The Cycling Bug beginner’s guide to cycling safety

The Cycling Bug beginner’s guide to cycling safety

If you believed everything you read you’d be forgiven for thinking the roads were basically a war zone, and that the best thing to do with your helmet was to store it in a cupboard under the stairs until a peace declaration between cyclists and motorists had been declared.

But it’s not as bad as you think. And if you follow The Cycling Bug’s beginner’s guide to cycling safety there’s no reason to ditch your bike for the smelly tube or bus just yet.

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Tell us your road safety tips from your own experience here 

Wear a helmet

Helmets dramatically reduce the risk of head and brain injury by up to 88 %. It’s crucial to wear a helmet on all your rides, no matter how short.
If you crash and hit your head, you’ll need to replace your helmet immediately as it may no longer offer the same degree of protection.
Helmet fit is the key to ensuring it does its job properly. Check out The Cycling Bug’s how to video guide on how to wear a helmet. Ensure it does not move around on the head and that you can fit two fingers under the chin strap. Check it has a British Safety Stamp. Most British cycling shops will stock these. A proper helmet can cost between £50 and £80 but this is money well spent to ensure your ride is a safe one! See our kit section for helmet reviews and descriptions.

Be safe, be seen

Wear high visibility clothing, even if you don’t think it’s dark. Wear reflective clothes and accessories at night, especially on moving parts. Most cycling stores do a full range of suitable gear. Cycling lights are absolutely essential if riding in dim conditions. Wear white at the front and red at the rear. You risk a fine of £50 (not to mention seriously endangering your life), if you don’t have them.

Take care when setting off

Mount in a safe place that is free from traffic where possible. Before you set off look all around you including over your shoulder and proceed with caution, then ride away from the curb or verge. Accidents often occur when cars try to squeeze past a rider. If you stay slightly wider into the road, the cars will have to go wider to go round you and you’ve got room to pull in if they get close.

Use hand signals

Make sure you know common hand signals used by cyclists and use them to alert other cyclists of possible dangers such as pot holes in the road. Make sure you signal before you turn and practice safe signaling on quiet streets before you head out onto a busy road.

Bike checks

It’s important to ensure that your bike is safe and fit to ride. Carry out a simple maintenance check. Make sure your tyres have enough air them. Check the chain is on and well lubricated and that the brakes work properly. Make sure you watch our guide to performing a simple maintenance check on your bike.

Rules of the road

Know the highway code. By knowing the basics, you can check you are doing all you can to keep yourself, and other road users, safe. 

Know your route

Riding familiar routes, especially visibility is poor, allows you to be prepared for what is coming. You’ll have a rough idea of the state of the road, where you’ll need to turn and any spots that may be particularly hazardous.

Wear the right gear

Dress for the weather. On a cold day, layer up and protect your hands and face. If it’s hot make sure you’ve got a drink with you and use a hat and sun cream to protect yourself from the heat and sun. It’s always worth taking a light waterproof jacket.

Share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and keep them safe on the roads too.

Tell us your road safety tips from your own experience here 

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Anonymous Anonymous


Disappointing, there is no proof wearing a helmet or hi-viz will make cycling safe. If anything (if you did your research) you'd see there's plenty to say the opposite. Drivers still fail to see cyclists in hi-viz, even with lights all over their bikes & look like a bloody UFO. Helmets do not help either as its been proven drivers pass closer when wearing them & designed for low impacts.

What is needed for better & safer cycling is #space4cycling like the Netherlands have & they aren't dying by the 100s coz they dont wear hi-viz & helmets. No, they dont see it is needed as their cycling infrastructure makes cycling safer. Hi-Viz & helmets are for building sites, NOT cycling.



The 'Know your route' point is so true! I always get worried cycling somewhere new when I don't know the roads well.


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