02 Mar Let’s Share the Road
As much as drivers need to be more cyclist-aware, follow road rules and drive safely, vice versa also applies. “We have come up with some top tips to help cyclists and car drivers avoid conflict on our roads,” explains Rens Rezelman, chairman of South Africa’s largest cycling organisation, Pedal Power Association.
The PPA is committed to promote cycling and the interests of cyclists. Our influence and interest spans across recreational road and off-road cycling events and initiatives; supporting cycling community projects; lobbying for the interests of cyclists’ safety and rights; assisting communities to develop through cycling; and encouraging our youth to cycle. Our safe cycling campaign Stay Wider of the Rider launched in Cape Town in 2014 and has now become a national campaign. “Thus far, we have handed out more than 10 000 reflective bibs in all provinces and our many awareness campaigns are targeted to educate drivers to keep cyclists safe on our roads,” says Rezelman. “The PPA wishes to thank cyclists and motorists for their endless support of our safe cycling campaign,” says Rezelman.
Here are our top tips to help cyclists and car drivers avoid conflict on our roads.
- Be sure you and your bicycle are as visible as possible when on the road. Wear bright clothing and use lights.
- As a legal road user, always obey the rules of the road.
- Ride single file and use clear hand signals when turning. Chappies is extremely congested this time of the year so please keep a single file, it’s the law
- Don’t cycle on the pavement unless it’s a designated cycle path.
- Let’s promote a culture of caring. Acting like the road is your own personal raceway and everyone else is an obstacle, just gives all cyclists a bad name.
- Avoid ‘dooring’ cyclists: Dooring means to open your door into a cyclist riding past. It can also be fatal and happens more than you’d expect. Don’t open any doors without checking there aren’t any cyclists behind you. You could easily sweep them clean off their bikes and it won’t be pretty. Think about the width of your door when it’s open; you easily have a 1-1.5m mobile barrier swinging into the road each time you get in or out of the car.
- Realise cyclists are vulnerable: Driving a vehicle hugely heavier and more powerful than a bicycle and in any impact, the cyclist will be the losers.
- Please exercise some caution and be patient: 84% of cyclist casualties in recent years were caused by careless inattention, firstly by drivers, secondly by cyclists. The responsibility to avoid hitting cyclists, rest solely with a motor vehicle driver. Use mirrors as cyclists may overtake slow-moving traffic on either side. They may sometimes need to change direction suddenly, so be aware of this and observe any indications they give such as looking over their shoulder. Don’t tempt them into taking risks or endanger them.
- Allow plenty of space: When overtaking a cyclist you’re required to give them as much room as you would a car. They may need to swerve to avoid hazards. Always anticipate that there may be a pothole, oily, wet or some other obstruction.
- Don’t drive too closely behind a cyclist because you may not be able to stop in time if they come off their bike or do something abruptly. Unless you have an entire clear, empty lane in which to pass, slow down and wait until there is room to pass. Pass them slowly!
- Drive slowly on low-vis roads: On rural roads or those with limited visibility remember that a cyclist could be around the next corner. It could also be an elderly person, a child, an animal or a tractor turning into a field. Reducing your speed reduces the risk of something happening. It is not possible to see ahead of hills and curves, so slow down when you’re not sure what’s on the other side. Make sure you can stop the car in half the distance you can see to be clear. At night the need to do so is more exaggerated.
- Cyclists have a right to claim the lane: Cyclists have as much right as motorists to take up an entire lane. You may consider that they’re being utterly selfish by doing so, but in fact they’re preventing having an accident. They really aren’t trying to slow you down it’s just the safest way for them to cycle particularly if there’s a blind bend, a narrowing of the road, a high- risk junction, pinch point or traffic lights ahead. Additionally, if there’s a narrowing of the road, they’re stopping you squeezing through far too cosily beside them. Cyclists should never cycle in the gutter because it gives no room for avoiding obstacles and leaves them no room to fall if an accident occurs, meaning they could go straight under your wheels – which isn’t terribly good for either party.