Defensive cycling is riding a bike in such a way that you deny people the opportunity to cut you up or otherwise take advantage of you. Note that the information below is intended for UK cyclists - you need to check your local laws. Here's some tips:
- Use your space. This is the most important rule of all. You have the right to use the entire half of the road you are occupying. Always cycle at least 2 feet from the edge of the road, which gives you more room for manoeuvre if motorists squeeze past.
- Block the traffic where appropriate. There are many cases where a bad driver will try to overtake you but a good one will not. If you are coming up to a blind bend, move to the middle of your lane to discourage following motorists from overtaking. Good drivers won't and bad drivers shouldn't, so don't feel guilty about this. The alternative is to have someone push past you and then drive into you when they see the oncoming truck. Likewise on a narrow lane, move out where there is oncoming traffic to discourage pushy, impatient motorists from squeezing past.
- Be predictable and firm. If you are turning across the traffic, look behind, signal and move out. Don't be afraid to manipulate the traffic. So long as you are doing something reasonable, and making it obvious what you are trying to achieve, few people will mind slowing for you. Never take anyone by surprise or force a quick reaction, though.
- Make yourself visible. You can only influence other road users if they can see you. Don't be one of those fools riding in black at night with no lights. Wear bright clothing at all times, and have clean and efficient reflectors and lights if riding after dark.
- Be courteous at all times. Breaking traffic laws and being pushy will not help your cause. If someone waits patiently for a safe moment to overtake you, give them a friendly wave as they pass. If someone slows to let you turn across the traffic, acknowledge their kindness.
- Make eye contact. This helps you establish that others have seen you, and lets them know that you have seen them.