Success on the road and track by the nation’s cycling greats – along with the increased costs of public and private transport – has seen the number of cyclists on Britain’s roads explode in the last few years. Indeed, figures from the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) show that the number of cyclists on our roads has increased every year since 2008.
At the same time – and perhaps not surprisingly, especially considering the voluntary (and, therefore, patchy) implementation of Bikeability, the successor to the old cycling proficiency test – road collisions involving the death or serious injury of cyclists have also increased in recent years.
All drivers, but particularly those in busy or built-up areas, therefore need to be alert to the presence of cyclists and mindful of how they use the road.
The Guild of Experienced Motorists (GEM) is promoting five useful tips for drivers for sharing the road with cyclists that could help create a safer environment on the road for them.
First, good observation is a key skill at all times, but especially at junctions. This, combined with patience, will help ensure safer journeys for drivers and cyclists. And as drivers, we should always attempt to defuse tension, not increase it.
Next, don’t get stressed when a cyclist performs a risky or illegal manoeuvre – and don’t attempt to rebuke someone whose riding behaviour offends you. It’s also not a good idea to assume that if one cyclist does something dangerous, then all cyclists do it.
You should also bear in mind that cyclists are entitled to the full lane of a road, not just the extreme left part: they need to make their way around hazards such as potholes or drains, so anticipate this and give them the space they need to stay safe.
It’s also important to give cyclists plenty of space when passing them – ideally as much space as you would give when overtaking another car. Try to avoid squeezing past or starting to overtake when you can’t see far enough ahead to know you can complete it safely – just as you would any other manoeuvre.
Finally, remember that everyone on the road is trying to get somewhere safely: if you do everything you can to play your part, you’ll be contributing to a safer road environment.
GEM chief executive David Williams said: “We believe there are two really important actions drivers can take immediately to reduce the risk to themselves and to cyclists. First, to accept that we’re all on the road with the intention of trying to arrive somewhere safely. Second, to be more observant on journeys, because ‘failing to look properly’ is the most common contributory factor recorded by police in a collision involving a bicycle and another vehicle.
“By taking these actions, and by committing to a courteous driving style at all times, we will play our part in making the roads safer – for ourselves and for cyclists, who are after all much more likely to be hurt in any collision.”