The Road Bike Safety Essentials: Staying safe when cycling on the roads

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Pandemic leads to surge in cycling accidents

More people are now choosing to cycle as an alternative way to commute and travel – this minimises close contact from using public transport, adding to the benefits of cycling for general health and the environment. The risks that come with this mode of travel are often overlooked and as the number of people keen to get out on their bikes rises, so does the number of cycling accidents.

Boyes Turner reports have shown that within the first month of the UK lockdown, cyclist fatalities more than doubled the usual average. Now is a better time than ever to brush up on your road safety knowledge and get equipped for staying safe on the roads.

Concerns to cyclists on the road

Recent studies by Savanta show that a third of people would avoid cycling as they believe it is too dangerous and over half of cyclists say they dread cycling in traffic. Having a good awareness of the possible dangers on the road is vital to being prepared for any eventuality whilst cycling.

Potholes – Uneven terrain and road defects can cause cyclists to be thrown off their bikes onto the road or into oncoming traffic, potentially putting their life at risk or causing a collision between other drivers as they swerve to divert from the injured cyclist.

Always look ahead and keep an eye out for dangerous potholes and debris which is usually towards the edge of the road near the pavement. If necessary, adopt to a central position on the road and avoid them where possible, alternatively slow right down or pull over until it is clear.

Dangerous Drivers – Drivers have a duty of care on the roads as cyclists are in a much more vulnerable and exposed position. Whilst you have no control over the actions a driver makes, you should be prepared to respond quickly and safely to careless driving on the roads. Keep your distance from cars who are demonstrating dangerous driving and use the cycle lane where you can.

Pedestrians – Cyclists could be a potential risk to pedestrians as they are near to the pavement. 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.

Parked vehicles – Cases of cyclists being knocked off their bikes from a car door being opened in their path is not uncommon. There is a shared responsibility in this circumstance, although the driver should check it is clear in their mirrors before exiting the car. The cyclist should always keep in mind the possibility of the driver forgetting to check, so should always give a bit more room when passing parked cars.

Safety accessories you need to stay safe

Road Bike Helmet – Accidents can happen at any time, which is why a helmet is always recommended whilst cycling, despite the road conditions, length of journey or level of traffic. Check out Cycling Weekly’s helmet top picks in their road cycling helmets buyers guide.

Clothing – Ensure you are wearing high visibility clothing to make yourself as visible as possible to drivers on the road. If you are wearing a bag or have pockets on your clothing, double check the pockets are securely closed to avoid losing items on the road and causing possible accidents. Appropriate shoes with secure grip should be worn for a smooth and comfortable ride.

Lights – Lights on your bike are an essential as we approach the darker winter months to increase your visibility to other drivers on the roads. In the UK, it is a legal requirement to have lights on your bike when cycling on public roads.

First Aid Kit – A road first aid kit containing all the essentials for treating a minor injury whilst out on the roads is a must-have for a cyclist. Minor bumps or grazes can be easily treated using the contents of the first aid kit within minutes so you can continue with your journey. For larger injuries, wound dressings and tapes are supplied to stop bleeding and prevent infection. The lightweight bag is perfect for carrying on bike journeys and has easy access compartments.

Josh Quigley’s road to recovery…

A first aid kit is not typically the first thing cyclists associate with themselves, often dismissing the serious risks that are present with even casual cycling. Josh Quigley, Scottish cyclist and recent world record winner, has made a fighting comeback after life threatening injuries caused by being hit by a car whilst riding his bike across America last year. His inspiring journey highlights the importance of road safety and being prepared for the worst whilst out on the roads. Read more about our sponsorship with Josh and his incredible story of success.

“Taking a first aid kit on the bike isn't the sort of thing I'd ever used to have bothered with. But I've been through enough crashes and accidents now to fully understand the importance of being prepared for the worst whilst out on a ride. I'm passionate about helping people get involved in cycling and I'm proud to be partnered with an organisation who also share this vision and want to keep cyclists safe.”

- Josh Quigley

The benefits of cycling outweigh the potential risks and avoiding riding your bike is not the answer to keeping safe on the roads. Instead, we encourage cyclists to practicing safe cycling and be prepared in case of an accident.

To be prepared and to stay safe when cycling, check out the range of specialist bike first aid kits available from Sterosport Activ.

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