In recent years, the number of people choosing to cycle, whether it be for health benefits or as a way to get to work, has significantly increased throughout the UK. The popularity of cycling surged even more in 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people than ever before were taking to their bikes as a safe, economical and environmentally friendly way to get around.
Research from Cycling Scotland has found that between 2020 and 2021, there has been a 47% rise in people regularly cycling. This is hugely welcome news to many of the key cycling organisations in both the UK and Scotland, as the more people cycling, the greater the effect on public health, wellbeing and climate change.
However, as one of the most vulnerable road users, this unfortunately increases the risk to cyclists from not only poor road conditions, faulty equipment or inattentive drivers, but also from the winter weather.
As the clocks go back, the nights get darker and winter creeps in, the risk of cyclists being involved in a road traffic accident increases by 19%. Further to this, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) the most dangerous time of day for cyclists is between 3pm and 6pm, as this is when the light is fading and there is an increased number of vehicles on the road alongside cyclists, as people head home from work.
If you are injured in a cycling accident this winter that isn’t your fault, get in touch with the team here at Bonnar Accident Law. We have significant experience handling these types of claims and will work tirelessly to win the maximum financial settlement possible. If you’d like more information get in touch today, or keep reading to find out our top tips for cycle safety this winter.
Cycling and the law
If you’re planning to cycle during the winter months, it’s important that you know the law. That is, that it’s illegal to cycle on a public road after dark without lights and reflectors to ensure you can be seen by other vehicles and pedestrians.
There is however, a little more to it than that. Exactly which lights and reflectors you should use, where to fit them and when to light up, is defined by the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR). Cycling UK has an abundance of information on what’s legal and what isn’t when cycling on public roads, particularly in the dark.
In summary, the main points of the RVLR are that lights and reflectors are required on a pedal cycle only between sunset and sunrise, lights and reflectors are not required when the cycle is stationary or being pushed along the roadside and when they are required, the lights and reflectors must be clean and working properly.
Our top safety tips for cyclists
See and be seen
One of the most important safety tips, especially for cycling during the cold and dark winter months, is to make sure that you’re visible to other road users. You don’t have to adorn yourself head to toe in high-vis, but items such as reflective ankle straps that can be seen whilst pedalling or high-vis gloves to increase the visibility of your hand signals, are worth the investment. When it comes to cycling in the dark or in rainy and foggy weather, your clothing can never be too bright.
Check your lights
As we explained above, there is a legal minimum requirement when it comes to your lights and reflectors for cycling in the dark. Before you head off make sure your lights are in working order, and it can’t hurt to have a spare set or a charger, if required, with you. For particularly bad weather, flashing taillights as opposed to static taillights are also recommended, for riders to be more visible on the roads.
Keep your bike in tip-top condition
Regular maintenance checks and cleaning greatly reduces your chance of running into problems on the road. If you’re planning to use your bike regularly over the winter period, it could be worth investing in some winter tyres. At the least, you should be checking your tyres are clean and fully pumped before heading out, to decrease the risk of puncture.
Ride to the conditions
Ultimately, the weather plays a significant role in dictating how fast you can, and should, ride. Be prepared to take your time and take a spare set of clothes in case of any quick changes in the weather. If the weather turns really bad, be prepared to find another route or even consider an alternative mode of transport as cycling in severe frost or ice should only be undertaken with extreme caution, when there’s no other option.
Be aware of road positioning
You may need to ride even further out from the kerb than usual to be extra-sure that drivers have seen you. Riding a little further out will also mean you are more likely to avoid drain covers and road markings, which will both be extra-slippery in the damp, and helps to avoid fallen leaves, road debris and the inevitable potholes winter brings.
It may seem obvious, but on top of all the typical hazards cyclists have to contend with, there’s far more hidden dangers on the roads during the dark winter months. Cycling at a slightly slower speed than you would usually, will help you with the unexpected. If the roads are icy or slippery, it’s even more important to reduce your speed and control your brakes, to allow for extra stopping time.
What to do if you are involved in a cycling accident
We completely understand how distressing it is to be involved in a cycling accident. Just try your best to stay calm and remember as many details as you can, as these can help to support your claim if you weren’t at fault. Try to record the following:
- Names, addresses and contact details of all involved
- Vehicle registration details for all vehicles involved
- Accident date and time
- Accident location
- Full contact details of any witnesses
Most importantly of course, seek medical attention as soon as possible and report to your GP following any hospital admissions. Keep a record of any and all medication attention received. Lastly, remember to always report the accident to the police.
If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.