Bike safety so important

Wigan Evening Post reporter Greg Farrimond learns essential road biking skills with cycling instructor Steve Owen, left

Wigan Evening Post reporter Greg Farrimond learns essential road biking skills with cycling instructor Steve Owen, left

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YOU’D be hard pushed to find someone who can’t ride a bike.

For me, going out on the bike with my mates was a huge part of my childhood and I was occasionally lucky enough to wake up on Christmas morning to the sight of a sparkling new cycle to get to grips with.

Unfortunately I don’t get out on the old two-wheeler as much as I should these days but with a charity ride pencilled in next year, I thought I’d get a refresher on road safety.

Transport for Greater Manchester offers a fantastic scheme which offers free training to various levels of cyclists.

All you have to do is log on to its website, select which time slot is best for you, someone will arrange to meet you at a suitable location and away you go.

The best thing is, it doesn’t matter what level you are.

Even if you know how to ride a bike and consider yourself a more experienced rider, the sessions can help improve your ability and awareness of road rules and etiquette.

I met instructor Steve Owen at Evening Post HQ, who helped me along the way.

As I’ve mentioned, as a youngster I was always on my bike. And admittedly, before the session I was a little dubious as to how much I would get out of it. That quickly changed though.

Even from the early safety checks, I could tell there was a lot of vital information I didn’t know about a bike and it was a great opportunity to go through this.

As we headed out on the road, Steve went through simple things such as turning and road positioning. Again, something I expected to be totally comfortable with but proved to be over-confident about.

As a driver, it’s all too easy to become frustrated with cyclists and how much of the road they take up but it is quite easy to make your presence known as well as giving cars a safe distance as to how to travel around
 you.

What you see is so very important when cycling, so you need to be constantly aware of what is around you. It was quite startling to learn just how little you see simply by glancing over your shoulder.

It’s simple things, things you take for granted, which can be so dangerous if you get wrong.

After the session, Steve, who has cycled for decades and worked as an instructor for two years, went through how important road safety is when out and about on a bike.

He said: “I’m really big on control and safety.

“I’m not bothered about the type of bike people ride, I just want people to ride safely.

“Success in cycling can sometimes be your downfall with how over-confident you can become and forget the basics.

“People will watch videos of the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish and take up cycling, which is great.

“But it’s all too easy to think you can go out and just do the same by spending big money on a bike.

“These sessions are here to give people a guide on how to use a bike safely but get the most out of it.”