The sad news that a number of cyclists tragically lost their lives in what could have been avoidable cycling accidents in London recently has prompted us to put a handy ‘How To’ guide together.
Often we drive around in our own little world, thinking of work, our destination, or even what we’re going to have for dinner. But as drivers, we could all concentrate a little more on the road to improve our safety.
And it’s not just motorists that need to brush up on their technique – many cyclists could do with focusing more on safe riding on the roads.
We’re not apportioning blame to any one group here, rather we’re trying to improve road safety for everybody. We’re all road users that need to get along.
That’s why we’ve put together a few tips for both car drivers and bike riders to make sure we don’t get ourselves into any sticky situations.
CAR DRIVERS – USE YOUR MIRRORS
As a driver, your mirrors are one of the most important features on your vehicle – so use them.
If you’re turning, pulling out of a parking space or changing lanes in the city, check your mirrors and perform an over-the-shoulder ‘life saver’ glance to try and spot any cyclists.
Granted, they are often harder to pick up compared to another car, but that’s no excuse.
CAR DRIVERS – DON’T USE CYCLE LANES
Just as you wouldn’t dream of driving on the pavement – that’s for pedestrians – don’t be tempted to stray into a cycle lane. These are areas specially designated for bikes to try and keep car and bike traffic separate and therefore as safe as possible.
If a car is waiting to turn across the traffic in front of you, be patient and wait. Don’t be tempted to dip into the bike lane to get past.
This can annoy cyclists (we know they do things that annoy car drivers, but more on that in a moment…) and cause animosity between the two groups.
CAR DRIVERS – GIVE BIKE RIDERS ROOM
Another thing that winds up many cyclists is car drivers passing too closely. As with overtaking a car, only do so when it is safe and give them plenty of room when passing. If it is safe to overtake, it shouldn’t be difficult to give a cyclist lots of room.
This applies to following as well. Don’t tailgate a bike, as it can make the rider nervous. Don’t be tempted to crowd them at junctions either. Major junctions in some cities often have a ‘bikes only’ box for cyclists to wait at the front of the cue – there’s a caveat to this for cyclists though.
CYCLISTS – OBEY THE RULES OF THE ROAD
If you’re a bike rider waiting patiently in your own area at the head of a queue of traffic, don’t run a red light.
One, you’ve been given preferential treatment by being allowed to wait at the front. Two, you risk your own safety and that of your fellow road users. And three, you’ll wind other car drivers up, which could cause aggravation.
CYCLISTS – STAY VISIBLE AND WEAR A HELMET
Being properly prepared on a bike is just as important as riding or motorbike or driving a car.
Make sure you’re well illuminated if riding in the dark – this means plenty of lights on your bike (red for the rear, white for the front) and some high visibility clothing.
Ensure you’ve got proper protection, too. That means a good, strong helmet and other protective items such as kneepads of wrist guards. Your head is one of the most vulnerable parts of your body and is very fragile, so it must be protected as best as possible.
CYCISTS – BE MINDFUL OF COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
Visibility from vans, buses and lorries is impaired compared to that from a car. Given you’re a relatively small object and easy to miss, be mindful that a commercial vehicle driver might not be able to see you and you could be in his blind spot.
This means don’t go up the inside of long vehicles through a corner or a tight roundabout. You could risk being knocked off purely by accident, as the driver hadn’t seen you.
You might be intent on getting to your destination as soon as possible, but wait a few seconds and stay safe.
CAR DRIVERS AND CYCLISTS – STAY CALM
Both car drivers and cyclists should try and stay calm at all times. Road rage can cause accidents as people get frustrated and do stupid things.
This means not leaning on vans or buses at junctions for cyclists, and cars not hooting or beeping at those on bikes.
Everybody makes mistakes, so if you do see one, try to remain level headed, as it will help your safety and security.
As a car driver, we want to hear your thoughts on what cyclists do that annoys you, and what you’d like to see them do to improve the experience for all involved.
We mentioned earlier we’re writing in the interests of safety, and impartiality is important. So we want to hear from cyclists, too, as we know many of you are also car drivers. What would you like to see car drivers do to improve the experience for everyone?