Cycle Safety

There are more and more of people taking up cycling every year. Whether it’s to improve health and fitness, helping the environment or just to save some money there are definitely more cyclists on the roads. But how do we stay safe and keep others safe?

Tips for Cyclists

Many people are put off cycling because they don’t like the idea of cycling in traffic, but cyclists can use busy roads without any problems. They cycle safely and make sure drivers know they are there. If you learn the basics of road cycling, you can start to enjoy using a bike for everyday journeys.

The basics
Before setting off check your bike is roadworthy. Do not cycle when under the influence of alcohol or drugs and never try to carry passengers on your bike.

Follow the Highway Code
The Highway Code was designed to keep all road users safe. Don’t ride through red lights and don’t cycle on the pavements unless it is signed as a shared use path. Remember to consider what impact the weather has on your cycling ability wet weather can cause surfaces to be slippery so you need to make sure you take into consideration stopping time.

Be visible
Wear bright, fluorescent or reflective clothing – even in early morning light. Use lights at night, in the rain or in poor lighting conditions – for example overcast weather.

Wear a helmet
It might sound simple but far too many cyclists do not use a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of a head injury should you fall off your bike. Remember to make sure it’s fitted correctly – the inner pads should be touching your head all the way around and the fit should feel snug.

Be aware
Do not use your mobile phone while cycling. And while it may be nice to cycle along to your favourite tunes on your way home from work, music offers a potentially dangerous distraction and could prevent you from hearing warnings from other road users.

Communicate with other road users
Show your intentions well ahead of time and be aware of what’s around you at all times. Signal before you start, stop or turn. Doing this while cycling involves multi-tasking, so have a practise in a safe environment before hitting busy roads.

Give yourself some space
If possible, always keep a door’s width away from any vehicles but don’t cycle too close to the kerb. By moving further into the road you’ll avoid most drain covers and roadside debris so it’s safest to keep an even distance between the kerb and nearby cars. Do not get too close to parked cars in case the doors are suddenly opened. Remember to be extra careful around lorries and never pass them of the left just before or at traffic lights. Consider using designated cycle lanes whenever possible.

Large goods vehicle drivers have problems seeing cyclists, as they have such large blind spots.

Get some cycle training
Cycle training gives you a good foundation for cycling on the roads safely. It will help you to develop skills, increase your confidence and get some practise on some busy roads. Even if you have done similar training before, it may be worth a refresher as we can all slip into bad habits.
To find out what courses are available near you, call the National Cycle Training Helpline on 0844 736 8460

Tips for Drivers

It is important to remember that cyclists are not always slow moving traffic, it is not uncommon for cyclists to achieve 25 to 30 mph! Help keep cyclists safe by following the below:

  • Respect cycle lanes, do not drive or park in them
  • Use your indicators (particularly nearside) well in advance, your intentions may not be obvious to cyclists
  • When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up
  • Use the Dutch Reach method to open vehicle doors – open your car door with the hand furthest from the handle, this forces drivers and passengers to check over their shoulders for approaching traffic.
  • Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking, at least 1.5m
  • At night, dip your headlights when approaching cyclists
  • In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery

Remember, cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respecting all road users helps everyone to benefit from travelling by road.

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