Cycling has many benefits, and people choose it over other transportation modes because it’s convenient, less expensive and better for their health.
Moreover, cycling is also a worldwide sport, where athletes give their best to prove their abilities. But how safe is it to cycle when cities are overwhelmed by road traffic? Are there ways to protect yourself from accidents? Read along and find out!
The dangers of cycling
Although cyclists are provided with the proper infrastructure, accidents still happen. Given that more people nowadays buy cars, the traffic is quite crowded. But the cycling trend had also increased because, according to BBC, the pandemic caused a “bike boom” in 2020, when people wanted to exercise more and avoid public transportation. At the same time, it’s more environmentally friendly to bike because a typical vehicle emits around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
But even though biking is beneficial for people’s health, a recent study showed that biking appears to be more dangerous than other commuting options. It seems that commuting by bike is associated with a 45% higher risk of admission to a hospital for an injury than other means of transport. For example, in the UK, 7% of the people who cycle got injured, while 4.3% of the commuters who travelled by other public transport suffered injuries.
But why is cycling this dangerous?
There are some reasons why cycling is dangerous, but it has almost nothing to do with cyclists. The roads are not provided with bicycle infrastructure, and the other road participants frequently ignore cyclists or don’t know how to keep the road safe.
Therefore, here are some common risks for cyclists:
- T-junctions. These are mostly caused by motorists emerging onto main roads and colliding with cyclists travelling past the junction.
- Roundabouts. These are the most common locations for accidents. When motorists emerge from a side road into a roundabout, they’re not giving enough space to cyclists, therefore hitting them before leaving the roundabout.
- Parked vehicles. This usually happens when people open their doors without looking in the mirror and hitting a cyclist.
- Potholes. Potholes usually can’t be avoided, but they’re very dangerous to cyclists and their bicycles.
- Overtaking. Sometimes, motorists change lanes without checking their mirrors or blind spot, resulting in a crash with a cyclist.
These road extensions are dangerous enough for cars and other road participants. Still, when it comes to cyclists, they’re accused of not making themselves visible and wearing fluorescent jackets. But most of the time, cyclists are badly injured and even killed by the negligence of other road participants.
Luckily, you can now make a compensation claim in the UK if you’ve had an accident while riding your bike. As long as you can prove that your injuries were the result of an accident caused by someone else, you can win the case. Remember to gather evidence from the place of the accident (photos, video recordings) and to keep all medical records, as well as any expenses receipt, so that your compensation can be calculated.
The compensation will be influenced by certain factors, such as the type of injury, gravity and the total financial losses you’ve suffered. So, make sure you’re providing your solicitor with all this information so that they can make justice.
Common health risks to cyclists
Besides the danger of riding in traffic, cycling has its health risks, especially concerning pain. So, here are some common issues with cycling:
- It can cause a muscular imbalance (developed leg muscles and much less muscular arms)
- It can cause neck and shoulder pain due to the body position
- It may cause numbness in some parts of your body
But apart from this, cycling is truly beneficial for your health. It can promote a healthy lifestyle by:
- Improving joint mobility
- Decreasing stress levels
- Improving posture and coordination
- Strengthening bones
- Decreasing body fat levels
- Preventing or managing diseases
But to safely enjoy cycling, you need to ensure precaution by knowing the rules and ways of cycling among other road traffic participants.
How to keep yourself safe on the road
When choosing to cycle through the road, it’s best to know what the cycling rules are in your country and some basic tips to help keep you safe on the road. For example, in the UK, there are some rules regarding safe cycling:
- Don’t carry a passenger.
- Don’t drink and ride because it will affect your riding capacity.
- Don’t ride on the motorway because the cars and other vehicles travel at high speeds, which could be deadly for you as a cyclist.
- Don’t ride your bicycle while crossing the street on a zebra. You must dismount and walk with your bike next to you.
- You can use the bus lane, but you need to check the signs and look out for people getting off the bus.
Safety tips for cyclists
- Always wear a good-quality helmet. It can prevent serious head injuries and fatal accidents.
- Learn to signal to other drivers. There are a few signals cyclists should know when riding in the traffic, like holding out an arm to the left or right to indicate they’re turning a corner.
- Avoid wearing headphones so you can hear what happens around you.
- Have a basic repair kit with you in case of a flat tyre and other simple repairs.
- Make yourself seen. Wear high-visibility clothing and make sure your lights are working. Also, your bicycle should be equipped with at least one red rear reflector and four amber pedal reflectors.
- Make sure your mirrors are in good positions. You should be able to look over your shoulder without swerving.
- Make a plan before heading out. Check for the weather so you can dress properly and look for any other road hazards that might’ve occurred while you were at home.
Finally, if you balance the benefits with the risks, you’ll find that cycling is beneficial and fun, so don’t let the statistics and numbers scare you. Like in any other sport and activity, you must know the rules and ensure safety.