Seven rules to follow for a safe and joyful bike ride

Cycling is a great way to get around, stay active, and reduce your carbon footprint. However, as with any physical activity, there are risks involved. 

To enjoy the benefits of cycling while minimising those risks, it’s important to take safety seriously. In this article, Ben Mercer from Leisure Lakes Bikes share seven rules for staying safe while cycling.

1) Wear a helmet

To wear a helmet or not? A poll shows that over 85% of respondents think that helmets should be mandatory when cycling. In 2020, a total of 2,496 cyclists between the ages of 25 and 59 were seriously injured or killed while cycling in Great Britain.

A bike helmet can help protect your head from injury, as it’s designed to absorb the impact of a fall or collision. 

There are many helmets to choose from, and new and innovative technology is taking cycling safety to a new level, such as Multi-directional Impact Protection System, KinetiCore and WaveCel. Your helmet should fit snugly on your head and not move around when you shake your head and should cover your forehead. If you want the extra protection, consider wearing a full-face helmet.

Also, make sure to replace your helmet after any impact or every few years, as they can wear out over time.

2) Increase your visibility with lights and reflective clothing

Most cycling incidents happen at dawn and dusk due to poorer visibility, especially during the winter. That’s when the chances of ‘Sorry, mate, I didn’t see you” (SMIDSY) incidents increase. 

In order to make yourself more visible to drivers and other cyclists, you can use front and rear lights and reflective or high-visibility clothing.

A white front light and a red rear light are the best colours to go for, as well as reflectors on your pedals and wheels. 

In terms of reflective and high-visibility clothing, yellow and orange are the best colours, as they create great contrast in the dark and increase visibility. You can wear a reflective cycling jersey, a waterproof jacket, or bike gloves in one of those high-visibility colours.

3) Follow traffic laws

Cyclists are considered vehicles on the road, therefore should comply with the rules and regulations outlined in the Highway Code

Make sure you familiarise yourself with them to ensure safety on the road and avoid penalties. You should also keep up with traffic laws, such as following traffic signals and signs, riding in the right direction, and using hand signals to indicate turns. The more you stick to the rules, the better you conduct yourself on the road.

4) Be aware of your surroundings

Alongside adhering to the Highway Code and traffic laws, being mindful of your surroundings and a conscious cyclist will help you stay safe – and keep everyone safe too.

Keep an eye out for obstacles, pedestrians, and other cyclists, and be prepared to react quickly if necessary. Ride in a predictable manner and avoid sudden movements or swerving. 

Also, make sure to avoid distractions like texting or listening to music with headphones while cycling, as they can reduce your awareness of your surroundings. The more alert you are while cycling, the safer it is.

5) Maintain your bike

Regular maintenance can help ensure that your bike is in good working order and reduce the risk of a breakdown while riding. 

Make sure your brakes, tyres, and other components are in good working order, and get your bike serviced regularly. Make sure to keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure, lubricate your chain, and check your brakes regularly.

6) Dress appropriately

Wearing comfortable clothing that allows for freedom of movement and won’t get caught in your bike’s moving parts is a great way to stay safe. Mountain bike padded shorts can help reduce discomfort on longer rides, and cycling gloves can provide additional grip and protection.

As mentioned above, wearing reflective or high-visibility clothing in the form of a mountain bike jacket, a cycling jersey to gloves will also increase your safety on the road.

7) Invest in gadgets

There are several gadgets and technologies available that can help you stay safe while cycling. For example, bike mirrors can help you keep an eye on traffic behind you, and handlebar-mounted bells can alert pedestrians and other cyclists to your presence.

The Strava app uses your phone or GPS watch sensors or dedicated cycling computer to let you track your ride, connect with the large cycling community and inform your family and friends about your safety during a race.

While cycling has some risks involved, just like any other sport or mode of transport, its main purpose is to provide you with a lot of fun, a community of like-minded people, and an easier and more sustainable commute. 

By adhering to certain rules and principles, you will be safe on the road while enjoying a wholesome ride.