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New Rider, Safety Concerns?

LickydogLickydog Posts: 4
edited June 2018 in Road beginners
Hi all,

So I'm a 39 year old that hasn't ridden a bike since his teens and is looking at picking up a road bike for 1) Commuting and 2) To enjoy so lengthy bike rides. I'm pretty set on picking up a Btwin Triban 500 within the next couple of weeks.

However here's my only concern. I generally do a lot of browsing when I'm looking at getting into a new hobby and I see a lot of posts of how dangerous it is to ride on the roads, the challenges cyclists face not only from motorists but also the state of the uk's roads.

Now don't get me wrong I suppose a lot of these stories I read are very subjective, just as if i was to look into posts about the safety of driving a car.

How have your experiences been over the years? Am I just being overly cautious? Don't get me wrong I'm aware that you have to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, I think I'm just over thinking everything?

I'm so wanting to get back the feeling of when I was in my teens and just jumped on my bike at the weekend and disappeared for a day!

Thanks for your thoughts in advance!
Ryan
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Posts

  • singletonsingleton Posts: 2,175
    It may depend where you will be riding.
    My advice would be similar to what you said: Be aware of your surroundings, use your ears as well as your eyes, and try to be predictable when you are riding - so try not to do anything that would surprise a car that may be following you.
    I've done thousands of miles over the past years and I've had one or two cars get closer than I'd like, but nothing dangerous.
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    Statistically cycling regularly is likely to be of more benefit through weight loss and overall health gains than risk through significant injury. The odds are in your favour but that doesn't mean you won't be unlucky...
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • LickydogLickydog Posts: 4
    Singleton wrote:
    It may depend where you will be riding.
    My advice would be similar to what you said: Be aware of your surroundings, use your ears as well as your eyes, and try to be predictable when you are riding - so try not to do anything that would surprise a car that may be following you.
    I've done thousands of miles over the past years and I've had one or two cars get closer than I'd like, but nothing dangerous.

    I live in Hertfordshire in a smallish town so nothing like the major cities, and my commute is only a couple of mile each way. My longer rides will mainly be countryside.

    It's a weird one in the sense that I've literally been so excited to get back on a bike I didn't really think much about it until the other day when I was looking at the safety aspect of riding. I know it's pretty much my brain singling out all the horror stories and making them stick in the forefront of my memory!!!
  • gethincerigethinceri Posts: 1,216
    Four of my rides have ended with me in hospital.
    Thousands have ended with me at home safe.
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 5,265
    Four!!!??

    I've never ended up with more than a light graze and bruises after falling off due to slick roads.
  • secretsqizzsecretsqizz Posts: 424
    Four!!!??

    I've never ended up with more than a light graze and bruises after falling off due to slick roads.

    It's what happens when you get a taste for hospital food
    My pen won't write on the screen
  • figbatfigbat Posts: 680
    I live in a rural area close to a couple of mid-size county towns. I ride loops of the area for pleasure and some commuting to work. I have not had a single issue yet (disclaimer, I am not a daily cyclist). I always choose routes that avoid the busiest roads, or those with narrow or difficult passing opportunities. This means I use quieter, back roads which is actually a nicer place to be anyway, rather than having a queue of traffic follow me everywhere and close-pass when they get frustrated. I can usually find a back-road route for where I want to go. I’ll have a rear light on all the time and a front flasher in anything other than bright sunlight. Then just watch the road for potholes and try to telegraph your intention to avoid them, rather than swerve suddenly.
    Cube Reaction GTC Pro 29 for the lumpy stuff
    Cannondale Synapse alloy with 'guards for the winter roads
    Fuji Altamira 2.7 for the summer roads
    Trek 830 Mountain Track frame turned into a gravel bike - for anywhere & everywhere
  • MiddleRingerMiddleRinger Posts: 678
    Well over 40,000km so far. One accident caused by a car (possibly could have paid more attention). Once hitting the deck because of black ice (should have stayed home). Cycling is not all that dangerous as long as you stay alert and ride well. Oh and staying out of central London helps a bit too, hehe!
  • yiannismyiannism Posts: 345
    Use your ears, be predictable. Ride defensively.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,794
    I've ended up in an ambulance twice but one of those was training in a group so if you are just cycling on your own or in a more leisurely social group that risk is removed. That's over about 16 years probably averaging 4k a year (normally do more but had a few years very much less).
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,934
    Gethinceri wrote:
    Four of my rides have ended with me in hospital.
    Thousands have ended with me at home safe.

    Maybe buy a new Garmin? I find the breadcrumb trail navigation quite hard to follow sometimes too...
  • imafatmanimafatman Posts: 351
    It's sadly not as safe as it should be. Motorists are a censored nightmare. In that respect it's somewhat of a lottery every time you get on the road.

    Most of us are still alive. In terms of death per mile it's pretty low. It's not zero though.
  • arthur_scrimshawarthur_scrimshaw Posts: 2,596
    I ride everyday, I live in a small city and commute to work in the country. The town bit is the only part of my ride I'm glad to get over with but as said above, if you keep your wits about you and ride assertively you will minimise the chances of problems. I've had few issues with cars/vehicles, there are very few nutters out there but a lot that aren't out to do you deliberate harm but don't pay enough attention and this is where being alert is vital.
    Out in the country lanes I relax a lot more even though the speed of the traffic increases. my worst accident to date was with another cyclist, we collided on a censored bit of cyclepath which ended in some broken ribs (on my part - he was unscathed)
    I ride about a quarter of my commute on cyclepaths but this time of year the undergrowth narrows them down, combine this with commuters on mtbs with comedy width bars and badly designed cyclepaths, this is where most of my near misses occur.

    I also have to say that a lot of the riding is appalling, total lack of awareness and common courtesy.
  • meursaultmeursault Posts: 1,433
    Did this ride to Ashridge Estate today.

    https://www.strava.com/activities/1605923336

    Deliberately picked quieter country lanes. I don't feel particularly usafe on busier roads, but find the constant drone of passing cars unpleasant. The vast majority of car drivers are patient and considerate, but it only takes one to TRY and spoil your ride, don't let them.

    It's worth the small risk to get on your bike, especially when the weather is good. Everytime I ride, I feel like a kid on my summer holidays.
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

    Voltaire
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    I got flattened on Friday, a low speed hit from behind, whilst I was waiting in an ASL. However, in 32 ( odd ) years of riding on the roads, I can count on my thumbs how many times I’ve been hit properly. The fear of getting hit, is something that you need to conquer. In my experience, it rarely happens for ‘no good reason’ when you do hear of a big incident, it tends to give a false sense of perspective, because a lot is made, of something that ( speaking purely statistically) isn’t actually a common occurrence at all. With the exception of certain ‘hotspots’ ( Central London in the construction hot zones ) last year, for example, road cycling isn’t statistically all that risky, compared with other activities. The best way to get your confidence up, is to join a cycling group ( British Cycling Let’s Ride, or Local CTC chapter) and get out and ride.
  • adr82adr82 Posts: 4,002
    The thing is that while the statistics saying you're very unlikely to be seriously injured while cycling are accurate (I've only had 1 serious crash in ~9 years that was caused by a motorist), they aren't telling the whole story.

    What isn't being captured are all the near misses and various unpleasant instances of abuse and harassment from motorists that for many of us are an unfortunate part of the daily experience of cycling. Just this morning on my commute I was doing ~25mph down a hill and still someone felt the need to squeeze past between me and an oncoming car with about a foot of clearance, rather than waiting 2 seconds to overtake when the road was clear. Things like that may not result in any physical harm, but it's hard not to feel angry/upset about them even as they happen day after day and you start getting used to it.

    These incidents caused by the poor behaviour of motorists are largely responsible for the widespread perception of cycling on the roads as being unsafe, because it absolutely does feel that way on many occasions. If you go out for a nice ride in the sunshine and promptly get close-passed 3 or 4 times it's hard not to feel endangered and harassed and stressed out. That leads to people who aren't super-keen to say "Nope, too dangerous for me" (never mind kids), and while that's a pity it's also a totally understandable reaction. It doesn't help that the standard of driving is incredibly poor in general. Couple that with a general lack of interest from the police (with some honourable exceptions) and our car-centric culture and you have the current situation.

    I'm not trying to be discouraging, just realistic: you can ride in a perfectly correct, sensible, legal manner and you will still get harassed by irate drivers who feel you exist solely to p1ss them off. If you feel you can put up with that, go for it, but be prepared for some unpleasantness from time to time.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    adr82 wrote:
    The thing is that while the statistics saying you're very unlikely to be seriously injured while cycling are accurate (I've only had 1 serious crash in ~9 years that was caused by a motorist), they aren't telling the whole story.

    What isn't being captured are all the near misses and various unpleasant instances of abuse and harassment from motorists that for many of us are an unfortunate part of the daily experience of cycling. Just this morning on my commute I was doing ~25mph down a hill and still someone felt the need to squeeze past between me and an oncoming car with about a foot of clearance, rather than waiting 2 seconds to overtake when the road was clear. Things like that may not result in any physical harm, but it's hard not to feel angry/upset about them even as they happen day after day and you start getting used to it.

    These incidents caused by the poor behaviour of motorists are largely responsible for the widespread perception of cycling on the roads as being unsafe, because it absolutely does feel that way on many occasions. If you go out for a nice ride in the sunshine and promptly get close-passed 3 or 4 times it's hard not to feel endangered and harassed and stressed out. That leads to people who aren't super-keen to say "Nope, too dangerous for me" (never mind kids), and while that's a pity it's also a totally understandable reaction. It doesn't help that the standard of driving is incredibly poor in general. Couple that with a general lack of interest from the police (with some honourable exceptions) and our car-centric culture and you have the current situation.

    I'm not trying to be discouraging, just realistic: you can ride in a perfectly correct, sensible, legal manner and you will still get harassed by irate drivers who feel you exist solely to p1ss them off. If you feel you can put up with that, go for it, but be prepared for some unpleasantness from time to time.


    That’s true, near misses and abuse is common. But it’s easy to ignore anything that doesn’t actually stop the bike or yourself working properly.
  • LickydogLickydog Posts: 4
    Thanks for the replies everyone, some really great info to take in I really appreciate your thoughts. My worries have somewhat calmed down from reading all the replies and I will definitely be picking up my first road bike in the next two weeks and I cannot wait!!!!

    Other than my small commute to work most of my riding will be country lanes and such which I grew up around, and I have already had a look around at some clubs local to me so I can join in on some social rides to help build my confidence a bit.
  • MoonbikerMoonbiker Posts: 1,706
    Beware of farmers driving huge tractors pulling farm machinery on there mobiles iv'e had to dive into a hedge to avoid death a few times.

    hay turners & ploughs are the worst and I once got I run over by muck a spreader tyre.
  • Enjoy your new bike when you get it. At the risk of being flamed if you haven't yet got hi-vis cycling gear and a good daylight running rear light I would budget for that from day 1. I know many think this is not necessary but imho it is.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    when you say Hi Vis - I disagree with the baggy fluro yellow/pink "safety" tops - they are so common that they're just another jacket that isn't seen.
    However, I do agree that you should wear visible clothing - so all black on a dark day - or even a bright day through trees - isn't very visible - a brighter top or just big band of colour in that top will mean you're more likely to be seen ...

    coupled with the always on rear light (they're cheap enough, many are usb rechargeable and last quite some time) means the drivers have no excuse not to see you.

    Not sure if it was mentioned - but road positioning is important on 2 lane roads (single country lanes just don't matter - you're always in conflict) - don't ride in the gutter, but don't ride in the middle of the lane (primary) unless its obvious that a car cannot overtake. If you're on a stretch of road where it's going to be difficult to be overtaken then consider pulling over to let the vehicle overtake - there's no point in holding them behind you just for the sake of it - especially if it's a lorry or a farm vehicle that will have a load of cars behind them too.
  • meursaultmeursault Posts: 1,433
    Enjoy your new bike when you get it. At the risk of being flamed if you haven't yet got hi-vis cycling gear and a good daylight running rear light I would budget for that from day 1. I know many think this is not necessary but imho it is.

    Not going to flame, but blocks of contrast are better IMHO. Friend at work got knocked off his bike at a roundabout covered in the hi-vis stuff. Driver not paying attention, so didn't matter what he was wearing. Always second guess what a driver is going to do.
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

    Voltaire
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    When I was a kid I used to cycle up and down the A1. Gives me shivers thinking about it now.
    These days all my cycling is for fitness / leisure, so I stick to country roads and don't encounter much traffic. I still reckon I'll live longer by cycling than I would if I stopped.

    Be visible, make your intentions clear to others, ride assertively / defensively, assume other road users, peds included, are about to do something stupid because they often do. Most of my near misses involve peds leaping into the road without looking, car doors being flung open without warning, and drivers apparently looking but failing to see me. But in 50 years of cycling, all my proper flying off the bike type crashes have been self-inflicted, usually because I'm riding like a pillock.

    So try to avoid that if you can
  • kingrollokingrollo Posts: 3,162
    I still have this dilemma - I am prone to anxiety but here are my thoughts

    There is a risk and IMO the risk is greater than the stats suggests - however you can minimise that risk

    Front and rear daylight flashing lights

    When and where you ride

    But probably the best is to join a club and ride on group rides - safer and loads more fun...

    You are doing to right thing by trying to keep healthy - and if you enjoy it then it worth the risk. Do you want to spend your life not doing things because of the risk ? - once you get a certain age you will notice people popping off in all sorts of ways, they wake up with stomach pain - which turns into something very serious, a very good pal of mine died in his sleep - aged 51 - a work colleague is battling cancer @ 45
    A poor lady in wolverhampton got hit by falling debris on windy day - she died

    When your time comes - it comes - meanwhile of course be sensible - but enjoy it.
  • Part of it is psychological too - if you have an incident on the road (eg a near crash at a junction) you can be reminded of that every time you ride, which can be quite debilitating.

    Just make sure that if that happens, then don't let it faze you from going out there again and be careful :)
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,103
    kingrollo wrote:
    I still have this dilemma - I am prone to anxiety but here are my thoughts

    There is a risk and IMO the risk is greater than the stats suggests - however you can minimise that risk

    Front and rear daylight flashing lights

    When and where you ride

    But probably the best is to join a club and ride on group rides - safer and loads more fun...
    The flip side being that nothing annoys drivers more than group rides.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    PBlakeney wrote:
    kingrollo wrote:
    I still have this dilemma - I am prone to anxiety but here are my thoughts

    There is a risk and IMO the risk is greater than the stats suggests - however you can minimise that risk

    Front and rear daylight flashing lights

    When and where you ride

    But probably the best is to join a club and ride on group rides - safer and loads more fun...
    The flip side being that nothing annoys drivers more than group rides.

    Any driver that is annoyed by a group riding sensibly is a t**t who's opinion is not worth thinking about.
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,103
    Svetty wrote:
    PBlakeney wrote:
    kingrollo wrote:
    I still have this dilemma - I am prone to anxiety but here are my thoughts

    There is a risk and IMO the risk is greater than the stats suggests - however you can minimise that risk

    Front and rear daylight flashing lights

    When and where you ride

    But probably the best is to join a club and ride on group rides - safer and loads more fun...
    The flip side being that nothing annoys drivers more than group rides.

    Any driver that is annoyed by a group riding sensibly is a t**t who's opinion is not worth thinking about.
    You are correct, their opinion is worthless.
    However, their 2 tonne of steel is worthy of consideration.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    PBlakeney wrote:
    Svetty wrote:
    PBlakeney wrote:
    kingrollo wrote:
    I still have this dilemma - I am prone to anxiety but here are my thoughts

    There is a risk and IMO the risk is greater than the stats suggests - however you can minimise that risk

    Front and rear daylight flashing lights

    When and where you ride

    But probably the best is to join a club and ride on group rides - safer and loads more fun...
    The flip side being that nothing annoys drivers more than group rides.

    Any driver that is annoyed by a group riding sensibly is a t**t who's opinion is not worth thinking about.
    You are correct, their opinion is worthless.
    However, their 2 tonne of steel is worthy of consideration.
    Are you implying that annoyed drivers attempt to murder cyclists?
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 19,103
    Svetty wrote:
    PBlakeney wrote:
    Svetty wrote:
    PBlakeney wrote:
    kingrollo wrote:
    I still have this dilemma - I am prone to anxiety but here are my thoughts

    There is a risk and IMO the risk is greater than the stats suggests - however you can minimise that risk

    Front and rear daylight flashing lights

    When and where you ride

    But probably the best is to join a club and ride on group rides - safer and loads more fun...
    The flip side being that nothing annoys drivers more than group rides.

    Any driver that is annoyed by a group riding sensibly is a t**t who's opinion is not worth thinking about.
    You are correct, their opinion is worthless.
    However, their 2 tonne of steel is worthy of consideration.
    Are you implying that annoyed drivers attempt to murder cyclists?
    Many people on here, myself included, will testify to annoyed drivers deliberately doing close passes. Close passes can, and do, go wrong.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
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