Cycle Safety Tips and Checks

Before setting out on any journey, it is important that your bicycle is in a roadworthy condition.

The following basic checks should be carried out:

Basic checks

  • Tyres – Should be pumped up. Check for punctures and bald patches.
  • Brakes – Do they work? Check for worn brake blocks or badly adjusted cables.
  • Chain – Check that it is not too loose or too tight. Oil it at least once a month.
  • Saddle – Check that it is the correct height (you should be able to touch the floor with both feet). Do not raise the saddle above the safety mark on the tube.
  • Lights – Fit lights and ensure that they work if you intend to ride in the dark or in bad weather.
  • Reflectors – It is a legal requirement to have a red rear reflector as well as lights when cycling at night. Remember to clean lights and reflectors regularly.
  • Frame/Forks – Check for cracks and fractures.
  • Equipment – Make sure accessories such as pumps, mudguards or locks properly secured to the bike. Consider investing in a good lock to protect your bike when you leave it in a public place.

Simple but important tips for safer cycling

  • A bicycle ceases to be a toy when it is used on the road. When riding a bicycle you must comply with road laws, which are designed for the safety of all road users. A bike is a vehicle and should be maintained in a roadworthy condition at all times.
  • Helmets – By law you must wear a properly designed cycle helmet whenever you ride your bike. A helmet will not stop you having an accident but it will reduce the risk of a serious head injury by 85%.
  • Be seen – Wear something that is light coloured, reflective and/or fluorescent to be easily seen by other road users.
  • Observation – Be aware of your surroundings, look and listen. Always give clear signals for your safety and for that of others.
  • Plan your route – Where possible choose a route that you are comfortable with and wherever possible avoid busy roads and junctions. Pick routes where you can use bike lanes and shared off road paths as much as possible, but be aware of pedestrians, particularly the elderly and very young. Remember to Share with Care.

Tips for new cyclists

Getting equipped

Look around bike racks to see what other riders are using. Most cyclists are happy to talk about their bikes. The choice generally comes down to mountain bike, road bike, or hybrids in between. Mountain bikes are more rugged and get fewer punctures while road bikes are lighter and can move along more swiftly. Add on a mirror if possible. Use a backpack or panniers (no sweaty back) for your books and warm/dry clothes.

First trip – be visible

Dress brightly and/or wear a reflective vest. Don't be afraid to stand out! Take the bike to a very quiet street or a traffic free cycle route such as a park or the path along the Waikato River.

Once stability is achieved then slowly build up your traffic experience. Learn the rules of the road by reading the Cyclist Code.

Get to know your route

Check out the route on a Sunday at first. Then allow for it to be busier on Monday morning. Make a big effort to keep away from busy roads until you are very experienced. This is where a Bike Buddy can prove to be invaluable. Faced with worrying traffic conditions – such as turning right on a busy road – dismount on the left and walk the bike across before remounting. You have rights as a road user but you must learn safely how to exercise them!

Lock up your bike

A good lock can cost up to $100. It's well worth the investment if you have purchased an expensive bike. Securing the frame to the wheels and bike rack is the best way to go. Bike racks are included citywide at most locations.

Getting home

If it is getting dark make sure you have (as a minimum) a white light on the front, a blinking red light on the rear and reflective material on your bike or clothing – it’s for your own safety. 

Page reviewed: 10 Feb 2014 10:23am