Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about the much publicised accident involving a US government official and a French kerb. Secretary of State John Kerry suffered a broken femur after falling off his bike last month, in what could only be described as an unfortunate accident, and possibly the most publicised argument between cyclist and pavement for some time! Fortunately the secretary, 71, was not severely injured (although a femur break is no walk in the park!) and returned home a few days later after being patched up in a Swiss hospital. This accident highlighted how even one of the most powerful men in the world can still come off worse against a fight with a kerb.
If you’re an experienced cyclist, you’re well aware of the perils of the road – drivers not looking out for you, wet weather, potholes that are a little too deep, the list goes on and on. However a little extra planning before your journey as well as a defensive attitude goes a long way in helping to keep you safe on the roads. So here are 7 top tips for safer cycling.
Properly maintained bike
If your brakes are not working correctly, that’s an obvious danger, however if your gears are slipping that can cause you to unbalance and fall off which you don’t want happening when riding in traffic.
Do not undertake large vehicles at a junction, even if it is stationary, as many have blind spots. Out of any tip this is the most important and the one most likely to save lives.
Slow and steady
Take your time, if you sense danger in a situation pause for thought before proceeding. For instance if you are approaching a large roundabout that’s very busy and you don’t feel comfortable, get off your bike and push in on the pavement until you are past the roundabout and feel more comfortable riding.
Plan your journey
Planning helps avoid accidents. Wherever you are have a look on a map for the quieter roads. Even if it means a slightly longer journey, it makes for a much more pleasant ride as well as being safer.
Keep away from the kerb!
If you hog the kerb you are inviting vehicles to pass you without making an overtaking procedure. If a driver makes an overtaking procedure they will inevitably give you more room. Riding a metre away from the kerb will mean you hit fewer potholes and makes sure you are much more visible to car drivers.
Bright fluorescent jackets are the best way to be seen, as are panniers with reflective strips. Lights should be as blindingly bright as possible. Always carry some spare batteries in case they run out. Just remember – if a driver sees you they won’t hit you.
Don’t be afraid to annoy a driver
If a driver is annoyed at you, he can see you. By all means don’t antagonise them, but make sure they have to make a conscious effort to avoid you. Don’t move over trying to be polite and put yourself at risk – if someone is late by a few seconds it’s not the end of the world.