Cycle to School Week took place at the end of September as children across the country were getting into the routine of being back at school after the summer holidays.

The Bikeability Trust created a YouGov poll to find out how children feel about cycling to school. They found that nearly a third (30%) of children are determined to cycle and said nothing would stop them from riding to school.

However, not all children feel as comfortable or safe cycling to school; 24% said they felt nervous or not confident enough, while 37% answered that they are putting off cycling because the roads are too busy.

Be seen to be safe

The Department of Transport’s Reported road casualties in Great Britain: pedal cycle factsheet published in 2023, found that the biggest contributory factor allocated to vehicles involved in fatal or serious collisions with pedal cycles was the driver failing to look properly.

Hi-vis clothing and bike lights can be overlooked by a driver that is not expecting to see a cyclist […] Putting yourself where drivers are looking is the best way to get them to see you.

While cyclists cannot control what other road users are doing, they can make sure they are as visible as possible. Some may think that hi-vis and lights are the answer, these can still be overlooked by someone who is not expecting to see a cyclist.

One way for cyclists to stand out is to put yourself where drivers are looking. This can be a daunting prospect, especially for new and inexperienced cyclists, which often includes children. Many feel safer hugging the kerb, or riding in the gutter, but not only is this not safe, it’s also not recommended in the Highway Code.

Put yourself in primary position

Putting yourself and your cycle in primary position – the middle of the traffic flow and where drivers are looking – is the best way to get them to see you. To do this safely, cyclists should make sure to look around to see what other road users are doing and make informed decisions before moving or changing position.

A key part of what Bikeability instructors do is teaching riders to make good choices for themselves. We call this ‘independent decision making’. This decision making is always informed by frequent observations, allowing riders to feel empowered to choose when to ride in primary position, and discourage overtaking and own the space on the road to increase visibility.

If we can all occupy the right position at the right time on the road when cycling, we will help drivers see us, and our children whenever we cycle.

Find out more about Bikeability training:

Sally Watson-Jones wrote this blog for Road Safety Week 2023. Sign up to join the conversation about speed.