Road cycling can be a lot of fun, it’s a great way to stay fit, and it can be a pleasant alternative to taking public transport. But it does come with dangers. Here are a some safety tips to help keep you safe on the road:
- Wear a helmet: It’s not 100% guaranteed to save your life, but you’ll have a much higher chance of avoiding injury if you wear one.
- Safety in numbers: Ride with a friend as two cyclists will be more visible than one. Plus, one of you will be able to call for help if an accident should happen.
- Signal to other drivers: Hold out your arm to the left or right to indicate that you're turning a corner. And never go through a red light, even if the road ahead is clear.
- Stay hydrated: Take plenty of water, especially on a hot day. Consider getting yourself a cycle-specific hydration pack if you’re going on a long ride.
- Listen up: Never ride with earphones so you can hear what’s happening around you. And don’t take your eyes of the road to glance at your phone.
- Plan your route: Choose roads with less traffic, or dedicated bike lanes. And always ride with traffic, never against it.
- Be hands on: Always have your hands on the handlebars to help you balance, and incase you need to steer around something or brake quickly.
- Pack a repair kit: Know how to deal with a flat tyre, and other simple repairs so you don’t become stranded.
- Check the weather: Pack waterproof clothing and extra layers if the weather looks grim. And don’t forget sun lotion and sunglasses if cycling on a sunny day.
- Be seen: Make sure your lights are working, and wear hi-viz clothing to make sure other vehicles can spot you. It’s a legal requirement to have and use one white light pointing straight forward and one red one pointing straight back between sunset and sunrise. You must also have at least one red rear reflector and four amber pedal reflectors.
- Mirror mirror: Fix mirrors to your handlebars to help you see what’s behind you at all times. But make sure you are still able to look over your shoulder without swerving.
- Stay on the road: Switching from road to pavement is not only unsafe, and confusing for pedestrians and other drivers, but it’s also illegal. If you need to come off the road for any reason, dismount and walk with your bike.
- Look out for road hazards: Keep your eyes open for potholes, loose gravel, ice, puddles and other hazards which could cause you to come off your bike. Take it slow until you’ve passed the hazard safely.
- Take your phone: You’ll probably be using it to track your ride anyway, but it’s also good to have in an emergency. It’s also a good idea to carry ID, and some cash so you can get public transport if need be.
What are the cycling rules in the UK?
Before you think about going out on the road, you should familiarise yourself with where you’re allowed to cycle, and where you’re not. And any other rules and laws which you need to follow. For starters, you must ride on the left-hand side of the road, and never against the flow of traffic. You don’t have to use cycle lanes, but they’re there to make your journey safer so try to use them where you can. You are not allowed to cycle on the pavement or on footpaths, you must dismount and walk your bike along. And perhaps the most important (and one which many cyclists are guilty of at some point) is to never go through a red light, even if the road ahead is clear. Here are some other dos and don'ts for cycling on the road:
- Don’t carry a passenger: unless your bike has been designed or adapted to carry one.
- Don’t drink and ride: under any circumstances! There is no legal limit for alcohol volume when riding a bike, but it’s extremely dangerous to you and others around you, and you could be fined up to £2500.
- Bus lanes: can be used by cyclists (but do check the signs). Watch out for people getting off the bus, and be very careful when overtaking a bus (do not pass between the kerb and a bus stop when it is at a stop).
- No using the motorway: as it’s illegal to do so on a bicycle. Cars and other vehicles travel at very high speeds which could be deadly to a cyclist if a collision were to happen.
- Make sure your brakes are working: as it's an offence to ride a bicycle on a public road without two efficient braking systems, operating independently on the front and rear wheel.
- Zebra crossings are for pedestrians: so if you’re on a bike, you don’t count as a pedestrian. If you do need to use the crossing you must dismount and walk your bike across. You can, however, cross on Toucan crossings which are the button controlled traffic lights that allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross on the green signal.
Take care when cycling on the road, so as not to injure yourself or others around you. Follow our safety tips and not only will you feel safer, but you will also become a better cyclist too.