This Easter Weekend sees the clocks change

This weekend sees the clock go forward - and while we’ll grumble over that lost hour of sleep on March 31, at least we have the comfort of longer days and lighter evenings to console us.

And that blissful combination means only one thing for the biking community: more time out on the road!

Good weather, lovely countryside, open roads … what could be better?

But while we want you to have a brilliant day on your bike, we also want you to make it home safely. Sadly there is a sting in the tail for too many spring and summer time leisure riders: they become one of just under 170,100 casualties linked with motorcycle accidents in England and Wales every year.

Bikers are 38 times more likely to be killed in a motor accident compared to car occupants, per mile travelled – and this terrible statistic spikes on Bank Holidays when occasional leisure riders drag their bikes out and hit the roads. With Easter falling at the same time as the clocks go forward, that’s a worrying stat.

So here are some simple tips to help you keep safe as the days get brighter and lights.

Take your time, keep your eyes open

Two factors are involved in the overwhelming number of crashes involving bikers: poor observation and the inappropriate use of speed. If you are out on the bike for the first time in a while, watch your speed at all times, but particularly when cornering, and think carefully before overtaking. Do you need to, and can you complete the manoeuvre in safety?

Keep your eyes peeled at every junction, and watch out for those other road users who may have missed your slim silhouette, possibly because it has been lost among other traffic or street furniture. Knowing it wasn’t your fault when a car or van pulls out in to you is no comfort when you hit the asphalt.

Don’t ride tired

Research shows that most crashes occur towards the end of a ride. That’s not surprising; bike riding takes a huge amount of concentration, and if you’ve had a full and fun day out, it’s only nature to start feeling tired as you head home. But as your focus falls away, that’s the point at which you are most vulnerable. Bear in mind how you are getting home during the day and don’t push your levels of endurance. Set off early if you have to, and factor in regular breaks on your ride. If you start to feel fatigued, stop to refresh.

That’s particularly true if you’ve had a period away from the bike – for instance, if you’ve had it in storage during the colder winter months.

Don’t drink

No matter how tempting it looks, bike riding and alcohol do not mix. Even a solitary pint will impair the fine motor skills on which riders rely to control their bike and respond quickly when circumstances demand prompt action, such as swerving to avoid road debris or away from a car or van that’s not spotted you.

Think about your kit

It’s easy at this time of year to see the sun shining out of a blue sky and think, ‘it’s a warm day, I can cut out the layers when riding’. April can be a sneaky month; while it looks warm it can be deceptively cool. Add in riding at 30-40mph in a breeze and you can soon be shivering on your bike.

Golden rule is to ‘over layer’ for the ride, with lots of thinner garments topped with a good quality biking jacket and trousers. Add in sturdy boots that cover your ankles, at the very least.

Team this look up with a good quality helmet that meets British standards and gauntlets/gloves to stop your hands getting cold and giving you some protection if you take a tumble.

Rural awareness

Finally, here’s a stat that’s always worth repeating: although the majority of motorbike crashes occur on urban roads or motorways (70%), the majority of fatalities are actually on rural roads (66%) – the same roads you might be thinking of riding on after this weekend. So take care!

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