A Beginner’s Guide to Cycling Safety

For keen cyclists, the world is a fast paced and exciting place. Travel is dynamic and exhilarating. There are no sitting around on buses for these people, because why stay still when you can make life move at a pace that suits you? Plus, there are all of the health benefits to think about. Cycling is a great form of cardiovascular exercise and leads to a strong and healthy heart. However, it isn’t all plain sailing for those on two wheels.

Cycling is actually one of the most dangerous activities that a person can do, particularly in built up urban areas. In many cities, for example, the etiquette between drivers and cyclists is often so poor that people in cars have no interest in making the road safer for bikes. As their vehicles are bigger, they rush to take up more space and cyclists can end up getting involved in nasty accidents. This is why cycling safety is absolutely essential for anybody and everybody who loves being out on their bike.

This guide to some of the most basic road safety tips, for cyclists, will help you turn vulnerability into visibility.

Always Be Visible

You cannot expect drivers to have superpowers. If you are cycling at night, you need to help them see you. Visit LED Torches for a roundup of the best outdoor torches on the market. There are many that clip right onto the back or handlebars of a bike, so that motorists can easily spot when a bike is on the road. You could also wear fluorescent clothing, because it reflects off car headlights and makes you super visible even in thick darkness.

Wear a Proper Helmet

There is simply no excuse for not wearing a helmet when you are cycling. In fact, in most countries, it is a legal requirement. So, it shouldn’t be a question of if you wear a helmet, but how. Pick one that is sturdy, padded on the inside, and has straps that fasten beneath the chin. You should never a wear helmet that is either too big or too small, as this will compromise the degree of protection provided.

Follow the Traffic

It is very dangerous for cyclists to travel in the opposite direction to oncoming traffic. You wouldn’t do this if you were in a car, so don’t try it on a bike, even if you feel like it will get you to your destination a little faster. The same goes for weaving and twisting through dense traffic. It may seem like a shortcut, but the best way to stay safe on busy roads is to behave like a motorist. Obey the rules of the road, stop at traffic lights, and move predictably.

Stop at Red Lights

This is a major pet peeve for drivers and one of the reasons why there is a lot of animosity between motorists and cyclists. You must understand that red lights apply to everybody on the road, whether they are in a bike or in a car. If you run a red light, you put yourself right in the path of oncoming cars; the instruction to stop is designed to prevent collisions. Respect the rules of the road and you’ll avoid nasty accidents.

Never Chat on the Phone

Talking on the phone or texting while riding is just as dangerous on a bike as it is in a car. So, leave that Snapchat story until later. Keep your phone, music player, and other devices away from your hands, because you need them to stay steady and ready to move. While a lot of cyclists now use headphones while riding, this can be really dangerous. Without your ears, you might not notice an oncoming car speeding in from the side or behind you.

Use Hand Signals

Your arms and hands are a powerful tool when it comes to road safety. Use them to your advantage, by clearing signalling your intentions to drivers. It takes a fraction of a second to stick your arm out and tell drivers which direction you are going to move in. It stops them from being surprised, you from making risky manoeuvres, and keeps everybody safe and happy.

Get Ready to Ride

Only you can know if your bike is fit for the road. Before you climb on and start travelling, perform a quick visual inspection. Make sure that the seat is comfortable, the tyres are full, and the brakes are functioning smoothly. While being kept off the road because of a broken wheel is frustrating, it is a lot better than getting involved in a serious accident. Cycling safety is all about making sensible decisions and they should start before you hit the pedals.