Cycling in Warwickshire is a safe and enjoyable experience whether for pleasure, meeting friends, popping to the shops or commuting to and from work. The benefits in terms of fitness, sustainability, financial and productivity far outweigh the risks associated with cycling on the road.
Warwickshire already has a number of features to keep you safe on your bike including dedicated cycle lanes, road signing as well as a range of training and educational initiatives.
However, it’s always good to reduce the risk of being involved in a collision by following a few bits of advice:
Be seen. Wear appropriate clothing and a helmet
Increase your visibility and awareness by other road users by always wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark. Avoid wearing loose or baggy clothing which could get caught in the bike. Shoe laces can also get snagged in the bikes mechanisms.
Wearing a cycle helmet is not compulsory by law. However, wearing a correctly fitted cycle helmet, which is securely fastened and conforms to current regulations significantly reduces the chances of sustaining a serious head injury in a collision.
Research undertaken in other countries where helmets are compulsory has found that helmet wearing significantly reduces the risk of moderate, serious and severe head injury by up to 74 per cent and significantly reduces the risk of skull fracture, intracranial injury, concussive injury and open head wounds. Bearing in mind that a fall from a bike on to the road could lead to serious head injury, the damage caused by the impact of a cyclist’s head hitting a car windscreen at speed can be catastrophic.
Maintaining your bike
It is essential that your bike is maintained and checked regularly, not just for safety but also to improve efficiency and journey reliability when riding. A poorly fitted chain, loose saddle, under inflated tyres or badly aligned wheels can soon lead to a miserable ride a few miles down the road. We recommend running through the nationally recognised ‘M’ Check before setting off on a journey. We have developed a quick guide on checking your bike:M Check Bike Safety Check (PDF, 742.41 KB)
On the road
Always expect the unexpected – always keep a door width away when passing parked cars. Don’t over use your advantage by riding through red lights and respect highway rules as you would as a car user.
It is against the law to cycle on the pavement. Cyclists are advised to either use the road or the designated cycle paths/lanes wherever possible. Always plan and check your route first if you are in any doubt about your ability to cycle it safely or seek cycle training.
Help other road users
By giving lots of eye contact to ensure that they have seen you and are aware you may make a manoeuvre. Always signal when making a turn if there is traffic behind you. Ride positively, decisively and with purpose.
Always try to avoid riding in the gutter and be prepared to ‘take the lane’ at pinch points on the road such as pedestrian refuges where you may be at greater risk of being pushed in the gutter by passing cars squeezing through.
Cyclists are safer where they can see and be seen. When cycling with the flow of traffic take a ‘Primary Position’ on the road in the centre of your lane.
‘Secondary Position’ (no less than 0.5m from the side) may be appropriate when the road is wide enough to enable vehicles to pass and on minor roads where there are few parked cars.
Avoiding the crush
A number of cyclists are killed every year from being crushed by larger vehicles. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen. Be very aware that larger vehicles may not be able to see you. Hang back and never try to undercut a bus or lorry.
Reduce the risk of bike theft
Around 800-1000 bikes are reported stolen every year in Warwickshire. Follow these tips (from transport for London) to lock thieves out and ensure your bike remains safe and secure.
- Get your bike security marked and registered at BikeRegister.
Getting your bike security marked and registered is a visible deterrent to bike thieves. They know that if they are caught in possession of a registered bike, the rightful owner can be traced and they will be arrested.
- Record details of your bike. The frame number (normally found underneath the bike between the pedals or where the back wheel slots in), BikeRegister number, other distinguishing features, and take a photo.
- Use locks of gold ‘Sold Secure’ standard. Also, use two different types of lock, with at least one being a high quality D-lock. It takes thieves a few seconds to cut through poor quality locks – make it as difficult for them as possible.
- Lock the frame and both wheels to the cycle parking stand. Make the locks and bike hard to manoeuvre. Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible.
- Take parts that are easy to remove with you. For example, saddles and wheels. Or use secure skewers, which can increase security by securing the bike’s components to the frame permanently, making it difficult for thieves to steal parts such as saddle or wheels.
- Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking. It should be well lit and covered by CCTV.
- Take the same care to lock your bike securely at home. Bikes get stolen from communal hallways, gardens and sheds.
- Don’t buy a stolen second-hand bike. Insist on proof of ownership and check the bike frame number at BikeRegister.
- If your bike has been stolen, contact the police. Give them your BikeRegister number, photo and any other details.
Get trained go biking
Cycle training can be both fun and enjoyable giving you that extra bit of confidence and knowledge to keep you even safer on the road. For children most schools in Warwickshire run Bikeability (an updated cycle proficiency course for the 21st century) whilst Warwickshire County Council’s Traffic and Road Safety Group also offer bespoke one on one training as well as dedicated commuter cycle safety courses for businesses.
Cycling Matters. Show your support by signing up to our regional campaign for cyclists: What Matters Most.