Tips for safe cycling from London Cycling Campaign
The following was written for London, but much of it applies to Dublin conditions.
In any case, use your own judgement, be alert and enjoy your bike ride!
(Note: In the diagram above, there’s a left-turning lane for cars, and a cycle lane to the right of that. Here in Dublin the cycle lane is often put to the left of the car lane, which can encourage left-turning drivers to cut dangerously across straight-ahead cyclists. Beware of this! -sometimes it’s safest to actually move out of the cycle lane into the middle of the car lane, to discourage drivers from cutting you off. This is known as ‘commanding the lane’)
Be assertive: You’ve the same right to use the road as that motor car behind you! Keep well out from the kerb or parked cars. Make eye contact with drivers who might cross your path, and use hand signals when turning.
Give pedestrians priority on shared paths; give them kind of space you’d like to be given by cars.
Make sure you can be seen at night: Use lights and consider wearing hi-visibility clothing or adding reflective material to your bike.
Take extra care in the rain: Give yourself extra room to manoeuvre or stop.
Jumping red lights and riding on pedestrian-only pavements is illegal and can also be dangerous or frightening for others. Don’t do it!
Take special care at junctions and never cut inside a left-turning lorry – it’s potentially hazardous and not worth the risk for the few seconds saved.
Using a mobile phone whilst cycling can distract your attention from the road. Better to stop and take that call.
Consider investing in panniers, a rack, basket or good rucksack: dangling shopping from your handlebars or carrying bags under one arm will make it much harder to steer safely.
Look after your bike! A well-maintained bike is your best ally on the road. Check your tyres and brakes regularly. If you want to learn how to service your bike, why not contact London Cycling Campaign to find your nearest bike maintenance course or organise a Dr Bike for your workplace, school or community group to get your bike checked and learn how to perform basic maintenance.
Do tell others road users when their actions may have caused you an accident. But remember that being calm and polite is more likely to get your point across; you can also win more support for cyclists by waving or otherwise acknowledging when someone has been courteous to you.
Finally, there’s great advice in ‘Cyclecraft’ by John Franklin, available in good bookshops.
Help us do more for cycling in Dublin, please consider getting involved.