Cycling Safely: How to Avoid Injury

As the temperature starts to rise and we enter Spring, more people are getting their bikes out of their sheds and getting back in the saddle.

But with cyclists some of the most vulnerable users of the roads, it can be a risky activity.

What should you be doing to cycle safely and avoid injury – both to you and others sharing the road?

Follow the rules

One of the most important things you can do to avoid hurting yourself or others is to ensure you’re following the law.

For example, cycling isn’t legally permitted on pavements. To keep pedestrians on pavements safe, it’s best to make sure you’re sticking to what the Highway Code sets out, which is that cyclists “MUST NOT cycle on a pavement”. There is technically an exception to this rule, though: when an established cycle lane has disappeared.

You can also help keep yourself safe by stopping at traffic lights and stop signs. You can’t predict or control what motorists do, so don’t risk ending up in their path by riding through a red light.

Communicate with other road users

Keeping other road users informed about what you’re going to do can help keep you out of danger. Make sure you’re signalling so drivers and pedestrians know where you’re going. If you’re relatively new to cycling or not too confident using your hands to signal, try practicing in a safe area without any traffic before you set off on the road.

You’ll also want to know what other road users are going to do – especially at junctions. Although you can’t know for certain what a driver is going to do, you can get an insight into their intentions. Make eye contact so you can tell whether or not they’ve seen you.

If there’s no reaction from the driver, they likely haven’t seen you and you should carry on under the assumption that they haven’t. Make extra allowances for them and try to avoid getting too close.

Check your equipment

Before you ride, make sure your bike is roadworthy and working properly. One of the most important parts to check are the brakes. Test them to ensure they work and that they’ll stop your bike effectively.

You should also give your tyres a once over. Check that they’re properly inflated and that there are no punctures. And every few rides, check your bolts are secure and that your lights work.

Although it’s not mandatory to wear a helmet, many medical and cycling professionals recommend wearing one for road riding. If you do wear one, make sure it’ll protect you if you need it to. Keep it clean and don’t artificially dry it – like leaving it near a radiator – as this can damage the adhesives. It’s also generally recommended to replace your helmet every three to five years – and right away after a crash.

Ride confidently

When you’re on the roads, riding with confidence can help you avoid an accident. This means claiming your space on the road, rather than shrinking into the kerb. Riding too close to the kerb can be risky as there are drain covers and debris that can pose a risk of slipping or puncture.

You’re also more visible to car drivers if you’re slightly further over in the lane. If you can stay where the left-hand tyres of a car would be, you’ll give yourself a better chance of manoeuvring out of the way of any obstacles.

If you’re on a stretch of road where a car overtaking you would be dangerous, you should move to the primary position – closer to the middle of the lane. This could be where traffic calming measures are in place.

Pay attention

Keeping yourself safe on your bike doesn’t have to take a huge investment or a lot of time. As long as you’re paying attention to the rules of the road and other users, you’re giving yourself the best chance of avoiding a road accident.

But if you’ve been involved in a crash that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. To find out more about how First4Lawyers can help you, just give us a call or start your claim online.


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