Exploring London by bike is one of the very best ways of discovering this beautiful and historic city. It is also a perfect option for anyone commuting to work from the outskirts of the city, a great way to keep fit and active as well as avoiding the capital’s high travel costs!
But as any keen cyclists will know, travelling through the city by bike can be a little stressful or even dangerous if you’re not prepared. Below are five vital tips to ensure that you remain safe when on London’s busy roads.
If you can’t see them, they can’t see you!
Remember, if you are unable to see the driver or their mirrors, then they won’t be able to see you either. This is particularly important at traffic lights and when you are sharing the road with large vehicles like buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). According a cycle claims specialist, around 80% of cycling fatalities are caused by HGVs turning left at a junction and colliding with a cyclist.
At traffic lights you could be in a driver’s blind spot. If you are directly in front of a HGV, then it is very difficult for the driver to see you. Make sure you move further forward so they are aware that you’re there.
Pay attention at junctions
Junctions are where most accidents occur as traffic constantly switches lanes and changes speeds so paying attention is essential. Cyclists should ensure that they aren’t boxed in when moving through traffic to ensure that they are trapped between vehicles. As above, this is particularly important when surrounded by larger vehicles. HGVs may have to complete a wide turn to get around a corner, so although they may seem to be heading straight ahead, be aware that they could turn left even if they are in the middle lane.
One of the best ways of assessing any potential danger is keeping an eye on other drivers. This lets you know whether they have spotted you and it can also give you a clue as to what they plan to do next, whether they are preparing to turn or change lanes.
Also, don’t be tempted to just follow the cyclist in front. They may not be making the correct decision and you may be in a better position to assess the situation before you are able to safely proceed.
Keep away from the edge of the road
This tip might seem a little strange but any experienced road cyclist will know that it is always best to assume that pedestrians or parked cars haven’t spotted you. Drivers or passengers in parked cars suddenly opening car doors is one of the most common causes of cycling accidents. This can cause a serous crash and put you at risk of colliding with other traffic in the road or vehicles traveling behind you.
If you anticipate that the unexpected could happen then you increase your chances of staying safe on the road. The best way to do this is to ensure that you keep at least a metre from parked cars at all times so you have plenty of space to avoid potential hazards.
Be aware of your surroundings
When cycling through hectic city streets it can pay to look further ahead than your immediate vicinity. The earlier you spot a hazard or danger up ahead, the more time you will have to adjust or avoid it. Anticipation is one of the key ways of staying safe whilst cycling through London’s streets.
This also means that headphones are a bad idea! Although it might provide a bit of motivation during your morning commute, music can distract you and prevent you from hearing when vehicles are approaching.
Planning your route can keep you safe
The cycle superhighways have transformed cycling in London and you are now safer than ever when you head onto the capital’s roads. The network is now one of the very best in the world and covers almost the whole city.
These routes are incredibly popular with the city’s cycling community, especially during the notoriously busy rush hour. On some of the busiest cycle routes, each day thousands of riders enjoy a far safer riding experience than ever before.
The superhighways keep you away from motorized traffic and dramatically reduce the chance of accidents. Being aware of routes that include these lanes rather than relying on the road ensures you remain safe. The information you need to help plan your route is readily available online and through a range of easy to use apps so you will know exactly where you are supposed to be headed and arrive safely!