Following last week’s bike train and Brompton bike hire initiatives by Better Bankside, we are looking into how to cycle safely in London. Today’s blog will explore some of the concerns held by cycling commuters, as well as offer tips and guidance.
Cycling to the office is great exercise and highly beneficial for the environment. So, whether you are new to biking in London or a seasoned rider lacking confidence after lockdown, our guide can help to both educate or refresh your knowledge.
1. Wear a bike helmet
Yes, it may mess up your hair, but studies have shown that wearing a cycle helmet can reduce the risk of serious (or even fatal) head injuries by up to 70%! That is definitely worth a few misplaced locks. When selecting a bike helmet, ensure that it fits comfortably and is suited to your style of riding. If you use an e-bike, a more robust helmet may be sensible due to the potential for increased speeds.
2. Be visible when cycling on the road
You may be a vigilant rider, but you cannot account for the vigilance of those around you. Therefore, taking steps to be seen is a sensible safety precaution. You can:
Use bike lights
Using lights, both front and rear, when riding at night will obviously improve how visible you are (not to mention, riding at night without lights is an offence). However, studies have also shown that using lights in the day could reduce the risk of collision by up to 20%.
Wear bright colours and/or reflective cycle clothing
If the thought of wearing a hi-vis vest makes you cringe then, at the very least, you should opt for brighter clothing when cycling to ensure you can be seen by drivers. Reflective strips can increase visibility at night and fluorescents are great during the day, as they are enhanced by UV rays.
Use your bell, or your voice
Visibility isn’t limited to the eyes. The ears can also play a part in getting you noticed by pedestrians. A bell can help avoid collisions when approaching walkers or other cyclists from behind. Alternatively, an audible yet polite “excuse me please” or “coming past you on the right”, announces your presence without startling people.
3. Cyclists must follow The Highway Code
Did you know that if you ride your bike on the public highways then you must follow the highway code? Also, being generally mindful of your road positioning and other road users can help to keep you safe.
- Stop for red lights and pedestrian crossings
- Follow all traffic signage
- Use designated cycle lanes where possible
- Signal ahead of manoeuvring
- Travel clockwise at roundabouts
- Take care when overtaking
- Avoid cycling too close to the kerb or gutter
- Ride single file on busy roads
- Be considerate to other road users and pedestrians
- Be aware of the ‘blind spot’ (particularly when near LGVs)
You should not:
- Ride under the influence of drink or drugs
- Cycle on the pavements (unless it has a designated bike lane)
- Hold on to other moving vehicles
- Ride in a careless or dangerous manner
- Carry passengers (unless your bike is built to do so)
- Cycle more than two abreast
- Ride too close to cars or lorries
4. Maintain your two-wheeled vehicle
No matter the make or model of your two-wheeled transportation, maintenance is a key safety factor. Ensure brakes and gears work effectively, tyres are in good condition, lights work, chain is not excessively worn, and, in the case of e-bikes, batteries are secure and functional. As with cars, a regular service can be beneficial in keeping on top of wear and tear and avoiding potentially dangerous issues occurring while on the road. The Dr Bike pop-up bike checks occur regularly in the city, so why not head down for a once-over.
5. Plan and practice your commuter route
We recommend that you plan and practice your commuter route into the office. Learning the roads and getting to know the usual traffic volumes and signage, and identifying potential hazard spots will improve your awareness. Not to mention, a bit of practice and a few time trials could help avoid tardiness at work.
6. Storing your bike securely at work
We actively encourage cycling to our organisations, as the physical and mental health benefits can improve your professional performance and wellbeing at work. To support this, the CAN Mezzanine office spaces are fully equipped with areas for secure and non-obstructive bike storage. Plus, wash facilities are available where you are welcome to freshen up after your commute. However, your safety is our main concern. So, dress the part, look after your wheels, follow the rules of the road, and we look forward to seeing you soon!