Are you new to cycling or haven’t been on a bike in years? If so, the idea of cycling on busy roads can be a frightened prospect. However by following some simple tips, you can stay safe on the roads.
1. Have the right equipment
Always wear a cycling helmet and make sure your bike is roadworthy. Consider getting your bike serviced if you haven’t used it in a while.
2. Been seen
Wear a high vis jacket and reflective clothing. Use lights, particularly during early mornings and at night. Make eye contact with other road users, that way, you know they’ve seen you.
3. Get out of the gutter
You should always be at least 50cm from the kerb, and sometimes further. Positioning yourself in the middle of the lane is called ‘the primary position’ or ‘taking the lane’. It makes you more visible and forces cars to overtake properly or wait until it is safe to do so.
4. Follow the Highway code
Don’t go through red lights or cycle on the footpath unless it’s a designated cycle path.
5. Signal like you mean it
Signalling broadcasts your intentions to other road users. You’re not asking their permission; you are telling them unambiguously where you’re going. Check over your shoulder early so you can change position smoothly and predictably. If there is following traffic, eyeball the lead driver, signal clearly and begin your manoeuvre.
6. Be alert to vehicles
Collisions frequently occur when vehicles are turning left. Only filter up the inside if the traffic is stationary. Don’t take it for granted that vehicles are going straight just because they are not signalling left. Don’t undertake a vehicle in this situation. Wait until the vehicle has moved off. In particular, be careful of high sided vehicles as they may turn left or right and not see you in the mirrors.
7. Be extra careful when cycling in a group
Always have your front wheel a safe distance behind and slightly to the side of the rider in front of you to avoid rubbing wheels. Avoid braking without warning and do not make unnecessary, sudden changes in direction without signalling to others in a group.
8. Consider further training
Cycling training today isn’t aimed solely at kids. Following the growth of cycling, organisations like Sustrans offer training for all age groups, particularly if you haven’t cycled in a long time or aren’t familiar with cycling in a city. You can visit www.sustrans.org.uk or call 028 9043 4569 for more information.