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AsWednesday 16 May 2018

As the nice weather finally makes an appearance, stay safe on your bicycle in Oxford in 2018.

After a frankly rotten winter, keen cyclists naturally can’t wait to get back out on the roads as spring finally kicks in. The numbers of people choosing to cycle for fun, fitness or to get to work has increased by more than a quarter in twenty years and an incredible 3.2 billion miles are cycled on UK roads every year.

Cycling is great fun and great exercise, but as specialist solicitors who have spent decades helping local people with claims for road accidents, the team at Oxford Accident Solicitors are well aware of the lurking dangers to cyclists.

Riding a bike is safe – since 2010 the number of cyclists killed on our roads has fallen to its lowest level on record. However, 3,337 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year which is why it pays to take precautions.

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, so update your cycling skills with Oxford Accident Solicitors’ top ten safety tips.

1. Don’t jump red lights.
It ain’t clever and it ain’t legal! Highway Code Rule 178 states that you MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic. If cyclists are caught jumping red lights they may be given a £50 Fixed Penalty Notice.

2. Get out of the gutter!
Make sure your road position is not too close to the kerb. Keeping away from the gutter makes you more visible to drivers and helps you miss slippery drain covers, potholes and debris at the side of the road. Also, if someone does overtake you too closely, you have more space on your left to move into.

3. Be aware of what’s around you
Road awareness is an important skill to develop. This means looking ahead for rough surfaces, drain covers, road humps, vehicles parked in the lane, potholes and puddles. Looking all around also helps you prepare for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights etc., and anticipate potential problems.

4. Make your intentions clear
Try to give other road users an indication of what you’re going to do. Check behind, then signal giving plenty of notice before making your manoeuvre. Manoeuvre only when it is safe.

5. Make eye contact
Try to make eye contact with other road users, particularly at junctions, side roads and on roundabouts. Making eye contact may help you work out if the driver has seen you or not, but it’s wise to avoid making assumptions about how attentive they are.

6. Be aware when you're on the left-hand side of lorries
Left-turning lorries pose a significant risk to cyclists. Many lorries have blind-spots on their passenger side, which means that if you are cycling on their left, the driver may not have seen you in their mirrors and make a manoeuvre that puts you at serious risk. Take great care when approaching the rear of lorries.

7. Don’t be floored by car doors
Give parked cars a wide berth so that you won’t be hit by a carelessly opened car door. When approaching a parked car, check behind first to make sure it’s safe, then move out, leaving at least a door’s width when passing just in case someone flings opens a door into your path.

8. Lights on
Make sure you know the law on lighting up. Legally, cyclists are required to have working lights on the front and rear of their cycles, switched on between sunset and sunrise; white at the front and red at the rear. It can, however, be sensible to use your lights in daytime if visibility is poor (e.g. fog) too.

9. Brake sense
If you can’t get your hands to your brake levers quickly, you might not be able to stop in time if you need to. Make sure you are ready and able to use your brakes, and that you know how to use them safely. It is usually best to use both brakes at the same time and apply pressure evenly.

10. Wear the right gear
Wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark increases your visibility. Wear a correctly fitted cycle helmet, which is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations.

Sadly, even the most experienced cyclists can occasionally be involved in road accidents caused by others. If you are the victim of a road accident that is not your fault, don’t hesitate to contact Oxford Accident Solicitors for a FREE, no obligation assessment of your right to accident compensation. 

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