10 easy tricks to help you stay safe while you cycle in a city

There aren’t many better ways to explore a city than cycling.

Whether you’re commuting, or just doing it for fun, cycling is a great way to get around, and best of all, if the bike is yours, it’s free!

The only downside is, you have to share the road with a lot of other vehicles and people.

So what can you do to stay safe whilst cycling through the city streets?

We’ve compiled a list of 10 top tips to get you from A to B as quickly and safely as possible.

1. Be brave

If you’re in the heart of a busy city, there are no two ways about it, you’re going to become a victim of congestion at some point. Whatever you do, don’t start swerving around the cycle lane in fear, all that is going to do is put you and others in danger. Make sure you know the Highway Code.

Pick a path and don’t deviate, other cyclists will be able to judge where you’re going, and cars and buses will be able to trust that you won’t be leaving your lane in the blink of an eye.

2. Don’t kerb crawl

No one likes a person that hangs around in the gutter all day. It’s not a great look, and the effects it can have on your tyres can be terrible.

Not only does staying away from the kerb help reduce tyre degradation, it also gives you that little bit more room to manoeuvre should you need to hightail it out of the way of a car that strays too close.

3. Keep your wits about you

Pedalling along to the sound of your favourite song with the sun on your face might sound like heaven, but we’re afraid it’s time to ditch the headphones if you want to stay safe.

When you cycle in the city, the likelihood is, you’ll be surrounded by other cyclists and vehicles for the majority of your journey.

By keeping your eyes and ears open, you can help yourself reduce the chance of an accident.

4. Don’t be an amber gambler

You’re in a rush to get where you need to be, and the light makes the dreaded transition from green to amber, but you put the power down and think you can still make it before the light turns red.

Even if you can, don’t risk it. Gambling at a junction is always a bad idea.

Stay safe, and wait for the next green light, your destination will still be there!

5. Stick to the route

Of course, there will be times when you have to steer away from the beaten track, but when you can you should stick to designated cycle routes and lanes.

An increasing number of cities are rolling out new cycle lanes all the time, so why waste the opportunity to use something that was specifically made for you?!

If you do have to venture away from a cycle lane, make sure you keep your eye out for pedestrians, they can be just as dangerous as cars, and however tempting it may be, do not cycle on the pavements, it’s actually illegal to do so.

6. Take off the blinkers

When you’re cycling in a city it’s not unusual to feel nervous.

The temptation can be to stay rigid and stare at a spot just a few feet from your front wheel.

Don’t get into that habit. Try to keep your head on a swivel and take off the blinkers, they won’t do you any favours.

Staying safe in the city is predominantly a game of anticipation. It’s a constant tax on the brain, with car doors constantly opening, vehicles overtaking you and each other, and pedestrians crossing your path.

The simple way to combat these ever changing factors is to keep your eye out and try to analyse what’s happening around you and look as far ahead as you can.

It can take a little getting used to, but it’s well worth putting the time and effort into practice.

You never know, one day it could save your life.

7. Ride for yourself

This one is more for any beginner riders out there, but many cycling veterans should probably take note too.

When you start out cycling in a city, it can be easy to pull in behind another cyclist and follow their lead.

But this can be dangerous. The cyclist in front could well be much more experienced than you and used to the city streets.

The chances are, they’re paying little to no attention to the person behind them, and there’s also no guarantee that they are a good cyclist.

In this situation, just ride for yourself. Take things at your own pace, make sure you gear up in clothing that you’re comfortable cycling in, and remember, you’re not cycling in the Tour de France, you have nothing to prove.

8. Plan your route

Whether it’s choosing the right clothing to wear, what type of tires you need for the weather that day, when it comes to cycling in a city preparation is key.

But one thing that slips many people’s minds is planning the route to your destination.

Don’t worry, the days of getting out a map of the city are long gone.

Your first port of call should be Google Maps. The app offers great cycling directions, selecting the fastest route to your destination, giving you an estimated time of arrival and the option of street view if you feel like giving the route a closer inspection before you head out.

Another great way of finding fun or fast routes is to check out Strava Heatmaps.

They need updating (the last update was 2015) but they show the most popular routes in your area based on the activity of other cyclists who use the app in your area.

Of course, there is a host of apps that can help you reach your destination, notably Apple’s ‘Maps‘ app, it really comes down to your personal preference.

However, whichever app or map you use, the key thing to take away is the fact that you need to know the route you’re going to cycle before you head out if you want to reduce the risk of a cycling accident.

9. Beware the big vehicle

Far too many cycling injuries still occur as a result of a collision between cyclists and large vehicles.

Whether it’s a lorry or bus you come into contact with, here are some principles to cycle by.

Firstly, never undertake a big vehicle. The majority of big vehicles have blind spots to match, which means that the driver might not even be aware that you are nearby.

Secondly, don’t try to pass a big vehicle near a junction unless you know you will be clear of it before it decides to turn.

10. Keep things locked down

The final tip for staying safe in a city isn’t strictly for while you’re cycling, but it’s just important.

Getting a lock for your bike is essential. Big cities are full of opportunists just waiting for you to leave your bike unattended, so don’t give them the satisfaction.

If you’re not sure what you need to keep your bike safe in the city, or anywhere else for that matter, check out this handy guide.

Conclusion

Of course, even if you do stick to these 10 tips, accidents can still happen.

If you are unlucky and are involved in a cycling accident that you believe wasn’t your fault, please get in touch with us today on 01625 506 672 or fill in our enquiry form and a member of our team of experts in accidents involving cyclists will get in touch to talk you through your potential compensation claim.