For many people, cycling is a weekend hobby but for others, it offers a relatively inexpensive, environmentally-friendly and healthy way to get around with around 5% of workers in England choosing to commute by bicycle.
However, cycling isn’t without risk and cycling on the road can be particularly dangerous, especially if you’re inexperienced. Here are our top ten tips for cycling safely in traffic.
How Dangerous is Cycling?
Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups on the roads. According to the road safety charity, Brake UK, every year, more than 100 cyclists die on UK roads. This is a disproportionately high fatality rate for the number of cyclists. On average, it means that for every billion miles travelled, 30 cyclists will die compared to two car drivers travelling the same distance.
Almost half of these deaths occur at or near junctions, and a third of cyclist deaths occur at roundabouts and crossroads, showing that these are particular hotspots for serious collisions between cyclists and motorists.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), common cycling injuries from accidents include limb injuries and head injuries, which can range from minor cuts and concussion to serious, life-threatening head injuries, which are a significant factor in cyclist deaths.
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an incident or collision when cycling, you can always contact a personal injury solicitor if you’ve been injured while riding your bike but it wasn’t your fault.
How to Cycle Safely in Traffic
Despite the risks, there are still many benefits to cycling. You can save money on fuel or expensive bus or rail fares, it’s a great form of exercise and it’s better for the environment too. If you’re planning to cycle on the road, you should make sure you’re well prepared by following these ten useful tips for cycling safely in traffic.
Always wear a helmet
Helmets can’t offer total protection against head injury but if you’re involved in an accident or fall, they will certainly offer some protection against serious head and brain injury.
Never wear dark clothing when cycling, particularly in low-light conditions. You want to make yourself as visible as possible to other road-users so consider brightly coloured or high-visibility clothing.
Never listen to music while cycling
Using headphones when riding your bike means you’ll be less aware of your surroundings and what is happening on the road around you.
Check the weather
Always check the forecast before you leave the house. Road conditions that are dangerous for motorists such as heavy rainfall, strong winds, ice and snow can be even more dangerous for cyclists.
Check your route
Check Google Maps for traffic updates before you set off so you can avoid routes that are congested or where traffic is disrupted, for example, by roadworks or a collision.
Cycle in a group
When it comes to cycling, there’s safety in numbers so where possible try to ride with friends.
Know your hand signals
Make sure you know what hand signals to use and that you can execute each signal clearly while cycling so that they’ll be clear enough for drivers to understand.
Behave like a vehicle
If you’re cycling on the road then you must behave as a vehicle would, so that other road users can predict your behaviour. Remember to always follow the Highway Code for Cyclists.
Use familiar roads
Try to ride roads you know well. This will give you an advantage, particularly if you’ve used the route as a pedestrian or car driver as you’ll know what to expect in terms of the road surface, traffic conditions and any particular risks you might face along the way.
When going out on your bike, always take some water and money with you and ensure you have an emergency contact number that can be used if you are involved in an accident.