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Road safety for cyclists

People cycling in the city

If you follow some simple road safety advice the roads don’t have to be a dangerous place to cycle.

Many people say they are put off cycling because they don’t like the idea of cycling in traffic, but many cyclists use busy roads every day without any problems. That’s because they cycle safely and make sure drivers know they’re there. Once you know the basics of road cycling, you can start to enjoy using a bike for everyday journeys to work, school or to visit friends.

Tips for cycling on roads

1. Cycling safely

  • Follow the Highway Code – don’t jump red lights and don’t cycle on the pavement unless it’s a designated cycle path;
  • In wet weather watch your speed as surfaces may be slippery and it will take you longer to stop;
  • Ride positively, decisively, and well clear of the kerb;
  • Consider wearing a helmet;
  • Keep your bike roadworthy.

2. Make sure motorists can see you

  • Ride in a position where you can see and be seen;
  • Use lights and consider wearing bright or reflective clothing, especially in towns, at night and in bad weather;
  • Make eye contact with other road users, especially at junctions, then you know they’ve seen you;
  • Signal clearly at all times;
  • Use your bell - not all pedestrians can see you.

3. Be aware of vehicles

Many collisions occur when a cyclist is on the inside of a vehicle which is turning left. Don’t assume the vehicle is going straight ahead just because it isn’t signalling left. Always avoid ‘undertaking’ any vehicle in this situation – it’s better to hang back until the vehicle has moved off.

Never cycle along the inside of large vehicles, such as lorries and buses, especially at junctions, where most accidents happen.

When turning left, a lorry will often pull out to the right first, creating a wide gap between the vehicle and the kerb. Many cyclists think it’s safe to ride into this space, but this is a dangerous place to be as the gap quickly disappears when the lorry swings around to the left.

Cycle training

Cycle training is a good option if you are new to cycling or haven't cycled for a while. It will help you develop skills and increase your confidence to tackle busier routes. To find out about local courses, phone the National Cycle Training Helpline on 0844 736 8460/8461. 

Tips for motorists

To make roads as safe as they can be, motorists need to be aware of cyclists too:

  • When turning left watch for cyclists coming up on your near side and don’t cut them up;
  • Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking;
  • At night, dip your headlights when approaching cyclists;
  • In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery.

Remember, cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respecting all road users helps everyone to benefit from travelling by road.

Read about how to start commuting by bike.

Find out how to keep your bike in tip top condition.

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