Cycling is supposed to a calm, relaxing and pleasurable experience, and a lot of the time is it. But it can also throw up its fair share of hazards and dangers.
A report carried out in July 2012 showed that the number of cyclists slightly injured was over 16,000 and the number seriously injured was over 3,000. That’s quite a large proportion of those who favour the two-wheeled mode of transport, and somewhat ironic considering it’s supposed to be one of the healthiest and safest ways of getting around.
And whilst there are plenty of motorists and pedestrians who are inconsiderate and disrespectful, we also have to remember that we’re responsible for our own safety when it comes to making sure we don’t get caught up in a collision and end up catapulting over the handlebars and eating pavement.
Here are some of the most common cycling accident scenarios and some suggestions as to how you can best avoid them.
We’re particularly vulnerable at junctions so we should keep our eyes well and truly peeled when approaching them. How many times have you been cut up by a driver because you’ve been out of his peripheral vision? Or been close to being hit by a driver who’s had to manoeuvre to avoid colliding with another vehicle? Or a pedestrian who doesn’t look properly and walks straight out in front of you? In short, at junctions we’re extremely vulnerable, so a bit of extra vigilance shouldn’t go amiss.
Personally, I like to take my cycling at a sedate and leisurely pace, but an everyday perusal of my fellow cycling brothers and sisters shows that not everyone shares the same attitude to speed cautiousness. By bombing it like a bat out of hell you not only risk losing control, not stopping in time, or finding yourself heading face-first towards the radiator grille of your friendly neighbourhood First Bus, but you also risk injuring other innocent cyclists and pedestrians. Calmness and consideration is key.
If, like me, you’re one of the thoroughly decent law-abiding members of the cycling community, you’ll use either the cycle lanes or the road. And if you use the road, it’s always best to ride in a straight line. Weaving all over the road is guaranteed to confuse drivers as they won’t know where you’re heading or what your intentions are. The result? Getting rear-ended or hit, and nobody wants that.
Don’t Get ‘Doored’
To suggest you’ll get hit by a parked car sounds absolutely ludicrous. It’s so obvious, right? Obvious, yes, but one of the most common causes of cycling accidents is when the driver of a parked car opens his door, oblivious to an oncoming cyclist. Cue: Olympic standard pole-vaulting over the drivers’ side door. The answer? Just keep a good three of four feet away from parked cars to ensure you keep a reasonable and safe distance.
The bottom line, then, is just to be a bit vigilant and careful, as cycling can throw up a motley assortment of potential perils. Just a soupcon of cautiousness will make sure you don’t come a cropper and spend the next few weeks with your leg in plaster replacing those broken or damaged bike accessories.
Have you been battered and bruised by a last-minute swerve or cycling/car collision? What do you do to keep safe on the road?
Gavin Harvey is a personal trainer and self-confessed fitness fanatic who always keeps a vigilant and safety-conscious eye on the road when he’s furiously engaged in one of his favourite pastimes of pedal power. Here he writes for buybikes247.