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As the clocks go back and the cost of living soars here's everything cyclists need to know to stay safe this autumn and winter

With the costs of living surging, many are turning to their bikes to save money.

As recently reported in the Independent, research commissioned by Chain Reaction, an online bike shop, has revealed that nearly four in 10 adults are planning to get back on two wheels to cut their fuel spend. 

Cycling represents a cheap, sustainable form of transport. It's also fun, convenient and provides physical and mental health benefits. Commuting by bike is often the fastest way to get around our town and cities too. As rising energy costs and inflation put pressure on finances, people should not be put off from cycling during the autumn and winter months ahead.

Whilst many will point to the UK’s weather as a reason to not ride, Denmark, which has a comparable climate, sees 80 per cent of people continue cycling in winter. The Netherlands sees 85 per cent continue to ride, in spite of the change in seasons, according to data from the European Platform on Mobility Management. 

It's acknowledged, however, that these countries benefit from more extensive segregated cycling infrastructure, connecting their communities. Work needs to be done in the UK to enable more people to feel safe to cycle, but this should not be a barrier to riding. 

Ahead of the clocks going back on 30 October and darker evenings setting in, we've prepared some tips for cycling safety in autumn and winter. These have been prepared in conjunction with our partner Bluelight Cycling Club – a cycling club for the emergency services, NHS and military.

Consider your route

Having perhaps enjoyed the light of spring and summer, your familiar route can look very different in the dark and may no longer be suitable as the light fades, such as a canal path, due to being entirely unlit.

Be seen, be safe  

Make sure your bike lights are operating and fully charged and that you and your bike are visible. You may have started your day in the crisp morning sun, but don’t be caught out by the nights drawing in or a delay in your journey home.

Stay dry

The UK’s weather can be volatile, so ensure that you have waterproofs with you, ready for those sudden showers.

Keep warm 

Becoming cold can affect your concentration while riding, so ensure that you're wearing layers that you can adapt for the conditions.

Watch out for leaves 

Not only can they be slippery, but they may hide hazards such as drains and pot holes. Manhole covers, tram tracks and painted lines on the road can also become slick in damp and wet weather

Judging speed and distance 

This is more difficult in the dark, so take care around other road users and at junctions.

Be mindful of the weather 

As temperatures drop, roads can become slick with frost and ice, which presents dangers to all road users. Take extra care when riding through shaded areas that don’t catch the sun during the day.

Make sure your bike is roadworthy

Doing so will help ensure that everything is in full working order and will help guard against making roadside repairs in the cold, dark and rain.

Have the correct tools and knowledge

In the event of a mechanical issue, make sure you have the correct tools and knowledge to be able to complete roadside repairs, or have a phone with you so that you can call for help.

Be aware of other road users

Many other road users will be travelling in the dark for the first time too and while you may be prepared - they may not be. Past reports suggest that drivers are 30 per cent more likely to have an accident in the month following the clocks going back, particularly driving between the hours of 5pm and 8pm.

Be aware of the Highway Code

These tips are designed to assist cyclists in taking sensible precautions to enjoy their rides safely. Tragically, however, the vast majority of cyclist casualties on our roads involve motor vehicles. Government data revealed that between 2015 and 2020, of the 26,468 cyclists who were killed or seriously injured, 90 per cent involved motor vehicles.

The recent Highway Code revisions reflect this and now establish the hierarchy of road users. Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision now bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger that they pose to others. 

This principle applies most strongly to drivers of heavy goods vehicles and passenger vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars and motorcycles. Likewise, cyclists have a greater responsibility to reduce dangers posed to pedestrians.

Neil Turner, director and co-founder of Bluelight Cycling Club, said: “Our mission is to improve the wellbeing and mental health of our members through cycling by encouraging and supporting the joys of riding, advocating for safe cycling all year round.  With the colder months approaching, with the right preparation, there is no reason to stop cycling.”


As nights draw in, all road users should take extra care. Be aware that vulnerable road users such as cyclist and pedestrians will be harder to spot.

If the road is wet or icy, it will also take longer to slow or stop. For motorists, in wet conditions, stopping distances will be at least double; in icy conditions it can be ten times greater than on dry roads.  

Every year the arrival of dark nights heralds an increase of crashes on our roads and it’s important that all of us, but particularly those new to cycling, are aware. Sadly, through my work I too often see lives shattered by incidents on our roads and how people require legal advice to either access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies they require to try and regain as much of their independence as possible or to access support they need to come to terms with a bereavement.  

I urge everyone to take that extra bit of time to be ready for the change in the weather and those colder, darker mornings and nights. After months of daylight riding and driving, even familiar roads can look very different in the dark.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping people and families following road accidents at our road traffic accident claims section.