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The European Connection - Tony Richman

May 05, 2015
Cyclist safety: a two-way process!


Let’s first make it clear, I am not against cyclists. Cycling is not only good for the environment and exercise, it’s often quicker than public transport in our crowded cities and it can help develop family and social enjoyment.

But, like any form of transport, cyclists need to be responsible for their own safety and that of other road users around them.

There’s no doubt that safety of vehicles has increased dramatically over recent years: innovations in technology; special fittings to lorries to increase the safety for cyclists and pedestrians; and, like it or not, legislation banning lorries from certain areas of towns and cities; and the list goes on.

Yet despite these precautions, organisations like DriveSafe and ROSPA highlight the dangers of the road through a variety of frightening statistics such as there being a 10% rise in cyclist accidents or 93% of motorists failing to see cyclists.   

Despite all the good work being done to protect vulnerable road users, one factor is often lacking consideration – cyclist culpability.

Whilst travelling, especially on those occasions during dark evenings, I’m often disgusted to see that all the hard work done to raise awareness, by road safety specialists and the industry as a whole, is ignored by a certain type of cyclist.

I am sure we’ve all witnessed:

  • Bicycles with no lights – even being ridden while texting and/or wearing no helmet or high-vis clothing;
  • Cyclists riding tandem in the road, swerving out and overtaking each other at random and perhaps even making derogatory signs to motorists trying to get by;
  • The ‘no hands’ bravado;
  • Cyclists who think that red lights do not apply to them and that it is somehow OK to be alongside a large vehicle which may be about to turn at a junction.

I came across a report about a study by Autoglass in 2013, which found that 48% of cyclists admitted to being caught without lights or high-visibility clothing when the clocks go back. Worryingly, just 39% regularly wore high-visibility clothing, 42% regularly used headlamps on their bike and 27% regularly used brake lights!

A spokesperson had said: “Cyclists are the only group of road users at increased risk of injury and death on the roads over recent years and ‘stealth-cycling’ shouldn’t be an option.”

Of course, drivers can still instigate many key practices to enhance existing safety measures to help combat incidents. As far as trucks are concerned: removing unnecessary ‘bling’ from the cab that hinders clear visibility; sensible placement of the navigation screens, coffee machines, etc.; and correct setting of the truck's mirrors to ensure that critical areas around the truck are visible to the driver are a must.

We all need to do our bit and cyclists need to take responsibility for their own actions. After all, if a car or truck had no headlights, it would most definitely get pulled over. If cyclists want to be treated as equals on the road, they need to start following the rules like everybody else!


Photo: Tony Richman

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