Here we see a herd of cyclists in the wild…

Photo by Martin Magnemyr on Unsplash

Any cyclist knows that taking to the road comes with a number of risks, whether they’re enjoying a leisurely ride or commuting to work. It’s not uncommon, therefore, for cyclists to take a rural route in an attempt to avoid the congestion and dangers associated with cycling along city streets. Additionally, many keen cyclists enjoy the challenge of pacing themselves on a long country ride on the weekend. However, the numbers suggest that there can actually be just as many dangers on country lanes as there are in the city. In this article, we’ll ask: can you cycle safely on country roads?

In fact, between 2018 and 2020, there were a total of 3,115 fatalities on rural roads in England alone. In this same period, nearly 30,000 people were also seriously injured on rural roads. It’s obvious, then, that we need to do better to ensure safety for cyclists. But as a cyclist yourself, what can you do to stay safe?

Be defensive but respectful

One key piece of advice from Nick Chamberlain, Policy Manager at British Cycling, is to cycle defensively while remaining respectful. On long country lanes, you want to make sure you’re visible at all times, especially as these roads present a lot of blind spots with winding corners.

Make sure that drivers can see you from a distance, so that they have enough time to notice you and react accordingly. Wear bright colours and make sure your bike has lights on it if you’re cycling in the dark. Stay away from the edge of the road too, especially if there are hedges that might hide you.

Be aware of your road positioning

New rules in the highway code state that cyclists should position themselves in the centre of the road when in quiet areas, instead of staying to one side. You can also ride side by side with other cyclists, however, you must make sure to move into a single file line to allow cars to overtake.

If you need to stop, try to do this in an area that offers good visibility. Ideally, you want to wait until you come across a lay-by, but if you need to pull over urgently, make sure you’re a safe distance from blind corners or the top of a hill.

Don’t assume motorists have seen you

While drivers have just as big, if not a bigger, responsibility to be mindful and wary on the road, as a cyclist, you should never assume that drivers are fully alert at all times. When it comes to your safety, it’s usually best to assume the worst in all situations and cycle as if motorists haven’t noticed you.

As a cyclist, it is important to stay vigilant and be aware of other drivers who may not know the rules of the road as well as you do. Your awareness may just be what saves you from an incident on a country lane.

In summary 

How can you cycle safely on country roads?

Cycling along country lanes can be a liberating experience. But as we’ve explored, there are also lots of risks associated with taking two wheels to these roads, particularly at night or in adverse weather conditions. Ensure you and your bike are properly prepared for country lane cycling, and keep in mind all the safety guidelines when using the roads to keep you and others safe.

Feature written by:

Ross Hansen
Hansen Ross Media