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Bike safety and maintenance

New to cycling, or getting back into it? Make sure your bike fits you properly, that you can control it comfortably and it is roadworthy.

Get your bike assessed by a local bike shop if you are unsure how to do a full check, or join one of the regular 'Dr Bike' sessions for Cambridge staff and students, held periodically around the University estate. Visit our events page or see upcoming events in the bar to the right of this page.

If you're not sure how to check your bike is safe to ride, follow these steps to carry out a quick M check:  

  • Do the wheels turn freely? Check spokes are not broken or loose and that both wheels run freely
  • Is there any damage to the gears? Are all the parts tight and move freely when turning the pedals. 
  • Is the luggage rack damaged? Are the panniers fitted and any damage to the rack?
  • Do the rear brakes work? Do the brakes stop the cycle with the minimum amount of pull on the brake levers?
  • Is the saddle height correct for you? Is the seat post tight and not over the maximum limit
    • When seated, your knee should be slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke
    • Ideally, you should only have tip toes touch the ground when seated
  • Is the battery fitted? it the battery fitted securely and charged?(electric bikes only)
  • Do the pedals turn freely? Are all the parts tight and the chain moves freely 
  • Are all the levers working? Check that brakes and gear levers move freely
  • Are the fitted lights working? Check these are working, if riding in the dark or in poor weather conditions
  • Do the front brakes work? Do the brakes stop the cycle with the minimum amount of pull on the brake levers?
  • Are the tyres Inflated and firm? Are they fully inflated with plenty of tread and no bald patches?

There is a handy video from Sustrans showing you how to give your bike a basic M-check, or save our quick M Check flyer, if you are not sure.

We offer all staff the opportunity to purchase a helmet at a subsidised rate should you choose to purchase one for use. Helmets are available to buy from the University's Online Store.

Free cycle training

Training can improve your confidence when cycling on the roads and can help you to position yourself correctly on the road and around other vehicles. Even if you’ve cycled for a long time, a one off lesson can help you improve your skills.

Outspoken Training offer free 1:1 sessions of 2 hours for both staff and students, which can be started at a whole range of destinations around the city. The sessions are aimed at all types of cyclists, from those just starting out and hopping on a bike for the first time, through to experienced riders who might be new to the city. There is also bespoke training for cargo bike riders, those with adaptive bikes or electric bikes, and riders wanting specialist advice on riding with a child sitting in their child seat. Book your session online

Tips to help you stay safe

Whether cycling to work or at work, follow the guidelines below to help you stay safe. 

  • Be Safe Be Seen. When cycling in the dark, make sure you have two lights on your bike, a red one on the back and a white one on the front. Download our Be Safe Be Seen flyer in the Materials section of our website for more information. 
  • Reflectors are important so make sure they are fitted to the back of your bike, your pedals and spokes for extra visibility, especially when cycling in the dark.
  • Dress to be seen so wear reflective high viz clothing.
  • Always be prepared to STOP. Make use of the bell to alert other road users if required. 
  • Get geared up. If you’re cycling during the colder, wetter months, wear gloves and water proofs to make your ride more comfortable.
  • Wear appropriate footwear which won’t fall off when you are cycling. 
  • Use panniers to carry luggage or a backpack, rather than carrying bags on the handlebars.
  • Ride about one metre out into the road, not in the gutter. This avoids drains and grit, makes you more visible and prevents cars passing where there is not enough room. Make eye contact with drivers when crossing the road to let them know they have been seen.
  • Signal in plenty of time and avoid hesitant or sudden manoeuvres.
  • Always obey traffic regulations they are there to keep yourself and other road users safe. See the cycling section in the Highway Code for more information
  • Keep looking and listening. Look out for pedestrians crossing, cars pulling out, car doors beginning to open and hazards in the road surface.
  • Make eye contact with other road users to make sure you’ve been seen.
  • Stay behind large vehicles. Never ride up the inside of any large vehicle as you cannot be seen. Be aware of the additional space large vehicles need to turn.
  • Don’t be floored by doors. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles.
  • Use your bell to warn pedestrians in good time of your approach.
  • Give way to pedestrians on a shared cycling and walking path. Remember that pedestrians will not always hear you approaching.
  • Be prepared. Carry a puncture repair kit and tools with you.
  • Plan safe cycle routes. Use dedicated cycle paths/tracks where available. Planning quieter routes can help you reduce your risk of having an accident.
  • Carry a charged mobile phone in case of emergency.
  • Mobile phones, headphones and other handheld communication devices are not used whilst cycling at work. If you need to take a call whilst on the move, stop in a safe place to use your phone.
  • Where possible maintain social distancing guidelines. If you are unwell, get tested for Covid-19 and isolate if required. Use University track and trace system to alert close contacts.

Reporting a cycling accident

Cyclists are required to report any accident or near miss to their Line Manager as soon as possible, completing a University accident form, which can be found online.

Any cycle accidents occurring on the public highway should also be reported to the Police. This information is used by Cambridge County and City Councils to determine key cycle accident hotspots and to allocate funding for future cycle scheme improvements.