Bike Safety in the UK
It’s not just motorists that need to be careful on the road. According to the DfT (Department for Transport), in the last 5 years, there has been an exponential rise in the number of fatalities and casualties in cyclists, increasing by as much as almost 40%. In 2020 alone, 140 cyclists were killed on the road, which was 100 more than the deaths the year before.
On the other end, fatalities for people in cars dropped by 15% and 71% for those in coaches and buses. However, this doesn’t mean that roads are more dangerous for cyclists. With a few tips in mind, you can safely ride your bike on the road.
Never forget the helmet
The helmet is the most important accessory you should never forgo when cycling and will help protect your head in case of a collision or a fall.
When choosing a helmet, make sure it complies with the British Standard BS EN 1078:1997. Your chosen helmet should fit your head perfectly. It should sit squarely above the eyebrows without tilting.
Once you put the helmet on, make sure the straps are fastened properly. You can test this by making sure that only two fingers fit between your chin and the strap.
We also recommend replacing the helmet after five years and staying away from buying damaged or second-hand helmets, even if you’re getting a great deal.
Get your bike ready
You should make sure your bike has all the required accessories before you hit the road.
For instance, if you tend to drive when there’s poor visibility (like when it’s foggy early in the morning) or when there’s poor light (like at dusk), it’s important to make sure that your bike has a light. A light will not only help you see the road and obstacles better but will also make sure other users spot you easily.
For further safety, consider getting reflectors fitted on the bike that light up as an oncoming vehicle’s headlight shines on them. We recommend fitting a white light at the front, a red light, and a red reflector at the rear.
You should also consider getting yellow pedal reflectors that meet the British Standard BS 6102-2 or any other equivalent EC (European Commission) standard. Apart from a light to help you see when there’s insufficient light, you should also consider reflectors on wheel spokes to be more visible to other drivers and using a bell to alert drivers.
Have the appropriate outfit
When cycling, it’s best to wear reflective clothes that are easy to spot regardless of the time of day. Even if the conditions are overcast, it’s better to wear fluorescent clothes so that you reduce the chance of getting in an accident.
At the same time, your clothes should be cycle-friendly, so they don’t get snagged in the wheels or chain and risk an accident. You should also avoid wearing a heavy backpack so that it’s easy for you to maintain your balance.
We also recommend wearing specific cycling gear that keeps you safe while also making the commute easier. For instance, in rainy weather, you should wear waterproofs and thermals to stay dry and warm. Similarly, in winter, you should wear gloves to prevent your hands from getting cold on long routes.
General safety tips
People cycle for various reasons, ranging from cycling to school or the office, a short trip to the supermarket, or even biking with friends on the weekend. Regardless of why you cycle, you should keep the following tips in mind:
- Avoid cycling close to parked cars. A driver can open the vehicle door at any time without checking for passers-by.
- Be completely alert when you’re on the road, even if it’s empty. A car can suddenly drive by you at high speed, so be careful.
- Make sure you are familiar with the Highway Code and know how it applies to cyclists.
- When cycling on a shared path with pedestrians and cyclists, use your bell to inform people that you’re approaching.
- Remember, cycling on a path can result in a fine. So, make sure you cycle either on the road or on the designated path for cyclists.
- Always show your intentions to other motorists by signaling your turn a while before making the actual maneuver. Make a habit of stopping and double-checking before making a turn.
- If you don’t have lights fixed on your bike, then make sure you carry some around in your bag. In case it gets dark by the time you go home; you should have lights to keep yourself safe. We also recommend considering a light for the helmet to help you see the road better. It’s also better to have a backup ready in case your primary light runs out of battery.
- While speeding down roads, especially hills, is very thrilling, you need time to react in case there are obstacles. Therefore, you should stay within a safe speed limit so that you have enough time to react appropriately. In general, when driving at 16 km/h, you need a 6m distance and an 18m distance at a speed of 32 km/h. This doubles if the road is wet.
- Make sure to plan your route beforehand so you don’t get lost or come across unexpected obstacles, especially at night. Similarly, you should plan your route such that you avoid unlit areas.
- We also recommend driving away from the kerb, at least one metre from the road’s side. This not only ensures that drivers see you clearly, but you also get to avoid obstacles like potholes, especially when it’s dark.
For more information, check out the other posts on everything to do with cycling and cycling safety on our blog.