Lawyers Offer Winter Pointers For COVID-19 Converts To Pedal Power
Now the darker nights are here, Irwin Mitchell and Cycling Time Trials (CTT) are working together to offer riding advice to those who took up cycling in response to the COVID-19 lockdown.
The advice follows research commissioned by Irwin Mitchell that shows cycling has overtaken public transport as the preferred method of commuting to work following the UK lockdown.
With the number of people who say they will take up cycling set to double, there are concerns that those swapping from four wheels to two for the first time may be put off by the onset of autumnal and winter weather. Yet with social distancing measures still in place, many will still wish to avoid public transport and continue to cycle in safety.
Peter Lorence, a specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell and the firm’s cycling spokesperson, together with Stewart Smith from the CTT have set out their own top tips for cycling safety in autumn and winter:
- Consider your route – having 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
- 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 whilst riding, so ensure that you are 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 and painted lines on the road can also become slick in damp and wet weather
- Judging speed and distance 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 – to ensure that everything is in full working order and to guard against making roadside repairs in the cold, dark and rain.
- In the event of a mechanical, 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 that 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
- Carry a mobile phone and, if possible, inform someone of your route and expected ride time.
Past reports suggest that drivers are 30% more likely to have an accident in the month following the clocks going back, particularly driving between the hours of 5pm and 8pm.
Expert Opinion“Every year the arrival of dark nights heralds an increase of accidents on our roads and it’s important all of us, but particularly those new to cycling are aware of it.
“Sadly, we see the often life-changing results of accidents on the roads and we urge everyone to take that bit of extra time to be ready for the change in the weather and those darker mornings and nights.
“No matter what form of transport you use, it can be daunting to be on the road in the dark for the first time in months. It’s easy to be caught out by those first nights commuting home in the dark, particularly after a morning commute in daylight. Potholes easy to see in daylight are harder to spot at night and obstacles such as tram tracks can become more of a hazard.
“As we have a lot of people on bikes experiencing this for the first time this year, it is well worth making the effort to be prepared and take extra care as we all adjust to a darker commute.” Peter Lorence - Senior Associate Solicitor
Stewart Smith, from the CTT, said: “It always comes as a surprise how much of a change the dark nights make after months of daylight riding. Even familiar roads can look very different.
“Our advice holds true for most forms of transport, as no one wants to be making repairs or changing a tyre in the dark, cold and rain. However, for those new to cycling, the change can make you feel especially vulnerable.”
“Taking the time to get the basics right, by double checking junctions for traffic and taking account of it being harder to judge distance at night can make all the difference. With the right preparation and taking a few simple precautions, we can all continue to enjoy cycling in safety.”