How to: cycle safer in London

Cyclist

Cycling in London is statistically very safe. But it often doesn't feel that way. Here's how to make cycling feel safer.

  • Go on a course: Many local councils offer free cycle training for adults and children. Get in touch with yours - even if you feel fairly confident, cycle training can offer new ideas to improve your riding.
  • The biggest risks: Stay away from HGVs, particularly those with high cabs, wherever you can - hang back and most importantly, don't go near the front left of lorries including sitting near to or alongside one in the ASL (for more on this, see our in-depth advice for safer cycling around lorries); stay out of the "door" zone - ride 1m minimum out from parked cars; pay more attention at junctions and don't be afraid to "hold the lane" (a particular concern is "hook risks" where drivers turn in front of you).
  • Good habits to get into: Don't use rubbish cycle lanes or tracks (far too many still put you in an unsafe position or end at a key moment), you're under no obligation to; be "assertive" and "take the lane" when you need to - to stop close overtaking or when you want to ensure you're noticed at junctions; communicate to drivers clearly and consistently - look back and make eye contact regularly, signal in advance (and particularly keep eyes and ears out for motorbikes, scooters and other vehicles that can pass close and fast).
  • Do we really need to say this? Give way to pedestrians, they're even more vulnerable than we are (and don't ride on pavements unless it's clearly "shared space"); use lights at night and consider some reflective or high-vis stuff too; modify your behaviour in bad weather - assume it may take longer to stop; don't ride through reds; consider not using anything that will overly distract you (headphones, mobiles); and you'll get better results talking to drivers calmly than shouting.
  • Keep your bike running smoothly: Simple and regular maintenance (at least check tyre pressure and your brakes) reduces the chance of sudden punctures, skids, crashes etc. Your local group will have details on maintenance courses near you. Similarly, a good pannier or rucksack is far more sensible than a plastic shopping bag slung over one handlebar!

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