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Cycling safely is good for everyone

Healthy and sustainable, cycling is a great way to get around.

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  • Be prepared

  • Bicycle care is vital

  • Know the rules

  • New rules apply

Make bike journeys even more enjoyable

Cycling has so many obvious benefits. New rules now give cyclists better protection on the road but to make the most of any journey, it’s always best to think ahead and put safety first.

What you need to know

  • The law has changed and now gives cyclists more rights
  • Anyone cycling needs to know the rules of the road
  • Regular bike maintenance is important
  • From clothing to helmets, planning ahead is a must
  • Electric bikes are a good way to get around

Important new rules

  • There’s now a new hierarchy of road users
  • Those who can do the most harm have the greatest responsibility
  • Drivers and riders have to give way to pedestrians crossing a road
  • Pedestrians and cyclists have priority when turning in and out of junctions
  • Drivers and riders need to give plenty of space when passing others. At least:
    • 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at up to 30mph
    • 2 metres and under 10mph for horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles
    • 2 metres and a low speed when passing pedestrians walking on a road
  • Cyclists can go in the centre of the lane, or two side-by-side for their own safety
  • In a vehicle, the door should be opened with the hand furthest from the door, helping to make drivers look over their shoulder to see cyclists or pedestrians nearby

An early start

Most children enjoy cycling and, the earlier they start, the more familiar they’ll be with all the safety aspects. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Balance bikes – small bikes with no pedals – can help young children get started

  • Tandem bikes, which attach to an adult bike, can teach children to pedal properly

  • Any child cycling needs the right clothes, plus a suitable helmet

  • It’s important to make sure the bike’s the right size

  • Cycle training at school often starts in the playground and may move to on-road training

  • For more information about cycle training, speak to your local council, or see below

Child cycle training

Improving your cycling know-how

  • If you’ve never cycled before, or just want a reminder of the basics, you can look into cycle training
  • You can also ask your local council, as they may offer adult cycle training too

Looking after your bike

It’s important to regularly check that your bike’s roadworthy

Basic maintenance includes checking:

  • Wheels, spokes and tyres
  • Both brakes
  • Chain, pedals and gears
  • Lighting and reflectors
  • Handlebars and seat

What you’ll need to take

  • Charged-up phone
  • Tyre pump
  • Puncture repair kit or spray foam
  • Set of allen keys
  • Spanners to release the wheel (if you don’t have quick release bolts)
  • Wet wipes to clean hands
  • Water and something to eat

What you’ll need to wear

Wearing the right safety gear can help to stop serious injuries.

Helmets

  • A cycle helmet can protect you from serious head injuries
  • Try a few different styles to find the best one for you
  • To make sure it fits properly, you can:
    • Place it on your head and tighten the rear grip
    • Make sure the side straps are just below your ears
    • The chin clip should be tight enough to let you squeeze in no more than two fingers

Clothes

  • Cycling clothes should fit well and be bright enough to get noticed
  • Most cycle clothes offer summer and winter versions
  • Shorts or cycling trousers often have padding in strategic areas to provide additional comfort
  • Gloves have padded palms to absorb jarring from road bumps
  • Cycling shoes have a harder sole for more control when pedalling
  • A skull cap helps with head warmth in winter

Make sure you can always be seen

  • If you’re using a bike when it’s dark, it must have the right lights and reflectors
  • Lights and reflectors need to be red at the rear and white at the front
  • Pedal reflectors should be amber or yellow
  • Flashing lights are legal and can be combined with fixed lights
  • A bar mirror is always a good idea
  • A bell or warning device can come in handy, particularly on cycle paths

Electric bikes

Electrically Assisted Pedal Bikes are becoming ever more popular. Anyone over 14 can use one, with no licence, tax or insurance needed. They can have more than two wheels but they must:

  • Have working bike pedals
  • Have a motor that shows the power output, or the manufacturer
  • Show the battery’s voltage and the bike’s maximum speed
  • There are also some rules around the electric motor itself:
  • It must have a maximum power output of 250 watts
  • It shouldn’t work when the bike’s going at more than 15.5mph

Watch out for homemade conversions

  • Electric bike conversions can be illegal on the road
  • Their speed and power might be over the regulations
  • The brakes and frame might not be able to handle the changes
  • If the bike’s power and speed is over the regulations, it’ll need to be registered as a moped or motorcycle
  • And also taxed and insured
  • Plus, you’ll have to wear a helmet
  • It’s an offence to use an illegal electric bike

Cycle to Work Scheme

  • Using a salary sacrifice, this is a simple, tax efficient way to own your own bike
  • You can use it to buy a bike, plus clothes and safety equipment
  • The scheme includes electric bikes
  • To find out more, ask your employer or visit the Cycle Scheme website
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