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Ditch the car

Posted 15.01.16 | By Dan Smith

Ditch the car – Top tips for a safer commute

Commuting by bike is a much more satisfying way to make that journey, however long or short, to work. In Copenhagen, 52% of people commute by bike, covering around 745,000 miles every day.

Ditching the car and hitting the roads on two wheels is a great way to save money, especially when it comes to fuel and congestion charges. Plus, you can escape the grind of being stuck in traffic or packed up against other commuters and it’s a great chance to keep up with your cardio fitness.

But it’s also the busiest time for roads and can often feel like a something of a labyrinth for cyclists. It’s still safer than many people think, with only one cyclist killed on Britain’s roads for every 27 million miles travelled, according to Government statistics. Still, the risk is there and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Here are some tips to make your commute as worry-free as possible:

 

Be safe, be seen

Since most commutes occur around dawn or dusk, you may often find yourself cycling in low-light conditions, particularly during the winter months. You need to make sure you’re as visible as possible to ensure cars and pedestrians can see you.

You can find a huge range of bike lights, which you should already have by law, but the most effective means of making yourself more visible is with reflective clothing. These days, you can find a variety quality high-vis cycling kit so there’s plenty to choose from.

 

Out of the gutter

You have as much right to be on the road as any motorist, so don’t feel like you have to hug the curb. In fact, the curb is often a bigger hazard than the road itself. With drains, debris and uneven surfaces, you have a higher chance of causing punctures to your bike and causing potential hazards.

The ideal position is 1 metre from the kerb and a car door’s away from any parked cars. Be especially careful if cycling past passenger doors, as they are much less likely to check to see if it’s clear before opening their door.

 

Filter with care

The great thing about commuting by bike is that you can filter through any traffic jams. But doing so puts you at more risk of accident. When traffic is slow or at a complete standstill, it’s best to go slow so you can keep an eye out for any opening doors. This is particularly common with taxis, so take extra care when passing one.

It’s a common rule to make your intentions clear early, signalling well in advance, but you should also never undertake large vehicles such as lorries and buses, as they’re often unable to see you. Be equally wary of any vehicle turning or switching lane on the left too as this is a major blind spot for drivers.

These simple tips can make for a much smoother, safer and more enjoyable commute so you can beat the traffic, rising fuel prices and get fit all at the same time.

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