Autumn cycling safety tips
As the clocks go back and the days get shorter, it is vital for cyclists to ensure they adjust their riding habits and safety gear to accomodate for the season. In particular, cyclists must take steps to be be more visible, as they take to the roads on the darker mornings and evenings.
To reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists without bike lights, police in Humberside have launched a campaign in partnership with local radio stations and on social media, urging cyclists to take extra care to be bright and be seen.Certain roads have been identified by the scheme as hotspots for unlit cyclists. The partnership officers will be targeting these areas, as well as locations with high volumes of mixed traffic.
The partnership is distributing free cycling packs in the local area to raise awareness among all road users.
Unlit cyclists have also recently been identified as an issue affecting road users in York. North Yorkshire Police issued 36 Traffic Offence Reports to offending cyclists in just a few hours last October. This year, the force is working with City of York Council to target cyclists who cause danger to themselves and others by cycling without lights.
Traffic police will be on hand to speak to cyclists, providing them with advice and education on safe cycling, whilst York Council will offer high visibility rucksack covers and sets of emergency lights to young riders. Packs will also be offered to other vulnerable road users, who would otherwise have to walk home if forced to continue their journey without lights. Officers will continue to issue tickets for cycling offences where necessary.
With other police forces looking set to introduce similar schemes, here is a timely reminder of the law and a few cycling safety tips.
- Firstly, we should remember that it is the law to have clean and working lights at night (white at the front and red at the back) as well as a rear reflector. Whilst most cyclists conform to these requirements, some do not, or believe that a tiny red, flashing rear light is sufficient.
- Making sure your lights are all in good working order, free from mud and dirt, and emitting a steady bright light, front and back, will help make you visible to other road users.
- Dark winter clothing that blends into the darkness might be practical and warm in wet weather, however it makes cyclists invisible. Bright and fluorescent clothing is better, although fluorescent clothing does not show up in the dark.
- One solution is to wear reflective accessories such as armbands, sashes or vests that will be picked up in car headlights. Flashing armbands are also available and, with clip-on reflectors on your cycle pedals, handlebars and helmet, will also increase your visibility. If your cycle has panniers or you carry a rucksack, put reflective stickers on them too.
As well as lighting up like a Christmas tree, cyclists should also be aware of the extra hazards that autumn and winter bring to the roads.
Whilst we may all be aware of the dangers of black ice, fallen wet leaves may be just as slippery under your tyres, and rain water may fill deep potholes, disguising them.
And remember, whatever the weather, however light or dark the days, always wear a helmet.
For more information about cycling rules and regulations, see our cycling highway code article here.