Cycling is cooler, and more popular than ever – good news for our health, and the environment. In 2010, 2.1 million Australians spent time cycling, while in Sydney, trips by bicycle have doubled in just three years. However, cyclists often find themselves in dangerous situations, as they compete with buses, cars, motorbikes, and other cyclists on increasingly congested roads.

Here are seven tips to make sure you’re cycling safely.

1. Be safe. Wear a helmet, not just any stack hat, but one that has been approved by Australian Standards. Adopt a helmet-proof hairdo if you’re worried about helmet hair, and check your rear reflector and bell before you head off.

2. Be seen. You’re not a ninja, so get flashy and fluoro whenever possible. Front and back lights for nighttime riding. Keep your eyes peeled for car doors and pedestrians, and remember that the other drivers can’t read your mind so use hand signals to show where you’re heading. To be safe ring your bell so that walkers know you’re about to pass them on shared paths.

3. Get smart. Cyclists have to follow road rules just like cars, that means you must follow the road signs, not run the red, and give way like you would in a car. Every state is different so check your local area for cycling courses, and use cycleways whenever possible.  

4. Check up. Regular maintenance will keep your bicycle safely on the road for longer. Do a course so you can keep your machine in working order yourself.

5. Stop everything. Functioning brakes are essential to cycling safety. Keep brake pads free from grit, check that they sit a few millimetres from the tyre rim, and you may need to adjust the pads as they wear. 

6. Lock up. Invest in a good-quality U-lock, and register with an online bike tracker to help you trace it if it’s stolen.

7. Love links. Keep you chain clean and oiled to ensure it keeps on running smoothly. Over time it will stretch, and the gears will gradually wear, so keep an eye on it, and test it using a chain measuring gauge.