Safety warning issued to every driver after cycling surges during Covid lockdown


The Covid pandemic has caused a huge increase in people getting onto bikes, but now drivers are being urged to make sure they stay safe around the vulnerable road users by the AA

A cyclist near cars
Motorists are being urged to stay safe around cyclists

Cycling has surged during coronavirus lockdowns and drivers are being warned to stay safe around the vulnerable road users or risk getting fined.

The number of people cycling and the total miles cycled increased by more than 100 per cent during the pandemic .

Potential changes to the Highway Code would see pedestrians and cyclists given priority on UK roads as part of a £338million Department for Transport package to boost cycling and walking, the Liverpool Echo reports .

To keep cyclists safe on roads, the AA has issued a warning to drivers on how motor vehicles should share roads with bikes.

Treat cyclists like cars

Road users, like drivers of cars and lorries, should treat cyclists the same as other vehicles when manoeuvring around them.

Cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders should be given at least as much room as you’d give when overtaking a car, according to the Highway Code.

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Segregated bike lanes help keep riders safe, but when on the roads drivers have to take care

You also have to give way to cyclists approaching from the right on a roundabout, just as you would other vehicles.

If a cyclist is turning right, hold back instead of trying to push past, just as you would for other vehicles.

You should also keep them and you safe by dipping your headlights for cyclists at night.

But there are also some differences between how drivers of a motor vehicle should act around cyclists and how they can treat other cars.

For example, the Highway Code allows you to overtake a cyclist even where there’s a solid white line in the middle of the road, but only as long as the cyclist is travelling at 10 miles per hour or less.

Just make sure you overtake with at least 1.5 metres of distance between you and the bike.

Give bikes space

One of the most important parts of sharing roads with cyclists is giving them enough space to manoeuvre safely.

Much like buses, cyclists have their own designated spaces on many roads in the country.

Drivers face an automatic £70 fine if they drive or park in cycle lanes marked with a solid white line.

Cyclists are much more vulnerable to get hurt in a road traffic collision than a driver sat in the relative safety of a car.

People on bikes are also affected more by the condition of roads.

While a pothole could cause your car to bump, a sharp dent in the road’s surface could knock a cyclist off.

They may have to avoid drains, potholes or debris that drivers can’t see on the road, and you may have to react quickly to their movements.

Give yourself plenty of space to react in time, which will give cyclists room to cycle without the fear of a car sending them off balance.

Allow extra space in wet weather

This is all the more important when you’re overtaking a cyclist on roads.

Here are some tips for overtaking cyclists (and horses) safely:

Watch your speed

When driving around corners, make sure you’re travelling at a speed slow enough to stop well within the distance you can see is clear.

Keeping your speed in check means you won’t be caught off guard without time to respond.

You’ll be able to react safely, without breaking hard or swerving sharply.

Take care at junctions

Almost half the over 20,000 cyclists killed or seriously injured in Great Britain between 2011 and 2016 were involved in collisions at, or within 20 metres of, a junction, according to a government report.

As well as your own speed, keep an eye on the speed of others. Cyclists may be travelling faster than you think.

Be careful not underestimate their speed and pull out into them when approaching a junction.

Always check your mirrors and blind spots carefully before you turn

Watch out for them approaching on your nearside when turning left or right.

Don’t turn into the path of a bike, forcing them to swerve off the road to avoid a collision with your car.

Just under half of incidents where cyclists were killed or seriously hurt happened at t-junctions or staggered junctions between 2011 and 2016 because the cyclist went straight while the motor vehicle involved turned left or right.

At junctions with traffic lights, make sure you stop at the first white line when a bike box, or advanced stop lines (ASL), is on the road.

Stopping in a bike box when you pull up to red lights could land you three penalty points and a £100 fine.

The only exception is if the lights suddenly change and it is safer for you to stop in the bike box than keep going through the junction.

Parking

Drivers can also injure cyclists by opening their car doors without looking and causing a collision, known as ‘dooring’.

Always check before opening your door if you’re parked on the road.

A good technique is to turn and reach for the door with your arm furthest away from it.

That forces you to turn around and look back towards oncoming traffic, making it more likely you will spot any cyclists getting close.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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