Road safety is a major issue for cyclists in urban areas but also in rural areas. The road is a shared space with many types of vehicles, motorized or not. It is therefore essential to protect oneself from others but also to respect the other users by protecting them from any danger. Cyclists are often the most vulnerable, but following few basic rules can help to avoid the worst and create harmony on the roads. Here are the main rules to follow:
1. Be visible in all circumstances
Staying visible in all circumstances seems to be the most important aspect of road safety for cyclists. It is essential to be well equipped to make yourself visible. Wear reflective or flashing strips, fluorescent clothing or helmets. Light-coloured clothing worn close to the body also provides better visibility, both day and night. Scarves or long clothes that can get stuck in the spokes or brakes are to be avoided.
At nightfall or in the dark and rainy weather, don’t forget to equip yourself with lightings, these are essential and allow motorists to see you from afar and anticipate their driving as you approach. Even if there are street lights, it is essential to use lighting devices. Reflective lighting and retro-reflective devices as well as the wearing of a retro-reflective vest are mandatory.
2. Comply with traffic regulations and signs
Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, a shared space but also common rules of use. If you are cycling on the road, you must have read the Traffic Regulations rules! As a cyclist, you are more vulnerable and fragile to a motor vehicle. Similarly, you must also be vigilant towards pedestrians. Therefore it is important to be aware of the rules that are imposed for your own safety.
Here are some essential points of the Traffic Regulations rules:
- For pedestrian safety, cyclists are not allowed to ride on sidewalks.
- To signal your presence, use your bell (an audible warning device is mandatory on a bicycle).
- Even if the road is free and you can move forward, never run a red light or stop sign.
- Even if it may save you time, never take a prohibited direction.
However, be careful to a little exception that could quickly be fatal: the priority on the right. Never use this rule, motorists almost never give up the right-hand priority to a cyclist. The law of the strongest often operates in this situation. In a right-hand priority case, stop and check that the car stops to let you pass or let the vehicle pass to avoid a collision.
3. Pay attention to the environment
By bike or by car, it is essential to be constantly attentive to what is around you. This involves observing, listening to and anticipating the actions of the vehicles and pedestrians around you. While it is difficult to detect the intentions of drivers or pedestrians, it is important to be aware of the opportunities available to them. For example, as I approach a pedestrian crossing, I slow down even if I don’t see any pedestrians, a person could appear at the last minute and this would lead to a severe collision.
Concerning the noise environment, it is important to understand the challenge it represents. Indeed, motor vehicles produce a high level of noise that makes it easier to locate and apprehend them. In addition, the wearing of headphones or audio headphones on bicycles is now verbalisable by agents.
4. Keep a bike in good condition
A bike in good condition and well equipped helps to maximize your safety and helps to prevent fatal accident. It is essential to regularly check that your bike is in working order. Some equipment is even required to be able to ride your bike, such as a front brake, a rear brake, reflectors (retro-reflective devices)…
The maintenance of your bike is not to be taken lightly, regular inspection by a professional is strongly recommended to prevent any mechanical or technical incident.
In conclusion, every cyclist must be aware of the issues related to road safety and the sharing of the roadway with other motorized and non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians. Very vulnerable to accidents, cyclists must take their own measures and be very vigilant to their environment in order to protect themselves as much as possible. A few simple rules can help to avoid potentially fatal collisions and make cycling more enjoyable.