Cycling is principally a social skill - it's about sharing space with others. The hazards don't come from the roads but from other people. Once this understood you are well on the way to becoming a safer and more confident cyclist.
It is all too easy to be influenced by other road user's actions. Urban cycling is one of the most reliable, healthiest and efficient ways of getting around: smile and be courteous to other road users even when they are not so willing.
Observation and Assumption
The first principals of safer cycling are to observe the urban horizon, and then remain calm when other road users do the unexpected. With training and practice you will soon be able to read the traffic confidently and minimise though surprises.
Bright and reflective clothing are great ideas.
It is well documented that nine out of ten drivers involved in fatal collisions with cyclist say they never saw them. Visibility, then, is vital, especially during the day: according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, far fewer accidents occur at night.
Position in the Road
Your road position is an effective means of communication and contributes to your safety margin. You should ride far enough out from the kerb to avoid drain covers and nasty cambers. There is so much clutter in the gutter. Our training courses provide instruction on which is the most appropriate line to take when negotiating junctions. Allow at least a full door width's clearance between you and parked cars. Drivers have no desire to run into you, so if you make them aware of your existence they are more likely to respect your space.
Making eye contact with drivers will enable you to establish whether or not they have seen you. Often just looking into their eyes is enough to make a pedestrian or driver rethink about making that particular manoeuvre that may be about to cause you concern.
Smooth and Assertive
Cyclists who ride nervously are more likely to be forced into more exposed situations by other road users. Unfortunately, some drivers are more likely to compromise a cyclist or pedestrian if everyone else is doing it.
Learn to ride smoothly and with anticipation so other road users will respect your space and treat you with equal consideration.
However, please remember there is a clear difference between riding aggressively and assertively.
Things to look out for
Pedestrians stepping out into the road without looking.
Vehicles turning left across you - even more serious if it is a bus or truck.
Car doors being opened into your path.
Vehicle creepage at junctions.
Delivery vehicles parked in cycle lanes.
Vehicles doing impromptu U-turns.
Drivers failing to indicate properly leaving everyone guessing.
Four C's to help to CYCLE WELL