DigiCore, the company behind the C-Track vehicle and personal tracking solutions, is a partner to Arrive Alive and a passionate supporter of South African cycling. Werner Swart, ICE product manager at C-track South Africa, offers cyclists some advice about staying safe on South Africa’s mean streets and mountain trails.
South Africa is a breathtakingly beautiful place with some spectacular mountain bike trails and excellent street routes for cyclists to enjoy in nearly any part of the country. But there are many dangers lurking for cyclists who don’t educate themselves about basic safety rules and protocols. If you follow the following tips, you can safely enjoy the excellent riding that our country offers.
Plan and know your route before you get on your bike.
Try to plan ahead so that you know where you’re going before you leave. Do your best to avoid roads and areas that are known to be dangerous, either because they are high accident or high crime spots. If you’re a mountain biker, head for one of the country’s many secure mountain biking trails rather than they trying to find your own way through the hills and koppies. Cycling clubs and experienced cyclists can be invaluable sources of route advice.
Dress for safety and visibility
Wear reflective and fluorescent clothing to ensure that other vehicles can easily you see, wear a good helmet that fits you properly and cover your eyes with sunglasses or other protective eyewear to shield them against dirt, winds and insects.
Cycle in groups
Sadly, hijackings and robberies of cyclists on urban roads and mountain trails are on the rise. Travel with at least five or more other cyclists to reduce your risk of falling prey to armed criminals.
Be prepared with the right equipment
Ensure your bike is in good repair before you hit the road – check gears, tires, brakes and so on before you saddle up.
It’s a good idea to take a puncture repair kit with you so that you won’t need to push your bike 30 kilometres if you ride over a nail on a remote rural road. And take a cheap, fully-charged cellphone and some emergency cash along with you as well.
A personal tracking device such as C- track ICE (In Case of Emergency) can also enhance your safety. A cellphone and personal tracking device all-in-one, this light and compact device allows you to call C-track operator, who will in turn send the relevant emergency services to your exact location when there’s an emergency.
Avoid night rides
It’s usually a good idea to avoid cycling at night because the dangers you face from both criminals and careless motorists multiply as soon as the sun sets. Be aware that the light at sunrise or sunset might blind drivers so that they don’t see you on the side of the road – be especially careful at these times of the day.
Be alert to road conditions
Keep your eyes peeled at all times, whether you’re cycling on the streets or mountain biking. On the roads, look out for drivers who seem to be behaving recklessly, potholes, speedbumps, and debris, since any of these can cause you a nasty accident.
Let someone know where you are going
If you’re planning a long ride, especially by yourself or in a small group, tell someone where you are going, which route you will be taking and when you expect to be back. This will ensure that someone will come looking for you if you’ve had a nasty fall in a donga or a collision with a car while you’re out on your bike.