Be a safer cyclist

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Below is some advice for drivers and cyclists on how to share the roads.

Advice for drivers

  • Look out for cyclists, especially when turning - make eye contact if possible so they know you’ve seen them.
  • Use your indicators - signal your intentions so that cyclists can react.
  • Give cyclists plenty of space when over taking them:
    • leave as much room as you would when overtaking a car.
    • If there isn’t space to pass, hold back.
    • Remember that cyclists may need to manoeuvre suddenly if the road is poor, it’s windy or if a car door is opened.
  • Always check for cyclists before you open your car door
  • Follow the Highway Code including ‘stop’ and ‘give way’ signs and traffic lights.
  • 80% of cyclists hold a driving licence and 1 in 5 drivers cycle at least once a month, they’re often the same people.

Advice for cyclists

As a cyclist you are one of the recognised vulnerable roads user groups. The following information outlines some helpful safety tips to help you take care on the roads:

  • Always wear a helmet
    This is of paramount importance. Wear a helmet on all kinds of bicycle, including E-Bikes. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head and neck injuries. No matter how short your journey always wear a helmet and ensure it is worn correctly. 

  • Ride

    • positively,
    • decisively
    • and well clear of the kerb
  • Know and use your signals
    Use hand signals to tell vehicles and other cyclists when you are about to turn, stop, or slow down. Please see the essential guide to road cycling hand signals.

  • Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen

  • Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor

  • Wear appropriate clothing
    Ensure that you wear visible, appropriate and comfortable clothing for your journey. Avoid clothing that may get tangled in the chain or pedals. Fluorescent or light-coloured clothing and reflective accessories will help other roads users to see you in low light and increase your safety.

  • Use bike mirrors
    Bike mirrors may help you to carry out over-the-shoulder checks without the need to alter your road position, keeping your focus in the direction you are travelling.

  • Follow the Highway Code including observing ‘stop’ and ‘give way’ signs and traffic lights

  • Stay in the lane - Many urban areas will have 20mph or 30mph speed limits so you can ride in the lane with cars safely. Do not ride on pavements or try to ride close to the kerb to pass traffic. If there is bike lane, you should use that.

  • Your tyres
    Make sure you know the correct tyre pressure for your bike. Check the pressure, clean and check your tyre treads often. Like cars, it is important that these have enough tread so check how often tyres should be replaced. Deflated tyres get damaged more easily and are more dangerous as it’s easier to lose control. It is a good idea to carry a pump and an essential repair kit.

E-Bike Safety

Thought about using an E-Bike? E-bikes can be as safe as a regular bicycle, but it is important that you follow the advice above and the additional information below:

Your battery

Leaving your battery to run out completely can damage it, reducing its lifespan. Check the manufacturers guidance. It is generally recommended to not let your battery fall below 20%-30% charge. Overcharging can also cause damage. Once 100% charged unplug your battery.

Your speed

With an E-Bike you don’t have to exert the same effort to pick up speed as you do on a pedal cycle. It can be easy to gain speed without realising it. You should also allow for this and brake earlier than you would on a normal bike.

For more information see gov.uk/electric-bike-rules.

Cycle helmets

You may already be aware that wearing a cycle helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries in an accident by about 85%. But can you be sure that your helmet will protect you? For the best advice about wearing your helmet correctly refer to the instructions provided when you bought the helmet. Read the following notes for a general overview:

  1. Check to see if your helmet meets the standard EN 1078.
  2. The helmet should be:
    • Comfortable,
    • Snug fit once on, but without the buckle done up the helmet should touch your head at the crown, sides, back and front at the same time.
    • Next try to push the helmet backwards, forwards and from side to side.
    • If this makes a gap between your head and the helmet you need to choose a different style or size of helmet.
  3. Important - the helmet must be worn so that:
    • It is level on the head,
    • Just above the eyebrows.
    • When the straps are done up you shouldn't be able to push the helmet backwards, forwards or in any direction much at all.
    • The rear strap should meet the front strap just under your ear near the hinge of your jaw.
    • All straps should be equally tight and free from slack.
    • A test for this is that you should only be able to get two fingers between the straps and your chin.

The helmet should not restrict vision or hearing in any way.  This is because it may prevent you from seeing or hearing approaching traffic or any warning signals from other road users.

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