Staying safe on your bike

Safety is very important when riding a bike, and there are some easy safety measures you can take to protect yourself.

  • Wear a cycling helmet. Falling from a bike or being knocked off in an accident can cause head injuries, so a specially designed cycling helmet is essential. The strap should be securely fastened so you can fit two fingers between it and your neck and chin area. Helmets need replacing every 5 years or if you’ve had a crash
  • Use lights. This is something to consider especially if you commute, ride in the dark, or ride mostly on the roads. It is a good idea to have one on your bike no matter what as conditions may change during your ride. Fix a red light onto your seat post and a white light for seeing ahead onto your handle bars, check that both are charged before your ride
  • Check the tread on your tyres, as you would with a car. Worn tyres provide very little grip on the road surface especially in wet conditions and the back tyre tends to wear more quicly than the front one. Often tyres will have indicators that let you know when they need to be replaced, and instructions should be included on the packaging. If you have thrown it away, then an online search should enable you to quickly find this information, as long as you know the brand and type of tyre
  • Have your bike serviced regularly by a trained bike mechanic to ensure it is safe and well-maintained. Here is a video showing what to keep an eye on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBKeNOBwaVE
  • Wear suitable clothing. An obvious one, but weather can change, you may have to stop to mend a puncture or do a long descent into a cold wind. Check the forecast before you leave and carry a waterproof in your back pocket or rucksack if you’re in any doubt
  • Fuelling for your journey.  Take food and drink with you if riding for longer than ninety minutes as you will soon start to lose energy. You should be drinking one bike bottle per hour on longer rides, and may need to eat bars or bananas to provide energy as well. If you fail to eat or drink you will feel the effects for several days afterwards and struggle to recover, it is also dangerous to under fuel as you may find yourself unable to concentrate on the traffic and terrain ahead of you
  • Ride fairly close to (around 1 foot) the pavement and pedal smoothly looking ahead at all times. Do not ride out wide, especially without looking over your shoulder as cars often misjudge where you are on the road and can cut in close if stray from the pavement and be aware of larger traffic such as lorries and tractors
  • Do not wear entirely dark clothing, especially at night or in the evening. Car drivers will have less chance of seeing you even in daylight.  Bright colours are ideal for daytime when the light is good and reflective or fluorescent clothing is essential in murky condiions or at night time
  • Clean and check your bike regularly. Cleaning, even when your bike isn’t too dirty ensures you check there is no damage to it that will affect its performance and safety. Make sure the chain and rear sprocket are clear of mud and dirt and the braking surface is kept clean
  • Keeping your bike clean not only helps you stay but also helps to preserve it for longer. Here is a detailed video on how to clean your bike thoroughly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ak4AzlUz5Q. If you ride off-road regularly or commute through the winter, you will need to clean your bike after most rides.

For advice on choosing and buying a bike, read our blog.

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