Whether you’re already cycle training or you want to start cycle training, it’s always a good idea to be up to date with the latest safety information before you head out on the road.
- Bike maintenance
- Cycle Safety on the road
- Cycle training and specific dangers
Before you even set a foot on a pedal, you need to make sure your bicycle is maintained to the best condition it can be. Here are a few things you should be doing regularly:
Each time you ride or once a week
- Check your tyres and pump if necessary
- Check any quick-release mechanisms are secure
- Give the wheels and frame a quick wipe down
- Lubricate the chain
Once a month
- Give your drive train a deep clean
- Check for any loose spokes
- Test the tightness of your bolts
Twice a year
- Check the brake pads and the brakes
- Look to see if you need new tyres
- Inspect your chain to see if it has stretched
- Replace grips if necessary
Once a year
- Replace the cassette
- Inspect the shoe to see if the rubber has gone, replace if so
- Buy new cables
When we first think of cycle safety, we think of being out on the road – and with good reason. Each year there are around 100 cyclists killed on Britain’s roads. In fact, cyclists (and motorcyclists) are the most likely road users to be killed on their journey, there are also many that incur serious injuries. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what precautions cyclists should be taking when out and about.
- Be familiar with the Highway Code and what it means for cyclists
- Be sure to look around for obstacles/other vehicles before you manoeuver or stop
- Be aware of your surroundings – don’t listen to music and don’t use a mobile phone
- Signal turns with your arms to alert drivers
- Where available, use cycle paths and cycle routes
- Remember that most bus lanes can be used by cyclists
- Be aware that other road users might not see you so take care at road junctions
- If you use a cycle lane, make sure you check around you as you leave it
- If you are in a group, travel in a single file on busy or narrow roads and also when going round corners.
- Look ahead of you for potential pitfalls like potholes, drains and debris, etc.
- Leave lots of room when you pass vehicles that are parked and also be aware of pedestrians stepping out or car doors being opened.
- Finally, don’t forget that it is illegal to cycle on a footpath
It is important to remember that cyclists have legal obligations to protect themselves and others against accidents and injuries. Ignoring the law could end up with you being sued for compensation or much worse.
In order to be as safe as possible, you need to be seen. Even in bright sunshine, it is a good idea to be as bright as possible and make use of bike reflectors and lights. It goes without saying but always wear a helmet.
Around 50% of the injuries that cyclists get on the road are to their head or their face. This is why you need a well-fitting helmet! Your helmet should:
- Be positioned squarely on your head, sitting just above your eyebrows and not tilted or tipped
- Fit snugly
- Not cover ears or stop you having a clear field of vision
- Have straps that aren’t twisted and that are fastened securely. There should only be space for two fingers to fit between the strap and your chin.
Most accidents for cyclists occur near junctions. Be wary of this and make sure you’re visible!
The following section goes into specific dangers you need to think about when cycle training:
These are much wider, higher and longer than cars and they also have lots of blind spots. The driver won’t be able to see you when you are in these areas. The biggest blind spot is on the left side of the HGV. Do not cycle on the left side of a lorry when at traffic lights or a junction. If the driver happens to turn left, you could be very vulnerable and get struck or trapped.
It is usually safer to pass an HGV on the right side due to the smaller blind spot. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that as a lorry turns, the blind spot will move and you could be vulnerable.
When at traffic lights or junctions, it’s worth thinking about your position if you stop in front of an HGV at an Advanced Stop Line as you might just be in the front blind spot – you need to be quite far in front in order to be seen.
Many HGVs have signs nowadays that read “if you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”. This is always a good thing to remember.
Remember that pedestrians might not always be looking or be focused on what they’re doing. Also, don’t presume they can see or hear you – many people have hearing or sight impairments. Having a bell on your bike is useful for alerting pedestrians of your presence. It is also a good idea to be mindful and wary of pedestrians in busy areas.
If your cycle path is a shared path, make sure you give way to pedestrians and give them lots of room. Wherever possible, you should always be on your side of the line. Since you’re sharing tarmac with people on foot, don’t go at really fast speeds. Also, you should make sure you are able to stop or slow down quickly should you need to. As well as giving way to pedestrians, you should always give way to horse riders and wheelchair users too.
Watch your speed in times of cold or wet weather. Just like when you’re in a car, it will take you longer to stop in these conditions and surfaces could be slippery.
Ready, set, go!
Only once you’re familiar with these safety aspects can you really begin to feel safe and secure when cycling on roads and in public areas.