Around 43% of people in Great Britain own bicycles and about 8% (or 3 million people) cycle to work three times or more per week, reveals the CTC (the National Cycling Charity). CTC stats also indicate that more and more people are taking to the roads on their bicycles – in total UK cyclists clocked 5 billion kilometres in 2011. With so many bikes on the streets it is little wonder that cycling safety is becoming so important.
But is it Safe?
Sticking with the stats available it seems that cycling in Britain is a pretty safe mode of transportation; “there are roughly 300 years cycled for each cycle death”. The level of safety also seems to be improving with CTC indicating that it was 37% safer to use a bicycle in 2010 than it was in 2002 (per mile travelled).
Of course cycling safety depends on a number of factors: the cyclists themselves, the other road users and even the weather. While it’s impossible to control what other cyclists, bikers and motorists do and no one can manage the weather, each individual cyclist can do much to improve his or her safety while on the road.
Taking Your Safety into Your Own Hands
According to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) the most common causes of cycling accidents are:
- Motorist emerging into path of cyclist
- Motorist turning across path of cyclist
- Cyclist riding into the path of a motor vehicle, often riding off a pavement
- Cyclist and motorist going straight ahead
- Cyclist turning right from a major road and from a minor road
- Child cyclist playing or riding too fast
Dan Joyce & John Whitney compiled a list of great cycling safety tips for Bikeradar that will go a long way towards reducing exactly these kinds of accidents.
Tips to Keep You Moving
John Franklin, author of Cyclecraft, told the gentlemen that “Cyclists need to learn how to influence others on the road. That’s largely determined by how and where you ride on the road. What you try to do is ride in a way that deters other people from starting to put you at risk”. He advises that cyclists position themselves in the centre of a line, as opposed to skirting the pavement, forcing motorists and bikers to notice them as another road user.
Making sure you’re visible to other road users also includes using reflective disks on your bicycle as well as wearing high visibility clothing when cycling in low light conditions.
As long as you obey the road rules, position yourself properly and ensure that you’re visible to motorists there’s no reason not to start peddling!