Cycling on roads can seem pretty intimidating if you’re new to it, but like almost everything it’s a matter of doing it more and more to build up your confidence. Here are a few things to think about to keep you safe on the roads. 


The most important thing when riding a bike on the road is concentration. Even if you’re an experienced cyclist, taking your mind off what you’re doing for a few seconds can end badly. That also means if you’re doing anything to take your mind off the road then you’re putting yourself in danger.

Sure, you might want to ride with headphones, that’s your choice. But if listening to music means your mind isn’t on the task at hand, then it’s time to leave the headphones at home. Same with your phone. If you have the phone mounted on your handlebars but you look down every time a notification comes through, then it’s time to think about putting that phone in a pocket or bag. 

Be Aware

For anyone out there who’s a driver - do you remember your hazard perception test? The whole thing was based on looking down the road to figure out what might go wrong before it happens. That’s especially important when you’re riding a bike. Is there a pothole coming up you need to avoid? Is that person on the pavement about to step out into the road? Are the traffic lights changing? Is that a pedestrian crossing? All these things matter and looking ahead to anticipate what’s coming is one of the most important ways to keep yourself safe.


Just like being in a car, letting other road users know what you’re planning on doing before you do it gives them time to adjust. When you signal on a bike it needs to be a clear, definitive action. Put your arm out straight to the side and hold it there for a few seconds, but always check with a glance over your shoulder first, you don’t want to stick your arm out as a vehicle comes past and get your hand smacked. 


Riding with confidence helps to keep you safe in a number of ways. Firstly, if you’re confident in what you’re doing then drivers will be more confident around you. If you’re wobbling all over the road and flashing confusing signals then anyone behind will start to feel pretty indecisive about the situation too. 

Second, make sure your bike and set-up fills you with confidence to ride it. Clipless pedals are a perfect example. If you’re not confident you can clip in and out at a moment’s notice, then maybe practice a little more before you go out in traffic using them for the first time. If you’re not sure whether or not you can do something, that’s only going to be harder when the pressure is on. 

Think about your route

If the most direct way of getting where you want to go involves using the busiest roads in your area, then maybe think about taking a slightly longer route that leaves those roads out. Trying to ride in heavy, fast-moving traffic isn’t fun and if you can find another way to go that’ll make your rider safer and more enjoyable then it’s definitely worth adding a few miles. 

Think like a driver

Yes, you’re not in a car when you’re riding, but acting the same way you would in car in certain instances will help to keep you safe. If you’re riding through red lights, ignoring pedestrian crossings, jumping on and off the pavement as you see fit and generally acting erratically, then you’re putting yourself and other people in danger. Drivers aren’t allowed to act like that so you shouldn’t when riding either. It all comes back to what we said earlier: act in a predictable way and other road users will be able to anticipate what you’re going to do. Ride unpredictably and that’s when things can start to go wrong.