From 9th–17th of June, Bike Week takes place – bringing people across the nation together to celebrate the joys of cycling.
Bike riding is certainly seeing renewed popularity in Britain, over the past two decades the number of people opting for two wheels has risen by a quarter. Every year there are now an estimated 3.2 billion miles cycled on our roads, with 2.3 million bicycle journeys in London alone.
As a great way to get from A to B, it’s unsurprising that many more of us are choosing to cycle to and from work due to its convenience and numerous health benefits.
If you’ve been inspired to ditch your car and hit the pedals for Bike Week, here are our top cycle safety tips for your travels.
Follow the Highway Code
It may seem obvious but it’s important to remember your Highway Code when cycling as this applies to all road users including cyclists. Keep in mind the following:
- Be sensible at traffic lights, don’t jump reds and reduce your speed when approaching to anticipate a change
- Pay attention to ‘Stop’ and ‘Give Way’ signs
- Don’t zig-zag through traffic. Stick to designated cycle paths where possible and stay clear of the curb
- If travelling with others, ride in single file and don’t carry passengers or attempt to hang onto another vehicle
- Ride at a safe speed – although this is not specified in the Highway Code, The Department of Transport says if you’re cycling over 18mph then you should be on the road
- Keep both hands on the handle bars and your feet on the pedals at all times, this is so you remain in control of the bike and can react quickly if you need to
Make sure you can be seen
Cyclists can be invisible to HGVs and other large vehicles especially when it’s dark outside or in bad weather conditions, therefore you must dress appropriately.
- Wear a reflective high-visibility jacket or bright-coloured clothing if you do not have one
- Use lights if riding between sunset and sunrise, legally cyclists require a white light at the front of their bike and a red light to the rear
- Amber reflectors must be placed on the front and rear of both pedals, with a red reflector at the back
- Remember to wear a helmet and make sure it fits properly and conforms with the latest safety regulations
- Make eye contact with other road users, especially at junctions to be sure they’re aware of you
- Sit up straight when riding, this makes you easier to see
Ride positively and decisively
Be confident when cycling, use appropriate arm signals to notify others of your intentions and ring your bell if you need to make someone aware of your presence.
Be aware of other vehicles
How fast cyclists react can prove critical. When riding on the roads you must pay close attention to other vehicles and ensure you keep a safe distance. In particular you should:
- Watch out for vehicles turning left at junctions, this is where a lot of accidents involving cyclists happen. Don’t assume a vehicle won’t turn just because it isn’t indicating
- Keep safe distance in front, don’t undertake or ride into the gap, hang back.
- Pay extra caution to large vehicles and don’t cycle along the inside or sit in front of them at traffic lights – you may not be seen when they pull away
- Stay aware of your surroundings, avoid wearing headphones or looking at your mobile as this will distract you
Take extra care when riding in wet conditions
Road surfaces become more slippery during wet weather making it harder for bicycle tyres to grip the road. As a result, cyclists may find it more difficult to control their bike and stop quickly.
Plan your route before setting out
Taking the time to map out your journey beforehand allows you to concentrate on what’s in front of you so your full attention will be on the road.
Make sure your bike is roadworthy and adjusted correctly
- Check your tyres are fully inflated (soft tyres make you more likely to skid)
- Test your brakes to make sure they are working properly
- Ensure the chain runs smoothly and doesn’t snag
- Adjust the saddle height, so you can ride comfortably
Consider training to improve your confidence
If you haven’t ridden for a while or are not used to cycling on the road it may be a good idea to take a cycling lesson. Even experienced cyclists may find this beneficial to help them get rid of any bad habits.