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Five life-saving winter cycling tips

06 February 2015

Happy bike riding in winterWinter is a dangerous time to be on the roads, especially if you’re riding a bicycle. While bicycles are an efficient and eco-friendly way of getting around the harsh winter months do call for some extra precautions. If you plan on pedalling your way around this winter read on for our top five tips on how to stay safe.

Take out bicycle insurance

No matter how careful you are it’s impossible to eliminate on-road risks altogether. If you find yourself in an accident it pays to be covered by a comprehensive bicycle insurance policy that will cover the cost of damages to your bike, third party property and yourself.

Light up your life

According to data from Transport for London 34% of cyclists are injured between the hours of 4pm and 8pm. In the dark winter months it’s critical to fit your bicycle with lights and reflectors. In fact, it’s a year round legal requirement!

Make yourself visible

Many cyclists don’t realise just how invisible they are to motorists on a dark night. As such wearing reflective clothing is an absolute must for any cyclist. It doesn’t have to be a full scale suit, even just a reflective strip or two has been proven to be extremely effective.

Don’t cycle too close to the kerb

According to experts you should always cycle at least 50cm away from the kerb. This makes you more visible to vehicles and ensures that motorists only overtake you when it is safe to do so. Remember, you’re part of the traffic and have just as many road rights as any other vehicle.

Look after your bike

When it comes to winter safety regular maintenance is essential. Check your brakes, gears, lights and tyres as often as possible. Salt and grit can rapidly erode tyres while lowering pressure will help your wheels get a better grip on slippery roads.

Be vigilant

From potholes and pedestrians to black ice and skid inducing grit, winter roads are full on hazards which means its critical to stay vigilant at all times. Keep your eyes open and don’t wear headphones as they seriously limit your senses.

Dress for the weather

As Alfred Wainwright, well-known British fellwalker and guidebook author once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.” Dressing appropriately is one of the easiest ways to stay safe in the cold winter months. Layering is the key to success, starting with a light bottom layer, heavier inner layer and wind/water proof outer shell to protect you from the elements. Gloves can also be a good idea to avoid numb fingers which will jeopardise your control. And don’t forget your reflective stripes!

Bill Woodhead - post author

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