Although cycling is generally considered to be a safe pastime, injuries can and do happen to cyclists. The risks are higher when cyclists are forced to cycle on the road, rather than using dedicated cycle lanes or cycle paths. Riders are urged to follow safety advice to help to reduce the chances that they will suffer a serious accident. The following advice covers some of the most basic points, but road cyclists should also make sure that they are familiar with the Highway Code.
Always Wear a Helmet
Although there is no law stating that cyclists must wear a helmet when they are out on the road in the UK, cyclists are strongly advised that they should always wear a helmet when on their bike. A helmet can help to reduce the seriousness of head injuries if any impact did occur.
The helmet should conform to British Standards for safety and it should be well fitting. The helmet must fit securely so as to prevent it from slipping down over the eyes or from moving into a position where it does not provide adequate protection to the rider.
Choose your cycling outfits so that you can always be seen. Bright colours such as pinks and yellows can easily be seen against dark roads and they will not blend in with the green hedgerows. Cycle gear should also have reflective strips, especially if you are cycling at night. If you do decide to cycle at night, make sure that you have lights on your bike too.
When you ride on the road, you should ride positively. Make sure that your intentions are clear by signalling correctly to show what you are planning on doing. Vehicle drivers are more likely to be able to avoid a collision with you if they know what you are planning on doing.
Maintain an awareness of all of the vehicles that are around you too. Never undertake vehicles, since a large number of road collisions occur when a vehicle is turning left and fails to spot a cyclist. Be especially vigilant if you are passing lorries or buses with larger turning circles. These vehicles often have to pull out before they pull in, to allow them to make the turn successfully.
Follow the Highway Code
Although you are not driving a motor vehicle, you are still obliged to follow the Highway Code when you are cycling on the road. You must follow all applicable road signs and traffic signals. This includes obeying red and amber traffic lights. In addition to putting yourself in danger, you may be stopped by the police if you do not follow the rules of the road.
Safety Whatever the Weather
Always think about the weather when you are riding your bicycle. Remember to take plenty of fluids with you when you are cycling in hot weather, because you are more likely to become dehydrated on a hot day. Even light dehydration can cloud your judgement and impair your reaction times.
When it is raining, road surfaces can become more slippery and this can increase your stopping distances. You should slow down earlier as you are approaching junctions. Extreme wind conditions can make it very difficult to cycle safely. Reconsider cycling if there is a storm.
Maintaining your Bike
Do regular full maintenance checks on your bike and always do a quick check before heading off on a longer ride. Replace any components that are showing signs of wear and tear. Disrepair is one of the leading causes of accidents where there is no third party involved. Clean your bicycle down if it gets dirty as dirt can cause rust on vital components. Whenever possible, store your bike in a dry and sheltered position.
Invest in Training
If you do not feel safe when you are cycling on the roads then you should invest in extra training. Many local cycling clubs run events to help and support people who are worried about riding on the roads. Many schools also run cycle safety sessions to help youngsters to learn safety techniques from an early age.