Keeping you up to speed
Cyclists and drivers don’t always see eye to eye, often considering the other to be the most dangerous and blaming the other when accidents occur.
Sadly, accidents occur all too often. In 2012, 122 cyclists were killed on British roads, a five year high. Of these 106 died through a collision with a car, 16 were teenagers and the oldest was 94. The full list on The Times’ website makes sobering reading. So what can be done to reduce the number of accidents and casualties on our roads involving cyclists and drivers?
The success of British cycling at the Olympics and the Tour de France has made cycling more popular than ever, with thousands more taking to two wheels. But it doesn’t matter whether you are a new recruit or a seasoned cyclist, the first rule is still the same – cyclists need to be seen by the other road users.
You can’t just assume you will be seen while on your bike. Riding around in dark or neutral clothing will just make you blend in with the road or the surrounding area, so wear bright, bold colours, or better still, reflective gear such as vests, jackets or sashes.
Being seen while on your bike at night is even more important, so make sure you have clear, bright lights with plenty of battery power left. Modern flashing LED lights are especially good, since they introduce movement as well as light, which is much more likely to get a driver’s attention. As winter draws in, being seen by other road users while cycling in dark and dusky conditions becomes more important every day.
While some drivers have no time for cyclists at all, most accidents are caused by a combination of carelessness on both sides. As much as drivers may not look carefully enough, cyclists are often guilty of not reading the road ahead and putting themselves in danger as a result.
As a cyclist, you have to read the road ahead even more than a motor vehicle, and anticipate what the cars around you are going to do. For example, if a vehicle comes to a stop to turn right, the vehicles behind it are going to have to bear left to go around it. If you anticipate this and hold back, you will avoid being hit as they manoeuvre around the obstruction. In the same way, a car that passes you indicating a left turn is likely to cut across your path unless you hold back and allow room. It may not be right, but it is better to adjust accordingly than plough on as a point of principle and risk being hit, simply because you have right of way.
At the end of the day, safety on the road comes down to mutual consideration for both drivers and cyclists. Drivers need to look more carefully to spot bikes, and cyclists need to make that job easier by making themselves easier to spot. Neither group has more rights to the road than the other.