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Editor’s note: the following is a guest article submitted by our contacts at UK’s Claims4Negligence. Some good information on basic safety tips for new commuters:
There are so many advantages to riding a bicycle on the road that it can be easy to overlook the risks entirely. Cycling is good for the environment, it keeps the individuals concerned fit and healthy and, in these difficult economic times it is less expensive than most other forms of transport. The downside, however, is that there’s no getting away from the fact that riding a bicycle on the roads can be extremely dangerous. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of taking a bike out onto the road is the fact that your safety isn’t entirely in your own hands. No matter how diligent and careful you are, accidents can still happen, and the statistics show that the vast majority of injuries suffered by cyclists come about as the result of negligence on the part of other road users. For finding out more about how much compensation could be received for injuries on the body visit Claims4Negligence. Its best, of course, if you can avoid being hurt in this manner altogether, especially since cyclists involved in accidents are far more likely than drivers to suffer more serious injuries, but it should be remembered that if you are hurt in this manner you always have the option of claiming compensation; not to cash in, not as a punishment, but as a means of helping you get back on your feet (and on two wheels) as quickly as possible.
Although most accidents tend to be caused by the drivers of cars, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing the average cyclist can do to protect themselves. The right clothing, the right equipment and correct cycling tactics can all add up to a safer road experience by lowering the chances of accidents happening in the first place, and then, if the worst should befall you, minimizing the negative effects and the extent of any injuries caused.
Despite the dangers inherent in riding a bicycle, the vast majority of people cycling round the roads of the UK have probably never had a single cycling lesson in their life. People tend to just get on the bike and learn as they go along. Imagine, however, the chaos that would ensue if drivers adopted the same lassez faire attitude. There are basic rules of the road, and of riding a bicycle, which should be drilled into novice cyclists of any age, and there are courses available throughout the UK which can lay down this foundation of knowledge and create the good habits which will stand a cyclist in good stead throughout their life.
Over and above any formal training, however, there are certain tips and tricks which any cyclist can usefully adopt, of which the following are probably the simplest and most effective:
–Make sure you maintain eye contact with other road users, establishing it as clearly as possible. Put simply, if a driver looks you in the eye, then you can be one hundred per cent certain that he’s seen you, and visibility is a massive part of cycling safety.
–Bearing the above in mind you should go to the greatest possible lengths to maximize your visibility, at all times of the day and night. This means utilizing the likes of fluorescent clothing and lights, both on your bike and your person.
–Ensure that you take up your rightful position on the road. When trying to stay safe, the temptation may be to stay as close to the gutter, and thus the pavement, as possible. This tactic renders you less noticeable to other road users, however, as well as leaving you with little room to manoeuvre in the event of an emergency and leaving you more vulnerable to riding over debris. Try to think of yourself as taking up the amount of room a car would take up in the same circumstances, as this will lead other cars to treat you with much more respect.
–There’s no getting away from the fact that some cyclists give the rest a bad name by flouting things such as red lights and stop signs and skipping on and off the pavement. This is dangerous for both the cyclist concerned and all the others out on the road, since it helps to inculcate the notion that cyclists are reckless and basically ‘asking for trouble’.
–Use hand signals clearly and emphatically so that other road users are in no doubt as to what your next move is going to be.
–Of all the safety gear you can buy, a helmet is, without a doubt, the most important; even a fairly trivial fall can become very serious indeed if it involves your head coming into contact with a hard concrete surface. A helmet should fit well but not too tightly, with the pads in contact with the head at all points and it should be stored safely and inspected for signs of wear or damage on a regular basis.
It’s impossible, of course, to completely eliminate the risk from cycling on the road, but taking the steps listed above will help to keep you safer than you would otherwise be. Always remember that your ultimate safety doesn’t depend on how careful you’re going to be, but, sadly, how careless somebody else might end up being.