Top tips on riding safely
Published 23 May 2012
Most regular cyclists would probably agree that riding a bike on roads needs concentration and confidence in equal parts. If you’re new to taking to the road, we can help.
With these tips it'll be easier to take your place on the road and have a new – and safe – cycling adventure.
The Highway Code is your friend!
Do get yourself a copy of The Highway Code. It’s the official guide for all road users in Britain. It’s easy to read and lays out all the information about junctions and signalling, roundabouts, crossing the road and of course, road signs. It’s available online, or you can buy a copy in most bookshops and supermarkets.
There’s some great inexpensive hi-visibility and reflective kit available, and some of it is even quite fashionable. Remember lights are a must if you intend to ride at night (The Highway Code has all the info on lights and the law). A bike helmet can help keep you be safe and seen. It should be a snug fit and positioned squarely on your head – sitting just above your eyebrows, not tilted back or tipped forwards. Fasten your helmet securely, and check there’s enough room for two fingers between your chin and the strap.
Practice the basics
The basic riding skills are the same whether you’re riding on the road or in the park. Think starting, stopping, straight line riding, changing gear smoothly, slow riding and turning. When British Cycling coaches teach people road skills we start with tackling left turns into and out of a quiet side street. We say 'think about your position on the road – take control of the road – and make yourself seen.' Ride assertively and not in the gutter – it'll help you take your place on the road, and help everyone to see us. Ride in the centre of the left hand lane or at least a metre from the side of the road.
As your confidence builds, move on to right hand turns, passing parked vehicles and side roads. As you practice right hand turns, check the traffic to ensure it’s safe, then signal and move to the centre of the road. Wait until there’s a safe gap in the oncoming traffic and give a final look before completing the turn.
Drivers are your fellow road users and many ride bikes too!
Do make eye contact with drivers where you can, so you know they’ve seen you too. Acknowledging courtesy from other road users is always appreciated. And always remember to ride a car door’s width away from parked cars.
All cyclists can now benefit from Bikeability training which aims to make cyclists more confident and safer at riding in traffic. The courses take place on quiet local roads, and cover the basics of riding on roads with traffic.
Check out Take Care on Your Bike – some hints and tips for safe cycling.