• The Villages Mag

Cyclists and Motorists - Is there conflict . . . ?

Since the London Olympics there has been a noticeable increase in the popularity of cycling. People ride bicycles for many different reasons, shopping, commuting, business, and leisure. These could be exactly the same reasons why people drive cars.

Dangerous obstacles which cyclists have to face include potholes, gravel, grids, manholes, mud, puddles, and debris, which means cyclists need extra space to negotiate those obstacles safely. The recommended distance when overtaking a cyclist 1.5 metres; not all drivers, it seems, are aware of this.

A common criticism is that cyclists don’t have to undergo training and pass a test to be allowed on the roads. But it helps to remember that many adult cyclists are also car drivers; and that all school children in Cheshire East are offered Bikeability training (a National Training Standard). The first thing cyclists are taught is that on normal urban and rural roads they should ride 1.5-3 feet out from the gutter. This helps to avoid obstacles, and it helps to make them more visible to other road users.

On roads with slow moving traffic and at junctions, they are taught to ride in the centre of the lane which they are occupying. Cyclists should position themselves as if they are driving a car. Cyclists are also told that where the road narrows, or there is no view ahead, they should deliberately position themselves in the centre of their lane to deter vehicles from overtaking.

When passing parked cars cyclists should leave a “door and a bit more”, and if there is a whole line of them, they should not move into any gaps.

These actions could be perceived by drivers as inconsiderate cycling, but this is the National Training Standard and it improves safety.

Cyclists don’t just get in the way of motorists, motorists also impede cyclists. I can average 18mph riding on country lanes. If I ride across Holmes Chapel I’m lucky to average 10mph, it’s just traffic and congestion of course. The point is that we all contribute to this situation and we all suffer from it. Conflict between different groups of road users is futile and divisive.

If we want a safer cyclying/driving environment then we must all “Share with Care” when using the roads.

Congleton Cycling Club, and South East Cheshire Cycling Action Group (SECCAG)

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