Cycling safety has become a major concern on the South Africa roads as there has been a significant increase in the number of fatal accidents involving cyclists. The beautiful South African scenery allows for much enjoyment on the road and the number of competitive cyclists is also on the increase. Competitions are well organized and there is careful attention to safety details - it is however during training that cyclists have to deal with the dangers caused by other road users, harsh conditions of nature and the perils of bad road conditions.
The following tips will enhance cycling safety:
- Ensure your bike is in good repair.
- Always wear cycle helmets to prevent head injuries. Head injuries cause a high percentage of all cycling deaths – much of which can be prevented by wearing a helmet.
- Replace any damaged helmets for maximum protection. Helmets must fit properly to be safe. When the straps and comfort pads are adjusted, the helmet should not move forward, backward, or come off. It should sit level on the head and extend down to about two fingers (3 cm) above the eyebrows. Chin straps should be snug without pinching, and the front and rear straps should meet just below each ear when tightly adjusted.
- Helmets only work once. If a helmet has been in a collision that required the inner lining to absorb shock, buy another one! Even though the damage may not be visible, the shock absorbing qualities may be deadened.
- Wear eyewear to protect eyes from dirt, wind and bugs.
- Wear reflective and fluorescent clothing suitable for the weather and time of day that will help other road users to see you.
- Obey the rules of the road and know what each traffic sign means - Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Watch out for surface conditions like pot- holes and debris.
- Never ride your bike through puddles, there may be hazards hidden beneath the water that you can’t see
- Allow ample time to inform vehicles behind of your intention to turn either left or right with hand signals.
- Keep both hands on the handlebars unless signaling
- Be very cautious at blind spots- think ahead before you react.
- At bends and corners of junctions, do not try to speed past a lorry or long vehicle when turning, the driver may not have seen the cyclist approaching at the nearside. It can be very dangerous.
- Avoid swerving left and right on the road, ride in a straight line.
- Avoid speeding behind a moving vehicle, if it brakes sharply there could be a collision.
- Pedestrians should be given priority at all times, remember that some of them may be partially sighted or deaf and may not be aware of your presence.
- Avoid carrying any load that will affect your balance and centre of gravity.
- On hot summer days, wear sunscreen and bring water to prevent dehydration.
It is suggested that cyclists make sure that they wear an emergency bracelet. There have been a number of cyclists that owe their lives to the fact that they were wearing the 084 124
bracelet. The bracelet contains a piece of paper with medical aid details, allergies etc. This is very important info for medics to have when treating an injured cyclist as they are often unconcious or incoherrent in an accident. It forms part of an ER24 product specifically for cyclists which is administered via the Gauteng Pedal Power Association. Cyclists can contact their cycling club or the GPPA directly for more information.
For a very comprehensive analysis of all aspects of cycling safety, visit the web site Ken Kifer's Bike Pages