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Safer city cycling for you and your bike

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30 Apr 2018
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The feature was produced in assocation with Cycle Surgery 

10 tips for Keeping safe in traffic 

When you head out on your bike, you're sharing space on the road with cars, buses, trucks, other cyclists and possibly even pedestrians. To make sure you arrive at your destination safely every time, follow these 10 simple guidelines for safer city cycling.

1 Don’t assume other road users have seen you

Even if you’re trussed up in Day-Glo yellow waterproofs and shouting your head off, never take it for granted that drivers have noticed you.

Never assume they’ve looked in their mirrors before making a manoeuvre, that they’ll give way to you (even if you have priority) or even that they’re complying with that rather important law about not using their phone while driving.

This is especially important at crossroads, T-junctions and roundabouts where the vast majority of road collisions occur. 

 

2 Don’t get boxed in

The more space you have, the safer you’ll be. So try to avoid weaving between slow-moving traffic and stay at least a couple of metres from the vehicle in front of you.

Even if you’re crawling along, you’ll need that space to stop should they suddenly brake. If traffic is moving at 15mph or more, increase that distance to at least six metres.

 

3 Keep away from the kerb

Ride around a metre to a metre and a half away from the kerb to avoid debris in the gutter and drains.

And maintain the same distance when riding past parked cars – it’ll be enough to make sure you’re not ‘doored’ by anyone inside should they clamber out without looking.

 

4 Beware of HGVs

Not only are lorries a lot bigger than you, most also have a blind spot on the passenger side.

So never overtake them on the inside (or undertake them, as it’s also rather grimly known) unless you’re in a dedicated cycling lane riding alongside slow-moving traffic.

If you’re next to a lorry at traffic lights and there’s space to do so, move in front of it so the driver can see you.

 

5 Look drivers in the eye

One of the best ways to make sure that other road users are aware of your presence is to establish eye contact.

Always follow it up with a little acknowledging nod and a smile to keep things friendly.

6 Minimise your exposure to exhaust fumes

You can do this by seeking out routes where motor vehicles are scarce or non–existent (online resources such as Google Maps, strava.com/heatmap or howpollutedismyroad.org.uk can help with this).

You can also limit exposure by adjusting your speed. A recent study in the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation revealed that the ideal speed for staying healthier in traffic is between 12-20kmh (8-13mph).

The figure was arrived at after considering how hard you push the pace which affects, on the one hand, how deeply you breathe and, on the other, how long you’re exposed to pollution.

 

7 Ditch your headphones

Yes, we all like a bit of musical motivation but when you’re weaving through the city streets on a bike, your ears are one of your chief bits of safety equipment, allowing you to hear everything from traffic approaching from the rear, to warning shouts.

So save that Take That playlist (or whatever it is your music machine has on repeat) for when your feet are up rather than pushing pedals.

Remember, too, that part of the fun of riding in the city is all about filling your senses by immersing yourself in the everyday thrum.

And you can’t do that with Relight My Fire pestering your eardrums.

 

8 Maintain your bike properly

This will minimise your chances of minor inconveniences as well as accidents.

Defective steering, worn-out brakes, malfunctioning chains or gears and poorly inflated tyres are all potential hazards.

Always give your bike a quick once-over before setting out and get it serviced regularly.

All Cycle Surgery stores employ highly qualified mechanics which can help with everything from minor fixes to their £120 Ultimate Advantage Service, which includes a complete strip down and re-build, clean and de-grease of your bike by one of their expert technicians.

 

9 Get the right gear

From helmets and day1time running lights to being prepared for downpours or dazzling sunshine, your enjoyment and safety can both be improved when cycling in the city simply by having the correct kit.

 

10 Ride predictably

We don’t mean you should ride the same route every time – that would rinse city cycling of a lot of its unique fun.

We mean ride in a way that makes your actions to other road users and pedestrians as predictable as possible.

So without being aggressive, be assertive, stick to the rules (hey, no running red lights!) and enjoy the ride.

 

8 tips to keep your bike safe from thieves

It's one thing to keep safe while out on the road, but what about when your bike is lying unattended? Here are eight simple ways that will help keep your bike out of the clutches of thieves.

 

1 Think like a bike thief

Most bike thieves are opportunists looking for an easy mark. If you leave your bike unattended in the city while you run an errand, make a potential thief’s job as difficult as possible.

If stealing your bike looks like it will take too much time and effort, he’ll likely move on to a bike that doesn’t.

 

2 Choose the right location

If you have to leave your bike unattended, be sure to park it somewhere well-lit with a lot of footfall.

Even though few bike thieves are seemingly deterred by the risk of being stopped by a have-a-go-hero, it still pays to leave it somewhere in plain view as thieves will be wary of any returning owners catching them red-handed.

And that could be anyone in a crowd.

3 Use a good quality D-lock

This goes back to making the thief’s life as difficult as possible. Experienced thieves can get through even the best locks in a matter of moments with the right equipment.

But if there’s an unlocked bike nearby or one that’s secured with a flimsy cable lock or padlock and chain, that’s the one that’s going to get taken first.

D-locks are the most difficult of the three to breach.

 

4 Secure your bike properly

Thread the D-lock through the back wheel and the seat tube (not the seatpost!) and attach it to something immovable such as railings.

]Fit the lock in such a way that it is difficult to move about – this can make it harder for a thief to get the jaws of a bolt cutter onto the lock at exactly the right angle.

Remove anything, too, that’s easy to swipe, such as the battery on an e-bike.

5 Look for CCTV

Again, there’s not much evidence that CCTV will deter a thief, but should your bike get damaged while left unattended, footage might be used to figure out who was at fault and therefore potentially settle any insurance claim.

 

6 Watch out for ‘sucker poles’

When securing your bike to a public rack look for any evidence that it’s been tampered with.

Thieves have been known to loosen off bolts or even pre-cut the metal poles on public racks to make later thievery that much easier.

7 Take a selfie of you and your bike

It’ll help prove the bike is yours in the event of its theft and recovery. Take a note, too, of your bike’s serial number.

The majority of serial numbers are located under the bottom bracket where the two pedal cranks meet. Flip your bike and take a look.

Not there? Then check the front of the head tube, the seatstays, or the seat tube close to the crank.

 

8 Register your bike

If your bike is on the free-to-use, police-approved bikeregister.com database it’s going to be harder for a potential thief to sell your bike on.

If you then invest in one of the website’s bike-marking kits (prices start from £12.99) any potential thief will also know very quickly that what they’re looking at is a registered bike and will more than likely look for an easier target.