Despite many peoples’ perceptions, cycling is a very safe way to get around but there are actions you can take to make yourself even safer. Of course, all road users and pedestrians should be mindful of others on the road to make everyone safer, but this article is focusing specifically on what we, as cyclists, can do.
Don’t cycle in the gutter
There are a number of reasons for this recommendation – firstly, a lot of the rubbish from the road will collect towards the kerb, so staying half a metre to a metre out will keep you out of all of this debris. Being out a little further encourages cars move out around you and are less likely to squeeze past. You are also easier to spot if you are out further and if there is an obstacle you need to avoid, you have given yourself more room to take evasive action.
There are certain situations where you will be required or safer if you take a different position in the road. If you are coming up to a stop with traffic, approaching a single-lane roundabout or are in slow moving traffic, it is best, and safest, to take the ‘primary position’ which is just right of centre of the lane. This encourages vehicles to stay behind you and it eliminates the situation of having to start off with another vehicle directly next to you.
Watch out for parked cars
Seeing a car door open just in front of you can be a frightening experience so it is recommended to stay out further than a car door can open. Being further out also means that if a pedestrian steps out between parked cars, you have more time and space to react.
Communicating with other road users
We are all in it together on the roads and communicating with other road users and pedestrians is vital. Clear and confident signalling of your intentions will make what you are intending to do clearer to other road users and thus makes you safer. Making eye contact with others tells us if they have seen us and that they are aware of the manoeuvre we are intending to take. Likewise, if you travel on shared cycle paths, ringing a bell to alert other path users of your presence is essential (But please ring it far enough away that a) you don’t give them a fright and b) you give them enough time to react to your approach). Being aware of what is happening around and behind you before making maneuvres is also vital for keeping yourself and others safe. Mirrors can be a great way to see behind you without having to turn your head behind.
Keep your bike safe
Regular maintenance is a must as all bikes have wearable parts. Keeping on top of brake pads, chains, cassettes and general bike condition is vital in having a bike you can trust when you need to stop suddenly, manoeuvre quickly or accelerate away. Cleaning your bike more often can also alert you to any nicks, dents or cracks that you may not know about.
Here is our video detailing a basic pre-ride safety check
Being visible while on a bike seems an obvious one but worth mentioning. Lights at night shouldn’t have to be said but unfortunately has to be. Having lights on during the day makes you visible from further away allowing other road users time to deal with your approach or time to think about how to pass you safely.
Browse our lights
Browse our high-vis clothing
A little consideration goes a long way
A little more consideration from everyone who uses roads and paths would go a very long way. This is not just for cyclists but for all road users and pedestrians. But as Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”.