With the ever increasing costs of running a car, more individuals are using bicycles as a cheaper mode of transport. The increase in cyclists on the roads inevitably leads to an increase in accidents between vehicles and cyclists. It is important to learn how to safely driving when cyclists are about
Advanced stop lines
Advanced stop lines or cyclists waiting areas are often located in busy areas at light controlled junctions. All vehicles including motorcycles should keep the cyclist waiting area clear by stopping just before the first white line. Keeping the advanced area clear.
If your vehicle has passed over the first solid white line which can be common in slow moving traffic and the traffic lights change to red, you must stop before the second white line and wait in the cyclist waiting area.
Although stopping in the cyclist waiting box is the correct procedure to avoid running a red light, it is still not a practice that can be condoned.
To minimise the likely hood of having to stop in the cyclist waiting box when in slow moving traffic, ensure there is enough room for your vehicle to safely clear the junction before proceeding into the cycle waiting area by waiting at the first white line until clear. This action may cause impatient drivers behind you to sound their horn, but will ensure you do not drive incorrectly.
Cycle lanes have either a solid or dashed line to right side of them.
- Cycle lane A: Solid line - vehicle drivers are not permitted to cross a solid line. Unless absolutely necessary.
- Cycle lane B: Dashed line - vehicles are permitted to cross this line into the cycle lane. However, this should not be done as a matter of course and should only be done following very careful observation.
Cycle lanes are coloured either red, green or have no colouring at all other than the colour of the tarmac itself. Try to avoid driving in a cycle lane if possible. It is on occasions necessary to drive in a cycle lane, even if it has a solid line. If for instance there is a large vehicle coming towards you on the opposite side of the road which may require extra road space, or there is an inappropriately parked vehicle on the opposite side of the road causing traffic to move around it, these situations may require that you drive into the cycle lane. If during driving you see an approaching hazard and feel it is necessary to drive in the cycle lane, whether it has a solid or dashed line, check your mirrors, and your left hand blind spot to ensure no cyclists are in the lane before moving over. Take extra care.
Driving and cyclists
Whilst driving, extra caution should be taken around cyclists. Although most cyclists follow the Highway Code, a few don't (just like motorists and pedestrians!). If an incident occurs between yourself and a cyclist during driving, regardless of who's fault it was, proper anticipation and planning suggests that you should have prevented it by taking appropriate evasive action.
Cyclists can be unpredictable and certain areas should exercise caution. Approaching any form of junction. Cyclists can often change direction at the last moment, leaving a car driver little time to react. Cyclists may possibly not signal their direction change before doing so and sadly some cyclists may not even look to see if it is safe before doing so. If you are approaching a junction and a cyclist is in front, depending on the circumstances it is usually safer to hold back behind the cyclist. Many accidents are due to drivers being too eager to get past cyclists. If you are reasonably near the junction, 10 metres or so, hold back, unless to road is particularly wide.
Left turns and cyclists
When making left turns cyclists can be particularly vulnerable. Many drives fail to check their mirrors properly and some cyclists may not slow down and let the vehicle make the turn. As a motorist you are expected to make a final check of the left mirror just before making a left turn. A check of the left blind spot may also be necessary in busy areas just to ensure a cyclist is not to the left side of your vehicle before turning.
Cyclists passing distance
Narrow roads and streets can be particularly hazardous for cyclists. If you are approaching a cyclist, think about any potential hazards.
You will need to give a cyclist at least 1 metre passing distance, so can this be done safely? Is there a bend in the road that you cannot see around? Are there parked cars up ahead that both you and the cyclist need to clear? If in doubt, hold back behind the cyclist.
Wait till you are absolutely sure it is safe for both you and the cyclist and to provide a safe passing distance before proceeding.
Cyclists and crossings
Cyclist should only cycle on Toucan crossings. However, as with pedestrians you should be prepared for them using Zebra crossings and indeed all types of crossing. So be aware!
Cyclists on pavements
Another common aspect of a cyclist's unpredictability can be to ride on the pavement and without any regard for drivers or their own safety, move onto the road. This can be dangerous for the cyclist if they move too far into the road into a vehicle and can be dangerous for vehicles as it can cause a driver to swerve or brake.
Be cautious, especially of younger cyclists who are riding on the pavement. Whilst passing them, try to allow a little extra distance in case they decide to move onto the road. This may be more likely to happen near a dropped curb.