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Staying safe on your bike

It is important to make sure the bike you are riding is in safe working order and you take care whilst out and about.

We want to make sure the bike you are riding is safe and fit for purpose and also you keep yourself safe when out riding. The follow tips are designed to help keep you safe and your bike in good working order.

Regular safety check – The ‘M Check’

This involves conducting a safety check of all the main working parts of a bike and with practice, should take no more than two or three minutes.

It is called the ‘M check’ because you should work from the front of the bicycle backwards in an M shape to make sure you do not miss anything.

  • Wheels – Check quick release skewer is firmly closed or that axle nuts are fully tightened.
  • Tyre wear – Check visually the tyres are not split or cracked and there is tread remaining on the tyre.
  • Tyre pressure – Check the tyre is firmly inflated to the recommended pressure on the tyre wall.
  • Hub bearings – Grip the wheel rim and rock back and forth to feel for loose bearings; spin wheel to check for over-tight bearings.
  • Rims and spokes – Check visually for any defects, and spin wheel to check it runs true.
  • Brakes – Check angle of levers and ensure they can be comfortably reached. Brakes should apply pressure at 1/3 to 1/2 of travel.
  • Brake blocks – Check the blocks are correctly positioned and not worn beyond the wear indicators.
  • Brake cables – Check cables are not frayed or heavily corroded. The best way to check your front brake is to apply the brake and try to push your bike forward. Rear brakes: apply the brakes and try to move the bike backwards.
  • Handlebar stem alignment – Hold front tyre between knees and turn gently to check that the handlebar stem is correctly aligned with the front wheel and tightened.
  • Handlebar alignment – Check the handlebars are correctly aligned and secured by the stem.
  • Stem height (quill only) – Check visually the stem ‘minimum insertion’ marker is not visible above steering tube.
  • Headset bearings – Apply brakes and rock bike back and forth to feel for loose headset bearings; check the handlebars move freely.
  • Gears and transmission – Check the chain is lubricated, not heavily rusted and does not easily come off front chain wheel. Check each gear selects positively.

This content has been adapted with the kind permission of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council from the Do It By Cycle site.

Cycling safety tips

  • Stop at red lights. It is safer and could save you a £50 fine.
  • Stay central on narrow roads. Try to ride away from the gutter. If the road is too narrow for vehicles to pass you safely, it might be safer to ride towards the middle of the lane to prevent dangerous overtaking by other vehicles.
  • Stay away from parked cars. Ideally, keep a door’s width away in case the door opens suddenly. Also, try to ride in a straight line past parked cars rather than dodging between them.
  • Stay back from HGVs. Lorries and other large vehicles might not be able to see you clearly, so stay well back behind them.
  • Always pay attention. Stay focused on what is going on around you so you can see what other road users might do.
  • Make eye contact. Try to make eye contact with drivers so you are sure they have seen you.
  • Do not pavement cycle. Do not cycle on the pavement or up a one-way street (unless clearly marked for cyclists).
  • Wear bright clothes. Stay safe by wearing bright clothes during the day and reflective clothing/accessories at night.
  • Night lights. Use lights after dark – white at the front and red at the rear. You may be fined £50 if you do not have them.
  • Use appropriate hand signals to indicate that you are turning left or right.
  • No phones or devices. Do not use a mobile phone or earphones.
  • Consider wearing a helmet.
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