10 essential tips for safe city cycling

Cycling is the best way to explore a city and for many, it's the way they get to work each day. City cycling is an art in itself – navigating through the bustling streets with their multiple hazards requires concentration but if you follow a few basic rules and take some common-sense safety precautions then it's a fun and efficient way to get around.

We've put together some handy tips to help you get the best out of your city cycle and to stay safe:

1. Maintain your bike

Cycle safety starts here wherever you're riding. A well-maintained bicycle could be crucial to ensuring your safety. Key components such as your tyres, gears, chain and brakes should be serviced regularly to make certain they remain in good working order. It's common sense that a poorly maintained bike with dodgy brakes puts both you and other road users in danger.

2. Assume car doors will open on you

Unfortunately, getting doored is all too commonplace. Too many people open their car doors without first glancing in the mirror, so always anticipate that this may happen. The only way to prevent this happening to you is to ride a car door's width from parked vehicles.

3. Stay out of the kerb

Occasionally you may find yourself cycling along a city street which isn't lined with parked cars (hard to believe, but it can happen!). If you do – stay out of the kerb, you'll have less room to manoeuvre and are more likely to hit a pothole.

4. Stick to designated cycle lanes

Many cities will have specific clearly-marked cycle lanes for you to use. There are also often areas for bikes at the front of the queue at traffic lights to help you pull away safely. Of course, on many occasions you'll have to cycle with general traffic so it's important to pay extra attention when you transition from one to the other. Check if the lane is shared or segregated and watch out for pedestrians.

5. Avoid getting boxed in

When you're cycling in general traffic avoid getting boxed in and try not to ride into a situation where you don't have a clear exit. For example, approaching a red light take special care riding between rows of stationary vehicles – drivers may not see you when the lights turn green – and don't forget if you can't see their mirrors, they can't see you.

6. Be careful around large vehicles

Never, ever undertake a large vehicle. Blind spots mean that drivers just don't know you're there. Even if you're riding in a bus lane don't pass a truck unless you're sure you'll be clear of it before a junction – always err on the side of caution in this regard.

7. Stay alert

Although it's tempting to soundtrack your urban ride with your favourite tunes, it's more important that your attention remains on your immediate environment. Cities are full of hazards for cyclists and you'll be surrounded by other road users during your journey. Pay special attention to riskier situations such as pulling away from traffic lights, passing parked cars or turning at junctions.

8. Be assertive – boss your cycle lane

Traffic speeds tend to be much slower in cities, so you have an opportunity to ‘boss your lane' – taking a central road position when it's necessary to do so. Assertively occupying your lane will mean that you're more visible to other road users and less likely to be doored. This may not apply in all circumstances, but if traffic is moving at bike speeds then you'll be safer in a more central position.

9. See and be seen

Try and anticipate what other road users are about to do. One of the most effective ways is to make eye contact with drivers and other riders and to look further ahead than just in front of your wheel. At the same time ensure that you can be seen: hi-vis clothing, daytime running bike lights and avoiding vehicle blind spots all help.

10. Park your bike securely

Once you've arrived safely at your destination leaving your bike secure is paramount. Sadly, thieves are always on the lookout for poorly secured bikes but there are steps you can take to protect it. Leaving it in a busy, well-lit area is a good idea, as this creates less opportunity for theft. Investing in a good bike lock is also a must – our insurance policies only cover thefts of bikes with a quality, approved lock.