A question we get asked a lot is:
Do you have to wear a helmet on a bike?
The simple answer is yes. You’re not breaking the law if you choose not to wear a helmet, but you are risking your life. A helmet is designed to protect your head and neck from serious damage, as well as bumps and scrapes.
If you really hate wearing a helmet, you can always pop into a cycling shop, where experts can help you find the perfect fit, or order a few different styles online to test out at home. Helmet design has come a long way in the last few years with plenty of shock-absorbing cushioning, ventilating panels, and adjustable sections a feature in most, so you might be surprised by just how comfy they can be.
Keep yourself safe by wearing bright clothes and high-vis accessories
Especially at night. Always use your hands to signal which direction you’re going in, even if you don’t think there’s anyone behind you.
It’s good practice to ride away from the pavement
While it may be tempting to cycle as close to the kerb as possible, this will only encourage drivers to squeeze alongside you and try to overtake. You’ve got just as much right to a space on the road, so when it’s difficult or unsafe to move over, be confident using it.
This applies to waiting at traffic lights too. Make sure you’re in the middle of the road, rather than tucked out of the way so drivers can see you clearly and you’re not struggling to get back in position when the light goes green. Look over your shoulder as much as you can too and have your fingers primed and ready to pull the brakes – you never know when you’ll need to act fast.
To stay safe on your bike at night, there are some extra things to consider
Drivers are of course obligated to watch out for cyclists, but it is your responsibility to be seen, so make sure you’ve got – at the very least – working lights at the front and back of your bike and a high-vis jacket in your arsenal. We stock lots of other high-vis accessories that are compact and quick to slip on, such as armbands, socks, and drawstring backpacks.
If you’re involved in an accident or hurt while you’re out riding
You should get yourself to a safe spot as quickly as possible. If that’s impossible, do everything you can to make yourself visible to oncoming traffic. Always make sure someone where you’re going, so they’d know where to look for you and take a phone so you can call a friend for help, or the emergency services.
No matter how long you’ve been cycling (and quite often, the longer you’ve been cycling the more likely you are to have fallen into bad habits…). It's always worth brushing up on best practice.
There are many different cycling safety programmes available across the UK
Some run by charities and local councils, others by TFL, or bike brands or stores. As adults, sometimes it's easy to think we know everything, but if you do one thing before you start riding frequently, sign up to a short course. No only will you learn things you probably never considered, you won't regret the confidence and enjoyment you'll get out of riding afterwards.
Safe riding, everyone.