Guide to safety & security

photographer Katie Noble, image courtesy of Bike for Good

Follow these simple steps to help get your bike set up right, stay safe and be a confident cyclist.

Fit your helmet correctly

Although you are not required by law when cycling in the UK, wearing a correctly fitted helmet helps provide protection in the event of an accident or fall.

With your helmet level on your head, sitting just above your eyebrows, the side straps should sit flat against the sides of your face to form a V shape and fasten securely beneath your chin, with space for two fingers between the strap and your chin. When you shake your head from side to side your helmet should stay in place.

Wear bright, warm and waterproof clothing

You don’t need special clothing to ride a bike, wear what you feel comfortable in. Here’s some top tips for choosing appropriate clothing for cycling:

  • Wear bright clothing, something reflective if you have it for good visibility, especially when you are cycling at night
  • Wear a waterproof jacket and trousers to keep dry when it’s raining
  • Layers and gloves are essential when it’s cold out!
  • Shorten your trousers by rolling them up or tucking them into your socks to keep them away from a moving and greasy chain, and make sure you don’t have tassels, ties or strings hanging from tops, belts or jackets that can get caught in wheels or other moving parts

Cycle with lights at night

Cycling at night, photographer Anne Glass, image courtesy of Dumchapel Cycle Hub

Use a white headlight at the front and red light at the rear of your bike for good visibility and safety at night. You may want to carry spare batteries to keep them bright, or even a spare or emergency set of lights. Also ensure you have a rear reflector fitted.

Know your rights as a cyclist

To understand your rights as a cyclist, it is worth familiarising yourself with the Highway Code, particularly sections 61 to 71.

Cycling is not inherently a dangerous activity; you are much more likely to face serious health problems from leading a sedentary lifestyle than riding a bike in a city!  However accidents on the road do happen and when they involve other road users it is important to know what to do. Police Scotland suggest the following actions if you find yourself involved in an incident on the road:

  • Get off the road and deal with the incident in a safe place
  • Stay calm
  • Seek medical attention if required
  • If you are injured or you suspect that an offence has occurred, you should report the incident to the Police as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours (call 101 or attend at your local station)
  • In case of serious injury or obstruction to the road that cannot be easily cleared, call 999 requesting police or ambulance attendance
  • The driver of a motor vehicle must stop and provide their name, address and the name and address of the vehicle owner, together with the vehicle registration number as required by Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988
  • If the driver does not stop, note the registration number of any vehicles involved and the details of any additional witnesses before contacting the police

Cycle Law Scotland specialise in representing cyclists who have been injured in road traffic incidents through no fault of their own. They will provide you with expert legal advice and representation in the unfortunate event of an accident on the road that is not your fault.

Respect all road users

Many of Glasgow’s and Scotland’s cycling organisations work with car, van and public transport drivers to educate them about cycling and cyclists. This includes the following Cycling Scotland campaigns:

Carry some essentials

A mobile phone, map, filled water bottle, puncture repair kit, spare inner tube, multitool and bicycle pump may come in handy on your ride.

Check the weather

Knowing the weather in advance means that you can prepare. If it is cold you can wear extra layers to keep you warm. If it is to be wet, road surfaces may be slippery so you can adjust your riding and speed when crossing surfaces that may be affected such as manhole covers. Perhaps in heavy rain, ice, strong winds and snow, you may just choose to leave the bike behind for a day or two!

Get your Bike Set Up right

Finding the optimum riding position for cycling is important. Spending ten minutes adjusting the bike to your body dimensions can make a massive difference to how comfortable your bike can be and therefore help you to keep cycling.

1. Adjust your Saddle height
The main adjustment you can make to the fit of a bike is the saddle height. It’s commonly known that most people ride with their saddle too low, putting excess strain on the rider’s knees and you don’t achieve good peddling efficiency.

When the pedal is at its lowest point and you are seated on the saddle, your leg should be bent slightly at the knee. If your leg is too straight, you will have to over extend your leg and push down with your hip. If your leg is too bent, you do not get the power or efficiency. Release the fixed or quick release seat post clamp, adjust the height of the saddle as required and re-tighten the clamp.

If you are a confident cyclist and comfortable with resting on one leg at traffic lights, we’d recommend adjusting your saddle so that when the pedal is at it’s lowest point (the 6 o’clock position) that you have a slight bend in your knee. If you are not that confident, then start with your seat lower, so you can have both feet on the ground. As you gain confidence, readdress the height of your saddle and you’ll be surprised at how efficient your pedalling can be.

2. Lateral position (distance from front to back)
When seated in the riding position with the cranks horizontal to the floor, the front of your knee should vertically align with the centre of the pedal. You can set your optimum lateral position by moving your seat forward and back on the saddle rails at the top of the seat post, and adjusting the length of the stem to your handlebars.

3. The height of your handlebars can also be tweaked. As a rough rule, high handlebars offer a comfortable position (like a Dutch bike). Lower handlebars will give you a more aerodynamic position (make sure you can still reach the brakes comfortably). Readdress the height of your handlebars as you go so you can benefit from listening to your body and making these adjustments until you are satisfied with the position.

Bike Security

More than 500,000 bikes are stolen in the UK each year because they’re poorly secured, or not secured at all. More than half of all stolen bikes are taken from the owner’s property.

Follow this advice to keep your bike secure at all times, whether at home or out and about:

  • If possible, keep your bike out of sight as best you can
  • Lock your bike securely with a good quality lock – Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council’s If You Love It, Lock It campaign recommend’s using a D-Lock with an approved Sold Secure label and with a guide price of 10% of the cost of your bike
  • Lock your bike through the back wheel and frame to a secure fixed object, such as a bike rack, sign post, lamp post or if at home, a ground anchor in the garage or a banister in the close
  • If you have quick release wheels, use an additional lock or a quality security cable for the front wheel
  • When out and about, lock your bike in a busy, well-lit place, in view of people or CCTV cameras, if possible
  • Remove small parts and accessories, such as lights, pumps and water bottles, that cannot be readily secured

Familiarise yourself with the location of bike racks, alongside cycle routes and automated bike hire sites, in the city.

When you first get your bike, further advice is recommended to protect it:

  • Photograph your bike, recording its details and distinguishing features, including the serial number usually found on the bottom bracket (the part of the frame the pedals/cranks connect to). Keep these photographs in a safe place
  • Security mark your bike’s frame with a UV pen or other method, ensuring the mark includes your house number and postcode
  • Insure your bike, either on your contents insurance or separately if required
  • Register your bike on the Bike Register, the national cycle database

In the event your bike is stolen, you should report the theft to Police Scotland by calling 101.

Further information is available at Police Scotland’s Secure Your Bicycle.