Britain’s Love Affair With The Bike – Cycling Into Trouble?

More and more people are taking to the road on bikes these days. That’s especially in the UK where the cycling success at the Olympics and Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Tour De France win has seen interest in the sport rocket.

For example, in August last year Visa recorded a 7.3% rise in card spend on bikes and other cycling products. While take up of the government’s ‘cycle-to-work’ scheme has also seen a big increase since the sporting heroics of 2012.

That’s positive news. Cycling is a great way to stay fit and healthy and great for the environment into the bargain. Yet, the flipside of the coin is that with more and more cyclists on the road, there’s statistically more likelihood of accidents taking place; with a deadly rivalry between bikes and cars taking centre stage.

Think that’s being melodramatic? Time to take a look at the figures that prove it.

Over 19,000 cycling casualties every year

Recent figures confirm just how vulnerable cyclists are on the road. In the year to July 2012, the total number of cyclist casualties on the UK’s roads was 19,215. Thankfully, the majority of that total are classified as ‘slight injuries’. But sadly 3,085 were recorded as ‘serious injuries’ and tragically 107 were fatalities.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of incidents involved male cyclists. Yet, more disturbing was the revelation that nearly 1/5th of the recorded accidents involved children. Something that really doesn’t bear thinking about.

Even more sobering though, is the fact that this number only takes into the cycling accidents on the road that were formally reported to the police. Goodness knows how many more incidents took place that were simply ignored or missed.

Simple safety measures can make a difference

The stats above may seem depressing but they shouldn’t deter people from getting on their bike. The fact is, with just a few simple safety measures, it’s possible to steer clear of trouble when cycling on the road. Here’s our top 5:

  1. Position yourself properly in traffic ride away from the kerb and at least a car door’s width from parked cars. It’s amazing how many cyclists get into smashes from practically cycling in the gutter or being hit by car doors opening by surprise.
  2. Look behind you at frequent intervals you don’t have eyes in the back of your head. But for your own safety, make an effort to look behind you when you are about to undertake a manoeuvre that changes your position on the road, e.g. moving lanes to prepare for a turn. As well as checking out what’s behind you, turning your head will most likely capture the attention of other drivers too.
  3. Stay away from kerbside when large vehicles are turning left this is a biggie, in more ways than one. With large vehicles such as buses, lorries, trucks and large vans, always avoid cycling next to then on kerbside when they’re turning left. You’re in the driver’s blind spot and will come off worst. And with vehicles of that size, serious injury or death are more likely to be the outcome.
  4. Always communicate early, clearly and frequently as a cyclist, you are harder to see, so it’s imperative that you make your intentions clear when changing lane or turning. Signal early, clearly and frequently. It also helps to wear a high-visibility band around your arm and wrist. Get yourself seen.
  5. Get some cycling training lastly, there’s no shame in taking a road cycling training course. Your local council may even offer a discounted or free service.
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And remember, if you do suffer a cycling injury on the road that you believe wasn’t your fault, speak to a reliable personal injury lawyer.

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