As solicitors who have dealt with a huge number of cycling accident claims, we know all too well the effects an accident can have. Here are some safety tips for cyclists we have compiled to help keep the roads that little bit safer.
Top tips for cycling safety
Wear a helmet!
This first point is probably also the most important. A helmet can be the difference between a slight concussion and a life-changing brain injury.
While a helmet is not guaranteed to rule out head injuries completely, they have been proven to vastly reduce the chances of serious injury or death in the event of a collision. In a review of several studies, the Cochrane Collaboration found that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, brain injury by 88% and severe brain injury by 75%.
As a study performed by the Transport Research Authority discovered, 40% of adult cyclists and 45% of child cyclists who have been injured as a result of a collision have sustained head injuries. It’s obvious after looking at the statistics that helmets are an absolute must on the road.
It cannot be overstated how important it is to be visible to other road users. The majority of accidents involving bicycles are likely to involve the other road user not being able to see the cyclist. As bicycles are obviously significantly smaller than the cars, lorries and vans also using the roads, they can often be overlooked. This is why it is important to make use of reflective strips and lights on your bicycle – anything that provides a boost to your visibility is also likely to help you avoid any dangerous situations.
When driving at night, it is required by the Highway Code (rule 60) that a bicycle must have white front and red rear lights. Red rear reflectors and amber pedal reflectors are also mandatory. In low light and without these safety features, cyclists are very difficult to see until it is too late. These are not simply useless health and safety procedures – showing cars where you are will prevent potentially life threatening crashes.
Using your bell is another way to make yourself known. This is especially helpful when coming across pedestrians as they may not be able to see you.
One of the most common situations that can cause a crash is when a cyclist is positioned on the inside of a vehicle that’s turning left. You shouldn’t assume that the lack of a signal means that the car isn’t turning; many drivers have a bad habit of signalling late or sometimes not signalling at all. Avoid undertaking in this situation. Hanging back and waiting until they move off is often the safer choice.
You shouldn’t attempt to cycle on the inside of large vehicles such as lorries and buses. These vehicles have larger blind spots than their smaller counterparts. They also tend to swing out to the right first when turning left, which creates a large gap between the vehicle and the kerb. This gap may seem wide enough to cycle through but it will quickly shrink as they begin to swing left.
Be aware that weather changes will affect everybody on the road. A wet or icy surface will mean that both cyclists and motor vehicles will need extra stopping distance. Be sure to keep this in mind when braking to stop at a junction.
Be sure to use clear, correct signals when out on the roads. If another road user knows when you’re about to turn, they’re much more likely to give you the room you need to do so. You should also try to make eye contact with drivers at junctions. This will allow you to make sure that they’ve seen you and that you’re safe to complete your manoeuvre.
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