Unfortunately we are seeing more and more cycling accidents on Britain’s roads as the years go on. While many of the high profile incidents involve collisions with other traffic, this is not always the case. In fact, the state of the roads in the UK is another huge problem for cyclists and Stephensons has recently started a campaign to highlight this issue, which has affected a number of keen cyclists who have found themselves injured as a result of potholes and other road defects. Given that this is the time of year that many of us look forward to getting out on two wheels for some fresh air, what can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming another accident statistic?
1. Learn some cycle skills. Taking a cycling training course isn’t just useful for kids who are learning – the National Standards training is three tiers that covers everything from learning how to operate the basics of a bike through to dealing with complex urban traffic. Even if you’re a seasoned cyclist it can be worth taking a refresher course every now and again to keep your skills up to date.
2. Be bold in your gestures. We don’t mean the gestures you use when you’ve just been honked at by a bus but the road cycling gestures that indicate where you’re going and when. Make sure that whenever you’re going to make a move on the roads the other road users cannot be in any doubt about what you’re going to do. Signal boldly, be predictable and don’t hesitate.
3. Respect the lights. This is one of the prime complaints from drivers – and pedestrians – when it comes to cyclists: overenthusiastic jumping of lights at road crossings. Not only will you infuriate other road and pavement users if you act like everyone else should be making way for you but you will also put yourself in significant danger if you take a motorist by surprise.
4. Be wary of ‘filtering’. One of the benefits that many people see with cycling is the fact that you can ‘filter’ through the traffic, weaving through to get to the front of a queue in a way that a car couldn’t do. However, remember that you need to remain visible to other road users – overtake on the right and only filter when the traffic around you isn’t moving. Look out for pedestrians, vehicle doors opening and once you have overtaken then get back into your lane as soon as possible.
5. Don’t ride in the gutter. Especially if you’re on a very busy road, it can be tempting to veer away from the traffic but this won’t help you. Cyclists should always be at least 50cm from the kerb but, ideally, position yourself in the centre of the lane – you can be properly seen if you do this and drivers will be forced to overtake you properly and safely rather than squeezing past.
6. Use eye contact. Many accidents occur because drivers simply don’t see cyclists and you can easily prevent this by making as much eye contact as possible with other road users. Look right at them, make sure you see that they acknowledge you so no one can later use the excuse that they simply didn’t see you.