You'll need the right clothing and safety equipment if you're going to cycle regularly on busy roads. You should know the highway code and how to ride with confidence. Get advice on the gear you'll need and how to handle busy roads.
Make sure you have the right clothing
Fit a bell to your bike so you can signal to other road users. Make sure you wear clothing that’s appropriate for cycling. You should be able to move freely without anything getting caught in your bike's chain or wheels, or covering your lights. You should wear -
light-coloured or fluorescent clothing that helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
reflective clothing and or accessories, like a belt or arm/ankle bands, in the dark
Your rucksack can affect your balance on a bike if it's too big or heavy. You could use panniers instead.
Helmets can help prevent a head injury if you fall from your bike. You should wear a helmet that -
meets the British Standard (BS EN 1078:1997)
is a snug fit and positioned squarely on your head - sitting just above your eyebrows, not tilted back or tipped forwards
is securely fastened by straps, which aren't twisted, with only enough room for two fingers between your chin and the strap
Make sure you replace your helmet every five years. Don't buy a second-hand helmet - it may be damaged and not protect you properly.
Compulsory lights and reflectors
If you use your bike at night or when visibility is poor, you must fit a -
Reflectors fitted to the front and the spokes will also help you to be seen. You can get lights that are steady or flashing or a mixture (steady at the front and flashing at the back). A steady light at the front is important when you're cycling through areas without good street lighting.
Check that any steady lights meet BS 6102-3. Flashing lights don't have to meet the standard but they must -
Your pedal reflectors and rear reflector must meet BS 6102-2. You can also use a light or reflector that meets a standard accepted by another European Commission (EC) country (equal to the British Standard).
Additional lights and reflectors
You can use other lights as well as the compulsory ones but they must -
- be the right colour - white at the front, red at the back
- not dazzle other road users
If they flash, it must be at a rate of one to four equal flashes per second.
How to cycle safely on the road
Don't listen to music or use a mobile phone while cycling – distractions cause accidents. When you are cycling on busy roads you need to show drivers what you plan to do. Motorists usually travel faster than cyclists and may have less time react to hazards.
Try to anticipate what a driver will do and -
- ride positively and decisively
- look and signal before you start, stop or turn
- ride well clear of the kerb - one metre away or in the centre of the left lane
- make eye contact with drivers to let them know you have seen them
- acknowledge any courtesy from drivers
- ride a car door width away from parked cars
Cycling on shared paths
People may not see or hear you approaching on shared paths so -
- slow down
- use your bell to let people know you're there
- be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary
- keep to the cyclists' side
Know your highway code
The highway code explains the laws you and other road users must follow. It provides advice on safe road use and information on the meaning of the different signs and road markings that you must obey. You should know the rules for cyclists, as well as the rules for all road users, before you cycle on the road.
For the full highway code visit the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window)
Learn about the rules for cyclists on the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window)
Find out about road traffic signs on the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window)
Find out about road markings on the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window)
If you have an accident
Tell the police if you're involved in a collision on your bike where someone is injured. Make sure anyone who is hurt gets medical attention.
Learn about first aid on the road on the GOV.UK website (link opens in a new window)
You should get insurance for yourself and your bike. If you don't, you may have to pay for any damage caused to someone or their property because of an accident with your bike. You may receive third party insurance if you become a member of some cycling organisations.