As you may be aware, London’s road have hit the headlines in recent weeks due to the disproportionately large number of cyclists being involved in accidents along the city’s roads and bike paths. Six such accidents in the past two weeks have proved fatal, leading many to call for an overhaul of London’s cycle lanes and driver laws when passing cyclists.
While this is obviously a serious problem that needs to be tackled on an institutional scale, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so we’ve provided a few tips for making sure you can get around urban areas safely and effectively – taking the current law of the road into consideration. Take a look below for a refresher of the Highway Code (the full version of which can be found here) and some advice from the Department of Transport.
To protect your body, you should of course always wear a securely-fastened helmet and clothes which will not dangle or catch in the bike’s mechanism. You absolutely must be visible while you’re on your bicycle – even if you’re riding through the most brightly lit part of your area.
By law you’re required to have a white headlight fixed to the front of your bike, and a red one at the back. You could also invest in wheel lights, or even the impressive new laser taillights which create two parallel lines, one either side of your bike, to deter traffic from getting too close. Alongside lights, you should also have a reflective surface on your body, such as a torso strap which can be wrapped around your arms and even a backpack.
Making your way around an urban environment by bike isn’t always easy; there aren’t any bridleways to slip down, and often you’re instead stuck in the cycle lane alongside buses, taxis and speeding cars. You should always be careful on cycle lanes, especially when joining and leaving them, to make sure that it is safe to do so without collision – even on roads you are familiar with. Always be prepared to slow down if necessary and look out for buses which may pull over into a stop.
Remember that cycling on the pavement is not permitted by law, and can cause serious risk to you and the people around you. The only exception is a market cycle path on an on-pavement cycle lane, so always check that this is present before joining the pavement. If for some reason you cannot cycle on the road, you should get off and push your bike to the next point of your journey where you feel comfortable joining.
The law prohibits high-risk behaviour on bicycles such as carrying second passengers (unless your bike is built to do so), holding on to other vehicles while cycling or riding which under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, there are other behavioural concerns which can be just as dangerous, and should be avoided.
You should never ride more than two abreast, and particularly on busy roads you should always cycle in single file to ensure all riders have room. Be aware of your surroundings, including the proximity of the traffic around you and any potential obstructions or pedestrians ahead of you – and if you’re ever uncomfortable which cycling, simply leave the road and walk your bike until you are ready to cycle again.