Cycling participation numbers are on the rise and this number isn’t just made up of MAMIL’s and serious looking part-time athletes, nope, the number of people using their bikes as a primary mode of transport is also on the up! Great news for our planet and our creaking and groaning NHS! Sadly, here in London at least, I feel like we have a fair way to go in making the roads feel safe. There’s still a huge amount of animosity between drivers and cyclists which is scary considering that drivers are wrapped in a huge chunk of protective metal. Anyway, the point of this post isn’t to bash drivers, I think that as with anything, you get good drivers and good cyclists and then you get some not-so-good drivers and not-so-good cyclists. I see plenty of cyclists making silly mistakes, as I do drivers, it’s just that the consequences are so much worse for those of us on two wheels. So, I figured with it being road safety week, why not share a few safe cycling tips and pointers that have helped keep me safe over the few years that I have been cycling.
I see you rolling your eyes at me but I promise that safe cycling doesn’t have to be boring and no one is perfect, it’s just about incorporating a few things into your routine that could potentially save your life.
SEVEN TIPS FOR SAFE CYCLING
ONE | Pick your position carefully, if you’re in busy traffic I would suggest riding well away from the kerb, possibly even centrally in primary position. This may seem scarier but it has so many benefits;
- You don’t have to swerve to avoid drains, potholes, and other debris. You will get fewer punctures (win!!) and basically the less swerving you can do on busy roads, the better! Try to limit any erratic behaviour.
- Drivers actually have to think twice before overtaking, meaning they don’t do it in a rush, leaving just inches of space between you and them. (If you’re not that confident this will definitely cause a wobble!)
- Drivers can see you clearly as they approach you, giving them time to adjust speed accordingly.
TWO | Get used to looking around you, look over your shoulder regularly, making eye contact with drivers is making sure that they have actually seen you. It also signals that you might be about to change position in some way, encouraging them to hang back and give you some space.
THREE | Following on from above, get used to riding with only one hand meaning that you can signal clearly and confidently. Always look before you signal and don’t just signal and immediately pull out. I’ve seen this happen so many times and I’m sure I’ve made the mistake of doing it before but honestly, don’t. Just because you’ve signaled, does not mean that everyone behind you has seen or is in a position to accommodate your plans.
FOUR | Be aware. If you’re cycling in a busy City like London, there is literally a plethora of potential issues around you at any one time. Make sure that whilst you’re cycling you’re focusing only on the task at hand, mentally writing that shopping list can wait for later. Also, not to sound like a total Nana but listening to music whilst riding is a fairly stupid idea, essentially voiding one of your most useful senses.
FIVE | It’s not a race. Ok so I’m as impatient as the rest of you and I also kinda like racing, however, the commute is not a pissing contest, folks. We all want to arrive at our destinations, correct? Ride confidently and don’t dawdle but don’t be so focused on racing each other that you start to forget about the cars around you. On that note, get used to using your brakes and feeling confident about your stopping distances from various speeds. I always keep a couple of fingers on each brake, just so I can respond quickly if anything happens.
SIX | Apply some of the same rules that you would as a driver… Don’t get smashed and ride. Don’t text whilst riding. You know the drill but I feel like I have to add it in, in the interest of being thorough.
SEVEN | Make sure you’re wearing the right kit. At the very least a properly fitted helmet and if there’s even a small chance of riding in low light then both front and rear lights, that’s white lights for the front and red for the rear. When fitting your helmet make sure that it fits snugly, you should be able to tilt your head forwards and backwards without it moving.
SAFE CYCLING GIVEAWAY
On the subject of kit… As a resounding WELL DONE for getting to the end of this post. The team at LIV have got you covered and we’re giving away a brand spanking new Rev MIPS Helmet, worth £109!
All you have to do is comment below and you’ll be entered into the draw! (It would also be super nice if you followed LIV Cycling on Instagram they’re pretty rad and really support getting women out onto two wheels!) Winner will be picked at random and will be announced on Monday 27th November!