For many people around the world, cycling isn’t just a hobby – it’s a way of life. The liberating feeling of getting out in the great outdoors on two wheels is addictive, and the benefits speak for themselves. But for people wanting to take to the roads on a bike or e-bike, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers, and how you can best mitigate the risks associated with road cycling.
According to the World Health Organisation, over half of road traffic deaths that occur around the world globally involve vulnerable road users – that is pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. And with cycling continuing to grow in popularity, the rising number of bikes on the road does present more risks for other users.
In this post, we’ll highlight three of the most important ways you can stay safe when taking to the roads on two wheels.
Read also: Are electric bikes dangerous? What are e-bike risks? And, How safe are electric bikes?
Use the correct equipment
Efforts to stay safe on the road should begin before you even set off for your journey. One of the most important and effective ways to manage the risks associated with road cycling is to invest in and wear the correct equipment, to ensure you can be seen and be safe. There are a few pieces of kit that should be on your pre-ride tick list, but what you wear could be subject to change, depending on the conditions. Some essential items include:
- Reflective clothes
- Padded shorts
Especially if you’re riding in low light conditions, reflective clothes and lights are a must-have, to ensure drivers can easily spot you long before they need to overtake. Just as you’d ensure your e-bike is in good working order, you’ll also need to make sure your equipment is up to scratch before setting off.
Check your helmet for any cracks or abrasion, and make sure the buckle and strap work as they should. You’ll also need to make sure the lights are working properly and are attached securely to the frame.
Keep your e-bike in good condition
Ensuring your e-bike remains in good working order is a prerequisite for any safe journey, whether you’re taking to the roads or any other terrain.
Two of the most important checks will be of your tires and brakes. Ensure there is enough pressure in the tires by simply pressing down on them, and you can give the brakes a press to make sure they’re working as they should. When riding an e-bike, you’ll also want to check the battery before setting off.
When the battery runs out, the additional weight of an e-bike can make it more difficult to pedal than on a traditional bicycle, so make sure you have enough charge for the duration of your trip.
As well as getting it serviced at least once a year, there are a few things you can do to keep your electric bike in the best possible condition. Firstly, try and get into the habit of doing any maintenance checks after rides, not just before them.
This will prevent any minor issues from developing into more serious and potentially costly problems. You should also carefully consider where and how you store your e-bike between uses. Using the right storage option will not only help to deter criminals from stealing it, but effective storage will also help to keep your equipment in good working order.
Read also: How to protect your e-bike from theft? And, Does it make sense to buy specialized e-bike insurance?
When out on the roads, the way you cycle will have a large impact on your safety. Being reckless or indecisive when out on your e-bike will put you at greater risk, by making it more difficult for drivers to anticipate what you’re going to do. Instead, it’s important to be decisive and confident when riding on the roads, to help both yourself and other road users to remain in control and avoid accidents.
There are lots of different aspects of road cycling that you need to be aware of in order to ride safely and confidently. For instance, whenever you’re turning off or onto a road, clear hand signals are essential, to prevent drivers from overtaking when you could be trying to turn in front of them.
Your positioning on the road is another important factor in riding confidently and safely. Per the advice in this cycling safety guide, it’s recommended that cyclists using country roads should position themselves centrally, rather than closer to the edge. Cyclists riding in pairs are also permitted to position themselves side by side, but you should move into a single file line when cars approach to make it easier for them to overtake.
Cycling can offer so many benefits, but these can only be enjoyed when riding safely. Take our three top tips into account, and you’ll be taking the first step towards staying safe on the roads.
Read also: The health benefits of riding an electric bike for senior riders. And, Is riding electric bicycle risky for a senior rider?