Cycling is a common means of transport in Zambia. It’s popular for several reasons: it’s great exercise, it’s cheap and it cuts down on travel time. But cyclists are also a vulnerable category of road user. Every year there are several cycling fatalities on Zambia roads and countless collisions involving cyclists.
As a cyclist, you can reduce your risk of death or injury by following some simple advice:
• Never cycle in the dark without adequate lighting – white for front, red for rear
• Always wear luminous clothing such as hi-vis vests, fluorescent armbands and reflective belts so that other road users can see you
• Wear a helmet
• Make sure you keep to the left. Always look behind and give the proper signal before moving off, changing lanes or making a turn
• Follow the rules of the road, never run traffic lights or weave unpredictably in and out of traffic
• Maintain your bike properly – in particular, your brakes should work properly and your tyres should be inflated to the right pressure and be in good condition
• Respect other road users – don’t get into shouting matches with motorists; stop at pedestrian crossings; don’t cycle on the footpath
• Watch your speed, especially when cycling on busy streets and going downhill
• Steer well clear of left-turning trucks: let them turn before you move ahead
Cycling for children
Using a bike for the first time and learning to ride has been a rite of passage for generations of Zambian children. Cycling is fun and sociable and, like swimming, a life-skill that stands to children in later years.
Yet, like many activities, cycling carries an element of risk. Parents play an important role in minimising the risk by giving them proper guidance and instruction at an early age to ensure that basic safety rules are absorbed while young.
Do’s and don’ts of safe cycling for children
Do ensure they:
• Cycle a bike matched to their height and experience
• Wear a safety helmet
• Use lights in dark or dusky conditions
Don’t allow them to:
• Cycle on public roads unsupervised (if under 12)
• Wear loosely-worn scarves or other clothing that could get caught in the wheels or chain-set
• Take unnecessary risks