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Published On: Tue, Apr 3rd, 2018

How to stay safe as a Cyclist

With the summer fast approaching, many people may be encouraged to ditch their cars or public transport in favour of taking up cycling. Whether you’re using your bike to travel to and from work or for leisure purposes, there’s plenty of health benefits to cycling, as well as saving you money and being kinder to the environment. However, there are also risks, which is why it is important to follow a few simple guidelines in order to stay safe as a cyclist.

Bicyclist
Public domain image/Man vyi

Buy the right kit

It can be easy to just grab your bike and get going, so it is important to remember that as a cyclist, you are very vulnerable to external forces whilst on your bike and are certainly no match for a car, truck or even a bus. They say that prevention is better than a cure and this is exactly so for cyclists. Make sure you invest in appropriate cycling kit to ensure you remain safe, including flashing indicators for the front and back, reflective clothing if cycling in the dark or in poor visibility, such as fog, and of course, a high quality, sturdy bicycle helmet.

Make sure your bike is roadworthy

Just like a car, you have a responsibility to ensure your bike is roadworthy and will not be a hazard to other vehicles on the road or pedestrians. You should always check your tyres, chain and brakes, ensuring that your bike is fully operational prior to setting off. If your bike has a storage compartment or basket, make sure the items you are carrying are securely fastened so that there is no risk they will fall out whilst you are riding. Also make sure there are no strings, materials or low hanging bags that may get caught in the spokes of the wheel, potentially causing an accident.

Plan your route

Where possible, you should always plan your route ahead of schedule, particularly if you are cycling on unfamiliar roads. This is because without any external protection, you are at increased risk of injury should you be involved in an accident whilst on a bike, which could be made all the more likely if you are making poor road safety decisions because you are lost, distracted or unsure about where you are going.

Leave a message

If you are planning a solo bike ride, make sure you send a message or leave a note to tell a friend, family member or colleague where you are going and roughly how long you think you’ll be. This is important because it means that should anything happen to you whilst out on your bike, that person will notice that you may be in trouble when you don’t return after the agreed time period and will then either come and look for you, or call for help if they are worried for your safety and welfare.

Minimise distractions

Whilst it can be relaxing to listen to music whilst out on your bike, riding with earphones is extremely dangerous as it restricts one of your core senses: your hearing, which can keep you safe. By not being aware of hazards, particularly approaching vehicles, you could end up increasing your chances of being involved in an accident and sustaining devastating injuries. Remember if in doubt, leave them out!

Learn accident protocol

Unfortunately, despite all of your best efforts, accidents can and do occur, so it is important to understand what you need to do should you be involved in a cycling-related accident. If you are hit by another vehicle, keep calm and call for assistance if you are injured. In most cases, the other party is likely to stop, check on your welfare and call medical assistance if you need it, but if they too are injured, or you are involved in a hit-and-run, call out to bystanders if you can and alert them to the fact that you are injured and need help. Ask them to call for an ambulance and also the police, which is a legal requirement for any major road traffic accident.

Although it will probably be the furthest thing from your mind at the time, gathering together any evidence both from the accident and afterwards is really important, as it could help you build a case should you decide to claim compensation for a cycling accident. Photos are particularly important, so if you are able to, make sure you take some photos of the scene, vehicles and any damage caused. If you are too injured, ask if someone else can take photos for you. Gathering all party insurance and vehicles details is also critical as it requesting copies of any official police or medical documentation that is connected to the accident.

Get checked over, even if you feel well

If your injuries are relatively minor and a trip to hospital is not necessary, you should immediately go to visit a medical professional to get checked over. This is because certain injuries may get worse over time or you may start to develop symptoms which you think aren’t related (such as headaches) but later on you find that they are important secondary effects of an injury caused by your accident.

Seek legal advice

It’s really important to seek out professional legal advice as soon as possible after your accident and many legal firms that specialise in cycling-related accidents will offer no-obligation free consultations as well as a no win no fee structure should you qualify to make a claim. Seeking out help sooner rather than later is vital to the success of your claim, and these legal experts will be able to advise you as to what information, documentation or checkups you will need to support your compensation claim. You may be eligible to claim for compensation for the actual accident as well as for any longer term damage or injuries caused, expenses and potentially loss of earnings if your injuries have affected your ability to work.

Whilst cycling remains a relatively safe, healthy and enjoyable way of getting from A to B, taking steps to improve your safety and prevent the likelihood of an accident taking place will ensure you are fully prepared should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being involved in an accident.

Author: Emerald Bambridge

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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