If you spend most of your time on two wheels dodging traffic and manoeuvring between buses, it’s likely you’re one of many urban cyclists. While we’d all like to get out in the country and see the best of the UK on the back of our bikes, in reality it’s in amongst the hustle, bustle and smog that we spend most of our time cycling.
Accidents in urban areas involving cyclists are common. After all, our favourite Olympian Bradley Wiggins was even hit in November last year. If you’re seriously injured you may be able to make a personal injury claim, but we don’t want it to get to that stage. It’s all about staying safe. Here are a few tops tips for staying safe on the urban city streets.
Make sure your bike is roadworthy
Each and every time you ride, it’s important to check your brakes and tyres before you set out. When riding, don’t ignore any weird noises, vibrations or jumping gears.
Remember to look behind you
Not only will this enable you to know what’s going on around you, it will also attract the attention of other road users, making sure they are aware of you.
One of the biggest problems of the urban cyclist is that drivers and other road users are unsure of what you’re going to do next. Always make sure that you communicate fully using proper hand signals. Also, never signal without looking behind first as it could quite easily be unsafe.
Be aware of large vehicles around you
It could be a bus, it could be a truck; either way as an urban cyclist you need to be really aware of any large vehicles on the city roads. It’s vitally important to never cycle on the kerb side of any large vehicle at a junction. This will place you in the driver’s blinds spot meaning that if they turn left they won’t be able to see you. In this environment, it’s important to always maintain enough distance behind or in front of any large vehicle so you can be seen by the driver. If you can’t see the mirrors on the vehicle, it’s unlikely they can see you.
Get your position right
You shouldn’t ride in the gutter, just a little away from the kerb and at least a car-door’s width from parked cars. When you can match the speed of the traffic, ride in its stream. When riding close to slower moving or parked cars, do so slowly to enable you to react quickly to any hazards.
Know how to arrive at junctions
Regardless of whether you are turning left, right or going straight on, you should always approach junctions in the middle of the lane as this will prevent dangerous overtaking from any traffic behind you.
Don’t be afraid of the roads (get some training)
Cycling is all about freedom. Getting from A to B etc etc. A big part of that therefore has to involve cycling on the roads. If you are nervous about it at all, get some training; it’ll be worth it in the end.
Most importantly, look after yourself; it’s tough out there.