Safe cycling

Follow these tips to stay safe when you’re on your bike:

Check the roadworthiness of your bike
Is your cycle fit for the road? Are your brakes, gears, tyres and lights in working order? Visit our maintenance section for a handy check-list.

Observe the rules of the road
Cyclists are bound by the same rules as motorised vehicles. Failing to observe the law puts all road users in danger. All the usual road traffic laws apply to bikes so make sure you follow the Highway Code.

Cyclists have a right to claim the lane
Cyclists have as much right as car drivers to take up the entire lane. You’ll often see cyclists riding side-by-side or singularly in the middle of a lane and it’s the safest way to cycle, particularly if there’s a blind bend, a narrowing of the road, a junction, pinch point or traffic lights.

Keep away from the gutter and kerb
Cyclists should never cycle in the gutter as not only is there the risk of a pedal hitting a kerb, but it gives no room for avoiding obstacles. The more important aspect is that of being seen and being able to see, by taking a prominent position in the road.

Concentrate and be cautious
90% of cyclist casualties in recent years were caused by careless inattention, firstly by drivers, secondly by cyclists. It’s a driver’s responsibility to avoid hitting a cyclist, not the responsibility of the cyclist to avoid getting hit, hence the prominent position that a cyclist should take when on the road. However, by concentrating at all times and being cautious around other road users you can reduce your risk of an accident.

Be prepared
Look ahead for obstructions, such as parked vehicles. Planning ahead helps you be prepared and in the right road position to manoeuvre junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

Look behind you
Look over your shoulder to see what is happening all around you. Check behind when moving away from the kerb, before signalling and to communicate with other road users.

Make eye contact
Make eye contact with other road users, especially at junctions, when passing or turning at a side road and at roundabouts. Always assume you may not have been seen, so when changing your road position, entering roundabouts or turning at junctions make sure other road users are aware of where you intend to go. Depending on differing situations this could be

  • In slow moving traffic – stay in position in the middle of the lane, or, in the case of moving past stationary vehicles, make sure this is carried out on the outside of the line of traffic and not on the inside.
  • Hand signals – should be carried out only if required e.g. when other road users are about, and well before turning.
  • Good eye contact at all times with other road users.

    Mind that lorry
    Don’t undertake a large lorry, because you’ll be in the driver’s blind spot. Remember that large vehicles move to the right before turning left.

    Opening car doors
    Drivers or passengers often open car doors without checking for cyclists. This can cause a fatal injury if a cyclist runs into the door. When cycling past a car that has just stopped, take caution, as someone may be about to get out. The breadth of a car door is at least 1.5 metres. The rule of thumb for passing a vehicle is a car door plus a little bit more.

    Keep your brakes covered
    Keep your hands on your brake levers, so that you are ready to use them. Always use both brakes at the same time and take extra care when it is wet or icy.

    Be seen and heard
    Wear hi-visibility clothing, especially in poor light or bad weather. By law you must use a white front and red rear light on your bike at night. A red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors must also be used for bikes manufactured after 1/10/85. In the day time, bright or fluorescent colours are best, while reflective materials work well at night.

    Nottingham has miles and miles of safe roads and cycle ways but they are nearly all shared in some way with pedestrians, so bells are essential for everyone’s safety in order to warn people of an approach.

    Wear a helmet
    Whilst it is not against the law in the UK to cycle without a helmet, it is a proven way of reducing the risk and severity of injury following an accident. Although a good quality helmet is designed to withstand head-on impacts of no more than 13mph, cyclists who choose not to wear one are risking a serious head injury, as a helmet cushions any blow to the head caused by a fall or minor impact. An investment of as little as £10 could save your life.

    Bumps, cracks and potholes
    Unfortunately the road surfaces we cycle on are not always as perfect as we would like. Wear, tear, extreme weather and road accidents can result in uneven road surfaces and potholes. The best advice is to keep an eye on the road ahead and navigate around any dangers. Remember, sudden swerving could avoid a pothole but put you into the path of traffic, so slow your speed and indicate if you are changing position.

    Pay particular attention in wet weather as puddles can hide potholes, masking the real danger beneath. You can report any road defects to the councils. Nottingham City Council has an online reporting system – just fill out a form and they’ll do the rest.

    For any troubles you’ve had while out in the County you can call the Nottingham County Council customer service centre on 08449 808080 or you can fill out a form and follow the simple instructions.

    Tram tracks
    Many accidents do occur around the tram tracks so here are some things to bear in mind to ensure your safety:
    • Be aware, take care around trams and tram tracks, especially when wet
    • Think ahead and signal early
    • Keep wheels out of the grooves
    • Cross tracks, where possible, at an angle greater than 30 degrees.
    • Keep control with both hands on the handle bars whilst crossing the tracks
    • Don’t gamble, wait for a green light at crossings
    • Concentrate at all times.

    For more information see the Tram Safety for Cyclists video.

    Be prepared
    Here’s a useful list of things you might need when you’re out and about on your bike:
    • Cagoule or waterproof
    • Extra jumper/ something warm
    • Basic bike repair kit
    • Water
    • Sun protection
    • Sunglasses
    • Mobile phone
    • Lights for when it gets dark
    • Bike lock
    • A small amount of money
    • Bike pump
    • Cycle helmet
    • Bicycle clips

    Don’t forget that Ridewise offer training and advice on safer cycling in Nottingham.

    For more advice on road safety read the Derbyshire Police top tips page for cyclists.

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