Cycling safely – a rider’s perspective
Published 21 March 2023
Last updated 21 March 2023
In this post, guest blogger Ben talks about what it’s like to ride on the UK’s roads from a cyclist’s point of view.
As someone who spends a lot of time cycling (yes, even at this time of year!), I thought I'd share some advice on how to stay safe and enjoy cycling to the fullest.
There are a lot of challenges that cyclists face, but with the right mindset, you can navigate them like a pro.
The relationship between cyclists and motorists
The majority of drivers treat cyclists well and give us the time and space we need. But some drivers can be impatient and this can cause dangerous situations. For example, when they pass too closely, overtake on bends or turn across our path at junctions. Cyclists, like car drivers, can also make mistakes. This in turn places a large amount of responsibility on other road users – especially if they end up trying to guess what we’re about to do next.
Tips for Staying Safe
So, what can you do to stay safe? Here are some top tips:
- Follow the Highway Code rules and advice for cyclists.
- Think about your attitude. Remember that road safety is the responsibility of all road users – not just drivers. So, stay aware of how you’re riding. If the behaviour of a motorist upsets you, stay calm. And if you need to, stop and give yourself time to recover before continuing with your journey.
- Make sure you’re visible to other road users. Wear bright clothing, use lights your bike, and signal your turns and movements clearly and in good time. This will help drivers see you and anticipate your movements, reducing the risk of incidents.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Scan the road ahead and to the sides of you. Look out for potential hazards such as potholes, turning vehicles, debris, or parked cars. Good observation is important– if you can’t see and understand what’s going on, you’ll find it very difficult to respond to developing hazards. For that reason, avoid wearing headphones or using your phone while cycling, as they’ll take your attention away from the road
- It can be difficult to navigate busy junctions or roundabouts safely. To stay safe in these situations, it's important to know how to position yourself and when to signal your intentions to other road users. You can find out more about these important techniques by reading Cyclecraft.
Hierarchy of road users
The latest Highway Code features a new “hierarchy of roads users” that places ‘those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.’
Pedestrians are at the top, because their lack of protection makes them extremely vulnerable in an incident. Next, we have cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. Below that we have car and van drivers, and that leaves us with bus and lorry drivers at the bottom.
The lower you are in the hierarchy, the more harm you and your vehicle can cause. But that does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly – and remember that, as a cyclist, pedestrians are higher up the hierarchy than you.
So, if you’re a driver, please give us cyclists plenty of room. Most of wouldn’t dream of behaving like this, but please don’t honk your horn or rev your engine aggressively. Be extra careful of cyclists at junctions, traffic lights and roundabouts. You may not expect to see us or understand which way we’re going, which could spell a whole lot of danger.
And if you’re a cyclist, then using the roads safely is equally important. Make frequent observations, only change your position when you’ve made your intentions clear, and always respect other road users.
Enjoy your cycling...
Cycling can yoube a fun and rewarding way to get around, but it's important to stay vigilant and take precautions to keep safe on the road.
By following my tips and staying aware of your surroundings, you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of cycling without putting yourself at unnecessary risk. And we can share the road happily with other road users.
Stay safe out there, and happy cycling!
To learn more about safe cycling and driving near vulnerable road users, whizz over to the Safe Driving for Life Shop and pick up copies of:
You can also visit the TSO Shop and bag a copy of Cyclecraft – the complete guide to safe cycling for adults and children.