Commuting by bike is much safer than many people think. According to Government statistics, one cyclist is killed on Britain’s roads for every 27 million miles travelled by cycle – the equivalent to over 1,000 times around the world. The same stats suggest you are more likely to be injured in an hour of gardening than in an hour of cycling.
To lower your risk further, here are our Top 5 tips for safe commuting:
- Be Visible. Most cyclists think they are far more visible than they actually are. 15 percent of the claims we handle occur in the dark and low light conditions. A huge range of lights is available, but reflective clothing dramatically increases your visibility. Be aware that because of the way human eyes work, you are less visible at dawn and dusk, so take extra care. You don’t have to dress up as a lollypop person either, with lots of tastefully high-visibility kit becoming available.
- Don’t be afraid to use the road, you have as much right to be there as motorists. This means give space to parked cars and be aware of car doors that could open. A fact worth remembering is that passenger doors cause more accidents than driver doors as passengers are less likely to check mirrors. A doors width clearance is sensible. And don’t hug the curb either. Drains, potholes, and road debris mean that riding in the gutter can be hazardous and there is a lot more chance of punctures. 16 percent of accident claims handled by Cycle SOS are caused by a pothole/defective road surface.
- As cyclists we are allowed to filter through traffic like motorcycles. However, don’t undertake large vehicles such as HGVs and busses, and be aware of vehicles turning left. Most accidents occur at junctions. Be conscious that drivers have a blind spot. Take extra care at or when approaching junctions. 40 percent of the claims we handle at Cycle SOS involve vehicles emerging from side roads and 11 percent of accidents occur on roundabouts.
- Respect other road users and avoid confrontation. Should you be on the receiving end of an aggressive road user, remain calm and polite. Your tone of voice can diffuse the situation, however, it is unlikely that you will be able to change an irate driver’s mind, so just back away.
- Routinely check your bike. Having working brakes and gears will not just make your commute more enjoyable, it will also make you safer as 2 percent of Cycle SOS claims arise from a product or mechanical fault. Remember, if you do have an accident and your brakes aren’t working, you could be considered culpable.
Following these tips will help to make your commute safer, meaning you can enjoy the financial, environmental and physical benefits of cycling.