In 2017, the Independent reported that cyclists were 15 times more likely to be killed on UK roads than drivers. So what can drivers sharing the road with bicycles do to help lower the risks for their two-wheeled friends?
Cyclists are much harder to see than cars, especially when they are pulling out of junctions, going round roundabouts or filtering through traffic, and can easily be hidden by other vehicles. Regularly checking your mirrors helps, as does looking in your wing mirror and doing a proper check behind you before you open your car door.
So many drivers are lax about this, especially when turning left. Indicating isn't just for when you are directly impacting on other traffic – it's a general way of letting everyone else on the road, including pedestrians and cyclists, know your intentions so they can react accordingly. This applies whether you're turning right or left, overtaking or pulling out of a parking space – not indicating when you turn left, for example, might mean a pedestrian or cyclist wrongly thinks it's safe to cross in front of you.
The Highway Code states that you should leave the same amount of room when passing a bicycle on the road as you would when overtaking a car – there's no official distance, but about 1.5 metres is usually enough. This makes sense – cyclists may have to move suddenly to avoid hazards like potholes or car doors, or slip or veer off course in rain, snow or ice. They may also be going faster than you realise. In situations where you wouldn't overtake a car – you can't see the road ahead, the road narrows or a car is coming – don't overtake a cyclist.
Zones with a cycle symbol at traffic lights are there to allow cyclists to the front of the queue so they have a safe place to stop and more time to pull off when the lights change. Drivers shouldn’t go into these areas, and you can actually get three points on your licence, as well as a £100 fine, for doing so. However, the Highway Code does allow you to stop in the box if the lights change and it’s safer than braking suddenly. Similarly, parking or driving in cycle lanes is dangerous and illegal.
Sometimes there can be a narrative that the cyclist is always the goodie on the road, and the driver always the baddie. Obviously, this isn't true, and cyclists are just as capable as motorists of being reckless or thoughtless, of failing to indicate, contravening the Highway Code or just making genuine mistakes. So, as you do with other drivers, try to anticipate cyclists’ actions – for example, if they look over their shoulder, they may intend to turn right – and always bear in mind that they may do something completely unexpected.
When you buy from Carwise Group, you know you've chosen a reputable used car dealer – all our cars are thoroughly checked before they go on sale. And we're more than happy to advise on any aspect of driving we can help with, from how topass a bicycle on the road to explaining uncommon road markings.