Play It Safe: Ten Top Cycling Safety Tips!
Let’s be honest, the weather isn’t exactly great at the moment, is it? We could whine and moan about it but that wouldn’t be very useful, would it? Britain isn’t blessed with the best of weather but for most of us, we just have to grin and bear it. Instead, we’ve decided to put together a list of important safety tips to help keep you upright and on two wheels on your next ride. If your mind is too focused on the cold and wet, you won’t be concentrating on the matter at hand: so without further ado, here are ten top cycling safety tips for your next journey!
Visibility And Invisibility
Wearing bright and eye catching clothing is an absolute must for a cyclist, so it goes without saying that making yourself as visible as possible should be one of your main priorities. You might think that your fluorescent jacket would be enough but to play it safe, it’s always wise to assume that you’re completely invisible, regardless of what you’re wearing. Always pretend that the car in front hasn’t seen you; imagine that the driver behind you is completely oblivious of your presence and you know that driver waiting to pull out up ahead – they definitely haven’t seen you. It’s not fair but it’s the way it is. If you want to stay safe, play the ‘invisible’ card.
This point is directly linked to the next one and you’ll understand why. There have been a lot of stories about this in the press recently: cyclists confronting bad drivers. Should you do it? Generally, the answer is ‘no’. Many drivers aren’t out to get you; they are simply ignorant of their surroundings. Imagine that the car that cut in front of you was being driven by a kindly grandmother who had a temporary lapse in concentration – we all have lapses in concentration, so singling out one driver isn’t particularly fair. Be kind and considerate and you’ll receive the same in return. If a crime has been committed though, take down the plate and report it to the police.
Handle Your Emotions
Similarly, if a confrontation does occur, don’t try the aggressive angle. If a car has pulled over for a ‘chat’ because of their bad driving, you can bet that their aggressive driving style has leaked over into their personality. Don’t go looking for a fight! You should leave any pent up aggression at home and ride with only one thing on your mind: getting from A to B as safely as possible.
Never stop looking around; your eyes should always be scanning the road for something. If you’re not used to looking around, you better learn fast. The best way to get a feel of how to ‘look’ is to watch some helmet cam footage from a cyclist on the internet. These videos are pretty annoying to watch because the cyclist is always moving their damn head around! As you should be doing.
Use Your Peripheral
Most dangers won’t be waiting directly in front of you, so learn to spot them with your peripheral vision. By widening your field of vision, you’ll be able to spot and assess potential hazards earlier on. You see that pedestrian? Are they about to cross the road without seeing you? Is that ball about to roll into the street? Ask yourself these questions as you go along.
Slow Speed Control
Nothing is more dangerous or unpredictable than a wobbly cyclist. If you struggle at slow speeds, it’s time to take some time out to practice. It’s amazing what a little bit of back brake can do to make you a bit more stable. Being able to manoeuvre competently at low speed will be a valuable tool in your road safety arsenal.
Read The Road
If you see a puddle, assume it’s going to be deeper than it is; if something looks slippery, it probably is; will that shallow pothole or bump throw you off your bike? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t but play it safe and avoid it altogether. As soon as you notice a hazard, slow yourself down and deal with it accordingly – don’t assume that your bike can handle it; slowing down is far better than coming off!
Don’t Give In To Distraction
There is a bit of debate about whether riding wearing headphones is a good idea or not. Car drivers get away with having their stereos on maximum so why should cyclists be any different? Well, depriving your concentration of one of it’s primary senses is one good reason and when you’re listening to music, it’s also much easier to drift into a daydream – which isn’t a good move when you’re on the road. If you do it and get away with it, continue at your own risk but if you haven’t yet succumbed to the iPod, don’t even try it – it’s a bad habit to get into. Any distraction is dangerous.
Wear The Best Gear
What you wear can play an important role in your overall safety. Obviously, helmets are one thing but we’re talking about the rest of your cycling attire. Proper gear that was designed for cycling is far superior to what you’ve got lying around the house. Why? Because cycling gear is designed with cyclists in mind; it’s lightweight, comfortable, and breathable and specially made to fit. If you’re wearing the wrong gear, you’ll be uncomfortable which will lead you to fidget and struggle, which will make you concentrate on other things besides the road: a recipe for disaster!
Tune Up Your Bike
Having a healthy bike is crucial to having a safe ride. If your tyres are sporting the wrong pressures, you’ll be having a hard time enjoying your ride. If your brakes aren’t up to snuff, you won’t be able to cycle with maximum safety and efficiency. Even something as mundane as a squeaky brake is enough to compromise your safety. Why? Because that squeaky brake might be annoying, so you’ll instinctively stop using it, which is dangerous! Give your bike a health check and when you’re satisfied, you’ll be riding a lot safer in future!