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Top ten tips for cycling in traffic

Julie Rand's picture
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In today's busy road conditions, what you may have learned years ago in the playground for your Cycling Proficiency badge just doesn't cut it. Update your cycling skills with our top ten tips.
A cycle commuter keeps an eye on overtaking traffic
Keep your eyes peeled when riding in traffic

Don’t hide on the inside

Never undertake a lorry on the left hand side, especially if you are at a junction.

Don’t do this even if there is a cycle lane and an advanced stop line tempting you to sneak through to the front of a queue of traffic. Remember, you are in the driver’s blind spot and if the vehicle turns, you will have no escape. Far better to wait a few seconds behind the HGV than risk being crushed.

If you must overtake, do it on the right and allow plenty of room for unexpected movements. Also beware of oncoming traffic and be prepared to move back in if something is coming the other way.

The eyes have it

Making eye contact with other road users, particularly at junctions, side roads and on roundabouts, may tell you if the driver has seen you or not. Develop 360 degree vision and scan the road surface continuously for defects such as potholes.

Look over your shoulder

Regularly look behind to see what is happening all around. Checking behind when moving into or away from the kerb; before you signal to manoeuvre; and at regular intervals whilst riding along enables you to create a snapshot in your head of road conditions at any particular moment; it also allows you to signal to other road users that you are part of the flow of traffic, not separate from it.

Look ahead

Look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, potholes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Planning ahead helps you to be prepared for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

Get out of the gutter!

Your road position should not be less than 1 metre from the kerb and should be even further out if it is not safe for a vehicle to pass. If someone does pass you inconsiderately, you have more room to get out of harm’s way.

Keeping away from the gutter will also enable drivers to see you and help you miss the drain covers and debris on the side of the road, too. Take extra care near road humps and other traffic-calming features that may direct you back into the kerb where drivers will attempt to squeeze past.

Don’t be floored by car doors

Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened into your path.

Check behind first and then move out. If it is too narrow to move out, scan the vehicles to see if anybody is about to fling open a car door or pull out into your path.

Make your intentions clear

Check behind, signal and manoeuvre well in advance, and only when it is safe to do so. If it’s safer, keep your hands on the handlebar and brake levers rather than signalling. Keep your position in your lane so vehicles cannot undertake closely on your left.

Cover your brakes

Keep your hands on your brake levers, so that you are ready to use them. Always use both brakes at the same time and apply pressure evenly. Take extra care when it is wet or icy, or there are damp leaves on the ground.

Lighten up

By law, when it's dark or there is bad visibility, you must have lights on the front and rear of your bike. Always carry spare small lights in case your main lights are not working.

Cycle Training

From beginner to experienced cyclist, you can benefit from professional cycle training. Find out more about cycling safely in today’s road conditions by contacting your local instructor.

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