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Cycling advice

Riding a bike in London is fun, quick and easy, but it's important to ride safely. It’s a good idea to be aware of hazards and avoid bad riding habits.

Cycle skills

You can take a free cycle skills session to improve your abilities and confidence. Even seasoned commuters could learn some good new cycle skills.
Visit http://islington.bookcycletraining.com to book.

Riding safely - You should ride your bike about one metre from the kerb or parked cars. This makes it easier for you to see (and be seen by) other road users and pedestrians. It also reduces the chance of a collision if a vehicle door is opened.

Keep a look out! - Look behind you before you make any manoeuvre. This shows other road users that you might be about to change direction and helps you to make a confident decision about when to change position on the road.

Signalling - Communicating with other road users is very important. Once you have checked behind you, signal well in advance of any turn or major lane change to let other road users know your intentions.

Watch out for large vehicles - Do not pass large vehicles such as buses or lorries on their left hand side. They can cut the corner when they turn and their visibility is not always good due to their high driving position. Some large vehicles may swing to the right prior to making a left turn - do not try to move into the gap.

Adopt a safe position - Position yourself in the centre of the correct lane when using filter lanes at traffic lights. This helps other road users see you and indicates your intentions. Do not cycle on the pavement. Not only is it illegal but it can be dangerous and intimidating for pedestrians. If you don’t feel confident cycling on the road, please sign up for free cycle skills sessions.

Follow the Highway Code - You should always stop at red traffic lights. When you ride a bike you are in charge of a vehicle on the road and should abide by the Highway Code. This is for the safety of you and everyone around you. Give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross on a zebra crossing. They have right of way.

Lights - Use front and rear lights when cycling at night. You are required to do so by law, but more importantly it allows other road users to see you clearly. You could also install a bell on your bike so that you can make pedestrians aware when you are cycling in a park or alongside a canal.

Winter cycling tips

Rainy days - Wet roads (and leaves) are slippery. Keep your brakes in good working order, allow for longer stopping distances, avoid slippery manhole covers and take care when cornering.

Waterproofs and insulation - A waterproof jacket will become a very good friend if you want to keep cycling through the winter. Never leave yours at home! Wearing layers will keep you warmer and give you the ability to adjust your temperature by adding or removing layers. You’ll be a happier cold-weather cyclist wearing gloves too.

Mudguards - Keep your feet, rear and bike dry by fitting mudguards. You can even get clip-on ones that fit all bikes, even ones without mudguard mounting points.

Tyres - Some thicker rubber tyres will help reduce your chances of getting a puncture. You should check your tread regularly and remove any embedded glass flints carefully.

Oil - Clean and lube your bike regularly to protect it against bad weather. Here’s which parts of your bike you should oil: How should I oil my bike?

Hydrate - Your body loses moisture while you’re exercising, even in the cold. Make sure you carry some water to keep hydrated.

Cycle maintenance and security

Some simple adjustments to your bike can keep it running smoothly, reduce your running costs and improve your safety.

Keep your bike roadworthy

Your bike's tyres should be well pumped up. This makes it easier to cycle and reduces the chances of getting a puncture. Clean, dry, then lubricate your bike’s chain. This increases the life of the chain and makes your cycling more efficient by reducing friction.

Always ensure your brakes are working properly and check the brake blocks are not worn out. You should check your seat is the right height for you. When sitting on the seat you should be able to touch the floor with the balls of your feet. Also check that your handlebars are secure; if you can turn the handlebars independently of the wheel then they need tightening.

Cycle security - Cycling in London has become very popular over the last few years. Unfortunately, the increase in cycling has meant a growing problem with bike theft and the theft of bike equipment and components. Many thefts are opportunistic. By following a few simple steps you can reduce the chance of them happening

Love it? Lock it! - You should spend at least 10% of the cost of your bike on a lock. Ensure you lock both wheels and the frame to a proper cycle stand. If your wheels or saddle can be easily removed with a spanner, use a second lock or cable extension to secure them or use fixed bolts for these parts of your bike. Remove all accessories from your bike, such as lights and cycle computer, and do not leave your bike locked on the street overnight. You can take a look at www.soldsecure.com for a list of recommended cycle locks.

Keep it secure - You can register your bike at www.immobilise.com or www.bikeregister.com. Contact your local Safer Neighbourhoods Police team to find out about how you can get your bike security marked for free at www.met.police.uk/teams/islington/index.php.

The Metropolitan Police provide more information about cycle security at http://content.met.police.uk/Site/safetyandsecurityadvice.

For further information, call David Shannon, Islington Council’s Cycling Officer, on 020 7527 4082 or email david.shannon@islington.gov.uk

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