With the casualty rates out of the way, how can you improve your safety on the road and ensure you’re not caught in a collision?
Tips for Keeping Safe on the Road
There will be further information provided throughout this resource on how you can better protect yourself on the road, but as some general guidance:
Ensure to keep yourself up-to-date on the Highway Code and in particular know how this applies to cyclists. You can find your Highway Code here: for information
Always be alert on the roads and don’t take anything for granted. Even if you’re on an empty country road, a vehicle could speed round the corner at any moment
Show motorists your intentions early by signaling to turn left or right in plenty of time before undertaking the maneuver. Always look and double check before stopping, turning or riding off from start
Don’t cycle too close to parked cars, because of the risk a motorist could open the door without first checking their mirror Never cycle on the path as this could result in a £30 fine. Instead, use designated cycle paths or the road If you’re on a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians, alert people to your approach by signaling with the bell.
Six Ways to Avoid Road Collisions
Whilst the above tips will offer some assistance when keeping safe on the roads, they’re only intended as a general guidance. Many cyclists are already following these tips as standard. Here are six practices you should try to implement into your everyday cycling to steer clear of traffic and avoid the likelihood of being caught up in a road accident.
1.Keep away from busy streets
Many cyclists make the basic mistake of sticking to the same roads they would when driving. Of course, this may seem logical to begin with. If you’re cycling to work you’ll know the roads and feel comfortable riding without the possibility of getting lost.
However, when you think about it, this is the very same route all motorists take. Therefore, there are more vehicles to contend with on a daily basis and as such, a greater risk of being caught in a collision.
Ideally you would change your route and opt for quieter roads with less traffic. Now, some people would argue you have the same right to use the road as motorists, but that’s little consolation in the event a vehicle hits you. Take a look on Google Maps and work out a route that’ll avoid the major roads. Once you’ve cycled the route a few times you’ll quickly learn the neighbourhood and feel confident in your cycling.
2.Remember to use your lights
Cyclists should have lights fixed to their bike, especially if they’ll be on the roads in early morning, late night or when it’s overcast. Why would you take the risk of cycling at night without lights? Ideally you’ll have headlights and rear lights in place so you can be seen from both sides.
3.Don’t be afraid to use the whole lane
Many cyclists won’t use the whole lane when on the road through fear of making other motorists take drastic actions to get around them. Instead, they sit as far left as possible so motorists can pass with ease. This is of course wise for the most part, keeping you out of harms reach and ensuring the faster vehicles can pass by with little effort.
However, there are times when being greedy on the road can keep you safe. For instance, when you’re approaching a junction and want to turn right, it’s best to hog the road when preparing for the maneuver. Vehicles all around will be able to see you better when you’re square in the road. They may have to slow down, but this is much better than putting your safety at risk.
Other occasions when it’s worth taking up more of the road include:
To stop vehicles overtaking on narrow roads
To avoid being hit by the opening of a car door
In slow moving traffic, so you’re easily visible to all.
4.Always signal your intentions
Vehicles have the luxury of indicators to alert other road users to their intentions. Unfortunately, cyclists don’t have this same privilege but it’s just as important to let everyone know where you’re planning to go, as early as possible.
Of course, for cyclists this is possible with either arm. Simply outstretch your arm dependent on the way you want to turn. Some cyclists are uncomfortable taking one hand off of the handlebars – so if this sounds like you, get onto the road and practice this – ideally when fewer vehicles are travelling. You don’t want to take a hand off and be wobbling all over the place, so practice on your balance and safety when taking turns.
Ensure to double check the road is clear before taking your turn too. A look over the shoulder will help you do this. Indicate, check behind and move into position. Before turning, check one final time both ways and complete the turn.
5.Ditch the music and mobiles
No matter where you’re cycling it’s important to ensure you’re not distracted in the slightest. You need to keep your eyes firmly fixed on the road ahead and be able to hear what’s going on all around. For this reason it’s highly advised to avoid wearing headphones for music and to keep your mobile phone away at all times. Not only will a mobile be distracting, but you won’t have both hands free to brake if necessary.
Cycle as if you’re invisible
This doesn’t mean wear plain clothes or fail to signal appropriately. Instead, this tactic is designed to ensure a motorist does not hit you, even if they don’t see you. If you cycle in a way to make a vehicle slow down, you’re not protecting yourself from motorists unaware of what’s around them. By staying out of the way though, you’re more likely to keep safe.
The practice is best applied on fast roads when vehicles are travelling at speed. There’s much less time for them to react, so the best result is them to pass without even realising you’re there. For long stretches of road it’s advised to stay as far left as possible.
What’s important is to remember you’re not aiming to be invisible to traffic, but instead riding with the assumption vehicles won’t notice you. Of course, lights, reflectors and appropriate clothing helps highlight your presence, but some motorists will still be lost in their own little world.
Tips For Motorists
It’s not just cyclists who should be aware of the rules on the road. Motorists also need to ensure their road knowledge is up-to-date whilst respecting cyclists who’ll be travelling too. Cyclists are a lot more vulnerable than motorists and as such, it’s important to give them as much room as possible. You don’t want an injury or even fatality to be on your hands.
As such, you should drive accordingly to expect a cyclist at every turn. This includes keeping within the set speed limit and not driving recklessly by putting others in danger. If you’re unsure what a road user is planning, sit back, take your time and judge the situation accordingly.
To ensure the road remains a safe place for motorists and cyclists to share, take a look at the following points and look to adopt them in your everyday driving:
Whenever turning left or switching lanes, be aware of cyclists to the side or coming from behind. Check both your mirrors and blind spots before maneuvering
When overtaking a cyclist on the road, give them as much room as possible. The Highway Code suggests one car’s width in case they need to swerve to avoid a hazard
Never open your car door when parked without checking the mirrors and blind spot. You could open your door straight into an oncoming cyclist
If you’re planning to turn left and there’s a cyclist ahead, allow them to pass the junction. Don’t overtake in an effort to beat them
A cyclist could be travelling faster than you think. Road bikes can reach speeds of up to 40mph so look ahead and ensure the road doesn’t narrow before overtaking
Before emerging from a junction, allow time for nearby cyclists to pass. You won’t be able to judge their speed from a second’s glance
On roundabouts you must give way to all vehicles on the right – This includes cyclists
If you and a cyclist are turning right, wait behind the bike and be patient. Don’t try to overtake
Don’t stop your car in designated bike zones at traffic lights or drive through cycle lanes on the road. These are in place for a reason
Ensure your road speed is always in keeping with the area you’re driving and the conditions
Don’t use full head beams at night when there is an oncoming cyclist. Instead, dip the lights in the same way you would for a vehicle
Give cyclists and all other road users more space and time in wet conditions
Ensure to read an updated version of the Highway Code to get best practice tips on all road-related incidents.