Can you believe that just four years ago there were no Dutch-style bike lanes along Oxford Road? They’re a fantastic way of encouraging you to cycle, particularly as it’s a lot more sustainable and quicker to get to uni than the bus. In 2018 alone, there were more than 350,000 cycle trips into campus!
However, it’s also important that, if you do cycle, you stay safe. You still have to navigate alongside cars and buses – as well as other cyclists and all of the pedestrians along Oxford Road. Here’s a handy guide to how you can cycle safely around Manchester:
1) Wear the right attire and deck out your bike with suitable equipment
Throughout the day, consider wearing light-coloured clothes or wearing a high-vis jacket when cycling so other vehicles and pedestrians can see you.
When cycling at night, it is crucial that you wear something bright. You’ll also need to buy some lights for the front and back of your bike to make yourself more obvious to other vehicles – it can be hard to see a cyclist in the dark.
Although it is not a legal requirement to wear a helmet, it can be argued that a helmet can be used to increase your visibility (as well as your safety overall!) Plus, there are some really quirky bike helmets out there…
You should also make sure that your bell is working. This is particularly needed for the cycle lanes around Main Campus which turn in behind bus stops. Main Campus can get extremely busy, particularly as everyone leaves their lectures. Buy a bell if you don’t own one so you can signal to those crossing bike lanes that you’re about to pass.
2) Plan your journey
It’s simple to stick to the new cycle lanes. But, do make sure that you’ve taken a look at the route; where buses stop, where there are junctions, when you might come across pedestrians most. This can assure you to think ahead when cycling and take any extra precautions when necessary.
If you’re planning on using some quieter roads, it’s more important that you figure out your route. Figure out how and where cars appear from on each road and check where you can rejoin the road if you walk your bike through a pedestrianised area.
For more help on planning a bike ride, check out Transport for Greater Manchester’s website, where you’ll find online cycle maps and other advice.
3) Stay aware of your surroundings
You need to be extremely careful when cycling to a junction. Cars could be turning in left, potentially cutting across the cycle path.
You can’t always assume that a vehicle has spotted you. Make sure you make eye contact with other drivers.
If you’re cycling behind heavy traffic and can’t see a vehicle’s mirrors whilst on the road, then they can’t see you. Keep yourself positioned visibly to other vehicles when cycling from behind.
If you want to boost your confidence on the road, there are plenty of free cycle training courses hosted by Transport for Greater Manchester.
4) Be careful of pedestrians
Most cycling takes place where there are a high number of pedestrians. Even though there are cycle lanes on Oxford Road which help to separate the cyclists from the pedestrians, there are traffic lights at pedestrian crossings that are sometimes ignored by cyclists.
A red traffic light applies to all road users, not just cars. It is illegal for cyclists to jump red lights, and you could be fined £50 if you get caught cycling through red lights.
When getting to traffic lights, don’t run a red, or even amber, light. Although you might not see any incoming traffic, or you might think that you can avoid any traffic swiftly on your bike, traffic lights are there for a reason. Cars might be swinging round the corner, or there might be pedestrians crossing the road late.
5) Get rid of the headphones
A BBC poll in 2014 found that 90% of people want there to be a ban on wearing headphones when cycling. And chances are that if you’re listening to music, your awareness of your surroundings is much more limited. This is particularly important when you’re cycling on Europe’s busiest bus route along the Oxford Road corridor.
Keep your music until after you’ve got home – keep an ear out for oncoming traffic and pedestrians to make sure you are safe.
6) Check The Highway Code and keep to the law
Not sure about what to do in a certain situation? Then take a look at The Highway Code to find out what’s right and what’s wrong.
Remember – it is an offence to cycle after drinking alcohol (you can be fined up to £1000 if caught cycling drunk). There’s no breath test for this, nor is there a legal limit. But, if caught, you’ll be judged on if you are incapable of maintaining proper control of your bike.
7) Be careful when crossing the Metrolink when in the city
We’re lucky enough to have trams in Manchester, but it also means that you need to be more aware when cycling.
You should be careful when crossing tram tracks. Cross at a right angle where possible, or your wheel might go into the gap between rails. Also take extra care in the winter when the rails might be wet or icy. You can cross at toucan crossings to avoid tram lines at difficult angles.
8) Make sure you’ve got the right lock
Did you know that 99% of all bikes stolen on campus are fitted with poor quality cable locks? If you’ve got a cable lock, make sure you swap to a Silver Standard ‘D’ lock to keep your bike secure.
Come along to one of the Bike Registration Events on campus (either outside Stopford Building or the Main Library) to get your bike registered on the free University scheme, and get a ‘D’ lock for a discounted price of £15 instead of the usual RRP of £35.
For more information on cycling safe in Manchester, check out Transport for Greater Manchester’s website.