Cycling is a great way to get out and about, whilst staying healthy. But, riders must be careful as there are risks which come with cycling. Below, we offer advice on how you can take measures to prevent bicycle accidents.
You must take precautions if you choose to travel on the roads instead of on a designated cycle path. Acting negligently whether or not there are larger vehicles near you, could result in a bicycle accident.
While paying attention to the traffic around you is undoubtedly very important for cyclist safety – as is an equal amount of care and attention from motorists – it is also true that bikes should be well maintained to avoid mechanical problems, which, potentially, could result in accidents.
Brakes should be tested regularly to make sure that they are still suitable for use. In order to do this, you should ride their bike somewhere safe and pull the brake normally. If you find that you are having to pull the brakes quite close to the handlebars, then you should replace your brake cables and pads. In some cases, one of the brakes may need replacing, but not the other.
Wheels should also be checked carefully. If you can hear grinding or cracking noises when you lift and spin the front wheel, then you may need to strip the hub down and re-grease it.
Slack spokes will need retensioning, and in the event that many spokes are slack, the whole wheel may need rebuilding by a professional mechanic. In addition, cyclists should remember that damaged and worn tyres should be replaced.
Other parts of the bike which need to be well maintained include the chains and the pedals.
Neglecting to maintain any one of the above bike parts could result in loss of control while cycling and increases the risk of being involved in a bicycle accident.
The Highway Code provides good advice for bike riders regarding safety on the road.
Although there is no law stating that a cycling helmet must be worn, the Highway Code recommends their use in order to protect the rider from sustaining a serious head injury in the event of a collision.
It also states the importance of dressing appropriately. For cycling in the dark, riders should not just rely on light or fluorescent clothing – they should have lights on their bicycle and wear reflective gear so that drivers can see them better. For example, riders might opt for an across-the-body sash, arm bands, or ankle bands – and might wish to wear all of them to increase their visibility.
Cyclists should also avoid wearing any items of clothing which might get caught in their wheels or gears, as well as anything which could obscure their bicycle lights. So, special care should be taken when choosing scarves, coats, dresses, and skirts before going on a journey by bike. Ideally, no long or loose items of clothing should be worn while riding.
Whereas all of the above is just advice, riders are legally required to have the correct lights on their bike if they are riding at night. There must be a white light at the front of the bicycle, and a red at the rear, as well as a red rear reflector.
If you regularly cycle in rural areas using country lanes, there are steps you can take to improve your safety on the road:
Every year 19,000 cyclists are either killed or injured in the UK, and with the increasing popularity of cycling, cyclist casualties are unfortunately increasing. Whilst the majority of cycling casualties are adults, according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), there were 1,958 children killed, seriously injured or slightly injured in cycling accidents during 2013. Whether due to inexperience or poor judgment, one thing is clear from this statistic; teaching your child bike safety is an important part of bringing this figure down for good.
As soon as your child learns how to ride a bike, it is important to set some basic rules, whether they are cycling alone or supervised. Prohibiting cycling in the road or riding on busy streets may seem like an obvious one for young riders, however, with 75% of fatal or serious accidents occurring in urban areas, it pays to be vigilant from the very beginning.
Road safety basics, such as stopping and looking when entering a roadway, stopping at all stop signs and obeying traffic signals, are also important, making the Highway Code essential reading for those wishing to teach their child road safety and awareness. Whether riding at night or during daylight hours, encouraging a positive relationship with other road users and pedestrians is of the utmost importance. Signalling clearly at all times, making eye contact with drivers (particularly at junctions) and riding in a position where you can see and be seen are all rules that should be followed closely.
In addition to teaching the essentials of bike safety, undertaking a cycling training course with your child is advisable. Bikeability, a cycling proficiency scheme run by the Department for Transport (DfT), is a three-part course that inspires confidence and safety when taking on today’s roads on a bicycle.
Bikeability is a cycling proficiency course that is designed to give both adults and children the basic skills necessary for confident pedalling on the roads. However, far from being a simple set of rules, it encourages students to develop the ability to make independent but informed decisions relating to road safety.
Bikeability is run at various locations across East Sussex and is made up of five 90-minute sessions. Sessions may take place at schools, after school or during the holidays.
Individual sessions (for adults or children) can be arranged with the East Sussex Cycle Training Centre in Eastbourne.
One great thing about Bikeability is that it is inclusive: all age groups and cycling levels are catered for, from the users of balance bikes to Chris Froome (should he decide to take the course!).
Instructors on the course are all qualified to the national standard and all have had first-aid training. Courses can be booked online and more information can be found here.
If these numbers are to decrease, road users must take responsibility for their actions and avoid getting into their car if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or are suffering from fatigue.
Furthermore, it is vital that anyone in control of a vehicle pays close attention to the road and does engage in dangerous distractions such as texting, admiring pretty landscapes, road-side advertisements, or attractive pedestrians. Various studies have been proven all of these to cause drivers to lose concentration.
However, it is not only motor vehicle drivers who need to act responsibly – cyclists also need to take preventative measures to reduce their risk of being involved in a road traffic accident.