As the number of cars on the road and the amount of congestion have increased significantly in Britain in recent years, many commuters are turning to cycling to get into work. In many cases cycling can be faster than driving, it enables you to get a workout (without going to the gym) and often it means you can avoid congestion altogether.
However, in terms of safety on a bike you are significantly more vulnerable when commuting by a road than you are in a car (mainly because of cars but still). So how do you give yourself the best chance to prevent an accident and minimise the risk of injury to you and others while commuting on a bike?
Fortunately, the Entrepreneur Handbook team are keen commuter cyclists, and we’ve put together a list of the best cycling safety equipment (high and low tech) that we use and why.
Before anything else you need to protect your head, there is a clear and present danger to sustaining a head injury (or brain injury in worst cases) when you fall or are knocked off your bike during the commute to work.
When it comes to choosing a helmet, you want to select something which provides maximum safety coupled and a half-decent level of breathability. Often pricing is also a consideration, but given the severity of the injury, you could sustain its worth investing heavily in a helmet. You need a helmet that can take a hit and protect your head in the process (Nutcase are one of the best around for the balance above, there are also a range of other helmets – If you want additional safety look for a helmet that includes MIPS protection).
Lights & reflectors
When it comes to night cycling or cycling on days with low visibility (rain, cloud…), being seen is crucial if you want to avoid being hit by motorists or pedestrians crossing roads looking at their phones. You’re particularly at risk if your commute involves busy or well-trafficked roads, equally dark country lanes aren’t the safest places either (people tend to speed).
That’s why it’s essential to ensure your lit up like a Christmas tree; this means ensuring you bright white lights on the front of the bike and red lights on the back. It would help if you considered adding reflectors on the bike wheels and forward/backward positions. If you want to go a step further, you can add stick-on reflectors to your helmet and even wear a high visibility vest or another reflective piece of clothing.
Also, if you want to get the latest technology when it comes to bike lights, you can try See Sense Ace Lights which use sensors to detect motorists and environments, adjusting lighting patterns to offer optimum visibility and safety (they also do a few other cool things).
Mudguards are used to act as a barrier in stopping mud or water you pick up on your wheels from flying onto your clothes. What many people don’t realise is that they also help prevent small stones, mud and water flying into your eyes (which can affect your vision), even if you momentarily lose it can be a matter of life and death on a bike, particularly if you’re on a busy road.
Bells are often underrated as a piece of safety equipment, where they come into play is in letting people who don’t see know that you there (this can help to avoid a pedestrian collision which could hurt you both). You may ask why not just shout? Most Bells produce a high-pitched noise that is recognised as an alert signal by most people; you can also usually more quickly hit a bell than shout at a pedestrian to avoid stepping out into the road (when you have the right of way).
If you want to go the extra mile in protecting yourself from the physical harm you might suffer from a cycling accident on the way to work; you can procure full or partial body army. This can include tear-resistant jackets with pads built or a combination of arms, knee and hard protectors.
There are many different options when it comes to body armour. Ideally, you want something easy to put on, is breathable (comfortable to wear) and that offers you reliable protection in the event of a cycling accident. On a final note, other types of equipment you can also explore in terms of improving safety are cycling glasses, wider/thicker wheels, different bike models and mouth guards.