Tips to minimise the risk of accidents while cycling

Long days, fine weather and time to get out and explore mean that summer is a popular time of year to go cycling in the United Kingdom. So, what should people do to minimise the risk being involved in an accident?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Your Legal Friend which did not review or approve the article.

Risk of cycling death and injury

It’s comforting to know that it’s rare for cyclists in the UK to suffer from fatal accidents. Using data collected between 2012 and 2016, Cycling UK, an organisation that promotes cycling, has calculated that an average of approximately 9.4 million bicycle journeys are undertaken per death among cyclists. Nonetheless, a total of 102 cyclists were killed in 2016.

I’m probably not along in thinking that the UK’s roads sometimes seem dangerous while sitting on a bike. Cycling during rush hour on London’s Tottenham Court Road was a miserable experience. It involved inhaling exhaust fumes. Slow-moving traffic passed uncomfortably close to me. Yet the feeling of freedom while wheeling along on country and coastal tracks makes getting out on a bicycle worthwhile.

Cycling UK has calculated that between 2006 and 2016 the number of cyclist deaths per billion miles cycled has fallen from over 50 to around 30. However, over the same period, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured for every billion miles cycled has risen from under 900 to more than 1,000.

So, what does that mean in terms of the number of people hurt? In 2016 3,397 cyclists were seriously injured while 14,978 people recorded slight injuries while cycling.

See the Your Legal Friend website for information relating to bicycle accidents and cycle crash claims.

Sign for a cycle path at Tynemouth in the north-east of England.
Sign for a cycle path at Tynemouth in the north-east of England.

Tips to minimise the risk of accidents while cycling

Check your bicycle is fully functional before taking using it. That means checking the brakes, lights and that nothing is loose. If required, take the bike to be serviced before you use it.

Make sure that you are using a bicycle that is the right size for you. Take time to adapt the height of the seat and handlebar before setting off.

Ride considerately and carefully.

  • No right-thinking citizen likes seeing cyclists tear through red lights or speeding over pedestrian crossings.
  • Riding carefully and keeping a lookout for obstacles and risks helps minimise the likelihood of collisions.

Make sure you are in a fit state to cycle.

  • Cycling after drinking alcohol or using drugs increases the risk of having an accident. Consuming either tends to result in people having slower reactions.
  • Consequently, that may mean a cyclist is unable to brake in a timely manner. It could also mean being less able to steer around an obstacle.
  • Many cyclists are unaware that they can be charged with the offence of cycling under the influence of drink or drugs.
  • Stay properly hydrated and energised while cycling by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluid and eating sensibly.

I avoid using earphones while in public spaces. so that I can hear things around me.

I like to wear a brightly coloured top while cycling, to increase my visibility, and a helmet, just in case I do come off my bike.

Hopefully you’ll enjoy a fulfilling and safe summer of cycling.

Should the UK be more like the Netherlands in having more cycle paths? A bicycle parked by a wall in Leeuwarden.
Should the UK be more like the Netherlands in having more cycle paths? A bicycle parked by a wall in Leeuwarden.

Getting out on your bicycle

Cycling UK’s website includes information about local groups and cycling clubs, advice for cyclists and routes.

Looking to get out on your bicycle in the north of England? For information about riding across the country, between the Irish Sea and North Sea, view the Coast to Coast Cycle Route website.

A sign for Tanfield Railway Path in the north-east of England. The track is a bridle path and cycle way.
A sign for Tanfield Railway Path in the north-east of England. The track is a used by cyclists and horse riders.

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