling.

Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks

There are no hard and fast rules regarding how to pass other traffic whilst on your bike. Whilst some argue that overtaking on the right is best for visibility others prefer to stick to the left. The key is to make judgements based on what other road users are doing and not take unnecessary risks. If a car is about to turn left for example, do not attempt to undertake.       

Never ever undertake an HGV, they have limited visibility on the left and it is difficult to know if you have been seen or not. If a HGV or other long vehicle is manoeuvring it is best to wait until they have completed the manoeuvre rather than try to pass them.

Obey the Law

Cyclists have to obey many of the same road rules as motorists do. Cyclists are required to abide by any road signs and traffic light signals. Never run a red traffic light because you think you can make it, not only is it dangerous to you and other road users but it is against the law. It is also against the law to cycle under the influence of drink and drugs, carry a passenger or ride on the pavement.
 
Cycle Training

Cycling proficiency training is no longer just reserved for school kids. There are numerous programmes that are designed to teach the necessary skills to enable riders to cycle safely and help them gain confidence on the road. Look for a local course that are based on the National standards for cycle training.