Cycling with Consideration – Are you ready to cycle?

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:

Maintenance

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

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.

Final thought

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.

6 comments

  1. “Sharing the roads considerate cycling” is possibly the worst headline you could have given this article and immediately implies cyclists are a bigger danger on roads than drivers. There is enough of a divide between cyclist and driver without fanning the flames further.

    For every bad cyclist (see Deliveroo riders), there is a bad driver. The difference is that drivers are protected by a tonne of metal.

    It’s a two way street and there needs to be a mutual respect for the safety of both parties.

    Why is there no mention of the law change for overtaking cyclists if the message is about being safe and considerate?

    The Highway Code’s insistence cars should leave a decent distance between them an cyclists when passing (1.5m) is now being strengthened by fines. Following law changes in March, motorists could be fined for not leaving enough space between a vehicle and a bike. Failure to do so could land you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence. Police forces across the country are being encouraged to penalise those who drive dangerously close to cyclists.

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  2. Another article promoting the cyclist as a vulnerable road user. I too, as an equestrian, fall into this category. Too often the cyclist gets all the air space and the many riders with their horses/ponies get very little mention. the article mentions visibility on the roads – rarely do I see cyclists sporting as much hi viz as a rider and their horse. Usually cyclists are all in black with maybe a strip of hi viz on the side of their shorts. Half a ton of horse decked out in hi viz rugs, bandages with the rider in jackets and hat bands is the norm and they’re hard to miss but the same consideration is not given to them. 1.5 m passing distance – youre having a laugh. Cyclists will appear out of nowhere coming up behind you and are not heard but the horse will see them and can panic – a flight animal by nature and there have been some awful near misses and some dreadful accidents all of these are now being reported to the British Horse Society who are collating the statistics. Motorists will try and squeeze past us on the roads justifying it by saying “we’re going slow”. Please have some consideration for us too – cyclists shout a warning “hello” well before you come past, be aware that the horse /pony can be in the middle of road in 2 steps. Half a ton of horse on your bonnet or through your windscreen is not something you want to remember. Also these animals are someone’s best friend, loved pet, reason to get out of bed on a morning and they are sentient beings. Please please be aware and if a rider signals to you (hand signals are also in the highway code) please respect what they are asking and if you have to wait please do so patiently.

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  3. Couldn’t agree more that cyclists are dangerous to pedestrians.

    I walk through the city centre and almost every day I’m faced with an angry cyclist flying down the pavement, weaving between crowds, bumping into people and then getting angry at the pedestrians that dare to get in their way.

    The narrow pavement to the side of Civic Hall (Portland Way side) is particularly bad for it, they’re often trying to force their way through groups of people at the two pedestrian crossings. And so is Portland Street where not only do I see them forcing pedestrians into the road with their riding on that narrow pavement but those that ride on the road do it the wrong way on a one way street.

    Something needs to be done.

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  4. You just don’t get enough people commuting to work by horse any more, not like the good old days. Maybe the Council should take this opportunity to provide more equestrian friendly parking facilities in Leeds city centre, I’m sure it would help with the Clean Air Zone and congestion. With the Connecting Leeds consultation currently open, this could be the perfect opportunity to stamp out those pesky cyclists and introduce exciting new equine opportunities. Leeds, already known as a hub of innovation, could really put itself on the map with the first metropolitan bridleway. We need fewer car parks and significantly more stables in town, did you know its over 8 miles from Leeds City centre to the nearest stables, I would like to see Woodhouse Car park repurposed into a state of the art multi storey stable. Honestly, it’s as if the council doesn’t care about the working class horses in its city.

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  5. This article is likely preaching to the converted and targeting the wrong people. It’s highly unlikely that LCC employees are the main culprits riding dangerously.
    The message would be better served to those on bikes working for the likes of Deliveroo, or students. Or those on mopeds.

    I wasn’t aware of any new law regarding a safe passing distance for horses this year.
    Section 215 of the highway code is unchanged and still states “Drivers should ‘pass wide and slowly’ when passing a horse and always listen to a rider’s request to slow down or stop.”,
    There was a change to the safe passing distance of cyclists which I felt was missing from this article, which should be about promoting sharing roads safely and mutual respect.

    There is a huge issue with ‘cyclists’ on pavements, undertaking buses, holding onto cars going through red lights etc, I agree. I see it every day. However, the message still stands that there needs to be respect on both sides between drivers and cyclists. The fact remains that cyclists are vulnerable road users.

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