The easiest way to spot a beginner cyclist is that they are riding too near the pavement. It is conventional wisdom that suggests clinging to the side of the road will keep you safe. However, in reality, the opposite is in effect. Not only is riding near the pavement dangerous for being seen, it also signals to a driver it’s safe to overtake you.
Giving yourself extra space between you and the pavement makes drivers more aware of you. They are likely to give you the same amount of space as you’ve given yourself and will not overtake until it is safer to do so.
Additionally, in the event someone does attempt to overtake, you have room to move to the left. Therefore, always give yourself extra space and don’t cling to the pavement.
Every eight to ten seconds you should be glancing over your shoulder. There are many reasons for this. For you it helps you have an awareness of drivers around you and avoid nasty surprises. For the driver it makes them more aware of your position on the road. A quick glance and establishing eye contact with drivers around makes the world of difference.
At traffic lights you should never be squeezed to a corner. When the light turns green a car should have to wait before you’ve moved off. Therefore, take a primary position in the lane you are in to be sure you have the time to move off at your own pace.
Drivers are not expecting a cyclist to suddenly appear from the pavement. Therefore, before moving off from a stopped position near the pavement you need to be sure there are no cars that will suddenly appear. Only ever move if you have a clear line of sight.
Once again this comes down to acting like a vehicle and maximising your visibility to drivers. A motorist isn’t expecting a vehicle to turn up on their left. Many cyclists will overtake on the wrong side of the vehicle and therefore make it harder for a driver to spot you. This is a particular error at traffic lights where people will muscle on the narrow left lane and often be left in an awkward situation if the light suddenly turns green.
Riding in busy traffic may involve a sudden stop. By always having your hands on the brake levers it minimises your braking time. If you find your levers hard to reach then your local bike shop can tweak them.
Many will remember back to the cycling proficiency at school. Glance over your shoulder, then indicate your intended direction using your arms and make the manoeuvre when it is safe to do so. You can also indicate to drivers your intentions by choosing a clear line your bike will be travelling in. The trick here is to never surprise a driver with something they didn’t expect.