ROAD CYCLING AND CARS PART 1

Posted by Tom | Blog post

I would like to initially state that the views contained within this Blog Post are my own from years of road riding.

There are numerous activities from both car drivers and cyclists that create a negative perception of what every cyclist and car driver is like.

I do not expect this simple blog post to solve the problems. But, as a car driver too (as with most cyclists) I can understand the viewpoint from either side.

In this first part I am going to explore what some cyclists do that create a negative impression on car/vehicle drivers?

NO LIGHTS DARK CLOTHING!

Why do some cyclists consider being seen at night is not a higher priority?

What is the legal position?

The requirement/standard of lighting on a bike is set out in the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989; although this has been updated many times and most recently in 2017.
The requirements for bikes are simple:
Front lights – Centrally located and facing forwards.
– Only emit a white light
– Be no more than 150cm above ground level
– If the light can only emit a flashing light it must emit at least 4 candelas; approximately 48 lumens.
– If the light is only capable of emitting a flashing light it must flash between 60 and 240 times a minute (1-4Hz)
– It would therefore be illegal to have your sole front, white, light on your helmet. This is due to the height of the light being above 150cm and not facing forwards all the time.
Rear Lights – Centrally located
– Only emit a red light
– Be located between 35cm and 150cm above ground level
– If the light can only emit a flashing light it must emit at least 4 candelas; approximately 48 lumens.
The regulations also require that all bikes have front and rear reflectors, wheel reflectors and pedal reflectors.

Surely any cyclist would want to be seen when cycling in the dark and these lighting requirements can be supplemented with additional lighting; one steady light and one flashing; reflective clothing or, at least something a bit more visible than black; and, reflective back pack/pannier bags.

I, personally, cannot understand the thought process of someone who rides in the dark without lights.

Vehicles travelling at 30mph are travelling 13 meters every second and are having to look out for all hazards; pedestrians, oncoming traffic, junctions, traffic behind them and other road users.

From experience of driving at night cyclists with rear light(s) are highly visible to enable you judge how fast they are going; when you might catch up with them; to slow down accordingly and to safely overtake.

Without lights a cyclist is virtually invisible, even with street lighting, until only a relatively short distance away and, quick, avoiding action by the car driver must be taken; at risk to the cyclist, the car driver (and passengers) and other road users.

 

CYCLING THROUGH RED LIGHTS

While it is a small minority of cyclists that appear to do this. It is a behaviour that all cyclists are tainted with.
What makes a cyclist believe that road traffic laws and red lights don’t apply to them?

Traffic lights are in place to ensure that there is a smooth flow of traffic, from all the relevant junctions. When they are obeyed they ensure the safety of everyone using the traffic lighted junctions; cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes, pedestrians and cyclists.

Some cyclists obviously see them as an inconvenience or an exercise in delaying their journey and continue straight through the junction; or, dodging the traffic to get to the junction they want. Not only at their own personal risk but that of other road users too.

Red lights are there for everyone and every cyclist should stop.

Not signalling

Every vehicle is provided with indicators so that they can signal when they will be turning left or right; or, if they are changing lanes. The flashing lights mean that other road users know what the driver is doing and react accordingly, and the manoeuvre can be performed safely.

Cyclists aren’t usually provided with indicator lights on their bikes, although some systems are available to purchase. But as I was taught we have our arms we can use, we can look behind/over our shoulders, raise the appropriate arm to signal left and right, and ensure that the manoeuvre is safe.

But so many cyclists don’t perform these simple tasks and pull straight across lanes and junctions with many drivers, including myself, having to undertake emergency braking to avoid hitting them.

As with any other vehicle, if there is no signal it is safe to assume that the vehicle/cyclist will not be turning and continuing along the road.

Too often though a cyclist will veer right across a vehicle’s path, without looking behind or knowing how close the car is, resulting in avoiding action having to be taken by the driver.
Not only is this a danger to the cyclist but also other road users.

RIDING 2-ABREAST

Rule 66 of The Highway Code (rule for cyclists) (updated 27 June 2018) states:

“You should never ride more than 2 abreast, and ride single file on narrow or busy roads or when riding round bends.”

Riding 2 abreast increases the safety of the group of cyclists by making themselves more visible to other road users, from the front and rear. By riding 2 abreast it ensures that any vehicle drivers must give enough space to the cyclists when over taking. Where cyclists do ride single file vehicle drivers will often try and squeeze past within the same lane; at considerable risk to the cyclists.

In addition to being safer for the cyclists riding 2 abreast halves the distance that any vehicles need to travel to overtake the group of cyclists. Consider a line of 12 cyclists riding single file. Allowing for space between each rider this line of cyclists would extend for approximately 25 metres.

Whereas, riding 2 abreast would shorten this distance to approximately 12 metres making it easier for vehicles to find a gap to overtake safely.

What would be more considerate to cyclists is on narrow roads riding single file and in smaller groups.

This blog post does not intend to be an exhaustive list but should be considered by some cyclists as to why vehicle drivers have the opinion that they do. But, also giving reasons as to why cyclists do some things that drivers find annoying but is for their own safety.

I do not consider that this short blog post covers every behaviour that vehicle drivers may find annoying. I will be exploring what cyclists find annoying/dangerous about vehicle drivers in a later blog post; which, will also include use of cycle paths.

At Bespoke Biking we offer a range of cycling training including how to ride within traffic. Should you wish to learn how to be a safer cyclist in light/heavy traffic please enquire about booking a lesson.