Did you know that there are an estimated two billion bikes in use around the world globally. In fact, figures indicate that cycling is on the rise – with a projected five billion bikes on the road by the year 2050. (1)
Despite the growing popularity of cycling, cyclists remain among the most vulnerable people on the roads. In fact, cyclists are up to 30 times more likely to get injured on the road than drivers are, and are up to 18 times more likely to get killed. (2)
For example, in 2016 2,000 cyclists were killed on European roads representing 8% of the total number of road accident deaths.
What Risk Factors Contribute to Cycling Accidents?
Studies show that cyclists are more likely to be involved in an accident, if the following factors are at play:
- Poor visibility due to adverse weather or insufficient lighting means that cyclists cannot be seen or properly see their environs.
- Cycling in the wrong direction on a cycle path or road significantly increases the chance of a collision.
- Cycling on a footpath means that there is a much higher risk of colliding with an unsuspecting pedestrian.
- Riding at night is dangerous due to poor visibility.
- Going too fast or too slow can endanger the cyclist especially on busy streets or when going downhill.
- The consumption of alcohol or drugs impairs the cyclists riding ability and decision-making functions, thereby putting them at a hugely elevated risk of crashing.
Must-Have Safety Gear for Cyclists
Equipping yourself with the appropriate safety gear will help prevent accidents and can protect you in the event of a collision. As a cyclist, you need to ensure that you have the following six items:
- Helmet: Research shows that sporting a good quality and well-fitting helmet can reduce the chance of receiving a fatal head injury in a crash by 65%.
- Active lights: It’s important to install lights to ensure that you can be seen even in poor lighting conditions. They also help your vision by highlighting reflective materials as well as the eyes of any animals on the road.
- High visibility clothing: Research has found that cyclists who wear high-visibility clothing are over 50% less likely to be involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. This is because high-visibility clothing helps drivers to see cyclists more clearly.
- Mirrors: These are important as they let cyclists get a better view of their blind spots. Riders can choose from several options including handlebar mirrors, helmet mirrors or eyewear mirrors.
- Gloves: These soak up moisture (e.g. sweat or rain) to help you to maintain a safe and steady grip on the handlebars at all times.
- A first-aid kit: This should comprise key supplies you will need to treat any bumps and scrapes you experience on the road.
The Importance of Bike Maintenance
In addition to obtaining the proper safety equipment, it’s also important that you make sure your bicycle is in good working order. (3) Before embarking on any ride, be sure to take a few minutes to inspect your bike. Be sure to check the following:
- That the tyres are sufficiently inflated
- That the chain is sufficiently oiled
- That the brakes work
- That your pedals work
Cycling at Night
Biking at night is far more dangerous than during the day, so you will need to make a few extra safety considerations if you are planning to cycle in the dark. Firstly, try to plot your route ahead of time so that you can stick to well-lit and well-surfaced roads. (4)
Be sure to put on reflective clothing or strips to improve your chances of being seen in the dark. Finally, never venture out in the dark without adequate lighting.
Respecting Other Road Users
It’s important to remember your manners when cycling near other road users such as motorists, pedestrians or other cyclists.
- You can respect pedestrians by not cycling on footpaths and by not going through a pedestrian crossing while someone is using it.
- You can respect other cyclists by letting them know of your presence so you don’t take them by surprise.
- You can respect drivers by staying up-to-date with the rules of the road. For example, don’t weave unpredictably in and out of traffic and always ride in the same direction as the traffic flow.
Learn More In the Infographic Guide Below
The below infographic from Hussey Fraser looks at some of the factors that contribute to cycling accidents and outlines some steps that riders can take to better protect themselves on the road. Read the guide below to learn more about cycling safety today.
Final Say on Cycling Safely
Hopefully this infographic has shed light on some of the things you may have wondered about but just weren’t 100% certain on, when it comes to safely riding your bike to the gym. You now know to ride in the direction of traffic flow, you know the importance of respecting other road users, to maintain your speed at all times, let trucks turn before proceeding, and also the importance of using hand signals.
Living in biking distance to your gym definitely has it’s benefits: easier parking, cardio on your way there and back, fresh air ride, and just having much more freedom to move around than you would in your car. But as you’ve no doubt learned by now in this post, proceed with caution and safety should always be on your mind, as bicycle accidents are more commong than one thinks.
Stock Photos from Shutterstock