Andy Allen's blog: As the number of cyclists on the road increases, so do the risks
27 June 2017
Brits have got the cycling bug. More than two million people across the country now cycle at least once a week, an all-time high according to British Cycling.
But there is a downside to this rise in popularity. In 2016, 123 cyclists died on British roads, a number that has been slowly creeping up since 2014. Experience and skill help keep cyclists safe, but even this is no guarantee when faced with a ton of metal and an angry or careless driver. Just ask three-time Tour de France winner and Olympic medallist Chris Froome, who was rammed off the road in a hit-and-run attack in May this year.
So more than ever, drivers need to look out for cyclists and to make sure their driving style won't endanger lives.
Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are particularly dangerous for cyclists, especially in London where around 20% of cyclist fatalities involve an HGV. About one quarter of accidents resulting in serious injury to a cyclist involved an HGV, bus or coach 'passing too close' to the rider. These are troubling stats.
With fair weather cyclists dusting off their bikes for summer and the more hardcore rouleurs set to be inspired by July's Tour de France, it is more important than ever that drivers ensure their driving cycle-safe. Here are some key tips:
- Drivers need to pay extra attention to cyclists at junctions and roundabouts and when they're manoeuvring. Cyclists often emerge faster than you'd expect and can be hard to spot in traffic, making checks in mirrors and blind spots extra important - especially when changing lane or making a turn
- Cyclists should always be given plenty of room when passing. Squeezing past them decreases the margin for error if they have to take evasive action to avoid being 'doored'
- Rule 239 of the Highway Code states that motorists MUST ensure they do not hit anyone when they open their door. That means checking for cyclists before flinging open a door
- Potholes or other unsafe patches of road mean cyclists often need to swerve suddenly. Drivers should keep an eye on their movements and keep their distance
- As with any road user, cyclists will be dazzled by full-beam headlights. Drivers should always dip their headlights.
Cycling is likely to continue to grow in popularity and, just as there are good and bad drivers, there will be good and bad cyclists who may not always cycle safely. But regardless of unsafe cyclists, fleet owners have an obligation please make sure their drivers don't play a part in increasing the unwanted cycling statistics.