28 CYCLING SAFETY TIPS

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BE SEEN

1.      Rule number one is that you must be seen by other road users.  Wearing reflective gear is essential: even in daylight conditions visibility may not be 100 per cent, so wearing a reflective cycling vest is an excellent way to ensure you are seen by other people on the road.

2.      Stick reflective strips onto your bike.

3.      Wearing reflective ankle and wrist bands allows you to be seen by other road users at night or in conditions of low visibility.  Your ankles are constantly moving while you are pedalling, this tells other motorists that you are not a stationary object. 

4.      Buy a helmet which is comfortable and is a good fit.  It should sit flat on your head and there should be no movement from side to side or back to front.  When you have tightened all the straps, yawn and feel the helmet tighten on your head.  If you don’t feel it, then tighten the straps more.  If your helmet doesn’t have any reflective strips on it, then add some.

5.      Wear footwear that is comfortable and doesn’t slip off the pedals.  Unless you are a serious cyclist, you don’t need to buy specialised shoes, a pair of light hiking shoes or cross trainers will be fine.  Never ride barefoot.

TRAFFIC SAFETY

1.      Ride well clear of the curb or side of the road.  If you encounter a pot hole, obstruction or gust of wind, you are less likely to topple off your bike if you are positioned clear of the curb.

2.      Signal your intention to change lanes or turn, well before you perform the action.

3.      Always stop at Stop signs and traffic lights.

4.      However tempting it may be, avoid cycling up the inside of large vehicles, they probably won’t see you.

5.      Cycle at least a car door’s width when passing a parked car, to ensure that if the door is opened, it doesn’t send you flying!

6.      If you are cycling on narrow roads, it is better to cycle in the middle of your lane thus avoiding being pushed off the road by close passing vehicles.

7.      If cycling in wet weather, remember that it will take you longer to bring your bike to a standstill.

8.      Beware of motorists making left turns and not indicating they are doing so.  Much better to be safe than sorry and wait to see where the vehicle is going before proceeding.

9.      Fit lights to the front and rear of your bike and use them day and night.

10.  Don’t ride on pavements, unless there is a designated cycle lane. 

11.  If you are at traffic lights or a junction, it is much safer to stop behind the vehicle in front, rather than beside it.  You may be parked in their blind spot and they may turn into you when it is clear for them to proceed.

12.  Don’t overtake vehicles on the right – be patient.  The vehicle may be going slower than you but it will eventually speed up.  You can undertake it on the left, when it is safe to do so.

13.  Always look behind you before you perform any manoeuvre and fit a mirror to your bike, so you can see behind you without turning around all the time.

14.  If you are cycling for recreation only, then don’t choose main roads to cycle on and avoid rush house.  If you are cycling to work, then try and plan your route so it takes you along the quietest roads.

15.  As hard it may seem, don’t cycle with music blaring in your ears or use your cell phone.  Apart from the fact you won’t hear the traffic around you, you will be distracted.

16.  If you out riding with friends, then ride in single file.

17.  Try to make eye contact with a vehicle driver if you are about to turn, then you know he/she has seen you.

18.  Ride on the correct side of the road.  You would be amazed at how many people, especially in third world countries, seem to think that they should cycle against the flow of traffic!

BIKE MAINTENANCE

1.       Your bike needs regular maintenance just as much as your car does.  It’s a good idea to take your bike to a specialist for a thorough check over, at least twice a year.

2.      Keep your bike clean.  Mud or oil on the wheels will affect your braking.

3.      Weekly – check tyre condition and pressures, light batteries and brakes.  Tighten all nuts on the bike, making sure everything, including the handlebars and saddle, is secure.

4.      Monthly – clean the chain and re-oil, check the brake pads and tyres for wear.  Check the gear and brake cables.

Bi-annually – a full maintenance check at a professional bike shop.