IN this article, Paul Ashman of Swindon Recycles Cycling Club offers basic but potentially life-saving tips to ensure the novice cyclist can look forward to many safe and happy years on the road.

Safety is absolutely paramount when riding a bicycle.

Ultimately, you need to remember that – similar to motorcyclists – we don’t have a metal shell around us like people do in a car!

If you’re hit while you’re in a car you have something to protect you.

Be seen and wear a helmet; those things are key. If you’re wearing a helmet, you have that protection for the most fragile part of your body.

And being seen? You don’t go out in the dark or the dusk wearing dark clothing and with no lights. Safety means simple things like reflective strips on your legs and arms, lights on your bicycle and bright-coloured clothing.

That doesn’t have to be the horrendous hi-vis stuff that’s out there? You don’t have to go out in hi-vis top to bottom; a lot of the companies out there are making stuff that’s very cool, but they have reflective bits in key places that will be picked up by headlights.

You need front and back lights. Static or flashing are legal. Ask yourself – if you were a car driver or in a car, what type of light would stand out.

To me, certainly when you’re riding in an urban area, a flashing light attracts the eye straight away. That’s why police cars and ambulances have flashing lights.

Another thing, which to me is just a given, is that when you buy your lights, buy rechargeable ones.

It’s crazy, but there are still battery-powered lights out there. Nowadays every household has USB charger - we use them for our phones, our iPads, whatever, so just get a rechargeable one.

Once you have your lights, you need to use them all the time. A rear light during the daytime is brilliant.

Get into the habit of recharging them. When you come home, regardless of the length of your journey, just plug them in and charge them.

It’s no different to your phone. Suppose you came home at, say 10 in the evening and your phone had, say 63 percent battery.

We all know that would be enough to get you through to the next day, but would you just put your phone on the side? No. We just want to see 100 percent before we leave the house.

It’s the same with your lights, with something that could save your life. The last thing you want is for your lights to give out on you.

If you are not confident and are venturing out on to the roads for the first time, the key thing is to practice riding in quiet housing estates with not too much traffic.

You’ll be able to familiarise yourself with the road, with the road layout in terms of keeping approximately a metre from the road and with being comfortable riding up a road, keeping that line and going out around parked cars.

When you’re riding on the road, the biggest thing is your eyes looking around at all times, and always checking behind you.

Your eyes and your ears are potential life-savers, which is why listening to music while you’re riding is a no-no. You can’t hear the traffic.

You see people riding around wearing black, no lights, no helmet and listening to music – it’s a death wish.

Really, it’s just a case of gradually moving up; start with quieter roads and then just gradually move to busier ones.

The rules of the road that apply to a car apply to a cyclist.

If you’re turning, you signal. If the traffic lights are on red, you stop, and at roundabouts and on junctions you give way to traffic on the right.

As cyclists we are trying to be safe and give cyclists a good name.

You are a road user, so you have the same rules – and the same rights – as the lorry, the bus, the car, the van, the motorcycle and everybody else on that road.