As we become more aware of our carbon footprints and the impact our lifestyles have on the planet, many Brits are swapping their drive to work for an invigorating cycle commute. Government cycle data from 2021 shows the number of cyclists in the UK is continuing to grow, and campaigners are pushing for investments to be made for safer routes.
Safety is a significant concern for many cyclists, and for good reason. Cycling accidents are common and fatalities are on the rise across the country, meaning many are wary to venture out on their bicycles. The good news is, with a little preparation, accidents and collisions can be prevented and you can ride your bike with confidence.
Here are some of the safety essentials every cyclist needs.
It’s vital to ensure you can easily be seen, particularly when cycling at night when visibility is reduced. Wearing hi-vis clothing such as a jacket or vest and gloves will make drivers more likely to notice you when you’re riding on the road, reducing your chance of being hit by a car.
Being visible on the road is not only important for your safety, but it’s essential for the safety of others too. Pedestrians may not see you if you’re riding in the dark which could increase the chance of them walking into your path and being injured.
While the Highway Code encourages cyclists to wear a helmet when riding, it isn’t currently a legal requirement in the UK. Due to this, many Brits opt to ride without a helmet, putting themselves at risk of a serious head injury if they are involved in an accident.
When buying a helmet, be sure to choose one which fits correctly. It should be secure but not put too much pressure on your head. If you haven’t bought a bike helmet in a while, it will be much easier to go to a cycle shop for advice, than buy one online.
Along with hi-vis clothing, lights will ensure you’re visible to others around you. Unlike helmets, there are laws surrounding lights for bicycles in the UK. Cyclists must have a lit white light on the front of their bike and a lit red light when riding at night.
If your bike was manufactured after 1 October 1985, it must also have amber reflectors on each pedal. Spoke reflectors and white front reflectors are encouraged but not required by law.
Repairs and insurance
As with a car, breakdowns can happen unexpectedly when cycling, so it’s always best to be prepared. Keep a small repair kit on hand with a pump, set of tyre levers and a puncture repair kit. A multi-tool will also be useful in case of roadside emergencies.
Ensure you have adequate cycle insurance to protect your bike against theft and damage. It may also be worth investing in personal accident cover, to give you peace of mind when riding out and about.