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Staying Safe On Two Wheels
- AuthorRebecca Bennett
Whilst cycling is one of the healthiest activities you can adopt, it isn’t without risk, and JCP has helped a number of clients who have had serious accidents on two wheels, due to the fault of another road user. Rebecca Bennett is an Associate Solicitor from our Injury Services Team and a seasoned, podium winning triathlete. Rebecca who won her age group at Ironman Wales 2017 and qualified for the 2018 Hawaii World Championships, shares some savvy bike safety advice to help her fellow cyclists stay vigilant to potentially risky situations.
“The Department of Transport’s Road Safety Statistics show that while the number of cycling deaths has been on a downward trajectory for some time, cycling injuries are rising and they are getting nastier. In fact, serious cycling injuries have risen in nine out of the past ten years. So it pays to be aware of the dangers and to do everything you can to safeguard yourself. Here is my advice for staying safe in the saddle.”
Turn your attention to your safety as a cyclist long before you leave the house, by making sure your bike is well–maintained and regularly serviced. Invest in reflective gear if you intend to ride in poor light, make sure your lights and reflectors are visible and in good working order, and take your mobile phone in case of any accident or mechanical breakdown.
Wear a quality helmet
Cycle helmets save lives, so investing in a well-fitting helmet should be top of your list. Children and teenagers should always wear them and be encouraged to do so without self-consciousness. At JCP we specialise in helping those who have suffered from head and brain injuries and we know that serious catastrophic injuries can be caused by cycling accidents, especially when helmets are not worn. Personally, I would like to see a change in the law to make helmets mandatory on the road.
Steer clear of a lorry’s left side
Cyclists are being smarter about not undertaking lorries on the vehicle’s left-hand side, and lorries often sport warning stickers to remind cyclists about this, but it is important to reinforce the message. There has been a spate of recent deaths in city centres due to lorry and bike collisions. If you undertake on the left-hand side of a lorry you will be in the driver’s blind spot, so if they veer toward the gutter, or if they turn left, you will have nowhere to go. Avoid this situation even if there is a cycle lane available to you on the left.
Be car aware
Similarly, be aware of the hazards posed by passing cars and car doors being opened. Give yourself plenty of room for manoeuvre and try to make eye contact with the drivers around you so you know they have spotted you. Make your intentions clear by signalling and looking behind you and around you before you make a move.
Read the road
If you are a driver you will already be in the habit of reading the road ahead, so you can preempt the movements of other drivers and you have plenty of reaction time. This is even more important if you are using the road as a cyclist because you are in a more vulnerable position. As well as cars, junctions and pedestrians, look ahead for drain covers, potholes, gulleys and gutters, speed bumps, debris in the road, parked cars and other cyclists. It is sensible to stay at least a metre from the kerb to give yourself some leeway if a car passes you too close.
Some drivers you share the roads with will be cyclists too, so they will be considerate. However, confrontations on the road can end badly, so always try to avoid these situations by cycling courteously, being aware of and considerate to other road users, making eye contact in a friendly manner and remaining calm in the event of any issues. Even if you feel another road user has behaved badly, keep yourself safe and try to let it go. If you experience some very irresponsible driving that you feel has put you or someone else at risk, call the non-emergency police number, 101 to report it, or do so online: http://bit.ly/2vdauVk
Riding two abreast
This can be a contentious habit and it isn’t always appropriate. However, riding two abreast can encourage motorists to overtake you in a safer fashion – leaving you more space as they pass. However, The Highway Code suggests you shouldn't ride more than two abreast, and only do so if the road is wide enough.
Rebecca is a Medical Negligence Solicitor in the Injury Services team and works closely with the Brain Injury team in South West Wales.
Rebecca wins her Category at Ironman Wales 2017
The "I can't believe what I've just done" face!
Rebecca Bennett takes on Tenby's Long Weekend - Photo credit: Andy Hunter