As Britons return to the roads in cars and bicycles alike, it’s more important than ever to refresh yourself on the rules of the road, and to stay safe while you ride. Here are five simple ways to keep yourself safe while cycling.
Wear a Helmet
Helmets are an absolute necessity when riding a bicycle; the protection they provide can prevent serious head injuries in the event of an accident, and have been scientifically proven to do so: a 2016 study showed that cycle helmets can reduce the risk of serious head injury by approximately 70%. As such, wearing a helmet can be the single most impactful thing you do to keep yourself safe while using a bicycle.
Keep Your Hands on the Bike
As tempting as it may be to ride your bike without using your handlebars – whether to check your phone, or simply relax on the straight road home – you should always make sure to have both hands firmly in control of your bike, apart from when signalling for turns. Keeping your hands on your handlebars means you can react quicker to hazards that present themselves in the road: a car unexpectedly pulling out or turning into your path, a pedestrian crossing the road, or a missed bump in the road. Riding without control of your handlebars greatly increases your risk of injury by falling.
Studies suggest that cyclists wearing high-visibility clothing are up to 50% less likely to be involved in a collision than cyclists that do not wear high-visibility clothing. Road users can struggle to see cyclists in the dark and in certain weather conditions if they do not wear reflective safety gear to signal their presence on the road. You should wear a luminescent yellow hi-vis jacket to indicate your situation on the road – or, failing that, at a bare minimum reflective strips around your wrists and ankles to indicate your extremities. These, in tandem with reflective strips on your bike’s spokes and lamps at the front and rear of your bike, will ensure drivers and pedestrians alike know that you’re on the road – preventing injury or collision across the board.
Always Use Hand Signals
Just as it is important for you to know and understand the intentions of road users, it is equally important for you to signal your intentions to other road users – and pedestrians. As such, you should use your hands to firmly and clearly signal when and where you intend to turn while riding your bike. Failure to do so could result in collision, and serious injury in the process.
While signalling for turns may not completely negate the risk of an accident or collision, doing so could well help your case in an accident or injury claim; eyewitness testimony that you acted as expected of a cyclist would help your case, and win you compensation.
Know the Road and Plan Your Route
Ahead of setting off, make sure you know the exact route you plan to take from A to B. Any indecision on the road could cost you dearly, and any temptation to check your phone for a route while riding could result in you losing concentration and causing an accident as a result. It is also important that you know the roads you intend to take relatively well; any odd junctions or surprise crossings should not take you by surprise. This way, you can be sure you’ll arrive at your destination safely.