On average, British drivers spend 30 hours per year stuck in traffic jams and this is only going to get worse. Therefore, the newly popular mode of transport is fast becoming the bike with cities such as London, Oxford and Bath already fully embracing their cycling counterparts. With cycle paths and routes now becoming permanent fixtures even in smaller towns the aim is to make cycle commuting as safe as it can be. Although it seems that deaths of cyclists are a common occurrence on London roads actually the statistics show that per mile more people are killed walking than cycling therefore it is safer than it appears. However, it always a good idea to stick to our top tips below whilst on your bike and make sure you do not become another statistic!
1. Hemet Up!
It may be an obvious one but it is surprising how many people still ignore the safety advice. Although it is not law to wear a helmet whilst riding there are countless stories of people surviving horrific crashes with thanks to their safety helmet. It definitely pays to get a good quality helmet and make sure it is fitted correctly.
2. Position Correctly
You should be about 50cm away from the curb at all times and preferably if possible in the ‘primary position’ which means being in the middle of the lane. This means you are much more visible to drivers and they are must overtake you properly when they have clear room to do so. This also means you avoid any drains which can cause problems if hit at speed and any other material or debris that may have accumulated there. Stay clear of large vehicles who may not have as good complete vision and never try and pass them on the inside. Overtaking on the right will always be best for visibility so only overtake on the inside of stationary traffic being careful of pedestrians and opening car doors.
3. Be Seen and Heard
Visibility is key to make sure drivers know you are there – as a cyclist you have every right to use the road as the cars but you just may not be as big and loud as them. Wearing bright, florescent colours as well as reflective pads can aid in your visibility to drivers. If you are planning on commuting in the dark make sure you have working lights both on the front and back of your bike – if a light isn’t working, don’t take the risk even in well-lit areas. The other hazard to cyclists other than cars can be pedestrians who may walk out in front of bikes or be in cyclist specialist areas. Therefore, a bell or horn on your bike can be a good investment to warn pedestrians of your present.
4. Signal – Be Confident!
Everyone gets annoyed with drivers who do not tell others where they intend to go by signalling and the same can be said for cyclists. It is important to signal early to tell other road users where are you going and allow them to create space for you to proceed. If there is traffic, make sure to have eye contact with the driver so you know you are both fully aware of your intentions and check over your shoulder for any traffic behind.
5. Stick to the Rules
You have just as much right to use the road as car drivers but this does mean you need to stick to the highway code and that includes not jumping red lights. Make sure are clued up and up to date on all the rules of the road before you get on your bike. With everyone abiding by the same set of guidelines, drivers will be much more aware of cyclist and their intentions.
Following these five guidelines will make sure you are kept safe on your commute but what about your bicycle? Visit our previous blog ‘Protecting Your New Bike’ for our advice on how to keep your bike safe such as signing up to a bike register, buying security locks and buying appropriate insurance.