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Sharing the Road with Cyclists

Friday, 6 June 2008

Rising petrol costs have encouraged soaring cycle sales - so we are seeing cyclists on the roads with many different levels of experience.

This presents issues for drivers; we need to take extra care to judge their speed - as well as the road and weather conditions - from the new cyclist''s point of view.

Remember too that some cyclists, particularly younger ones, have never driven a car, and so don''t recognise the problems that they can cause car drivers. In an accident involving a car and a cyclist, whoever is to blame the cyclist will always be the more vulnerable to a serious injury.

These tips for motorists were prepared by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) with the National Cycling Strategy Board to avoid adding to the many cyclists killed or seriously injured each year.

- Cyclists don''t have steel armour round them like we do. Passing them at speed within a foot of their elbow may feel perfectly safe from where you are, but it is very disconcerting when you are the cyclist.

- In traffic, make sure that you don''t cut up a cyclist who is about to pass you on the near side. Don''t try to cut across a cyclist when you need to turn left at a junction. Wait behind the cyclist until the cyclist has either turned left or passed the junction. And before you turn left after sitting at a red light, check your nearside mirror to make sure there isn''t a cyclist moving down the inside.

- Park with care and prevent any passengers from opening a door until you are sure that there is no cyclist coming up on either side.

Likewise, check over your shoulder to see there''s no cyclist approaching before opening the driver''s door. There might be one in your blind spot.

- Cyclists often ride at some distance from the kerb to avoid drains and potholes. Remember that their ability to signal is limited
compared to ours, so try to anticipate what they might do from the position they have taken on the road.

- Advanced stop lines are for cyclists alone and should be respected, so leave the space between the two sets of stop lines empty, whether or not cyclists are occupying it when you arrive. If you see a cycle lane ending, road space is more scarce and that in turn can make a cyclist more vulnerable.

- Remember to use all your mirrors with extra care before changing direction when there are cyclists. Pay particular attention on roundabouts, where many accidents involving cyclists happen.