Cycling is an excellent way of getting fit. It’s one of the most effective exercises in burning calories. It can also help you build real muscle in your arms, legs and your core. There’s no wonder that so many enjoy it as a hobby. But it’s also a lot more dangerous than you might initially imagine. Bicycle riders have the highest rate of accidents and injuries per rider, despite being the least common vehicle on the road. That’s not to say you shouldn’t go riding, however. You just need to be extra prepared to look out for your own safety.
Never assume safety
Regardless of where you are, assuming that you have a totally open path and are at no risk is incredibly dangerous. For example, one of the most common misconceptions is that the intersection is the most dangerous place for a cyclist to be. However, that’s not true at all. The majority of road accidents involving cyclists don’t happen at intersections. Instead, they might very well happen with parked cars opening their doors. Do your best to learn proper safety protocols when cycling. Be able to recognise and adapt to dangers that you’ve studied on the road. Remember that the cyclist is always the one at most risk in an accident.
Look after your bike
You’ll be able to adapt a lot better to risks on the road if you’re looking after your bike properly. You don’t want your bike to suddenly give way under you, throw you off or lose control. That’s why close, regular maintenance is an important part of being a cyclist. If you’re not prepared to get personal and learn about how your bicycle works, perhaps it’s not the method of fitness for you. First, make sure that your tires are fully pumped before every ride. Keep the bicycle safe from water, such as rain or salty sea air. The best way of doing that is keeping it inside. Or lubricating it, which also stops the bike from seizing up under you.
Share the road
There’s a certain sentiment being shared a lot in regards to bicycle safety. That is the idea of ‘sharing the road’. The sad fact is that the campaign puts as much responsibility on cyclists as it does on other vehicle drivers. Despite the fact that the cyclist is at a lot more risk and wields a lot less power in that situation. The most important point that this campaign brings up is the fact that drivers don’t often take cyclists as seriously as they should. Your space might not be respected, nor your right of way. The key for you is to be able to adapt to the other presences on the road. This includes being aware of your surroundings, which we’ll get into next.
Awareness of vulnerability
A higher degree of awareness is needed for cyclists at all times. For example, knowing the kind of space you have to take in regards to certain vehicles. Bicyclists have the unfortunate ability to appear invisible to big cars or lorries, so you need to steer as far from them as you can. It’s not just your eyes that you need to keep peeled, either. One of the biggest mistakes you can make while cycling anywhere is putting in earplugs. You won’t be able to hear oncoming cars or pedestrians telling you to stop. If you need to listen to music to help you exercise, get yourself a cycling speaker instead. Otherwise, you’re putting everyone at unnecessary risk.
Being prepared for the risk of an accident
The fact is that you’re the one who’s going to be at a lot more risk if you get involved in an accident. That’s why you should always keep a small first aid kit on your person. If you are involved in a collision with a vehicle that’s not your fault, you shouldn’t have to suffer all the consequences either. Instead, think about services like personal injury compensations claims solicitors for cycling accidents. If you’re able to, record as much of what happened at the scene of the event as possible. Using a dash cam on your bicycle or helmet can do a good job of recording for you. Otherwise, take photos if you can and collect details of witnesses and those involved in the crash. Take all the evidence you need to make sure responsibility is properly distributed.
Safety gear is crucial
It’s obvious that safety gear is an important part of riding. There are some questions as to its effectiveness, but it’s important that you wear a helmet simply because it’s a legal necessity in a lot of places. Shin pads and elbows pads are also important for the chances of taking a lighter spill off your bike. By far the most important safety equipment, however, is that which provide visibility. Bike lights and reflective gear. High visibility gear is vital for staying seen by others on the road at night. Your visibility is just as important in the day, however. In those situations, visibility is about contrasting with the traffic and your surroundings. Bold colours can be a better choice than high-vis gear in the day.
Use the right bike for the right place
Of course, keeping control of your bike is also influenced by what kind of bike exactly that you’re using. If you take the wrong bike or wrong wheels to the wrong terrain, you’re a lot more liable for a spill. Cycling is as much about exploring as it is about working out, so don’t be afraid to get out there. Just make sure that you’re prepared for the kind of terrain that you’re going to be coming up against. For example, use a mountain bike if you’re going mountain biking. Read up on adapting your suspension and wheels if you’re gravel cycling.
We hope the tips above give you a safer experience out there on your bike. If you do get injured, don’t be afraid to act on it. So long as you share the road, others should as well.