Cycling should be an activity that everyone is able to enjoy safely; however, cyclists need to be aware of the dangers on the road. After all, 80% of cycling fatalities are caused by Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) turning left at a junction and colliding with a cyclist.
Did you know that 64% of Londoners believe that it is too dangerous to cycle on the city’s street? That’s according to a 2014 survey by the UK’s Department of Transport. However, it doesn’t need to be this way. With improved awareness of some of the dangers that are on the road, cyclists can adapt to ensure that they stay safe.
Cycling has plenty of benefits – it’s a fantastic way to stay fit on your commute into work and it can save a fortune on train fares! This makes it even more of a shame that so many are put off from cycling on a regular basis.
What hazards should I look for?
As mentioned above, HGVs are the biggest dangers for cyclists on the road. This is largely to do with the fact that larger vehicles often have significant blind spots which can make it very difficult for drivers to spot other road users immediately around them. The onus should be on cyclists to make themselves visible to other road users, especially those in larger vehicles. Maintaining eye contact is a good way to start; this shows them that you are aware of their position and, in turn, they will take more notice of you.
When you are waiting at traffic lights, cyclists may want to consider moving further forward so that they are not directly in front of a HGV. This is because the driver usually sits high above the road and may not realize that there is a cyclist directly in front of them.
Similarly, cyclists need to take extra care when they are approaching a junction, even if they are in a designated cycle lane. It may be the case that anther road user is preparing to cross into the cycle lane to make a turn. A bike accident claims specialist explains that it is crucial that cyclists are aware of the movements of any HGVs as they approach a junction. These vehicles have to make a wide turn and it can often seem as though they are planning to carry on straight ahead; however, it is worth keeping a safe distance in case they are preparing to turn as your path will become blocked and you could find yourself in a hazardous position.
Cycle Claim Line adds that although cyclists are less likely to be involved in a collision with an HGV than a car, when this does occur, they are at far greater risk of serious injury or death.
Even if the road appears clear, smart cyclists are still on alert in case an unexpected hazard appears ahead of them. Assertive cyclists ensure that they stay safe as they are able to spot potential dangers quickly with plenty of time to react in an appropriate and safe manner to avoid the hazard. When cycling past parked cars it is wise to maintain a distance of around a metre just in case a pedestrian steps out into the road or a door suddenly opens unexpectedly.
Any cyclists who are concerned about riding amongst heavy traffic can consult a variety of apps and websites, including CycleStreets, to discover new and quieter routes to their destination. This is a great way for newer cyclists to gradually build their confidence before tackling busier routes as they can slowly introduce themselves to less traffic-ridden routes.
It’s important to point out that cycling is a safe activity. The UK’s Department of Transport found that people are more likely to die when walking than cycling! For every billion miles cycled, 31 cyclists were killed whereas 36 pedestrians died over the same distance. Also, four times as many motorcyclists were killed in accidents over that distance. These figures indicate that as long as cyclists ensure that they are assertive and possess the skills and understanding required to cycle safely, then there is no need to be too scared to ride.