How can drivers be more considerate to cyclists sharing the road?
Cycling on UK roads can be incredibly dangerous. The Highway Code rules recently changed to help protect vulnerable cyclists, and there’s been a push throughout the country to improve cycle infrastructure to make roads safer – 141 cyclist fatalities occurred in 2020, and over 15,000 cyclists were injured. Nonetheless, it’s vital that drivers are more considerate of cyclists in order to reduce the risk of fatalities and life changing injuries.
Here are three tips to help drivers better protect cyclists.
1. Use the Dutch Reach when getting out the car
The Dutch Reach is a method for opening a car door to reduce the risk of accidentally opening it into oncoming cyclists. The technique requires you to reach for the door handle with the hand furthest from the door. This forces you to swivel your upper torso to look out for oncoming traffic before opening the door.
Both drivers and pedestrians should adopt the Dutch Reach as standard practice. The technique is known as such because it has been used since the 1970s in the Netherlands, a country which is now deemed one of the safest in the world for cyclists.
2. Give cyclists as much room as a car when overtaking
Cyclists may be much smaller than cars and vans, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with overtaking them with less space. Cyclists often have to veer around potholes or debris on the road, which is why they tend to ride in the middle of a traffic lane rather than close to the curb. If you don’t give them enough space when overtaking, you risk forcing them to stop suddenly or hit an obstacle.
Give them as much room as you would give another car, which is generally considered to be at least 1.5 metres. This means that you shouldn’t attempt to overtake a cyclist if there is oncoming traffic. Just as you would wait to overtake a car until the road ahead was clear, so you should when overtaking a cyclist.
3. Do not park in cycle lanes
Cycle lanes play an important role in protecting cyclists by increasing their distance from traffic. The trouble is that obstructions in the cycle lane can create additional danger, as cyclists are forced to either pull out into the busy road, or mount the pavement where they could pose a risk to pedestrians. You should know that it’s illegal to drive or park in dedicated cycle lanes, which are marked as such by a solid white line.
In advisory cycle lanes, which are marked by a broken white line, driving and parking is not permitted except when “unavoidable”. The realms of “unavoidable” are hard to determine, but for the sake of protecting cyclists you should certainly avoid parking and leaving your vehicle unattended.
Consideration for cyclists makes us safer drivers
When we’re more considerate of cyclists, we tend to find ourselves more considerate of pedestrians, motorcyclists and our fellow car drivers. By keeping bicycle safety in mind, we can help to reduce the risk of accidents happening and make our roads safer for all.