How to Stay Safe And Visible On A Bicycle Commute
A guide to bicycle safety for commuters
Whether you're riding during the light of day or dark of night, as a commuter cyclist it's imperative that you remain safe. Cycling is a great activity for both fitness and fun, However, without the right amount of care and attention it can be a very dangerous activity.
Below is a guide to staying safe on your bicycle commute
Always wear a helmet while commuting
In many areas of the world cycling helmets are now a legal requirement and it's recommendable to wear a helmet for any cycling activity that you do. It could prove to be invaluable in terms of your safety, whether offering protection from low tree branches or even more serious incidents.
Cycling Helmet Safety Standards
A key requirement for any cycling helmet is that it meats the relevant national safety standards. For the UK that standard is (BS EN 1078:1997) and this standard exceeds that of many other national standards (including US standards), making it a good marker to look for.
How often should you replace a cycling helmet?
To be effective at the job it does, it is recommended to replace a cycling helmet every 3 years. Over time the internal structure of a helmet can weaken and therefore cause greater risk of malfunction in an event of it's use during an accident.
Cycling helmet fit recommendations
Ideally your helmet should fit relatively snug whilst sitting squarely above your eyebrows. The straps should be relatively snug- you should be able to squeeze two fingers between the strap and your chin as a guide to it's snugness.
Making sure you can be seen while commuting during the daytime
Commuting during the daytime
Many cyclists mistakenly assume that people can see them during the daytime
If you're commuting during the daytime it's imperative that other path and road users can see you. You don't have adjourn yourself in head to toe fluorescent clothing to do this. The main consideration is to choose colours that get a driver or pedestrians attentions. Block colours like red and yellow provide great contrast without the need to resort to hideous fluorescent items.
Visibility can be limited during overcast conditions and particularly rain. In these situations during the daytime there is nothing wrong in considering the use of a flashing LED light to obtain the attention of motorists and pedestrians.
Safe bicycle commuter visibility at night
Many of us aren't lucky enough to do all of our commuting by bike during the daytime. Many commuters are put off by the additional risks of riding at night. However with the right emphasis on visibility you can do so in a safe manner.
Compulsory use of bicycle lights for riding at night
British Law states the following compulsory requirements
- A front white light with a stationary beam
- Rear red light with astationary beam
- Rear red reflector panel
Whilst the above are compulsory requirements any regular night time commuter cyclist will know that this is the bare minimum you should be using and when it comes to bicycle lights- More is safer.
A rear red LED 'blinkie' for maximum attention
This rear flashing LED light has a separate 1 watt ultra bright central flash bulb to really catch a drivers' attention for safe commuting
Using flashing LED lights to get drivers' attention
When you see many cyclists at night you often see the use of just flashing LED lights which aim to get a drivers attention. Unfortunately these flashing lights do not keep a drivers attention due to their flashing nature. The human brain struggles to maintain the depth of field of a flashing light and therefore cannot always determine exactly how far away a cyclist might be. For safe bicycle commuter visibility a rider must use a stationary beam rear light and then add 'blinkies' to catch driver's attention.
Basic road etiquette rules for commuter cyclist safety
Here are a few simple safety points to consider before your next bicycle commute.
- Motorists and pedestrians can be unpredictable- try to anticipate what they might do.
- Always look where you're going
- Signal, check over your shoulder. Ensure it's safe BEFORE you start to turn
- Try to ride 20-40 cm away from the curb and out of the gutter
- Never run a red light
When you're out riding be aware that you're carrying the weight of the cycling world on your shoulders. If you ride like an idiot drivers assume that all cyclists are idiots.
For More on bicycling etiquette please visit Road Etiquette To Stay Safe On A Bicycle Commute Or Training Ride
Wishing you safe bicycle commuting