Light up the Dark Nights

Cycle Safety


As winter approaches the time has come to set the clocks back. The road traffic team at law firm Irwin Mitchell offers the following advice at a time when, historically, visibility reduces and road traffic crashes increase.

Claire Bracewell said: "This weekend the clocks go back which means the sun will rise a little later and set a little earlier, impacting how we go about our day to day lives.

"Children who walk or ride to school should take extra care. With the sun rising as late as 8.00 am and setting as early as 3.50pm, the walk or cycle to school can become a very different experience from the lighter months. Many young children may not yet be familiar with a route they will soon be doing in the dark.

"With this in mind, parents should ensure that walkers and cyclists are suitably visible, and that the route they use is the safest possible."

A number of issues can impact the safety of a pedestrian such as listening to music while walking home so it is important to ensure you are aware of all the traffic around you, and chose safe places to cross the road.

Claire said: "If at all possible, when crossing a road use a pedestrian crossing, even if it means walking a few extra metres to ensure your safety."

School uniforms are often dark in colour and though many children will refuse to wear something such as a reflective jacket, they may be persuaded to wear a reflective armband to ensure they are seen by cars.

"But adults need to lead the way," warns Claire. "They are equally at risk when out running or on their way home from work."

Drivers also hold a responsibility at this time of year, and many young people will have passed their test during the summer. Driving in winter is a very different experience to driving during the summer and may take some time to get used to.

In addition to the dark mornings and nights there will also be bad weather such as rain, snow and ice. Claire said: "Ensure you factor in extra time to your journey and drive at a speed which reflects the road and weather conditions, and that your car is fully road worthy.

"It may have passed its MOT a few months ago but check that your tyre treads and pressure is at appropriate levels. This not only assists with stopping distances but can help you save money.

"Always make sure that your vehicle's water reservoir is full, and keep a bottle of tap water and de-icer in the car. It is also worth putting a blanket and some chocolate and a drink in the car as well, just in case your vehicle breakdown or gets held up in traffic.

"On a similar note, cyclists should ensure their bikes are maintained and road worthy, brakes bite as soon as the levers are pulled and that brake blocks are checked for wear and alignment - if not the wheel rim will wear unevenly and be less efficient.

"Check your tyre tread, pressure and wheels rims for buckling and that you have a light reflector, which is compulsory for night riding - Keep spare batteries with you.

"All road users and pedestrians may wish to reconsider their route during the winter months. Are the roads you use fully lit? Remember to always be conspicuous! Always think about your clothing, consider your position and signalling and most importantly your safety."

If you think you may benefit from cycle training there are instructors who can help you gain confidence on the roads.

Take care this winter to protect yourself and the ones you love.

If you or a loved one has been injured in cycling accident, our specialist cycling accident lawyers could help you claim compensation. Visit our Road Traffic Accident Compensation page for more information.