Sharing the road with someone on a bike can be frustrating. When we drive, we all just want to get where we want to go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
But, when someone with two wheels and no engine is ahead of you, it can quickly irritate you and lead you to do two things. Either waiting impatiently behind the cyclist and hope your frustration or proximity is enough to get them out of the way, or attempting a potentially dangerous manoeuvre that could cause serious harm to you, the cyclist, or another motorist.
There’s no reason to get frustrated. After all, the more people using a bike, the less cars there are on the road meaning less traffic.
And we all want to help save the planet, and you can’t get greener than someone cycling from A to B. So how can you be sure to avoid a cyclist collision on the road?
There are many different cyclists. There are those with the ultra-expensive road race bikes, clad head to toe in lycra, who wouldn’t look out of place in a peloton during the Tour de France. You have the seemingly-suicidal riders who dress all in black and have either no lights or the dimmest one possible. And you have the casual cyclist, who weave unsteadily on the road ahead, perhaps put off-balance by the weight of the basket on their handlebars.
When you drive, you’ll be able to see the cyclist up ahead of you and get an idea of their confidence, experience and the quality of the equipment they are using. Conduct a quick mental assessment of who they are, and weigh up the chances that they could suddenly swerve out in front of you.
No matter how much room you have on the road, you should always try and decelerate slightly when you come up to a cyclist. Not only will this give you more time to assess and make a decision on what to do next. You will also give the cyclist time to prepare for your passing.
If you drive past them at high speed, you could send them off-balance, potentially causing them to crash off the road or, even worse, swerve into traffic and an oncoming car. Take your foot off the accelerator and slow down a bit, even if it slows down traffic behind you. Just think, if you were on the bike, would you want someone blazing past you like Lewis Hamilton?
Like slowing down, taking your time is also important. If you rush it, you could end up overtaking at the wrong moment, meaning you would have to take an evasive manoeuvre to avoid an oncoming car or hazard.
By giving yourself a moment to think, you can choose the right moment to pass the cyclist that won’t leave you having to react suddenly without enough thought.
When you pass a cyclist, you should ensure you give them plenty of room. You might think that a cyclist has to move out of your way, especially if they are not riding right beside the edge of the road. But they are just as entitled to be where they are as you are, and may be avoiding the outside edge because of puddles, potholes or other hazards.
The Highway Code tells you that you should give a cyclist one car’s width as you pass. If you can give more, you should. If you drive too close, your presence and the air disruption you cause as you pass can send the cyclist off balance.
Giving plenty of space means you might have to wait for a suitable spot to complete the manoeuvre. Take a breath and be patient. It will do you a lot of good and will ensure that you pass safely.
Again, despite the fact that they do not pay road tax, a cyclist has just as much right to be on the road as you do. This is especially the case at junctions and roundabouts. When you reach a junction, give way to priority traffic as you normally would, even if that traffic is a cyclist. When you turn left or right, check your wing mirrors for cyclists. Yes its annoying when they overtake you like this, and they really shouldn’t be passing you at a junction when indicating, but you still need to check.
The same is the case at a roundabout. If a cyclist is the approaching traffic from the right, you still need to give way to them. Slow down and let them pass before you enter the roundabout.
When you park at the side of the road, make sure it’s not a cycle lane. By blocking their path, you are sending cyclists out onto the road and that can cause issues and accidents.
Once you have parked somewhere safe, check your mirrors and blind spot before you open the door. Its easy to miss a cyclist coming, and you don’t want to open the door on them or step out in their path.
If you’ve parked in a bay that sits beside a road, take extra care when reversing out. Cyclists can come at you without warning, even if wearing high-vis clothing.
The war between cyclists and drivers has made for many an entertaining Youtube video. But you don’t want to be one of the red-faced angry people filmed by a helmetcam screaming abuse and expletives at a cyclist.
There’s no guarantee that a cyclists will be doing what they should on the road. They might not have lights, be filming an Instagram video as they cycle, or simply not have the equipment they should have to be on the road. But, when you are in a car, if there is an accident, they are far more likely to end up worse off. So, be the better person, follow our advice, and continue on your way, if after a small but slight delay.