Paris recently announced that, following a three-year trial, cyclists will be able to run red lights. Special bicycle signals allow cyclists to turn right or continue straight across at junctions while motorists will have to wait. This isn’t the case in the UK however, with this in mind Motors.co.uk has put together a rundown of the rules of the road to keep you safe, whether you’re behind some handle bars or a steering wheel.
From the driving seat
Who rules the road?
Cyclists have the same rights on the road as drivers. When sharing the highways remember that cyclists are more vulnerable and should be given plenty of room. An accident will slow you down a lot more than having to wait an extra minute to pass a bike, so give cyclists as much room as possible, especially when over-taking. (One Metre)
When driving, ensure you are regularly checking your mirrors for cyclists before turning, when approaching junctions or traffic lights and before opening your car door. This simple measure is essential for avoiding accidents.
Time to think
Cyclists may be travelling faster than you think, with some reaching speeds of 20mph or more. Be careful to judge a cyclist’s approaching speed before pulling out at junctions.
In wet weather, roads will become slippery making it harder for cyclists to stop. Allowing cyclists a little extra room will not only avoid your car splashing them with spray, it will also help prevent collisions. Similarly, match your speed to the conditions and ensure you will be able to stop well within the necessary distance.
Try not to stop suddenly, some cyclists will wear special shoes which have to be unscrewed from the pedals. Abrupt breaking may not leave them enough time, causing them to fall and possibly even causing serious injuries.
One way to really understand the risks facing cyclists would be to try some of your own journeys on a bike. Cyclists often find it’s the little things that drivers do which make the roads a better place to be. Not parking in cycle lanes and using dipped headlights when approaching at night will all help make the experience both safer and more pleasurable for drivers and riders alike and help decrease the risk of an accident.
From the saddle
As cyclists, you have an excellent view of the road. However, be aware of driver's blind spots. This is especially true when passing lorries and buses, as these have limited areas of sight. While a lot is being done in the industry to improve this, by organisations such as CLOCS, sometimes it can be safer to hang back.
Park and ride
Avoid riding too close to the gutter (curb) and be assertive over your road space. (without being erratic!) For example, if a road is particularly narrow it may be better to ride in the middle of the lane to prevent dangerous overtaking. Don’t dodge in and out of parked cars. Riding in a straight line and allowing at least a full door's width between your bike and any vehicles will help keep you safe in case doors are suddenly opened.
Ready, set, GO!
Setting off can be a particularly hairy time for a cyclist. Where available, use the advanced stop line for bikes. This will allow you to wait in front of other vehicles at traffic lights and get an early start. When turning left or right use the appropriate hand signals, and allow enough time for drivers to spot that you intend to turn. In the UK, cyclists are not permitted to go through red traffic lights and those found doing so may be fined £30.
Get road ready
It is very important to have the right kit for riding a bike. It doesn’t have to be expensive top of the range gear, just make sure you have a helmet and wear bright clothing in the day as well as reflective clothing or accessories at night. As a cyclist, you may not realise how difficult you are to see, so do everything you can to stand out.
Lights are also vital if riding after dark and a legal requirement. Make sure you have several but remember white at the front and red at the rear. If you don’t have lights and are riding at night you may be fined £30 so it’s better to be safe than sorry.