With an incredible 3.2 billion miles cycled on UK roads every year, riding a bike is a cheap and easy way to get around. Since 2010, the number of cyclists killed on our roads has fallen to its lowest level on record, and it could be argued that if more people switched 4 wheels for 2 then the roads could be even safer.
However, 3337 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in 2015, which is 3337 too many. Learning how be a better and safer cyclist can help reduce that figure in the future. It’s actually possible affect driver behaviour by riding well, and learning some simple riding techniques will help keep you out of harm’s way.
- It may seem obvious, but the first thing you can do is obey the highway code. Don’t jump red lights, don’t hop on and off pavements, and keep your bike roadworthy. Ride positively, decisively, and signal your intentions to other road users.
- Do help other road users to help you stay safe. Make sure motorists can see you, firstly by wearing fluorescent and hi vis kit, and using front and rear lights and reflectors, especially at night and in bad weather. Secondly, make eye contact at lights and junctions – then you know they are aware you are there.
- Don’t hug the kerb. You’ll have to weave out to avoid potholes, drains and debris. Drivers won’t always see these hazards, so won’t anticipate any sudden moves from you. Ride in the centre of the lane, where appropriate. If the road is narrow, if there are parked cars, a traffic island or a junction ahead, you’re better off “taking the lane” so vehicles won’t be tempted to squeeze by you, or cut you off as you approach a hazard.
- Don’t ride with headphones on, or use a mobile on the go. You need to be fully aware of what’s around you at all times. You’ll also need both hands free in case you need to brake suddenly.
- 20% of cycling fatalities involve an HGV. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles and never pull up alongside a lorry or bus at a junction. Their blind spots extend further than you think and if they turn across your path, they will likely crush you. Wait behind them until they’ve moved away.
- Do overtake vehicles on the right, unless there’s a designated cycle lane or the traffic is stationary. Cars won’t be expecting you to undertake them on the left and may not check before turning left or pulling in.
- Do use a helmet. It’s not mandatory and it won’t help you avoid a collision, but in the event of an accident, even one not involving another vehicle, it will improve the chances of your injury being less serious, and prevent you ending up as another tragic statistic.
Visit our YouTube channel to see some of this advice demonstrated. We've selected some great videos from the UK and around the world to help you stay safe on the roads.
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