Having a properly maintained bicycle is to staying safe on the road and it will also aid in extending the lifetime of the cycle. You can see a guide to basic maintenance here
Cycling is a healthy and enjoyable pastime available to most of us, but it is essential to make certain that all safety aspects have been considered before making any bike ride.
Simple but important tips for safer cycling
Observation – Be aware of your surroundings, look and listen. Always give clear signals for your safety and for that of others.
Brakes – Do they work? Check for worn brake blocks or badly adjusted cables.
Helmet – Always wear a correctly fitted and British Standard approved helmet. A helmet will not stop you having an accident but it will reduce the chance of a serious head injury by 85% (source BMA Website).
Lights – Fit lights and ensure that they work if you intend to ride after lighting up time. It is against the law to ride at any time without a red rear reflector. Remember to clean reflectors and lenses.
Bells – Consider fitting a bell, if your bicycle does not already have one. It is a safe, effective and polite means to warn other people of your presence on roads and shared-use paths.
Tyres – Check that they are fully inflated and that the tread is still good.
Equipment – Are accessories such as pumps, mudguards and saddlebags properly secured to the bike?
Be seen – Wear something that is light coloured, reflective or fluorescent to be seen by other road users.
Plan the route – Where possible choose a route you can cope with and wherever possible avoid busy roads and junctions. Use cycle routes and bike lanes but be aware of pedestrians, especially the elderly and the very young.
Mobile phones and stereos – Mobile phones and stereos are a dangerous distraction and should not be used while cycling. If it is imperative that you make a call, stop in a safe place to do so. Stereo headphones can mask the sound of other traffic and reduce your awareness of danger.
Cycling with a Child Seat
When cycling with a child it is important that you and your child are safe. Ensure that both you and your child are wearing correctly fitting and appropriately adjusted Cycle helmets. When buying a helmet choose one that fits closely, feels comfortable and has cooling ventilation. Having a cycle bell or horn is essential for alerting other road users and pedestrians of your presence.
Make sure when choosing a seat for your child that they fit comfortably. Check the compatibility with the bicycle that it is going to be fitted to. If you are unsure about how to get the seat fitted securely then get it fitted by a trained cycle mechanic.
Fitting additional accessories to the bicycle will make things easier and safer for you. A handlebar mounted mirror will enable you to see your child and check on them without having to twist around to see them. Fitting a double foot stand to the bicycle will also ensure that the bike is properly stabilised for putting your child in or taking them out of the seat.
You can find more information on the Think! website here.
If you are looking for information on child cycle training in your area go to the bikeability website at www.bikeability.org.uk/