Posted on the 07/08/2018
With exercise and keeping fit evergrowing in popularity, we are continuously being reminded of the importance of doing your part to contribute to a nation of healthy living. Many people look to cycling to keep in shape and ditch the car for shorter journies and opt for cycling instead.
On average, nearly half of drivers claim they feel anxious when faced with the task of sharing the road with cyclists and state that they worry when they are, in particular, forced to overtake. This is a task that you are very rarely taught when learning to drive as unless you are directly challenged with a cyclist; there is no real way of practising. Here we are going to talk you through all of the current laws revolving sharing the road with cyclists, along with vital safety tips for both drivers and cyclists.
What Are The Laws On Sharing The Road With Cyclists?
In more cases than not, we refer back to the highway code when explaining various driving skills and laws. Taking time to read and fully understand the main points stated in the Highway Code is the foundation to becoming and staying a safe driver.
There are three main rules in the Highway Code that refer back to handling driving alongside cyclists. The first of which is Rule 162, this relates to before you attempt to overtake a cyclist. The rule states that you must review the road ahead prior to overtaking to ensure that the road is clear with no oncoming traffic. There must also be a large gap in front of the cyclist so that you can pass without having to cut in quickly.
Next is Rule 163, this is related to when you actually overtake the cyclist. You must overtake leaving plenty of room between you and the cyclist; they recommend you should leave as much room as you would do so when overtaking a car. Do not prolong overtaking, once you have moved out to go around the cyclist, continue to overtake quickly in case a sudden vehicle appears ahead. Once you are passed the cyclist and at a safe distance ahead, move straight back over into your lane.
Lastly is Rule 140, this does not relate to overtaking but instead cycle lanes. When approaching a cycle lane, there will be visible signs and road markings. If the road marking is a solid white line, it means you cannot stop, park or drive in this lane, it is for cyclists only. A dashed line means that it is advisory to avoid driving or parking in the lane unless it is entirely necessary. For example, if there are road works and you are forced to drive over the cycle lane.
Safety Tips For Drivers
As a driver, you should always be aware of your surroundings; you must keep your eye on the road and blind spots at all times with no distractions. You can find out more information about driving with distractions in our previous blog on the consequences of dangerous or careless driving.
Sharing the road with a cyclist shouldn’t be a worry, the main reason as to why drivers panic is because they are unaware of the correct procedures and how to react to situations. Here are our top tips on how to remain safe when driving alongside cyclists.
Always be extra wary around cyclists when the weather is more severe, and conditions could become dangerous. Allow cyclists extra room when driving in the wind as they are likely to swerve uncontrollably. They are considerably lighter than any vehicle, so can easily be caught by the wind. This is the same when driving in the rain, and cyclists can suddenly slip out of place or get caught out by a hidden pothole.
Many newly built traffic lights consist of both a lane for vehicles and a lane for cyclists, particularly in busy city areas or coming up to a large roundabout. Whether this is the case or you have a more traditional roundabout where a cyclist will share your lane, always allow time for the cyclist to move off first when the traffic lights turn green. Never try to cut out ahead or overtake, understand that they do not have as much power and speed as a car.
Unlike vehicles, cyclists have to physically signal when they wish to turn. Never presume that you know what a cyclist is going to do, even if they clearly signal. It is always recommended to wait until they have started to make the turn before you either follow behind or drive past.
Although we have already discussed the laws revolving overtaking, it must also be highlighted that you should only ever overtake on a wide road. Never overtake on a narrow country road or a tight bend.
The local area in which you spend most of your time driving will have a huge impact on how you take on sharing the road with cyclists, especially when you are learning to drive. Some areas such as London, have better procedures put in place because hiring a bike to tour the capital for the day has become a massive tourist attraction.
Sharing the road with a cyclist is something that as drivers, we must start to get used to as it is becoming more and more popular across the globe. Safety on the roads is not only your responsibility, but also the cyclists. They must always be wearing reflective, brightly coloured clothing no matter the time of day to achieve maximum visibility. Cyclists need to respect drivers just as much as they expect drivers to do so for them; they should never try to cut in front or overtake while stationary or at a traffic light to get ahead. If this does happen, try to stay calm and not react to the cyclist, your vehicle has a lot more power than their bicycle, and it only runs the risk of an accident.