Stay safe, stay seen
Cycling, especially in traffic can be intimidating; an average of 19,243 cyclists are reported injured every year. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to make sure you’re seen. Luckily, there are loads of bright ideas for making sure you’re spotted by other road users.
Become a dayglow masterpiece
While reflective strips and accessories are best for night time, fluorescent, high visibility colours will help motorists see you during the day. If your shocking pink tracksuit’s in the wash (shame!) grab yourself a hi-vis waistcoat. They’re easy to stuff in your bag after your morning commute and aren’t hot and heavy.
Time for a little reflection
The UK government itself advises using reflective clothing and accessories, night and day. In fact, studies suggest that reflective garments are far more effective than hi-vis after dark. Reflective areas on any part of you or your bike will help you be seen in car headlights, but for the best effect focus on your legs: the movement will make reflective patches more visible. This is easily done with accessories such as reflective cycling trouser clips or reflective stickers.
Ride and shine
By law you must have a white front light and red rear light on if you’re riding in the dark. This will make you far more visible to drivers and pedestrians. One of the other hazards of riding in the dark is the difficulty in seeing pedestrians and hazards. A decent headlamp can provide a pool of light that you can direct and so spot that dodgy bit of road or a dog lead stretching across the path. Don’t forget though, that a headlamp doesn’t legally replace the bike’s front light.
Lights are so important when riding at night you may want to keep some spare batteries or even spare bike lights on hand. Some low-cost clip-on LED bike lamps are a worthwhile investment that won’t weigh you down.
Make yourself clear
Another way to keep yourself safe is to ‘talk’ effectively with other road users. Make sure your signals are clear and try to be decisive when turning so that others can understand what you’re intending to do. To get a good read of whether you and your signals have been seen, it’s a good idea to make eye-contact with drivers.
When riding through traffic, be aware of vehicle blind spots. It’s very difficult for HGV drivers to see their left side, and you should make sure when cycling near a large vehicle, that you can see their mirrors.
There’s a fun and easy way to make yourself twice as visible than before: ride with a friend. It’s significantly safer because you’ll be seen more easily and riding two abreast makes it more difficult for impatient drivers to squeeze past when it’s not safe to overtake. Of course, you can drop into single file to make everyone’s life easier, but only when it doesn’t put you or your friend at risk.
With a large proportion of accidents caused by drivers being unable to see cyclists, even in broad daylight, making yourself visible should be one of your foremost concerns. With a few simple changes, you can make your ride a little safer, regardless of your skill level. For more information on some of the products mentioned in this article, why not visit Silverline Tools or meet us at Prudential RideLondon.