Driving safely around cyclists

Cyclist with helmet and high visiblity waistcoat checks over their shoulder for safety.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 5 April 2022

Get 8 top tips for driving safely around cyclists. Includes how much space to give them, what to look out for at junctions and important Highway Code rules.

A few months back, we wrote a piece about how to share the road safely with cyclists. Now, as a reader of this blog, you’re obviously a person of taste and intelligence, and you might be wondering why it’s important to go over this topic again. Well, with 3,337 cyclists killed or seriously injured on our roads in 2015(1), it’s clear that there’s still work to do.

So, again, here’s our advice on how to share the road safely with cyclists

  • It may sound very obvious, but use your indicators in good time. Cyclists will not know what you intend to do purely from your road position, so give them (and other road users, of course) the clear signal they need.
  • When you’re doing any kind of turning, look out for cyclists. They can often be hidden behind other vehicles or in your blind spot. Use your mirrors and check all around you before you begin any manoeuvre.
  • It’s often very difficult to see cyclists, especially when they’re coming up behind you, coming out of junctions, making their way around roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think. You can read more about looking out for cyclists in The Highway Code or in section 10 of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills.
  • When you’re overtaking cyclists, give them as much space as you possibly can. The Highway Code (rule 163) says to give them as much room as you’d give a car. That may sound a lot, but they will not necessarily be able to travel in a nice straight line, because of the road or weather conditions. If there is not enough space to pass a cyclist safely, then do not attempt to do it. You can find out more about passing cyclists safely from this YouTube video, presented by Olympic champion cyclist Chris Boardman.
  • As well as giving signals, cyclists will sometimes give you clues to their intentions. For example, if they look over their shoulder, it could mean that they‘re about to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them the time and space to do what they need to do.
  • Remember that, with no covering to protect them from the elements, cyclists are much more likely to be affected by road and weather conditions. Whatever you do, do not drive too close to them – they may suddenly veer out to avoid a pothole or be blown off course by strong winds.
  • Always check for passing cyclists before you open your car door.
  • Some traffic lights have advanced stop lines that allow cyclists to get to the front and increase their visibility. If the lights are amber or red, stop at the first white line you reach, and allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green light shows.

So there you have it. Put all this into practice the next time you encounter a cyclist and you should feel a whole lot more confident about sharing the road with them. For more tips and advice, head over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills. You can also get more useful information by visiting our colleagues at THINK!

(1) See Think! website

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