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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Cycling safety

Cycling should be fun, but it should also be safe. By following a few simple safety rules, you can make sure you keep out of trouble on the roads.

Maintaining your bike

You need to keep your bike well maintained and in good working order. Carry out regular checks to make sure that:

  • lights and reflectors work and are kept clean
  • tyres are in good condition and inflated to the pressure shown on the tyre
  • gears are working correctly
  • the chain is properly adjusted and oiled
  • the saddle and handlebars are adjusted to the correct height
  • your brakes are efficient

Cycling safety for children

Getting children interested in cycling at an early age is a great way to encourage them to exercise. However, young people between 11 and 15 are most vulnerable on the roads, and only one-third of children ever do any cycle training.

It's important that all young people, whatever their age, know the basics of road safety and have some proper training before they set out.

You can find more information on the Think campaign website.

Cycle training

All cyclists, whether they are experienced or novices, should invest in cycle training. They should also be aware of The Highway Code and how it relates to them.

The three-level National Standard for Cycle Training provides all the skills required for safe cycling on-and-off-road. Although primarily aimed at children, this training is also relevant for adults. The levels break down as follows:

  • Level 1, age 7-8: beginners and basic cycling skills - held off-road; children learn how to control, balance and manoeuvre
  • Level 2, age 9-10: introduction to on-road cycling - held on quieter roads in groups; children learn where to position themselves when riding on the road and how to observe traffic, signal and turn/manoeuvre safely. Also includes basic understanding of The Highway Code
  • Level 3, age 11-12: advanced cycling - held on busier roads; children learn skills required for making longer journeys; also learn how to deal with all types of road conditions - such as roundabouts, traffic lights and multi-lane roads

The Department for Transport (DfT) and Cycling England are currently investing about £5m a year in encouraging children to cycle to school. The aim is that within three years 50 per cent of all school children will be able to receive cycle training. The funding is being spent on:

  • cycle training in schools
  • cycle trainers
  • off-road routes to school
  • cycle training schemes run by the CTC (national cyclists' organisation) (Bike It), and by British Cycling (Go Ride)

To find an accredited instructor near you, call the National Cycle Training Helpline on 0870 607 0415. A list of instructors is also available on the CTC website.

Basic safety tips

To keep safe on the road, follow these basic safety tips:

  • get trained and keep control
  • wear a helmet
  • be seen and heard
  • check your bike
  • be alert and plan your route
  • stay legal

The Highway Code is essential reading for all road users including cyclists. It explains the laws that cyclists must obey, and gives further advice on road safety.

Basic security tips

To help keep your bike safe, follow these basic security tips:

  • do not leave your bike in isolated places
  • park safely and considerately; never leave your bike in a place where it will be a danger or obstruction to others - particularly older people, young children, or people with disabilities
  • always lock your bike when leaving it, even if it's only for a few minutes
  • secure your bike to proper stands or robust street furniture
  • lock your bike through the frame, not the wheels
  • secure or remove wheels
  • remove smaller parts and accessories that can't be secured, especially lights, pumps and quick-release saddles

And remember, over 50 per cent of bike theft occurs in owners' homes - so you may want to keep you bike locked up at all times.

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