Ahead of Road Safety Week (19th-25th November), a leading UK specialist in hostile vehicle mitigation, Heald, speaks with a cycling expert to share safety tips for cyclists this winter.
November witnesses a spike in road accidents, peaking between 3pm to 5pm, making up 10%¹ of all recorded accidents in the month
To help promote road safety this autumn and winter, Heald spoke with cycling expert from The Bicycle Chain, Adam Jones, who advises: “There is often an overall increase in collisions or accidents involving cyclists during the winter months due to several factors, including decreased visibility, bad weather conditions and high chances of ice on the road. Accidents that occur when it’s darker or when visibility is worse are more likely to be fatal for cyclists, with more riders admitted to hospital due to injuries caused by slipping on ice.
“When cycling in the winter, cyclists may find it best to avoid routes that include hills, busy main roads, junctions and roundabouts for their own safety. However, they should keep in mind that routes with less traffic may not be as well-lit or may not have grit on the icy road surface. There are a variety of route planning apps available that can help cyclists with things like this, such as Komoot or Strava.”
A recent amendment to Highway Code³ sees cyclists being advised to ride no less than half a metre from the curb or verge instead of using compulsory cycle lanes. This places a greater responsibility on motorists to overtake cyclists safely.
Cycling specialist Adam adds: “Be assertive so you’re not pushed into riding against the curb or gutters. Use primary and secondary riding positions to keep yourself in the view of drivers. This will help prevent accidents and damage caused by drain covers or debris at the side of the road.
“The grip of bicycle tyres can be less effective when the road surfaces are wet or icy, so ensure that you increase your stopping distance and apply both brakes smoothly so that your wheels will not lock. Try to avoid turning a corner until you can complete all of the braking you need beforehand.”
According to recent research by Heald², the cities doing their best to protect cyclists include: (1) London, (2) Bristol, (3) Manchester, (4) Nottingham, (5) Newcastle, (6) Birmingham, (7) Sheffield, (8) Liverpool, (9) Leeds, (10) Leicester.
London takes the title of the UK’s most bike-friendly city, with 3.10% of residents cycling at least five times a week. The city has 240 bike-related shops and offers over 8,000 road cycling routes within a 10-mile radius. As cycling thrives, it’s important to recognise increased road risks, especially in the winter. Security experts at Heald emphasise the importance of cyclists taking extra precautions during this season.
Debbie Heald MBE, a security expert at Heald, says: “Embracing cycling-friendly initiatives in cities is a commendable step towards sustainable transportation and healthier communities. However, as we strive to create a cyclist-friendly environment, governing bodies must prioritise the safety of all road users all year round. Implementing robust safety measures, such as the strategic placement of bollards or hostile vehicle mitigation, is essential to safeguard cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.
“Local councils should consider implementing extra bollard protection to mitigate these risks and create safer environments for all road users. By strategically placing bollards in areas prone to accidents and collisions, cities enhance safety and promote a responsible and sustainable transportation culture.”
Accident research taken from Simpson Millar, correct as of November 2022
Cinch Highway Code changes, correct as of 2022
Methodology: Heald Ltd conducted a comprehensive assessment to determine the ranking of the most cycle-friendly cities in the UK. The evaluation encompassed three key criteria:
Bike shop listings were sourced from Yelp.com, ensuring up-to-date information as of May 2023.
The number of road cycling routes within a 10-mile radius of each location was obtained from Komoot, providing current data as of May 2023.
The percentage of city residents who cycle at least five times a week was acquired from GOV walking and cycling statistics, with data accurate as of 2021.
Each criterion was assigned an individual ranking, followed by the calculation of an average ranking. Finally, an overall ranking was determined based on these assessments, enabling the identification of the top UK cycle-friendly cities.