How to behave on the road around cyclists

Date posted: April 16, 2014

It’s that time of the year when the weather is getting warmer and many people head for their bicycles instead of their cars to get around town on. The sudden influx of cyclists on the road means that you should be more aware of them, and adjust your driving accordingly.

According to the CTC, the national cycling charity, around three million people are regular cyclists, but with 43 percent of the population owning a bike, this number can increase dramatically during nicer bouts of weather.

If you’re not used to negotiating cyclists on the road, then these tips can help you feel more confident driving around those on bikes, and will also make you a safer driver.

How to overtake

The Highway Code has a section devoted to road users who require extra care, and features both cyclists and motorcyclists. The general rule is to leave bike users as much room as you would leave a car if possible. This is because cyclists have to avoid more obstacles at the side of the road, and driving close to them also can force them to ride on areas of the road which may puncture their tyres.

As when overtaking a car or any other vehicle, ensure that the road ahead is clear and that you have enough room to do so. Move out onto the other side of the road like you would when overtaking a car, and pass quickly. One of the reasons that there are so many accidents or incidents of road rage is because a car has driven too closely to a cyclist.

Of course, there are times when you shouldn’t overtake, or it would be unnecessary to do so. If for instance you want to turn left soon after overtaking it makes more sense to wait behind the cyclist until you reach your turning. Overtaking them could put them in danger and would not save you much time.

Be aware

Make sure you’re alert and aware that cyclists can appear from unexpected places, and always check your mirrors before turning to make sure a cyclist is not close to you. If you’re not sure if a cyclist is aware of your own presence, then hold back before making any manoeuvres.

When stopping at traffic lights, ensure that you don’t stop in the advanced stop lines, which allow cyclists to be positioned ahead of traffic when waiting at traffic lights. Give cyclists the time to set off when the lights change to green too.

Finally, when you park, be aware of any cyclists that may be passing your car. Use your side mirror to ensure it’s safe to open your door. And if you really want a taster for how to act on the road, try cycling for a day on the road and take note of the risks you faced! It’s much easier to be aware of cyclists on the road if you’re one yourself!

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