The Cycleplan Blog

How to commute safely by bicycle

It really couldn’t get any better for cycling in the UK at the moment with Chris Froome making it three Tour de France titles in four years for Team Sky and it doesn’t look like the nation’s passion for the sport is letting up any time soon. However, with more bicycles emerging on already congested roads, the number of road traffic accidents involving cyclists has also increased.

Safety concerns

According to Government statistics, reported cycling incidences have steadily risen since 2005. In 2009 there were 17,064 bike related casualties; by 2013, that figure had risen to 19,438.

While it’s worth noting that the number of people riding their bikes has significantly increased – the number of people commuting to work by bicycle has jumped by 17% to more than 760,000 in the past decade – it’s important to understand the dangers that present themselves when out cycling, especially if you are new to the road.

When out riding, it really is a case of doing the simple things right to make the biggest difference. Ensure you stick to the following basic cycling safety rules:

  • Keep your bike well maintained
  • Wear visible clothing
  • Fit lights to your bicycle
  • Abide by the rules of the road
  • If you can’t see the mirrors of the car, they can’t see you

Taking the first step

Taking the first step to start cycle commuting can seem initially like a big deal — after all, it’s a fundamental change to your daily routine. But once you get in the groove, the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

Let’s address those possible negatives first. To start with, you might need to leave home a little earlier than normal — at least until you understand how long your cycle commute will take you. The benefit from then on is that travelling by bike is a pretty reliable constant.

You won’t face road delays, full buses, rail strikes, engineering works or any of the other unexpected upsets that come when you put your travel plans in other people’s hands. The only thing that may disrupt a perfect cycle commute is a punctured tyre, but even then there are ways to mitigate this possibility, and changing an inner tube — once you get good at it — shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

The second hurdle in many people’s eyes is they imagine turning up at work hot, sweaty, and in no fit state to do their job. This is easily resolved: your employer should be able to provide you with adequate washing facilities — ideally a shower — so you can spruce yourself up after arriving. Also, you shouldn’t be cycling in the clothes you intend to wear all day.

Our advice is to take a rucksack full of work clothes for the week on a Monday morning and bring them back on a Friday to wash over the weekend.

Another issue to recognise — which ties in with the notion that cycle commuting will leave you worn out — is that your cycle commute will quickly become just part of your daily life, so the amount of sweating you’ll do en-route, and the amount of fatigue it will cause over a week, will reduce significantly. Not only that, but you’ll find yourself arriving at work ready and eager to get cracking with the day.

We suppose there is a last aspect that some people may see as a potential negative, which is safety. Non-cyclists may feel the roads, particularly at rush hour, are dangerous places. In fact, your safety is entirely in your hands.

By wearing hi-vis clothing and a helmet; by fitting decent cycle lights; by riding sensibly; and by searching out quiet or safe routes that you can negotiate with confidence, you drastically reduce any possible risks.

Cycle insurance

Cycle insurance will cover you for personal accidents should you be involved in an incident whilst using a bicycle that results in bodily injury as well as cover for any damage sustained to your bike. But it is still vitally important to abide by the above safety rules if you want to stay safe on the road and part of the cycling surge, instead of becoming another injury statistic.

Get an instant specialised cycle insurance quote today.

For more information on ‘commuting by bicycle’ check out some of our previously written blogs:

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