Rarely a day goes by when someone doesn’t ask me if I’m mad to cycle around London. But when there are Tube strikes underway and traffic jams in every direction, there’s nothing more liberating than riding a bike. The only thing that stops people is fear. And, yes, it is dangerous. But following a few simple rules of thumb will (hopefully) reduce the risks.
Top tips on staying safe
• Always get to the front of the queue in at a traffic light – that way drivers have more of a chance of spotting you
• Give buses and lorries the respect that they deserve and NEVER undertake them (the left-hand turning lorry is one of the greatest perils to people who bike in towns)
• Go slow – the faster you travel, the longer it takes to stop and the more dangerous the journey
• Cycle at least 1m away from the edge of the road – that way you should avoid most of the potholes and drains which can send your wheels in undesirable directions
• Beware of parked cars in notorious shopping areas; ladies who lunch dashing out of taxis have been known to scoop up several bicycles in the process
• Fit a bell to warn pedestrians – who are invariably pinned to their mobile phones – of your impending arrival
• Remember that cars are meant to overtake you with the same amount of room as if they were overtaking a car so have no qualms about cycling in the middle of a lane when one a two or three-lane road
• Don’t feel you have to dress yourself head-to-toe in fluorescent Lycra but lights (front and back) and a splash of reflective gear is sensible at night time
• Most London boroughs offer free confidence-training sessions for adults who are new to cycling. In a reverse pattern to driving, the most dangerous rides are the ones when you don’t know exactly which lane you need to be in so the more familiar you are with your route, the safer it is
• Remember to have your bike serviced
See Transport for London’s cycling pages
As well as the London Cycling Campaign website
Do you have anymore tips? Let us know through the ‘discuss’ button at the top of the page.