After the announcement that the number of cycling casualties on the road in the first quarter of the year had risen by 27% we have put together some useful tips on how to stay safe on the roads.
1. Good Planning
If you are a keen cyclist the chances are you are not just nipping down the road to the local shop. For long distance it is crucial that you plan your journey, making sure you understand the roads that you will be cycling on.
Be sure to check for any previously hazardous spots on the route and, always check the weather forecast so you can judge whether the route is a safe one to be taken or not.
2. Consider Visibility
Sounds like such a silly thing, but an easy one to forget. By visibility we mean, make sure that you are going to be visible to other road users. There are a number of things that you should take into account when thinking about visibility.
The first thing to consider is what time of day are you cycling? If it is in the evening then it is imperative that you wear reflective clothes so that road users can see you.
Also remember to consider your own lights. This is especially important for when other road users have forgotten to switch their car lights on.
It shouldn’t be a case of “Oh well, they are in the wrong not me” when considering this. Yes, they are in the wrong, but it does happen and wouldn’t you rather take every precaution possible to ensure they can see you even without their lights on rather than them hitting you.
Also take into account the weather and what the visibility is like in terms of cloud cover, fog, rain or snow. It is advisable that if it is raining or snowing that you avoid making the journey, but if you really must, again ensure that you are wearing reflective, bright clothing.
3. Be Aware of Your Surroundings?
When on the road, make sure you are vigilant of other road users around you and bear in mind your road positioning.
Ensure that you are keeping a safe distance between the kerb and the other drivers and give drivers plenty of time to react to the decisions you make on the road. For example, if you want to make a turn, signal early so that they can adjust their speed and allow you to complete your manoeuvre safely.
Also be wary of their decisions and always be careful when it comes to drivers turning left, as if they have failed to check their blind spot, as so many do, then they will almost certainly not have seen you.
Also, be aware of parked and stationary vehicles. Do not ride up the inside of large vehicles such as Lorries or buses.
4. Abide the rules of the road as if you were in a car
Again, this sounds stupid, but it is common for cyclists to forget that the rules of the road are there for everyone and not just those who are driving a vehicle of the four or more wheeled variety.
Be mindful of signs telling you to give way and make sure you adhere to them. Make sure you are up to date with the Highway Code if you are unsure of anything.
5. Where the Correct Protective Gear
When you were younger, wearing a helmet whilst on your bike may not have been cool, but it can literally save your life. Choose one that meets the current regulations and ensure that it is correctly fitted. Life is always a lot cooler if you’re alive, so this really is important.
6. Service Your Bicycle
Car users are not allowed to use the roads if their car does not meet certain standards and pass its MOT test so it is important that the owner of the vehicle regularly keeps check of it to ensure it is roadworthy and the same applies to bikes.
Make sure you check our brakes to ensure they are functioning properly, your tyres to ensure there are no slow punctures and enough grip, your gears to ensure they won’t fail you while you are out and about.
It is best to find out before you go out on your bike that it isn’t roadworthy and pay the extra money repairing it than leave it too late and end paying for it with at the biggest price of all, your life.
7. Be Prepared to Brake
The road is an unpredictable place and unfortunately, other than pedestrians, cyclists are the most vulnerable road users. That is why it is important that you keep your wits about you and always cover your brakes, especially during poor weather conditions.
You should always be prepared to use them as cyclists, unfortunately, are still ignore by other road users and by pedestrians. People and other people will pull or step out in front of you, vehicles will get too close to you and even in the instance that wildlife runs out in front of you, you have to be ready as it will be you who comes off worse if something of that size runs out in front of you.
8. Use Bike Boxes and Cycle Lanes
They are there for your safety and guidance so don’t waste them. The bike box allows you to be visible to other road uses so that they don’t hit you when pulling off and the cycle lanes…well the clues in the name.
At the same time, beware of vehicles driving illegally within the lane and keep a safe distance between them and you.
Don’t be ashamed to do some cycling training. It will help develop your understanding of the road and its surroundings as well as strengthens your cycling skills, which obviously will make you stronger.
If you haven’t already why not take your Bikeability (cycling proficiency) test, which signifies that you have the skills and knowledge to understand modern roads. It will also boost your confidence massively.
10. Ride Confidently
Quite simple really but if you don’t feel confident about riding on the road then you shouldn’t be doing it. That is not to say you should be attempting wheelies in busy traffic or racing like Bradley Wiggins but good confidence levels will lead to a safer cyclist on the road.
Those are our top ten tips for cyclists on how to stay safe on the roads. We appreciate though that sometimes the choice of whether or not you are involved in an accident is taken away from you.
If this has happened to you in the last three years and you suffered an injury as a result we can help you claim for compensation. Simply contact us on 0800 61 43 61 or claim online.