A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying my usual Saturday morning ride with a bunch of friends and a car came up behind me and beeped aggressively to indicate that she thought I should get out of the way and let her pass. Legally I was in the right, but I decided to move across so that she could get past and leave me alone.
Many cyclists, and particularly women are not keen about riding on roads because they are quite legitimately worried they’ll be hit by a car.
So as a consequence I thought I’d share my thoughts and experiences on this very important subject in the hope that both drivers and cyclists might read it and learn.
I really love the work of the Amy Gillett Foundation relating to road safety. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Foundation, it was established in memory of cyclist Amy Gillett who was hit by an out of control motorist whilst cycling with her National Team mates in Germany in 2005. The Foundation is focused on reducing the incidence of death and injury of bike riders.
So I’ve borrowed some of the Amy Gillett Foundation’s tips.
- Be patient and cautious when driving near cyclists
- Allow a 1 metre clearance when passing cyclists
- Check your mirrors before opening the car door
- Indicate your intentions in traffic
- Cyclists can travel up to 35-45 km per hour so judging gaps can be difficult
- Under current law, cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast and take the whole lane, if necessary, to ensure they are visible.
- Cyclists must stop at red lights – you will gain the respect of motorists and it’s the law!
- Keep to the left on the road to allow clear passage for passing traffic
- Wear a helmet, brightly coloured clothing and have lights on your bike
- Be predictable and always indicate your intentions
- Ride two abreast but be courteous if the road narrows
- At lights and intersections, stay in position behind queued vehicles rather than rolling up the side of stopped traffic.
I’d also like to add my own tip to this list and that is to be assertive and definitely not aggressive. State your intentions to drivers by clearly signally where you are heading. But also be willing to back down if you encounter a very aggressive driver. It’s just not worth the risk that they will clip you or even intentionally run into you. It is much better to back down and let them go and take out their road rage on someone more their size.
If you want to know more then visit the Amy Gillett Foundation website. It also has a quiz for learner drivers about road rules relating to cyclists that I’d encourage all drivers to try. The questions are quite tricky.