The driver and the cyclist

cyclist-and-passing-car.jpg

Cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable road users. In this blog, we explore ways to keep them (and you) safe by giving them room and identiying accident hotspots.

I’d like you to paint a mental picture. You and your mates are in the car, on your way to a big party. It’s dusk, and not only do you have your vehicle headlights on, but everybody is belted up, because in your car it’s safety first!

Your music is blaring and everyone is having a good singalong, getting in the mood for the party. Suddenly, one of your friends screams excitedly: 'Just got a text – it’s a free bar tonight!'

You look over to her phone to see whether it’s true.

CRASH … You’ve hit a cyclist.

Now for the scary bit. In 2013

  • 109 cyclists lost their lives*
  • 3,143 were seriously injured*
  • 16,186 were slightly injured**
  • almost 25% of the cyclists killed or injured were children**
  • 84% of these incidents involved a car, van, bus or articulated vehicle.**

None of us can change the statistics of 2013 but, with some thought and awareness, we can change the statistics to come.

Here’s what you can do to make a difference

The golden rule is to give cyclists as much room and time as you possibly can without compromising your safety or the safety of any other road users. For example, be aware that

  • cyclists riding on uneven roads may swerve out to avoid potholes
  • they may give parked cars an extra-wide berth, in case of opening doors, so do not force your way past if the street is narrow
  • they may be planning to turn or move across your path, so keep a lookout for any signs – such as them looking over their shoulder or making arm signals
  • strong winds or rain may affect their vision, balance and control, so do not attempt to pass them unless you’re sure it’s safe to do so.

Accident hotspots

There are certain situations that are particularly dangerous for cyclists, so take extra-special care when you’re

  • emerging from a junction – a cyclist could be obscured by turning vehicles or may emerge from a blind spot
  • approaching a junction with a cyclist in front of you – they have less control at lower speeds
  • on a roundabout and the cyclist is either alongside you or looking to change lanes in front of you
  • on a narrow street with plenty of parked cars and no cycle lanes.

Chain reaction

You might be reading this and thinking ‘How am I meant to remember all this about cyclists?’ Well, as long as you give them plenty of room, are very careful when overtaking them and remember that they’re in a vulnerable position, then you’ll be starting from a good place. If you’re unsure what to do, play it safe.

(Oh, and just so you know: you could have hit anyone or anything when you checked the text message. Search for more blogs on 'awareness' to find out more on why you should not use your phone while driving.)

Explore more essential driving skills and knowledge with The Official DVSA Theory Test for Car Drivers, Driving – the essential skills and The Official Highway Code, or watch this video for more information about how to pass cyclists safely.

*Cycling safety – Transport Committee Report (PDF)

**ROSPA (Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents) website – information for cyclists and motorcyclists


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