Since 2008, cycling has steadily increased in popularity and now sees more than two million Britons take to their bikes at least once a week, whether for fitness, the daily commute or for recreational purposes.

Cyclists are some of the most vulnerable road users in the UK, with more than 21,000 injured in road traffic collisions, of which 3,514 were killed or seriously injured in 2014 alone. Although many traffic collisions are caused by other road users, there are protective steps that cyclists can take to ensure that they stay safe when cycling.

As part of National Road Victim Awareness month, Tom Jones, head of policy, Peter Kettleborough, head of IT and business process, and professional support lawyer, David Robinson, who are members of Thompsons Solicitors’ cycling group, share best practice on how cyclists can stay safe on the roads.

Know where you’re going

“When we get in our cars, we don’t drive around aimlessly – we always have a route planned out and a destination in mind. Unless the ride really is dawdling along a beach front, this shouldn’t be any different for cyclists,” says Peter Kettleborough.

“Rather than jumping straight on a bike and putting yourself at risk when riding on unfamiliar roads, researching the route on Google Maps and even checking it out beforehand will help familiarise yourself with layouts and landmarks so that when you do jump on your bike, you can be sure that you’re travelling in the right direction.

“This also means you have some idea of what’s coming next, hopefully avoiding any nasty potholes and bumps so that you can avoid injuring yourself – and your bike - when cycling.”

Be seen

“Despite being an obvious thing to do, some cyclists fail to make themselves seen when on the roads which, sadly, often ends in serious injury or worse and really doesn’t help in any subsequent compensation claim,” says David Robinson.

“Cyclists must remember to wear brightly coloured clothing in the day, and reflective, high-visibility clothing at night. It’s fairly basic but doing so should make you stand out in traffic and encourage good drivers to give you plenty of room as they pass. Wearing a head torch at night or when there’s low visibility (not just your bike lights) will also increase your chances of being seen.

“Another frequent error is riding where motorists can’t see you. Be confident and position yourself to be seen at traffic lights or junctions. If cycle lanes are available use them and where they aren’t present, don’t hug the curb but rather position yourself further into the stream of traffic so that other vehicles notice you and respect you like any other road user.”

Follow the Highway Code

“Most cyclists are clued up on the rules of the road, but a small minority don’t realise or choose to ignore that the Highway Code also applies to them,” says Tom Jones.

“Nothing gets vehicle drivers more wound up (and I have to add me as well as fellow cyclists!) than those who don’t observe STOP signs, jump traffic lights (including ones specifically for cyclists) and fail to use appropriate hand signals – the last minute ‘no look, flap and pull out’ is a hugely dangerous ‘classic’.”

For more information on cycling rules and regulations, click here.