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CYCLE SAFETY

Here are our top ten tips that can help you to safely navigate your journey to and from work:

1. The importance of good road positioning

Watch that kerb!

Keeping away from the kerbside makes you more visible and helps you avoid those slippery drain covers, potholes and debris that are often on the side of the road. Moreover, if someone overtakes you too closely, you have more space on your left to move into.

You may need to ride further out from the kerb, if you don’t want a driver to overtake you. Moving into the centre of the lane should mean that drivers stay behind you, instead of trying to overtake.

2. Keep your eyes open

Road awareness is all important.

This entails looking ahead for rough surfaces, drain covers, road humps, vehicles parked in the lane, potholes and puddles. Looking all around also helps you prepare for busy traffic infrastructure and anticipate potential problems. This helps you avoid having to swerve about, brake abruptly or make sudden turns that might get you into an accident.

3. Learning to anticipate

All road users have the potential to do things you might not expect.

You can’t control what everyone else does, but you can keep an eye out for pedestrians who aren’t looking where they’re going, dogs that are not on leads, children playing by the side of the road and drivers distracted by mobile phones. Once you’ve registered something or someone who is likely to be a hazard, it is wise to stay alert, so that you can react if necessary.

 

5. Make plenty of eye contact

Always try to make eye contact with other road users.

Making eye contact may help you work out if the driver has seen you or not. If you don’t see any reaction, assume they haven’t seen you and be ready to avoid their trajectory.

 

5. Indicate clearly

Always signal to other road users what your intentions are.

Check behind yourself and then signal. Make sure you are giving plenty of notice, before you make your manoeuvre, and manoeuvre only when you are sure it is safe to do so. Maintain a position in the lane that stops vehicles from undercutting you too closely on your left.

If you’re nervous about checking behind and/or taking one hand off the handlebars to signal while in motion, it is smart to find time to  practise these gestures in a safe, low-traffic, environment.

6. Never undercut a lorry

Cycling is a safe way to commute, but always watch out for left-turning lorries as they are dangerous.

Lorries have blind-spots on their passenger side. This means if you are cycling on their left, the driver may not have seen you in their mirrors and make a manoeuvre that puts you in immediate danger.

This means you should take care when approaching lorries and not undertake them. However, the road layout might mean this is sometimes unavoidable. If this happens, it can make sense to move past and in front of the lorry at traffic lights, making as sure as possible that the driver has seen you. This is better than remaining invisible to the lorry driver on the inside of the lorry by the kerb.

When in the proximity of a lorry, always assess the situation before taking a course of action.  It is inadvisable to assume that a lorry driver has seen you without making sure. Furthermore, lorry turns can be deceptive; just because you haven’t seen anything to suggest that a lorry is about to turn, it doesn’t mean that it won’t.

7. Stay seen at night

Cyclists are legally required to have functioning lights on the front and rear of their bikes, which must be switched on from dusk till dawn. These lights have to be white at the front and red at the rear.If you plan to cycle at night, you should carry a spare set with you in case your first set stops working. It also doesn’t hurt to invest in a high visibility jacket. 

8. Keep an eye on those car doors

Suddenly opened car doors prove to be a painful object to hit, not to mention how unpredictable they are.

When approaching a parked car, check behind first, then move out, leaving at least a door’s width when passing around, in case someone opens their car door into your path (this is especially likely if you’ve just seen the car being parked). While you can’t always see whether there’s anyone seated in a car, it’s worth having a look as you approach.

 

9. Keep your hands on the brakes

Fastest is the hand that does not need to move – keep your fingers hovering over your breaks.

Make sure you can properly use your brakes. It is best to use both brakes simultaneously, applying pressure evenly. This is especially important in hazardous weather conditions.

10. Consider getting some cycle training under your belt

Bikeability is a good

No matter your experience level, you can always benefit from a cycle safety course. They can help you build your confidence and learn all the tips and tricks you need to stay safe on the road.