Updated: Aug 28, 2020
We answer the internet's most frequently asked bike safety questions.
With more people now choosing cycling as an alternative to driving or using public transport, a comprehensive understanding of bike safety is vital to reduce accidents on the road.
If you are one of the millions of people considering riding your bike to work after the Coronavirus pandemic, you need to know the legal requirements and general bike safety rules. That is why we have put together the internet’s most frequently asked questions about staying safe whilst cycling.
1. What are some good bicycle safety guidelines?
Good road positioning
· Keeping away from the gutter makes you more visible to drivers and helps you miss slippery drain covers, potholes and debris at the side of the road. Also, if someone overtakes you too closely, you have more space on your left to move into.
· You may need to ride further out from the kerb if you do not want a driver to overtake you because it would be unsafe to do so. Moving into the centre of the lane should mean that drivers stay behind you instead of trying to squeeze past. This is known as the primary road position.
Be aware of the road
· Look ahead for rough surfaces, drain covers, road humps, vehicles parked in the lane, potholes, and puddles. Looking all around also helps you prepare for junctions, roundabouts, and traffic lights. This helps you avoid having to swerve, brake abruptly or make sudden manoeuvres that other road users do not anticipate.
Do not undertake lorries
· Many lorries have blind-spots on their passenger side, which means if you are cycling on their left, the driver may not have seen you in their mirrors and may make a manoeuvre that puts you at serious risk.
· However, the road layout might mean that undertaking a lorry is difficult to avoid. For example, if you are riding in a protected bike lane, and the traffic in the outside lane is stationary or barely moving, you may find yourself passing a lorry on its left-hand side anyway.
Watch out for car doors
· Give plenty of space around parked cars just in case someone opens the car door without looking.
Keep your hands on the brakes
· If you can’t get your hands to your brake levers quickly, you might not be able to stop in time if you need to. Always cycle with your hands covering your brake levers when riding in situations where you might need to suddenly stop.
2. Are cyclists exempt from stopping at red lights?
Section 71 of The Highway Code states that a red traffic light applies to all road users. Cyclists must not cross the stop line if the traffic lights are red. Sometimes there is an advanced stop line for cyclists that should be used.
3. Is it safer to ride your bike with traffic, or against it?
When travelling on the road, it is required that cyclists travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic. This is because it is much easier to blend in with the traffic and help it flow easily when you are going the same direction as those around you. Also, if you’re riding on the wrong side, you won’t be able to see traffic signs and signals and that means you cannot obey them or be protected by them.
4. Is it safe to bike with headphones?
Although cyclists are technically allowed to listen to earphones, hearing traffic keeps you aware of your surroundings, as you can tell if a small car or massive truck is about to overtake you. Wearing headphones can make you unaware of what’s going on making it unsafe to ride a bike, especially in traffic.
5. How can I cycle safely in the rain while wearing eyeglasses?
Cycling in the rain while wearing eyeglasses can affect a cyclist’s vision which can be dangerous. A good alternative is a helmet with a visor or eyeglasses that have a hydrophobic coating so that water doesn’t stay on the lenses.
6. Do cyclists have to signal when turning?
The Highway Code states that cyclists should signal when turning. It is a lot safer to signal when turning, especially when you are turning right as you will be crossing traffic.
To signal, check behind, then signal with your hand to indicate which way you will be turning. Give plenty of notice before making your manoeuvre and manoeuvre only when it is safe. Maintain a position in the lane that stops vehicles undertaking you closely.
7. What is the best colour for visibility when riding a bicycle?
Many people wonder if high visibility clothing is necessary. It isn’t a legal requirement, but it is recommended, as high visibility clothing can help you be seen by motorists.
Fluorescent colours such as bright green, yellow or orange work best, especially during the day as the sun’s ultraviolet rays react with the colours and make them appear to glow.
8. How safe is it to ride a bicycle in the dark?
Biking at night is much more dangerous than riding during the day. When biking at night, cyclists are legally required to have a white light on the front and a red light on the rear of their cycles, switched on between sunset and sunrise. It can be sensible to use lights in the daytime if visibility is poor due to fog. Cyclists should also wear reflective clothing, and not assume that motorists can see them.
9. Where should you put reflectors on a bicycle?
Front reflectors usually go on the handlebar or front stem near where the handlebars and stem meet. Back reflectors usually go on the stem below the seat. Don’t place the back reflector too high, or its reflection might be blocked by the seat or the bottom of your shirt.
10. Is it legal to ride a bike under the influence?
It is illegal in the UK to ride your bike under the influence of drink or drugs, and you would be guilty of this if you were incapable of having proper control of the bicycle.
11. Is it legal to ride your bike on the pavement in the UK?
Bicycles are considered vehicles under British law meaning it is illegal to ride a bike on a pavement which has not been designated as a cycleway. The maximum penalty is £500, but it is often dealt with by a £50 fixed penalty notice.
12. Do I have to carry a first aid kit when cycling?
If you want to be prepared for anything, it is recommended that you always carry a first aid kit so that you have peace of mind. As a rule of thumb, a first aid kit should definitely be carried if you’re cycling through rural and remote areas.
Sterosport Activ’s first aid kits can make you prepared for any accident that may occur whilst cycling on the road or in more remote areas. From small kits with the basics to more comprehensive kits designed for trauma situations, we are certain we have a first aid kit for every occasion.
Check out our range of first aid kits, and first aid products in our shop here.