How To Cycle Safely In A City
Cycling is a great way to get around town. Watch VideoJug's tips on how to cycle safely in a city to show you how to be as safe as possible on your bike.
Step 1: You will need
- set of lights
- tyre pump
- bike lock
- reflective clothing if you are likely to be cycling in the dark
Step 2: Before you set off
If you decide to wear a cycle helmet, check that it carries a sticker indicating that it meets British Safety Standards. It should not cover your ears or obstruct your vision, and must be a snug fit. Wear your helmet squarely on your head, not tilted backwards or forwards. The straps should be securely fastened with only enough room for two fingers between the straps and your chin.
Many people also like to wear bright or reflective clothing to make them more visible to traffic.
It's important that you are fully aware of what is happening around you, so you should never wear headphones while cycling.
Step 3: Plan your route
Take a few minutes to plan your route before you set off. Your local authority should be able to provide details of cycle routes in your area. In London, check www.tfl.gov.uk. Watch VJ's "How To Find A Good Cycle Route" for more on this.
If you need to check your map on the way, get off the road and dismount before pulling your map out. Never try to look at your map while stopped at traffic lights or a junction.
Step 4: On the road
Particularly in busy areas it's important to cycle in a position that will make you visible to other road users. Be assertive in your use of the road, and occupy the lane you're in. Resist the temptation to hide away next to the kerb: this will make you less visible to other road users and give you less room to manouevre in an emergency. You will need to gauge each situation individually, but a good position is normally about one metre from the centre of the lane.
Always signal your intentions clearly, indicating at turnings and junctions. When approaching cars waiting to turn into your lane, try and make eye contact with the driver as you approach. This will ensure they register your presence. If you haven't made eye contact with a driver, assume they haven't seen you.
Step 5: Lorries
Large vehicles have larger blind spots than other vehicles, and cyclists should treat them with extreme caution. If you find yourself cycling in front of a lorry, you should position yourself so that you are as visible as possible - even if that means cycling directly in front of him. If you are cycling behind a lorry, then make sure you can see his mirrors - this means he will be able to see you - and keep your distance. If you need to pass a lorry you should always pass on the outside - nearest to the middle of the road. Never be tempted to slip through on the inside as a left-turning lorry could easily cut across you without knowing. Also remember that a large vehicle turning left will often pull right first in order to give himself room to manouvre. Don't mistake this as an opportunity for you to nip through on the left. You would be safer to keep back and let the lorry manouvre before moving on.
Step 6: At junctions
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 75% of cycling accidents take place at or near junctions. Always be on your guard when approaching a junction, and assume that other drivers have not seen you. Some junctions use "feeder" lanes to allow cyclists to overtake on the nearside kerb. It is not compulsory to use these, and you should always do so with caution. If using a feeder lane means passing a lorry on the inside, you would be safer to ignore it and instead position yourself well behind the lorry where you can see his mirrors. Often when approaching a junction it is safest to "take the lane": position yourself in the centre of the lane as if you were a car, leaving no room for a vehicle to pull alongside you.
Step 7: Filtering
One of the chief benefits of cycling in a city is the ability to filter through queues of traffic and skip to the front. As a general rule it's best to filter on the outside of the traffic - on the