Understanding the rules of the road is extremely important in reducing risk of accidents, particularly so for cyclists. Along with pedestrians, cyclists are in the group of most at risk road users.
Why is this?
Cyclists do not have the protection a car driver is afforded by the chassis of the vehicle. This means the cyclist’s body takes all the impact in an accident. A cyclist will almost certainly come into contact with the road surface, mostly at quite some speed, whereas a car driver has a seat belt to prevent this from happening. Car drivers also have an airbag to reduce impact to the head; a cyclist has none of these luxuries.
UK roads are particularly bad due to our famous variable weather. This affects the condition of the road surface. Along with motorists failing to see cyclists, and rules of the road being flouted, this makes for a dangerous environment for cyclists.
At Carry on Cycling, we have put together a guide for cyclists to help protect themselves.
What you should strive to make habit
Wear a helmet and reflective clothing
Don’t cycle too close to other road users
Use extreme caution when maneuvering or overtaking
Do your best to ensure your presence is known, use your bell
Be wary of pedestrians
Be aware of areas animals are likely to jump in to the road
Cycling at night
At night a cyclist’s risk is greater and it is important to highlight your position using reflective clothing, and bike lights. Also pedal reflectors can help drivers spot you from a distance.
Cycle in the safest place
Always aim to ride on the cycle path if one is provided and clearly marked. If this is shared with pedestrians make sure to ring your bell to alert them you are behind them. Also be aware they may step on to the path without looking.
It is illegal to ride on the pavement, which means if no cycle lane is provided, you are obligated to ride on the road. Be cautious of other road users, they may not have seen you. Again using your bell to alert them could save your life.
As well as padded clothing to prevent repetitive chaffing, it is vital you take precautions in wearing protective clothing when road cycling. A helmet is your first line of defense in an accident, and will absorb impact to the head. Proper cycling attire is designed to protect you from sustaining soft tissue damage in the event of an accident, when the skin can be grated from the bone when skidding across a road surface.
The most important thing to remember when cycling is to take responsibility for your own safety. Make sure other road users know you are there; they need to see you and to hear you to avoid collision. Cycling can be a perilous mode of transport on UK roads; reduce your own risk by following these guidelines, and enjoy your bike ride!
Here is some UK road cycling tips.
Sarah Mcarthy is a writer for Carry on Cycling. You can find her on Google Plus here.
The Rules Of the Road
May 19, 2014 by · 1 Comment