It’s inevitable that you’ll come across a cyclist on the road at some stage or another when you’re out driving. Although cycling on the motorway is illegal, cyclists are commonly seen on local, regional, or national roads.
The introduction of Cycle to Work schemes
has seen an increase in the number of people cycling to work, especially in big towns or cities, over the last few years.
However, cyclists and pedestrians are two of the most vulnerable road users so it’s important that you be aware and respect them when you’re driving.
So, what can you do to help keep cyclists safe on the road?
Leave Plenty of Space
Whether you’re overtaking or trailing behind a cyclist, it’s necessary to leave plenty of space. It’s difficult to judge the movements of someone on a bike. It’s easier to avoid obstacles, such as potholes, on the road when you’re in a car but cyclists may need to swerve or brake quickly to avoid them.
Leaving space between your vehicle and a cyclist reduces the risk of collision. It also helps prevent cyclists from falling off their bike as you overtake.
Check Your Mirrors & Blind Spots
You should always check mirrors and blind spots when overtaking cyclists, pulling out and turning. Watch out for cyclists who may be continuing straight on while you’re turning left.
Also remember to check your mirrors before opening your car door to prevent hitting cyclists as they zoom past to your right if you’re parked near the curb. Ensure your passengers also check their mirror or look behind before opening any doors in the event a cyclist will pass the parked car on the left-hand side.
You should overtake cyclists only when it’s safe to do so. Be extra careful if crossing over a solid white line in the middle of the road. Before overtaking you should make sure there’s no oncoming traffic and cars behind you haven’t already begun to overtake. Check your mirrors and blind spot then indicate if it’s safe to do so.
According to the Highway Code, it’s important to leave a minimum of 1.5m if travelling up to speeds of 30mph when overtaking cyclists. More space will be needed when driving at high speed, in bad weather or at night. Move back in as soon as you can but don’t cut back into position.
Two popular questions drivers ask are
- “Where should you never overtake a cyclist?”and
- “Can cyclists overtake on the inside?”
To answer the first question, you should never overtake a cyclist if your view of oncoming traffic is obstructed such as on a bend or the brow of a hill. You should also refrain from overtaking upon approaching a junction or roundabout, just before you turn left or if it looks like the cyclist is going to turn right. With regards to the second question, cyclists are permitted to overtake traffic on the inside if the traffic is stationary or moving more slowly.
The cycle lane is a part of the road intended solely for bicycles. You may be tempted to use this lane during traffic jams or when you’re in a hurry, but it must be respected.
You should also never park in a cycle lane. Doing so endangers the cyclist and may lead to an accident as they may have to swerve out onto the road to get past. Parking in the lane could also put you at risk of a hefty fine.
There are, however, instances where you may temporarily use the cycle lane. If you see a cycle lane with a broken white line, then it’s not a mandatory lane and you may briefly cross the white line provided it’s not already occupied by a cyclist. For example, if there is no other place to park, vehicles carrying goods may park here for a limited time (usually up to 30 minutes) while loading or unloading.
Cycle boxes, or advanced stop lines (ASL) as they’re officially known as, are a type of road marking found at junctions specifically designed for cyclists. There can also be a cycle box at traffic lights.
As cyclists are more vulnerable than cars on the road, the purpose of the box is to allow them to be positioned ahead of other traffic and give them a head start. Cars and other motorised vehicles must stop at the first stop line at traffic lights or a junction even if the bike box is clear.
While we’ve talked about the main things to look out for when bikes and cars share the road, there are lots of other questions people ask when it comes to road safety and cyclists, including:
You’re coming to a roundabout and a cyclist is signalling to turn right. What should you do?
If you’re coming to a roundabout and a cyclist is signalling to turn right, you should give them plenty of room to pass. Don’t overtake or beep your horn.
Who has the right of way, a cyclist or a car?
Similar to motorised vehicles, cyclists must give the right of way to pedestrians. They must also give way to those already on roundabouts or when changing lanes, as well as stop at traffic lights and junctions.
What happens if you hit a cyclist with your car?
If you’ve hit a cyclist with your car, then you should stop immediately and check on the cyclist. You should call the police and an ambulance even if the rider insists they’re ok. This is particularly important if they’ve hit their head as they may have internal injuries. Swap information, including car insurance
details, and gather evidence.