There are different misconceptions about cycling that can be troublesome for newcomers. The danger of cycling is one concern and although this is a misunderstood part of getting the lycra on and hitting the road, it shouldn’t be dismissed completely. With more cyclists on the road than ever, and more trails accomodating mountain bikers, there are going to be more accidents to hear about.
Still, there are certain things to be wary of every time you get on your bicycle. When you are more aware of them, staying safe becomes second nature, much like riding a bike. Here are some of the common dangers that cyclists face.
When cycling on a familiar road, it can be easy to get used to the different hazards your wheels might face. However, when it comes to a new route, the roads itself can be hazardous. When you are concentrating on traffic, the curve of the road, or just making sure there are no hazards the way you are facing, it can be easy to miss a pothole.
Some roads are more prone to them than others but it can easily result in a nasty fall, especially when going at top speed. Most potholes tend to be at the edge of the road, which is often where cyclists will find themselves. It is possible to claim through the local highway authority although it can be difficult to follow through. Be sure to take plenty of pictures and back your claim with a witness if possible.
One of the most common hazards for a cyclist is on a T-junction. When a motorist turns on or off the main road, they often miss an approaching cyclist which can lead to a nasty collision. To help make this less likely, ensure that you are easily visible on the road. Wearing bright clothing or high-vis can make an accident on a T-junction less likely to occur.
Even cars can struggle with certain weather conditions, and a bicycle is less equipped to cope with some of the demands of adverse weather. Snow and ice of course are the biggest challenges and can make it near impossible to get across town, even on some of the better roads. Riding in the rain. at high speeds can make breaking less effective so there is a time to be cautious when the heavens open.
Even high winds can make it difficult to stay safe and avoid swerving into danger but certain things can make it safer such as high-grip tires. Otherwise, try and avoid puddles, stay away from snowy conditions, and keep an eye out for black ice.
Adding to this, any adverse weather during night can be even more dangerous where visibility is limited. Always ride with the adequate gear to make yourself visible to others, but also ensure that you can see what lies ahead on the road. This is a time where the likes of potholes or puddles can be difficult to see until the last minute. By that time, it might be too late.
This is where a lot of road accidents happen so it is hardly surprising to hear that a cyclist can be at danger. A motorist will often join the traffic from the side without checking or fail to see a cyclist and give way when they should. Because a cyclist is slower, a motorist might overtake then cut them off, exiting the roundabout. without leaving enough room for a cyclist.
More often than not, accidents on a roundabout the fault of a motorist it is best to remain vigilant and again, wear clothing that makes you easily visible.
Riding Against The Flow
Any time a cyclist rides against the flow of traffic they are increasing their risk of a collision. Because there is less room for error among other reasons, it is actually illegal in a lot of areas. This is for good reason since it can result in a high-speed collision which is difficult to avoid.
Although it sounds unbelievable, these instances are pretty common. Car doors opening without due care can result in a pretty nasty accident and injury for a cyclist traveling at top speed or not. These can be difficult to avoid unless you give yourself a bit more room so cycle with more space than usual if you can afford to.
If you can see a car that has not long parked in the distance, either reduce the speed a little or move towards the middle safely. This will give you these split seconds needed to react if you still need to. Although one might like to think that this should not be necessary, unfortunately, it is. Some people just aren’t in the habit of checking before they open a door into a road when they should.
Any cyclist who has been on the road for long enough will be able to say just how dangerous this can feel, even zipping through parked traffic can come with its hazards. A rush-hour might seem like the perfect opportunity to make some ground and filter through traffic at a standstill but remember that some drives will either need to change lanes or do so through a lack of patience.
As much as we would like to believe that a driver has checked for cyclists, this isn’t always the case, making overtaking one of the dangers for cyclists.
Riding With Headphones In
Not being able to hear the warnings of cars or even pedestrians can be dangerous for a rider. It is like the driver of a car making a maneuver with headphones in, they cannot hear the horn of someone warning them to their presence.
If you do like to ride with music or a podcast in, be sure to do so at alow volume, perhaps with one earbud. Anything that could be detrimental to your safety should be avoided. Therefore, the best way to stay safe on the road is to not use headphones altogether.