Cycle Safety

Wirral SignIf you're planning on getting about on your bike, there are things you need to consider to keep safe. On this page, you'll find how to get hold of Cycle Maps, top tips for cyclists and how to carry out a five minute bike safety check.

You can download Cycle Maps for Wirral and the wider Merseyside area from the TravelWise website.

The maps show cycle lanes and suggested routes avoiding busy roads and junctions. They will help you discover the network of cycle tracks and quiet streets that provide enjoyable cycling routes; whether for study, work, shopping or leisure journeys.

Top Tips for cyclists

  • Get training. Cycle training will give you the skills you need to ride safely on today's busy roads. Visit the Bikeability website for more information on training.
  • Learn the code. Study the Highway Code and be considerate to other road users, particularly pedestrians.
  • Pay attention to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, one-way streets and other road signs, and always obey police officers, traffic wardens and school crossing patrol officers.
  • Keep your bike in good working order. Take care to maintain your bike properly, including tyres, brakes and lights. Read the simple bike healthcheck below.
  • Wear a helmet. Half the injuries to cyclists are to the head and face. Choose a helmet that meets national safety standards: either British (9BS 6863 or BS EN 1078), American (ANSI Z90.4 or SNELL) or Australian (AS 2063). Make sure your helmet fits properly - see the quick guide further down this page.
  • Wear light coloured clothing. Fluorescent by day and reflective by night is best.
  • Be aware. Look all around you when you start off, turn, overtake or stop.
  • Give clear signals. Make sure that your hand signals are clear and visible.
  • Don't get distracted. Don't listen to music or use a mobile phone when you're cycling, or talk to your friends if they're cycling with you.
  • Get lights. Remember, it's an offence to cycle at night without a white front light, a red back light and a red reflector at the back. If you have a dynamo on your bike, the lights will go out when you stop and you won't be so easily visible.

The 5-minute bike check

Maintaining your bike in good working order will help keep you safe on the road. Here are a few simple checks that you should do regularly to make sure that your bike is in good working order.

1. Front tyre and wheels
Lift the front end of the bike by the handlebar stem:

  • pat the front tyre to check the wheel is tight in the frame
  • squeeze the sides of the front tyre to check that it's inflated properly
  • check that the wheel doesn't move from side to side when you try to wobble it - this could mean the bearings are worn

2. Brakes
Put the front wheel down and apply the front and back brakes. Check that:

  • the brake pads bear evenly on the rim - they don't touch at one end and not the other
  • the cables inside the levers aren't frayed
  • there is nothing missing from the brake mechanism (e.g. small nuts or fixing screws)
  • the brakes work - try to push the bike forward with the brakes on

3. Handlebars
Release the brakes, step over the front wheel and grip it between your knees. Then:

  • holding the handlebar grips, check for movements side to side and up and down
  • check that all levers on the handlebars are tightly fitted

4. Saddle
Move towards the rear of the bike and hold the saddle tightly. Check that you can't move it up and down or from side to side.

5. Rear wheel and tyres
Lift the rear of the bike by the saddle:

  • pat the tyre in the direction of the rear drop-outs to check the rear wheel is tight in the frame
  • squeeze the sides of the rear tyre to check inflation
  • wobble the wheel from side to side to check for bearing tightness

6. Gears
You'll need someone to help you with this one. Ask the rider to work the pedals by hand while you hold the rear wheel off the ground by the saddle.

  • While the bike is being pedalled by hand, shift through all the gears on the back sprocket to check that the chain stays on in the highest and lowest gear.
  • Do the same with the front gear changer to check that the chain will not come off the chainrings.
  • Wobble the pedals side to side in turn to check that they don't move too much. This could indicate worn bearings in the bottom bracket.
  • Make sure your helmet fits properly

A properly fitting helmet:

  • needs to be positioned squarely on your head, sitting just above the eyebrows and not tilted back or tipped forwards
  • must be a snug fit and should remain secure on your head
  • should not stop you seeing clearly or cover your ears
  • should have its straps securely fastened and not twisted, with only enough room for two fingers between your chin and the strap

Source: DfT's THINK! website

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