As discussed in chapter one, there's a huge risk for cyclists on British roads. Not only are thousands of cyclists injured or killed every year in the UK, but both motorists and cyclists seem unaware of some of the basic road safety rules.
Cycling Safety Advice
People cycle for a number of reasons; whether it's for travelling to work or school, nipping to the shops or even for leisure in the evenings and weekends. No matter your excuse for getting out onto the road, it's important to follow a number of safety procedures to ensure you're not the next casualty.
Always wear an appropriate helmet
The cycle helmet is one of the most important safety features you can invest in and will help to protect your head in the event of a fall or collision. Firstly, you should choose a helmet that's British Standard BS EN 1078:1997.
Once you've picked a helmet you'll need to ensure it's fitted properly to your head. It'll ideally sit squarely, above your eyebrows and not tilted in anyway. Ensure the straps are well fastened and test this by making sure only two fingers can fit between strap and chin. From a safety perspective it would also be worth replacing your cycle helmet every five years. It's ill advised to buy a second hand or damaged helmet.
Setting your bike up
Whenever there's poor light, it's important to ensure your bike is fitted with a light you can switch on. This is the same as a car would do at night. Not only will a light help you to see better, but will ensure other road users can see you easily too. You'll also want to have reflectors fitted to the bike as these will light up by oncoming vehicle's headlights.
As a guidance:
A white light should be fitted to the front
A red light should be fitted to the back
A red reflector should also be fitted to the rear.
You could also consider yellow pedal reflectors of British Standard BS 6102-2 or an equivalent European Commission (EC) standard. Reflectors on wheel spokes will also make you more visible to motorists, especially at night, whilst a light ensures you're able to see when street lighting is at a minimum. You could also consider the use of a bell to alert other road users.
Wear correct clothing for cycling
When cycling it's ideal to wear reflective clothing that can easily be seen no matter the time of day. Even in overcast conditions it's much safer to have fluorescent clothes to minimise the chance of being struck by a vehicle.
Your clothes should also be cycle friendly - so they're not going to get caught up in the chain or wheels and risk an accident. To maintain balance it's also advised to avoid wearing a heavy rucksack.
You could choose to wear specific cycling gear, that'll keep you safer on the road and make it much easier getting from A to B. For instance, in poor weather it'd be wise to wear thermals and waterproofs to keep you both warm and dry. Winter gloves could also be used to prevent your hands becoming too cold on long cycle routes.
When choosing your cycling clothes and equipment it's always easy to spot a beginner. They'll go and buy all the latest trends and kit themselves out as if racing in the Tour de France. You don't have to waste your money doing this. Instead, it's important to simply dress accordingly to the conditions whilst ensuring your safety features are in place. You will get hot when cycling long distances so bear this in mind and ensure you'll be able to air out. Remember, cycling clothes can often double up for use when running or partaking in other forms of exercise.