Keep your bike (and yourself) safe with these tips

2015-03-23 09:16

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Being on a bicycle is a wonderfully free feeling and your two-wheeled chariot can take you on many thrilling adventures. It’s crucial to take care, however, especially if you are driving in traffic, or in low light conditions.

If you are a beginner, start with these basic safety guidelines. And if you are already a seasoned cyclist, see below for insurance tips from the experts.

Safety tips for beginners

1.    Feed and water your trusty steed. A bike that is in great working order is a must so that nothing will fail or fall off when you’re heading down that killer hill. Like any vehicle, a bicycle needs to be serviced properly before you embark on any major challenge, or when parts start to get worn.

2.    Rules are rules. Be an expert on the road rules affecting cyclists, and obey them to the letter. Taking chances by nipping through gaps or holding onto vehicles on the uphills is – obviously – dangerous. Start by familiarising yourself with these Cycling Rules of the Road and Road Safety from Arrive Alive.

3.    Dress to be seen. When you’re on your bike is not the time to blend into the landscape. Go lumo, with reflective panels and lights. In reduced visibility you will greatly increase your chance of being seen if you have lights on the front (white) and back (red). Even in daylight, lights have been shown to reduce visibility-related accidents by as much as 30%, says Arrive Alive.

4.    Find some cycle buddies. Cycling in a group makes you more visible, and it’s also a good way to prepare for being in a pack when you’re racing. Be careful to stay in single file so you don’t expose yourself to cars that drive too close.

5.    Keep friends and family informed of your plans. If you’re off on a long ride, leave a map or notes of your planned route so people know where to look for you in an emergency.

Download the Santam app (you don’t have to be a policyholder) to use the Be Safe feature so your family can track you as you go.

Set yourself a challenge by considering participation in a cycle race. The map below shows some of South Africa’ s most exciting challenges, but there are many more smaller races and routes to sharpen your skills before you take on the big ones.

Insurance tips for keen cyclists

A decent bicycle can cost you around R10 000, ranging up to over R100 000 for high-end competitive machines. Insuring your bike against damage or theft is the first step in looking after this expensive piece of equipment.

More than 50% of bicycle-related claims involved accidental loss and damage, according to data from Santam, which currently insures over 34 000 bicycles across the country.

Here are some tips for getting bike insurance right:

•    Speak to your local bicycle shop to keep up with the current replacement value of your bicycle and insure it for that amount.  
•    Specify your bike in your insurance policy, don’t expect general cover to be enough. Also itemise accessories such as helmets. This will ensure that you are insured for the correct amount and that there won’t be any nasty surprises when need to claim.
•    Provide your insurer with as much detail about the specified items as possible, things like the type and make of the bike, model, serial number, value and even photos of the bike. This helps to ensure a hassle free claims experience.

While you’re out having fun, don’t let your family stress about you. If you’re on the road regularly, download the Santam app for free onto your iOS or Android device , and get into the habit of entering your route. You can empower your family and friends to watch over you and share your progress, by giving them access to the information.

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