Protecting yourself – tips on defensive cycling

While you can’t beat proper infrastructure for cycling, both for safety and enjoyment (it’s no fun wondering if that revving car coming up from behind has seen you or not), knowing how to cycle defensively will help keep you safe. Bikeradar has some tips on staying safe, and some good points on the general safety of cycling.

Cycle to work and someone is bound to tell you how brave you are, or at least imply it, because the perception is that cycling on today’s roads is dangerous. Except, actually, it isn’t.

Per mile, more people get killed walking than cycling according to the UK’s National Travel Survey and you’re more likely to suffer an injury requiring medical care while gardening than on your bike. Cycling is statistically safe. “Per year, there are 10 to 15 fatalities due to people falling off bikes with no other vehicle involved,” says safety expert and co-author of Health on the Move, Malcolm Wardlaw.

“Around 200 under-65s each year die in falls while walking. I don’t remember the last time I read a newspaper report of a pedestrian killed falling down steps, yet far rarer cases of cyclists killed in falls get a lot of media coverage – together with whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not.”

Even when you throw motor vehicles into the mix, cycling remains stubbornly safe. It’s a little more risky than driving in the UK, taken as an average, but not much. And it’s not like UK cycle commuters are constantly running the gauntlet compared with their counterparts in the Netherlands. Malcolm Wardlaw says: “The difference in risk between UK cyclists and Dutch cyclists is less than the difference between French drivers and UK drivers. French drivers face higher long-term risks than British cyclists.”