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How to Handle Cyclists on the Road – Told by a Cyclist
To stay safe it’s important that cyclists and drivers work to accommodate each other on the roads. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, in 2015, 18,844 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents, including 3,339 who were killed or seriously injured.
If these figures are to improve, we must know how to deal with cyclists on the road in the appropriate way. Currently, in aid of National Lorry Week, cyclists and lorry drivers are switching perspectives in order to see where blind spots occur.
Also in latest news, the “Dutch reach” technique has been promoted by the charity Cycling UK. This involves, whilst inside the car, using your hand furthest away from your car door to open it. This allows you to actively look behind you before opening the door, making oncoming cyclists easier to see. There’s even calls to include this in the driving test.
But what else can you do to help our cyclist friends? We checked in with Richard, who loves to cycle, whether it be 20 miles to work or up the mountains during the L’Étape du Tour, to get his top tips for dealing with cyclists on the road.
It is easy not to notice a cyclist
“Even decked out in bright clothing and flashing lights it is surprising how many times drivers ‘didn’t see you mate’. This problem is made worse by bad conditions such as rain, darkness, low light, sun glare or shadows on a bright day. So, give all your attention whilst driving; be alert and take a proper look at junctions.”
Cyclists need room
“A gust of wind or a pot hole / broken glass can cause a cyclist to wobble or swerve in the road. Cyclists will often ride a distance away from parked cars to avoid hitting or scraping car doors. At very low speeds, some cyclists can become quite unstable and may wobble. So anticipate ‘erratic’ movements by not going within a metre and a half of a cyclist, and if conditions allow give them more room – you might even get a smile for your trouble.”
Cyclists not using a cycle path
“Legally cyclists can choose whether to use a cycle path or the road. Given the poor design and quantity of broken glass on many of our cycle paths, don’t be surprised if many cyclists choose to use the road.”
“As with any other vehicle only overtake when it is safe to do so. Be prepared to follow the cyclist until it is safe to overtake and remember to indicate to show other road users what you are doing (it is especially important to alert any following vehicle to something they probably can’t see). Be smart about overtaking, if you are about to turn off the road or there is a queue of traffic ahead question whether you need to overtake before doing it?”
Cyclists may overtake on both sides
“Especially where there is a cycle route, cyclists could overtake you on either side, so keep an eye out for both sides of the car – use your mirrors! If you are turning left or parking check your mirror and take a look in your blind spot before signalling and moving. If you are turning right across oncoming traffic, look out for cyclists coming up the inside of traffic, traffic may obscure your view.”
The main thing to remember when it comes to keeping cyclists safe on the road, is to be observant and maintain full knowledge of what’s going on around you. This attitude will not only keep cyclists safe on the road, but also yourself! Remaining calm and observant will not only help you in these situations, but will help you to become a safer driver overall!
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