One of our readers, Sally Writes, has asked us to publish the following because of her experiences with cycling. Please also see guidance regarding RideWise.
In 2012, a leading cycling website described Nottinghamshire as the most dangerous county in Britain for cyclists. Over the three years following that article, a further six cycling fatalities and 136 serious injuries were reported on the county’s roads, suggesting that as traffic gets heavier, cyclists are still among the most at-risk road users.
There is no doubt that cycling is the most environmentally friendly and low-cost means of transport you can use, and is also a great way of keeping fit. We have all heard about defensive driving as an important aspect of road safety behind the wheel, and the concept is even more important in order to get around on your bike safely. Here’s how you can go about it:
Be seen and heard
The safest cyclists are also drivers. They understand that if you are behind the wheel of a car or truck, a bicycle can seem to appear from nowhere. So, make yourself obvious, wear bright reflective clothing and never cycle after dark without lights and reflectors front and rear. Also, invest in a good bell or horn, and don’t be afraid to use it, particularly when using shared spaces with pedestrians, to let others know you are there.
Stick to the rules
One of the advantages of cycling is the ability to get from A to B without having to wait in long queues. However, that does not mean that the basic rules of the road do not apply to cyclists. Remember your highway code, as there are rules that apply specifically to cyclists, and never be tempted to run red lights or try to avoid them by taking shortcuts across pavements.
Filter with care
Filtering through traffic is great if you do so safely and with your brain engaged. Keep your speed low, and always assume that other vehicles are about to change lanes, open their doors or perform some other unexpected action. Stay on the lookout for pedestrians crossing between stationary vehicles, and always be ready to stop.
Assume the worst
Finally, remember your own vulnerability. Other road users are encased in several tons of fast-moving metal and you are not. From time to time, we all encounter motorists who are speeding, talking on their phones or just not concentrating on what they are doing. Cycle with the assumption that every other road user falls into that category, and you will always be ready for the unexpected. It might just save your life.