Safety and comfort

Keeping yourself and your bike safe.

Keeping your bike safe when not cycling

To keep yours safe, always use a D-lock, don't use a cable lock, and never use a combination lock (they can be picked in seconds). It may be quite inconvenient to carry around a bike lock for long journeys, therefore a better solution is to have several locks stationed at the respective locations that you frequent (e.g. one lock at Culham site, one lock at home, etc.).

The likelihood of bike theft is dependent on how easily someone can cut a lock and walk off with a bike in that area without being challenged, and how tempting your bike looks to potential bike thieves. Both of these qualities are difficult to quantify, so we will discuss them a little below.

The higher the resale value of your bike, the more lucrative it would look to potential bike thieves. Therefore you can add scratch marks and imperfections onto your bike to reduce its resale value if you wish.

It is relatively safe to keep your bike on Culham site, or a gated community (since no unauthorized personnel should be able to get in and suspicious behaviours are challenged), but in a public space (e.g. a train station) where strangers come and go all the time without being challenged, you should always assume that there is a bike thief hiding around the corner ready to pounce at any moment you use a sub-par lock to lock up your bike. If you know there are bike thieves operating in the area (e.g. there's a recently cut lock on the floor of the bike racks, and some bikes look abandoned with wheels missing), it is best not to tempt fate and avoid locking your bike there; but if you absolutely have to, don't lock it up there overnight and if possible keep it in sight the entire time.

If you have an expensive bike, use Bike Register (or similar websites) to register your bike, and take out insurance on it. It's also possible to put AirTag/ Tile tracker or purpose-built bike trackers in your bike's frame (glue it down into the inside of your bike frame so that bike thieves won't notice them). This increases the chance of recovery in case of a reported crime.

This bike has neon coloured pedals with retroreflective tape applied near the rim at the rear tyre for increased visibility.

Never use a cable lock as it can be cut through in the blink of an eye.

Keeping yourself safe when cycling

The UK historically does not have the best attitude towards cyclists, however, this is moving in the right direction as the Highway Code recently (as of 2022) changed to place cyclists at a higher rank than motorists in the hierarchy of road users, emphasizing the responsibility of drivers to keep cyclists safe. So despite what some drivers say, you should cycle far away from the left edge of the road, which should allow you to avoid potholes, and cars should pass at a safe distance to your right. Nonetheless, you should take the relevant precautions to Be Safe, Be Seen.

Wear brightly (neon) coloured or retroreflective clothing at night (or apply retroreflective tape onto your bike!); use head and tail lights (reflectors might serve a similar purpose but won't be as good as it relies on the driver's headlight beam landing on the reflector). Having headlights will also help you avoid potholes and unfortunate encounters with puddles.

You may also choose to add other accessories on your bike, such as a long Fold Out Safety Wing, that can simultaneously ensure that you are seen by drivers and that they keep their distance when cycling on the road.

As mentioned on the UK visitors page, wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement but will keep you safe in case of an accident. Cycling helmets are single-use safety devices, so make sure to replace them after any accidents involving even a minor collision to the head, even if they appear undamaged on the outside. Wearing gloves can also keep your hands safe from road rash in case of an accident; they also have the added benefit of keeping your hands warm while cycling in chilly weather.

With that being said: Isn't cycling dangerous?

Not really, no, so long as you keep an eye on the cars around you. And the health benefits vastly outweigh the risks. The DfT Active Travel Strategy says:

The actual risk of cycling is tiny. There is one cyclist death per 33 million kilometres of cycling, while being sedentary presents a much greater risk. Over 50,000 people die in the UK each year due to coronary heart disease related to insufficient physical activity, compared to around 100 cyclists killed on the road. Research suggests that safety risks are outweighed by the health benefits by a factor of around twenty to one.

Maintaining your bike to keep it comfortable to ride on.

Bike maintenance

Treat your bike well, and it will return the favour.

There are tools available on site to do these adjustments (specifically, the hex keys in the maintenance stations). 

Don't hesitate to bring your bike into any of the local bike shops (see the useful links page) to check up on its health if you feel like any parts are not aligned or working optimally. There is a Dr Bike workshop held every year in March, June and October by the Campus Development Team, often co-organized by Mountain Mania Cycle; the kind people at the Dr Bike workshop would be more than happy to fix your bike for free (but parts still need to be pre-paid) and offer advice on how to maintain your bike as well. It is usually easier and cheaper to fix problems if they're caught early on, just like with your own health. 😉