Are You Cycling Safely? 10 Dangers and How to Avoid Them


dangers of cycling

If you’ve taken up cycling to build up your fitness, that’s great, but have you stopped to think about the dangers? There are many risks involved in biking, making it one of the most dangerous forms of travel, per mile. But don’t be put off this excellent heart-pumper and muscle-builder because, with suitable precautions, you should be fine. Here are 10 key dangers to beware of, and tips for avoiding them:

1. Vehicles turning across your way 

cycling in traffic - cars

Watch out for large vehicles indicating they’re about to make a turning across your path. Cross-cutting is a common cause of fatal cycling accidents. If you’re close beside a truck or bus, the driver may not have spotted you, particularly if you’re on the passenger’s side. Either let them know you’re there, well in advance of their move and catching their eye to make sure or head out in front before they start turning, allowing comfortable time between your move and theirs.

2. Vehicles passing too closely 

Cycle well out from the curb to allow space for emergency maneuvering. Drivers often steer recklessly close to cyclists and swerve unpredictably, so keep a sharp eye out on busy roads. Road rage from drivers unable to get past can also cause dangerous situations. It might be worth saving your trip till after the rush hour or taking a quieter route.

3. Poor cycling skills 

Your cycling methods can pose a threat to your safety if they’re below standard. Make sure you respect all traffic signs, keep up with the flow when possible and don’t take risky shortcuts. Make clear turns, indicating with full arm movements from well in advance, and keep alert.

4. Poor visibility from the viewpoint of others 

Accidents often occur because the cyclist is unseen, so make sure you’re visible from a distance, day and night. Wear a fluorescent jacket and fix luminous strips to your helmet, shoes, trousers, and mudguards. Use front and rear lights in low-level daylight as well as at night. Ring your bell when pedestrians are near, as an extra precaution.

5. Poor view from the saddle 

Darkness, dazzling lights and extreme weather conditions will pose visibility problems for you, presenting potentially serious hazards. You may need protection from slanting sunbeams, rain or hail so that a purpose-made eye shield would be advisable. Use your lamps and ensure your mirrors are set correctly for a clear view around.

6. Uneven road surfaces 

Where possible, avoid poor quality, uneven roads, especially for fast cycling. A bump or hole could send you flying, possibly towards a vehicle, so pedal as slowly as need be and observe the road.

7. Fragmented cycle routes 

Official cycle routes are helpful, except when they stop abruptly. Sometimes they can be blocked by a parked car or pedestrians, or just peter out, requiring you to merge with the traffic at short notice. Check the cycle route first and ensure you’re visible and audible to pedestrians in all light and weather conditions.

8. Wild weather 

Strong winds can sweep a pushbike off-track, potentially into traffic, while heavy rain, snow or fog will pose visibility problems, so check the weather before setting out and assess the risks involved as you go. Occasionally, it may be necessary to pull off the road for a while, for the sake of others as well as yourself. Wear protective clothing, including gloves and warm layers on cold days.

9. Poor health or concentration 

Don’t push yourself so hard you get exhausted, or your speed could drop dangerously. Your concentration is also likely to lapse in that situation. If your heart is racing to an unnatural extent, or you’re feeling faint, stop at the nearest safe point and take a rest. Refrain from driving with a hangover or after a sleepless night, and think twice before setting out with anything significant occupying your mind. Take a bottle of water to keep you going.

10. Poor preparation 

There are many cyclists on the roads who are not suitably equipped. Check your cycle over before each ride, ensuring all components and accessories are in good order. If you’re carrying luggage, make sure you stow it safely. However safe you are, accidents can happen, so dress for the journey, with a helmet and nonslip gloves and footwear. You could also invest in protective body armor, such as knee and elbow pads. Check online for more available protection.

With your safety precautions intact, you can now focus on getting fit. If you’re out cycling with friends, you’ll be doing them a favor by demonstrating all your safety measures.

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