As the active cycling season has started, an increasing number of cycling fans exchange their cars or the public transportation for bicycles. Although the combination of treading pedals and road safety seem to be self-evident, observations and statistics indicate that some skills have rusted over winter by spring and risks of those cycling are larger. Therefore BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS and Latvian Cyclists’ Union remind five essential matters, worth paying attention to, in order to avoid nasty incidents at the very first ride.
Fix your vehicle!
Prior to going on the first ride, Romāns Meļņiks, board member of the Latvian Cyclists’ Union, advises all cyclists to thoroughly inspect their bicycle’s technical condition, or what’s even better – to let this be taken care by a professional at a repair shop. Repairman will make sure that your bicycle is in appropriate technical condition and ready to take its owner towards new adventures. Otherwise, there may be situations that bicycle cannot be stopped at the first junction, because brakes have suddenly gone missing or a loose chain drops off just at the “right moment”. Technical inspection should be carried out at least twice a year.
Mind the weather!
Bicycle can be a quite fast means of travelling, although, the grip of tyres and the earth depends on surfaces of just a couple of square centimetres. Therefore to keep an eye on the weather is even more important than when driving a car. If puddles in mornings are ice-covered, wind has carried a layer of sand on remoter streets, or there is water on the road, you should keep in mind that the bicycle can skid and swerve after a jerkier manoeuvre.
Latvian climate is fickle. Sunshine in the morning, downpour in the evening is quite a common pattern, therefore driving will be a lot safer, when always carrying a waterproof poncho with you, that will help to stay dry while getting home.
Industry professionals emphasize that paying attention to temperature fluctuations and rapid weather changes would spare bicyclists of quite a few incidents.
Get used to traffic!
The experts of BTA Baltic Insurance Company (BTA) have come to a conclusion that accident risks at the start of the season are higher, as bicyclists have gotten disaccustomed from the intensive traffic flow and often spot unexpected obstacles on their way too late. It is advisable to avoid the busiest streets of Riga and other large cities in the first ride after the long winter. After all – what can be better than the first spring ride at nature, enjoying long deserved silence and peace all around? It is important to increase the driving speed gradually and use high speeds only when you feel comfortable with the traffic.
Discuss traffic rules with kids!
Definitely the ones to cheer most the coming of spring and the warm season are the smallest cyclists, therefore BTA Baltic Risks Underwriting Department Director Ivo Danče reminds parents of the importance to discuss safety and road traffic rules before their kids are out for recreation or going to school. What may seem absolutely clear and self-evident to a grown-up, can easily slip the mind of a kid – how to fix the helmet correctly, what side of the rod must be taken, how to cross street, and other traffic arrangement and safety issues are matters advisable to discuss before the kid goes out in the streets on a bicycle.
Youngest cyclists should not only take a refresher course of the road conduct rules, before diving into intensive traffic they should also get cyclist’s licence. The road traffic rules state that a child can become a road user as a bicycle driver unassisted only as of 12 years of age, and providing that bicycle driver’s licence is obtained.
Take care your bike’s safety!
Both I.Danče and R.Meļņiks emphasize that bicycle theft cases are not an uncommon phenomenon also at the very beginning of season. Therefore it is important to take care of the safety of the bicycle by purchasing a good quality lock, as well as to register the bicycle with the Road Safety Directorate (CSDD). Registration considerably eases recognition of a bicycle and returning it to its legal owner, when the police have caught the thieves and reclaimed their loot. You should be careful when selecting a place for parking your bicycle, it is better to leave it in specialized bicycle parking lots, your apartment or private house, instead of leaving it locked to railings in the stairwell. Ivo Danče reminds – according to the information compiled by BTA for 2016 indicates that the number of insurance claims for stolen or completely damaged bicycles has increased, reaching 35% of all Bike Insurance Policy claims (the percentage of such cases in 2015 was 14%).
BTA Baltic Insurance Company (hereinafter – BTA) is one of the leading insurance companies in the Baltic States, providing all types of non-life insurance services in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. BTA is also one of the largest indemnity payers in the Baltics – in 2016, BTA disbursed an average of 300 thousand euros each business day in insurance indemnities in the Baltic States or approximately 38 thousand euros every business hour.
The largest shareholder of BTA is Vienna Insurance Group AG, one of the leading insurers in Europe. More than 50 companies in 25 countries constitute a group with a solid brand, with 190 year experience in the insurance field and close cooperation with customers. VIG employs 23,000 employees and is a clear leader in its core markets. VIG is a group with the best rating of all companies in the ATX, the leading index of the Vienna Stock Exchange, with a secondary listing on the Prague Stock Exchange.
About the Union
Latvian Cyclists’ Union is the largest non-governmental organizations promoting bicycling in Latvia. Its founders and members are primarily non-governmental organizations.
Marketing and Public Relations Department Director
BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS
Phone: +371 67025676, mobile: +371 26756841