In Leeds, more and more of us are using cycling as a quick, affordable, and environmentally friendly way to get around. Cycling is not only beneficial to communities and the environment, but also to the health and well-being of the person cycling. A great deal of work is being undertaken in Leeds to increase levels of cycling and to improve infrastructure and road safety. The cycling strategy for Leeds can be viewed here.
As we see more daylight during main commuting times, and the weather (hopefully!) takes a positive turn, there may be some amongst us who are hopping back on the bike after a few months off. Here’s a reminder of some of the things to consider if you’ve not cycled for a while or are thinking of taking the plunge for the first time:
It’s important to keep your bike in good working order. Check your brakes are working and your tyres are inflated each time you ride. You should get your bike serviced at least once a year, and it’s probably worth getting a mechanic to have a good look at it if it’s been sitting in the shed or garage over the winter months. The M-check is an easy way to make sure that your bike is safe to ride. It involves following an M shape to check five points of your bike.
Skills for safe cycling
Cycle skills go beyond knowing the rules in the highway code and whether you believe you are a novice or experienced cyclist, you can always improve your ability to cope with traffic, complex junctions and new road designs.
It’s never too late to learn and if it’s the thought of cycling to work in rush hour traffic then CityConnect have training sessions available that can help you feel more confident on your bike. These sessions will cover all the basics from route planning and other essentials that will keep you safe and build your confidence.
Remember your bike lights
If you are cycling during hours of darkness, remember that bike lights are required from sunset to sunrise. You need a red light on the back and a white light on the front. Lights should be angled toward the road so that they do not dazzle or confuse others. Flashing lights are allowed: 2-3 flashes per second is best. A red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors are also required.
Let others know where you are going
It is helpful to all road users if they know where you are going and this should help keep you safer. Indicate your intentions to turn and stop. Use your arms and hands in a strong and obvious gesture if it is safe to do so. Make eye contact with other road users whenever possible.
Traffic lights are for cyclists too. You must stop at red lights. Keep an eye out for advance green lights for cyclists.
Keep your bike safe
Do not lock your bike in places where it will cause an obstruction. Whenever possible please use designated stands. Use a good lock and make sure you lock the frame of the bike.
Where can I cycle?
There are several signs which indicate where you can and cannot cycle.
Did you know it is illegal to cycle on foot-ways alongside roads unless one of the shared use signs below is displayed? The sign, with no white lines, tells you that it’s a shared use, unsegregated cycle and pedestrian route, whereas the one with the white line shows you which side of the shared use path you should cycle on.
Do you want to know more cycling signs and road markings? Follow this link to Sustrans.
Consideration for other vulnerable road users
On a number of occasions recently, we have been contacted by vulnerable road users (including cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders) who feel frustrated by the actions of those on two wheels. People with visual and hearing impairments have also raised issues around being suddenly overtaken and taken aback by cyclists they were unaware of. You might have personal experience of this yourself. So, it is only fair that we raise awareness around inconsiderate cycling, and how this can damage the perception of cyclists and undermine what good comes from choosing to cycle. Like with driving, the majority of us use the road with due care and attention, but there are a few who cycle with the view that they are invincible and unstoppable. I’m sure many of us have witnessed ‘the cyclist who was riding like an idiot’, or that ‘dude’ jumping the lights, or cutting up the pavement. All these behaviours are ones which ‘we’ expect drivers to obey. Yet a minority of cyclists feel that lights don’t matter or that they can overtake others closely and at inappropriate speeds. However, by riding in this manner they are doing more harm than good to how cyclists are perceived.
It’s quite simple really – if you ride with due care and attention, show respect to others, and follow the guidelines provided for all road users, you can help to build that positive perception of cyclists with others.
Respect goes both ways and we all need to share the spaces we have whether they are good or bad and we have to learn to get along and abide by the rules of the road.
It makes perfect sense that the more people we get out on their bikes in and around Leeds, will inevitably mean less pollution, noise and congestion for everyone, less strain on the NHS from obesity-related illness and more pleasant streets in our communities. So isn’t it about time we all started to be a little bit more considerate, no matter how we use the roads?
Coming next month
- Who are cycle commuters? We have an insight into the cycle commuters within Leeds City Council and their thoughts on why cycling to work.
- Consider Driving – Sharing the roads
And keep an eye out for our Close Pass Blog that will be out soon, ready for the launch in April.