On a beautiful day what could be more perfect than a bike ride! Whether through the forest, along the seafront or in your local park it is sure to be full of excitement, beautiful scenery and fun but one thing you do need to remember is how to stay safe whilst on your bike!
Check your Equipment
- Ensure that your seat is adjusted to the proper height and locked in place.
The very tops of your toes should be able to reach the ground whilst on the bike, but you should not be able to place both feet on the ground at the same time. If you can do this then your bike seat is too low.
- Check the tyres are inflated
Your tyres should be fully rounded with no punctures or holes. You will able to tell if your tyre has been punched from a wheezing sound that is made when the tyres are inflated or if your tyres seem to deflate very quickly.
- Ensure you have installed reflectors at the front and rear of your bike
This will increase your visibility which is especially important at night and dusk where there is very little light. For extra safety, you can install reflectors on the pedals and spokes. However, most new bikes come with reflectors on all 4 points.
- Add a horn or a bell
If you ever are riding in car populated areas, install a horn or a bell to be able to make people aware of you. Much like a car horn, you can alert people to your presence if you have not been seen.
- Make sure your breaks are working
Perform a brake test before every journey to ensure that your breaks are working. Spin your front wheel to a reasonable speed and then grasp the breaks and measure how fast the wheel stops spinning. It should stop almost instantly, if not you might need to get your breaks check by a professional.
Wear a helmet
This seems like a fairly straightforward point but surprisingly there are many things you must remember when either buying or wearing a helmet.
- Make sure it fits snugly on your head by adjusting the sizing pads or fit ring. It should not wobble when you move your head
- Position the helmet level on your head, it should be around about one to two fingers width above the eyebrow so it sits covering the forehead and not tipped back
- Adjust the side straps so they can form a V shape in either side of your ears with the buckle centred under your chin. The strap should be tight enough that only one or two fingers can fit between the chin and the strap
- Ensure that it is well vented to stop you from overheating
What should I wear when riding a bike?
Ultimately, your clothing should be both comfortable and practical which will keep you safe and also increase your visibility to other road users.
- Wear bright and fluorescent clothing to increase your visibility; this will keep you safe as drivers will be able to see you better which will decrease the chances of an accident. Try to avoid dark clothing, especially at night, but if you have to we recommend having a florescent jacket on hand to make sure you stay safe.
- Don’t wear loose fitting trousers or long skirts. Wearing clothing that is loose fitting can increase the chances that it will get caught in the gears and chain of the bike causing an accident. We suggest wearing tighter fitting trousers such as jeans or leggings that would allow the best movement and minimise chances of getting caught.
- Choose shoes that will grip the pedals. Shoes such as heels, sandals, flip flops and cleated shoes will not give you sufficient grip on your bike pedals which could cause harm to you and other road users if you lose grip. Trainers are great for bike riding.
Know the rules of the road
Did you know that the rules for motorists are the same for all cyclists? In the Highway Code, a cyclist must abide but the same basic rules of the road which are:
- You must stop at all signs and obey traffic lights; you cannot go through a red light!
- Yield to pedestrians, when at a zebra or pelican crossing pedestrians have righter way and you must stop to let them cross.
- When cycling past parked cars give them space, a car door length is suggested, as a car door might open suddenly causing injury
- You must cycle single file! We know you’d like to chat to your friends or family but you need to cycle in one single line, often cars will overtake and when riding next to each other it creates a bigger risk and can be very dangerous, especially on country roads!
- Bike in the direction of traffic
Know your turn signals
To turn left:
Extend your left arm out to the side well before you intend to turn. Slowly begin to break and then make your turn.
To turn right:
Extend your right arm out to the side well before you intent to turn. Slowly begin to break and stop if it is not safe to turn. Ensure that there is no oncoming traffic and safely take your turn.
Extend either arm downward in an upside down ‘L’ position and come to a stop. Ensure that there is sufficient time between when you make the signal and when you come to a stop.