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We Brits have always loved getting out on our bikes, and the bicycle has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, inspired by the success of the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Chris Froome at the Olympics and the Tour de France.
Whatever your reason for having fun on two wheels - whether it’s cutting pollution, saving money or getting exercise - it’s important to stay safe, and this year’s Family Safety Week (2nd-7th March) has been focused on cycling safety. Sponsored by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), this week has been all about finding solutions to reducing the 19,000 cycling accidents that occur every year on UK roads.
Check out our infographic, A Snapshot of UK Cycling in 2014, to find out more.
We’re here with some quick-fire road safety tips for cyclists that can help to keep you safe when out on the road.
What? Car doors.
You’re checking that junction ahead and you’re aware of who is doing what in the road, but many drivers never think to check for cyclists when they open their car doors. Imagine hitting a car door at high speed when you are in busy traffic! This is especially common when it’s dark, or in narrow streets where cars park on both sides of the road.
How? Use space.
Make sure you leave plenty of space between yourself and stationary vehicles. You want to allow ample clearance to allow a door to open so that you can either stop or manoeuvre safely out of the way. By being especially observant of this hazard you will give yourself much more time to take appropriate evasive action if necessary.
What? Ill-fitting helmets.
If your helmet doesn’t fit well, disrupts your vision or looks so silly you ride with a paper bag over your head out of embarrassment, you should consider spending more time and/or money picking your headgear. A poorly-fitting helmet may not provide sufficient protection to your head and if you are in an accident this could lead to a serious head injury. A badly-fitting helmet can also block your vision as it shifts around on your head, or simply distract you if it’s uncomfortable.
How? Spend time and money.
Ask the staff at any reputable cycling store to help you fitting a helmet to make sure you end up with one that’s safe and comfortable. If you really want to use your head before you buy, check out the cycling helmet guide on Bicycling.com for some handy tips.
If you’re a dog owner, you may have experienced the embarrassing moment when a cyclist or jogger has tried to pass you and your dog gets in the way. Different dogs react in different ways to joggers and cyclists, so always be wary when you’re cycling through parks or residential areas where our four-legged friends might not be on a lead.
How? Concentrate on the road.
Often, dogs which take an interest in cyclists usually aren’t hostile, but just excited to have something to chase! Your best bet is to ignore the dog completely and carry on cycling, provided it’s safe to do so, until you’re clear of the hazard.
What? Other cyclists.
We’ve been telling you how to, one way or another, avoid injury at the hands of motorists, headgear and animals. But don’t forget that other cyclists can also be a hazard as often they’re trying to occupy the same narrow space at the road side as you.
How? Look and listen.
Give space to any cyclists you’re sharing the road with and provide ample signals, even if you’re in a cycle lane. What’s more, don’t get drawn into drag racing at traffic lights with that flash, brand new, carbon fibre, drop-bar super-bike that squeaks to a halt next to you.
Visit the Family Safety Week website for more information on cycling and other great tips for keeping those you care about healthy and safe.
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