Cycling safely in Cardiff

June 28, 2012 9 Comments »

Figures released yesterday showed there had been a worrying increase in the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured on Wales’ roads, with an increase of 74% between 2010 and 2011. One fifth of those accidents happen in Cardiff. Here Sally Thomas from Cardiff bike shop Tredz gives her tips for staying safe while cycling in the city.

Safer Cycling

With a boom in cycling anticipated after London 2012 and more and more people cycling to work, it’s important for investment in the safety of cyclists to be made and for bike users themselves to make sure they cycle as safely as possible.

Cardiff Council are taking heed of this with their Strategic Cycle Network Plan which includes provisions for more traffic-free cycling facilities, measures to make roads safer for cycling, better cycle lanes and changes to road junctions.

Whilst it may be some time before Cardiff rivals Copenhagen as the world’s most bike-friendly city, there are many ways for cyclists to keep safe on the road. Cycling positively and decisively is a good start, along with staying alert, focussed and aware of your surroundings whilst clearly communicating with other road users.

Tips for safer cycling

Cycling is as safe as you make it and should still be enjoyable, but here are a few tips and products that might make a difference.

Primarily, you need to be aware of other traffic on the road but you also need to look at the road itself and be aware of any rubbish, sneaky potholes, gaps in traffic and side roads. Check your blind spot over one shoulder, avoid listening to music whilst cycling and remember that red lights apply to all road users.

  • The “primary position” in the middle of the left-hand lane is generally the safest to cycle in. When reverting to the “secondary position”, you should aim to ride in the left-hand third of the lane in line with the off-side of a car in the same position, but not closer than 50cms to the edge of the road.
  • Avoid riding in the road gutter or too close to the doors of parked cars
  • Be very aware of being cut off by vehicles turning left.
  • Making eye contact whilst looking over your shoulder can emphasise your presence to drivers behind you and influence their actions.

Another valuable tip is to hover your fingers over the brakes when approaching junctions in case you need to perform an emergency stop (of course, you should always have your hands on your handlebars except when signalling or changing gears).

Products for safer cycling

Always see and be seen – although black might appeal as a slimming option a bit of colour and/or high-vis will go a long way. Wear fluorescent or light coloured clothing in daylight and reflective clothing and/or belts, arm or ankle bands in the dark.

By law, bike lights need to be used when visibility is poor, including a white front light, a red rear light, white front reflector, red rear reflector and amber/yellow pedal reflectors – front and back on each pedal. Extras can include spoke reflectors and sidewalls on tyres.

Helmets are a must-have safety item for any cyclist and there’s no sensible argument against using one. Helmets should be brand new, changed every three to five years (check the manufacturer’s guidelines) and meet BS EN 1078:1997 standards.

It’s also important to help children understand the dangers of cycling on the road. It’s a common misconception that cycling ahead of your child is safer – in fact it’s better to follow close behind and direct them verbally. Most schools run Bikeability’s Cycling Proficiency for the 21 st Century” course which is also available for adults as well.

Finally, keep your bike in good working order including brakes, chain and tyres. Above all, have fun whilst cycling, but always be safety conscious.

Other useful online links are Effective Traffic Riding from British Cycling and the Highway Code for Cyclists.

Tredz on Penarth Road will celebrate its 5th birthday this Saturday. The store will hold a special birthday party from 9am to 6pm, with in-store discounts, prize draws, bikes to test, a kids’ climbing wall and face painting.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Kitty Wales June 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    It's time for some 'cycling safety' TV ads aimed at drivers. The roads are legally shared by humans operating a variety of wheeled machines, yet there are too many instances of serious injuries and deaths being experienced by those on bicycles. It's almost as if being on a bike is seen as belonging to a weaker sub-species or sub-culture, encouraging aggressive drivers to drive without care and caution for their safety.

  2. Geoff June 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    My safety tip: Unless you are in a dedicated cycle lane, don't ever attempt to pass a stationary or slow moving vehicle its left hand (near) side….if you are not confident enough to pass on the right, just wait.

  3. Richard Burton June 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    "Helmets are a must-have safety item for any cyclist and there’s no sensible argument against using one. "

    Apart from the fact that they don't work of course.

    Since the author works in a bike shop and makes money out of selling a pound's worth of plastic to gullible customers for ten, twenty or fifty times that, this is just shameless profiteering.

    Nowhere with a helmet law or massive rise in helmet wearing after propaganda campaigns can show any reduction in risk to cyclists, and the largest ever research project found an increase in risk with helmet wearing.

    There are only two effects of helmet laws and propaganda: a reduction in the number of cyclists and obscene profits for the helmet manufacturers, there is no safety benefit. Bike shops might make a bit more profit in the short term, but fewer cyclists will mean smaller profits in the long term.

    Regular cyclists live longer, and are fitter and healthier than the general population, so it is more dangerous not to ride a bike than to ride one. Since the people deterred from cycling by the helmet propaganda lose those health benefits, and get sicker quicker and die earlier, the effect at a population level of that propaganda is massive and negative.

    Perhaps Sally Thomas and your readers might like to acquaint themselves with the facts: cyclehelmets.org

  4. dkahn400 June 29, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

    "Helmets are a must-have safety item for any cyclist and there’s no sensible argument against using one."

    To claim there are no strong arguments against the wearing of bicyle helmets is simply untrue. For a critical analysis of pro-cycle helmet arguments see http://www.cyclehelmets.org

  5. Kris July 3, 2012 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Most of these are good tips, but I wonder how many Cardiff cyclists will heed them. A significant proportion don't appear familiar with the Highway Code and regularly ignore red lights and cycle on the pavements. And there's always a few who think they can cycle and text at the same time!

  6. @markheseltine July 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    I cycle in Cardiff and Central London and frankly the attitude and actions of drivers here in Cardiff is woeful in comparison. In London I hardly ever get drivers who take it as a personal affront for me to pass them in slow-moving traffic, in Cardiff it happens on pretty much a daily basis. Never mind the dangerous overtaking, running red lights and cutting me up, and much of this happens on quiet suburban streets of Pontcanna, Grangetown, Canton and Roath, never the arterial main roads which are frankly abysmal here.

    Aside from the rubbish about helmets, this article has some good tips but I can't help but wonder if better driver education would yield more improvements and simply focusing on how tips for cyclists.

  7. Stuart July 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Anyone who says that cycle helmets do not make cycling safer is, quite frankly, actively playing with people's lives. The only way the writer of this article could be accused of 'profiteering' is through seeking to keep any potential cyclist customers alive. If the commenters above what to risk their lives that's up to them, but for everyone else's safety they should probably keep their demented conspiracy theories about cycle shops and cycle helmets to themselves.

    • Tom July 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm - Reply

      And what is your evidence for that assertion?

    • @markheseltine July 9, 2012 at 9:35 am - Reply

      I understand it doesn't seem intuitive Stuart, but it's probably not as simple an equation as you might think. For example, did you know that a study from the University of Bath showed that car drivers will give cyclists less clearance if they are wearing a helmet than if they're not.

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