By Sam Whalley
Over the past decade, the number of car fatalities has decreased by 23%, but cyclist fatalities have remained stable. In Europe, 9% of all road fatalities are cyclists, with the majority of these being on urban roads and, as such, cyclists must take all the precautions possible to avoid injury.
As an adult in Europe, there are no legal requirements to wear a helmet while riding a bike, but it is strongly advised. A bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by more than 50%, making it the best line of defence should you have an accident. When choosing a helmet, you should make sure that is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations.
Further recommended equipment includes having a white light at the front of your bike and red light at the back, which helps to make you visible to other road users. In the UK, it is a legal requirement for the front and rear lights on a bike to be clean, lit and working properly if you are cycling between sunset and sunrise.
Study the highway code
Following the highway code, including road priorities, is a key way to ensure that you are as safe as possible when cycling. This can include choosing the most suitable riding position for each point in your journey. For example, when riding on quiet roads, in slow-moving traffic or when approaching junctions, you should ride in the centre of the lane but when riding on busy roads with fast-moving vehicles you should be sure to stay at least 0.5 metres away from the kerb edge.
If you are hit by a car but did not take proper precautions, it may affect your ability to receive compensation from a brain injury solicitor.
Hazard perception is as important for cyclists as it is for motor vehicle drivers. While cycling, you are likely to come across a range of hazards including swerving vehicles, pedestrians or animals walking out onto the road and drivers opening their car doors. Being aware of your surroundings and watching for potential dangers will reduce the risk of you having an accident.
Make your presence known
As a cyclist, you want other road users to know that you are there at all times, whether through sight or sound. As such, ensuring that you have a working bell, are wearing hi-vis clothing and have working lights on your bike are key safety tips.
Studies have found that most cyclists notably overestimate the distance at which they are visible to motorists, as well as false ideas about which clothing would enhance their visibility. During dark hours, many cyclists assume that their bicycle light is enough to alert drivers of their presence, but studies have shown that ankle and knee reflectors significantly enhance bicyclist conspicuity at night.
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