Cycling’s popularity in the UK is currently booming. The British track cycling team is far and away the best in the world and Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are showing that the Brits are forces to be contended with on the road as well. However, while the former managed to win the Tour de France, he also contrived to get knocked off his bike while on a training ride in Lancashire earlier in the year. Clearly, it can happen to the best of us, so what can you do to stay safe on the roads?
You might like the look of that Team Sky replica cycling jersey, but is it necessarily the best to wear when you’re out and about. Choose your clothing to ensure that you can easily be seen. Drivers have a tendency to only notice cars, because that is what they are looking for. You have to do everything in your power to ensure you are visible.
On a clear, sunny day, dark clothing is okay, but in the evenings and on cloudy days, you really need to do more. If you don’t fancy a fluorescent jacket or jersey, at least opt for brighter colours. White might show the dirt, but it also shows you.
Use lights and check the batteries
For the same reason, ensure you have lights on your bike if you are going to be cycling when it is dark or even when it is merely gloomy. Lights cut through the murk and ensure you are noticed and you can never have too many of them. It is certainly better to have more than one rear light in case one fails and you don’t notice.
You can get lights which attach to clothing, helmets and your bike and modern LED lights often flash, which makes them even easier to spot. Check your bike light batteries regularly. You might get a hundred hours out of a pair of AAA batteries, but that can come around sooner than you think. Again, it’s worth reiterating that it is important to have more than one light so that you aren’t left without should the batteries run out.
Cyclists in cities have a reputation for disobeying the rules of the road. There is no excuse for this and you only put yourself at risk. Your attitude should be the same as if you were driving a car expect every driver you encounter to drive unpredictably and act to ensure this does not threaten you. Most drivers are predictable, but you can’t control those that aren’t.
One important piece of advice is to always try and cycle a metre away from the kerb. At first, this seems a ridiculously large distance and you will feel pressured to move back in, but if you end up riding in the gutter, you leave yourself no room for manoeuvre should you encounter a pothole and you also tacitly encourage drivers to pass closer by when overtaking. Riding further out means you command more space and this will keep you safer.