Cycling is a great way to stay fit, have days out and commute to work. Although many people would like to cycle more, some are worried about doing so on busy roads. Here are a few strategies to keep cyclists safe.
Most accidents involving cyclists occur because the motorist did not see the cyclist. It is of paramount importance to be highly visible as a cyclist, which means high-visibility clothing and as many flashing lights as you can attach to yourself and your bike.
Know the Rules of the Road
Safety on the roads improves when all participants drive or ride according to the same rules. It will help motorists to keep cyclists safe when they can predict what a cyclist will do. Therefore, it is a good idea for cyclists to know the rules of the road as well as motorists do and to ride accordingly. This includes cyclists waiting for green lights and giving way to pedestrians.
Be Aware of High-Risk Manoeuvres
One danger point for cyclists can be right-hand turns, which involve cyclists needing to change lanes into the middle of the traffic. It is important to approach this manoeuvre properly. Check behind you with a look over your shoulder, give a hand signal, check again that the car behind you is keeping its distance and only then move into the middle of the road.
Another danger for cyclists is cars turning left at crossings when the cyclist continues straight on. If possible, move to the front of the queue at a crossing and make sure you are well in front of the cars so that motorists notice you. Once the traffic is moving, be aware that the cars next to you might want to turn left and how to get out of their way if they do. This is especially important with lorries, as there have been a number of accidents involving lorries and cyclists at crossings.
There are a number of organisations which publish road-safety materials and accident reports for cyclists. To find out about accidents involving other cyclists can be intimidating but also informative in terms of how to keep yourself safe. Inform yourself about legal issues concerning cyclist through services such as Cyclaim to know your rights.
Invest in Additional Safety Equipment
Although there is no legal requirement for cyclists to wear a helmet in the UK, it is still a good idea to do so. A helmet can only provide limited protection in a full-on collision with a car, but it will at least protect your head to some extent. An additional safety feature for your bike could be a rear-view mirror. Bicycle mirrors can be mounted on the handle bars or directly on your helmet. Using one will require some practice and it should not replace the look over your shoulder when changing lanes, but it will allow you to keep an eye on cars passing you from behind.
Laura Davies is a blogger and freelance journalist who often writes about cyclist services such as those offered by Cyclaim and national cycling associations. She is a keen cyclist and travels nearly everywhere by bike.