the safest way to share the road with cyclists
as part of recent changes to the highway code, drivers of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision now bear the greatest responsibility. that means motorists have an even greater responsibility to drive in a way that keeps cyclists safe. the highway code's latest hierarchy of road users sees cyclists ranked second alongside horse riders.
So in the light of this, what is the safest way for considerate motorists to share the roads with cyclists? Here are some top tips.
1. Leave plenty of room
A new rule in The Highway Code instructs all drivers and riders travelling at speeds of up to 30mph should leave at least 1.5m, or 5ft, when overtaking cyclists, and they should leave more space at higher speeds. It's always worth leaving more room than necessary between you and the cyclist as you never know when you'll have to stop. Give them space and treat 1.5 metres as a minimum.
2. Look above and beyond
If you need to overtake a cyclist, always look beyond them to develop your ability to get past. Keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres width and two or three car lengths behind them means an overtake must be well judged. Remember, the closer you are, the more nervous the cyclist(s) will be which may result in them becoming unbalanced.
3. Groups of cyclists
Cyclists are perfectly legal to cycle side by side on most roads in the UK, obviously some common sense needs to be used to work out if and when cyclists need to single out to let cars overtake but on the majority of UK roads cycling 2 abreast is allowed. Usually, a group of cyclists will shout forward that a car is waiting ("Car Up") and if the road is too narrow for the car to pass the group safely while they are two abreast, they should single out.
Drivers should be careful when overtaking groups of cyclists and ensure you can see well ahead before attempting an overtake. If cyclists are in single file, bear in mind how long you will need to overtake them, and how far ahead the road needs to be clear, as you will not be able to filter in and out. Bear in mind that cyclists may need to move suddenly to avoid obstacles such as potholes and puddles (Highway Code Rule 213). Remember, it's important to be patient.
4. Being inclusive on our roads
Since the pandemic began in 2020, the Government has encouraged people to use different means of transport rather than public transport. This has meant more people have had a taste of the cycling life so we will experience all types of cyclists. They may include those who have just started out, families, people who have not been on a bike for years and more experienced cyclists so as motorists, we need to ensure we share the road and adapt our driving to keep vulnerable road users safe.
5. Take your time and know the rules
When cyclists are going straight ahead at a junction, they have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise. Drivers should take extra care when entering roundabouts to make sure they do not cut across cyclists.
Don't lose your temper waiting for a cyclist on the road. Acting irrationally leads to unnecessary road rage and accidents that could be easy avoided.
6. Cyclists may take centre of lane
Another recently added rule in The Highway Code is that cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible by riding in the centre of lanes on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions. As part of this new rule, they should also keep at least 0.5m from the kerb side on busy roads and should leave 1m when passing a parked car.
7. Dutch Reach
After parking, check for other road users by opening your door using the Dutch Reach method; check your mirrors and reach across with your left hand. This encourages you to look over your shoulder and check your blind spot to see if it is safe to open the door.