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Cycling safety

The number of cyclists injured has increased in recent years.  Around 75% of fatal or serious accidents happen in urban areas.  Around three quarters of cyclists killed die from major head injuries.

Cycling safety

The roads can be a safer place if cyclists, motorists and pedestrians take greater care on the roads and look out for each other.

Cyclists

  • Obey traffic laws and stop at red lights.
  • Where possible, use designated cycle paths, but do not ride on pavements that are not marked for cyclists.
  • Always cycle in the same direction of traffic.
  • Keep a wide distance between moving and parked cars.  Be wary that parked cars may move off or open doors without warning.
  • Stay back behind lorries or larger vehicles.  They may not be able to see you if you are in their blind spot.
  • Use appropriate hand signals to warn other road users of your intention to turn left or right.
  • Use a bell to alert other road users and pedestrians of your presence.
  • Try to make eye contact with motorists to let them know you have seen them
  • When riding after dusk, you must have white front and red rear lights on.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing in the dark or in poor light so you can be seen by other road users.
  • Do not use a mobile phone or other device while cycling.  It is also a good idea to not wear headphones.
  • We always advise that you to wear a cycle helmet.  Children especially should wear a helmet.  It could save your life.

Motorists

  • Look out for cyclists, especially when turning
  • Make eye contact with cyclists to let them know you have seen them.
  • Use your indicators to signal your intentions when turning.
  • Give cyclists plenty of room when overtaking.  If there isn’t enough room, keep well back until it is appropriate to do so.
  • When parked, check for cyclists before you open your door.
  • Do not enter the advanced stop line at traffic lights (see below).

Pedestrians

  • Look out for cyclists when crossing the road.
  • If crossing the road behind parked buses, be aware that cyclists may be overtaking them

Bicycle safety check

Keep your bicycle in good condition.  It could help in preventing accidents.  Here is our advice:

  • Handlebar alignment: Hold the front tyre between your knees and turn gently.  This is to check that the handlebar stem is aligned with the front wheel and tightened.
  • Bell: fit one if not already supplied and check it is in good working order.
  • Saddle: Check that the ‘minimum insertion’ marker is not visible above the seat tube. Try to rock the saddle in different directions to check that it is fitted securely and check that the saddle is straight and level.
  • Wheels: Check fittings are tight and that axle nuts are tightened.
  • Tyre wear: ensure that tyres are not split or cracked and that there is tread remaining on the tyre.
  • Tyre pressure: Check that each tyre is firmly inflated to the recommended pressure (as shown on your tyre).
  • Rims and spokes: Check for any defects, and spin the wheel to check that it runs true.
  • Brakes: Check the angle of handle bar sited levers and that you can reach them.
  • Brake blocks: Check that blocks are in the correct position and not worn beyond the wear indicators
  • Brake cables: Check that cables are not frayed or corroded. The best way to check your front brake is to apply the brake and try to push your bike forward. Rear brakes: apply the brakes and try to move the bike backwards
  • Gears and transmission: Check that the chain is lubricated, not rusted and does not easily come off the front chain wheel. Check that you can select each gear.
  • Derailleur position: Ensure that the rear derailleur does not interfere with the spokes
  • Fittings: Check that all extra items such as lights, reflectors, baskets, racks and mudguards, are secured, clean and cannot catch in moving parts

Bicycle security

See our dedicated section on bicycle security for advice on locks and chains

Go to our bicycle security page.

Property registration and marking

We recommend that you mark and register your bicycle.  You can register your property FOR FREE using Immobilise, or The Bike Register.  These are national, police approved databases.  

Also consider signage or stickers for your bike to let thieves know your bicycle is property marked.  This will act as an extra deterrent. 

See our property registration and marking page for more details.

Cycling offences

There are many offences relating to the use of pedal cycles.  These include:

  • cycling on a footpath
  • not having lights fitted
  • not maintaining lamp reflectors
  • not illuminating position lamps
  • carrying more than one person
  • failing to stop when directed by a police constable/traffic warden
  • disobeying a traffic direction given by a police constable/traffic warden
  • disobeying traffic sign/road markings

It is also an offence to not be in control of a bicycle due to being unfit through drink or drugs and to be in charge of a cycle whilst drunk.

Advanced stop lines (ASLs)

Advanced stop lines (ASLs) are areas near some signal controlled junctions to provide extra safety for cyclist.  They allow cyclists to be more visible to motorists and give them more room once moving off.

Advice for motorists, including motorcyclists:

  • You must stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red.
  • You should also avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked.
  • You should not enter the ASL box when the light is red.  This space is for cyclists.
  • Crossing the first or second ASL line when the light is red can endanger vulnerable road users.  You will be liable for a £100 fixed penalty and three points on your licence if you enter.
  • If the traffic light changes from green to amber and you cannot safely stop before the first stop line, you may cross the line but must stop before the second stop line (Highway Code rule 178).

More help and support

THINK
think.direct.gov.uk/cycling

Related Documents & Further Reading

16 Nov 18 9:25 AM

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