How to stay safe while cycling on the road
Wear bright flourescent colours and lots of reflective stuff – make yourself be SEEN in complete gobsmacking “whoa, what the heck is that bright beacon a mile up ahead, wow that’s bright……Oh it’s a cyclist” style.
This is pretty much the same as my previous rant, sorry blog piece about Walking Safely on Road, but you must cycle on the same side of the road as other road users, plus other rants:
- Wear a helmet. No, I don’t want to hear any arguments, OK, yes it’s your decision, yes if you want to rant about your rights but this is coming from someone who has written off 3 helmets in her lifetime and I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t been wearing one. One was destroyed when I went head first into a bollard while trying to ‘bunny hop’ up a pavement in the town centre (yes I was around 25, so not 6 either and I was trying to show off and came a proper cropper), the most serious one was on our mountain bike tandem whilst competing in the Polaris Challenge around 18 years ago in the Welsh Mountains when we spectacularly crashed into the side of a mountain doing 40 mph after hitting a rock in the track. Large dent in my helmet which would have been my head if I hadn’t been wearing one plus a fractured elbow but still managed to carry on cycling for another 6 hours. I then drove (yep, with a fractured elbow) my lovely hubby to hospital the next day, men, total wusses! Yes, days before children I used to do daft stuff like this, bit of an adrenalin junkie I was. so just wear one, it’s not cool to be dead.
- Don’t cycle really closely to the outside edge of the road or kerb – LISTEN UP CAR/TRUCK DRIVERS, THIS IS WHY CYCLIST CAN’T PULL OVER, not ‘won’t’. Because a. there are potholes that if our wheels hit them we will be off our bikes in a heap, possibly in the middle of the road; b. the edges of the roads are usually very uneven or very word making cycling on them very dangerous as either we’ll be thrown off the bike or if it’s slippy we’ll skid; c. there are these horrid things called manhole covers or drain covers which are metal and get hot and slippy in warm weather and cold and slippy in the rain – main word here is slippy = dangerous to cyclists.
- Don’t assume that other road users can see you, even if a vehicle is indicating, doesn’t mean that they know they’re indicating or have intention turning in that direction, ignore it until you see that they are actually turning that way. Look the drivers in the eye and don’t assume they’ve seen you even if they look you in the eye too.
- Obey traffic lights, give way signs, stop signs and all the other road stuff that you would as a motorist, you’re using the road and have obey the rules of the road, read the Highway Code. This is a top rant for me. I live down a lane with traffic lights on the end which up until 8am in the morning most motorists (and cyclists) assume that they can ignore. I’ve stopped going out on my bike before 9am, tried it at 6am one morning and it’s scary out there. Motorists ignore traffic lights, stop signs and give way signs, it’s like a free for all on the roads on the basis that the highway code and speed limits are only in effect between 8am-8pm and those are the only hours that traffic police work, after that you can what you want. NO, NO, NO, these are not optional extras, this is still the law. As a cyclist you still have to obey the rules of the road the excuse of “nothing ever comes out of that lane” do not apply so the next cyclist that rides into the side of my car when they’ve jumped the traffic lights at the end of my lane I am going to smack – you are idiots if you do this and put the rest of us sensible cyclists in a very bad light, plus you’ll end up dead, so don’t do it.
- Ride on the pavements – but ONLY if there are no pedestrians. This is the rule, if there are pedestrians on the pavements they have the right of way and you have to get OFF not take them out, this is very bad, you may not die but you may get a nasty punch if they catch you. Even worse you are endangering them and especially children and elderly people.
- When overtaking other cyclists and pedestrians on the road (the ones who are not walking towards the oncoming traffic that is) it is courtesy to let them know you are overtaking by shouting out “on your right”, “coming round on your right”, “overtaking” or something similar, if you a bell ring it, so they know you’re there rather than making them jump out of their skin. If they are pedestrians then an additional “you’re walking on the wrong side of the road” may help too (done this twice this week already when two people jumped out of their skin when I cycled past).
- If wearing spuds (SPDs)/clips remember to unclip before stopping and focus on which foot you’ve unclipped and put that one down – otherwise you’ll end up in a hedge, in a heap and give any other road users a good laugh.
- When indicating to turn right, look behind, indicate, if it’s clear then pull out whilst indicating, check behind and in front again before turning. DO NOT ASSUME that the Silver BMW 5 series has any idea of the highway code and that they are supposed to allow you to move out into the middle of the road to turn right at Longwick roundabout. Assume they can’t see you and are just going to keep driving totally ignoring you, even when they come so close that you catch the kerb and end up in a heap on the pavement entangled with your bike, no they won’t stop and help and neither will the other cars behind them. When turning right unclip, wait and move to the middle of the road and check when all the 5 series with idiots driving them are out of the way. Yes, I know the car and I will get you.
- Keep your hands on the handlebars except when changing gear, indicating or braking.
- Keep your feet on the pedals
- Do not take passengers unless you have a tandem or a special child seat and make sure if you do have a child seat that the child is strapped in properly and securely and is also wearing a helmet
- Do not do tricks and wheelies, this is what bike, skate and BMX parks are for.
- Turn your iPod or MP3 player off, you need to use your hearing to hear vehicles approaching you from behind.
- Make sure your bike is serviced regularly and ALWAYS check that brakes work before taking it anywhere.
- Do a Bikeability course – they’re brilliant.
Advice from other websites worth checking out:
Transport for London – cycle safety
This is a great one for children – Tales of the Road
The Times has a great campaign running at the moment and lots of tips here
Book your children and yourself on a Bikeability course, they’re fabulous, well worth it.