9 Tips for Driving Alongside Cyclists

Cycling is becoming more popular than ever as a means of transport in Ireland. It’s no wonder as cycling is great for exercise, cheap, better for the environment and it cuts down on travel time, especially during rush-hour. However, cyclists are extremely vulnerable on our roads. Each year there are multiple cycling fatalities on Irish roads and countless collisions involving cyclists. Here are some tips for driving beside cyclists to help make our roads safer for everyone.

1. Always check your mirrors and blind spots  

Even without considering cyclist , as a good and lawful driver you should always check your mirrors and blind spots when taking off, pulling out, turning and generally check them every so often as you drive. A huge amount of accidents occur when a driver has failed to see a cyclist. Cyclists can be difficult to see so it’s crucial to check your blind spots and mirrors often.

2. Check for cyclists before opening your car door

This tip applies to any passengers in your car too. Whenever you’re about to open a car door, check the wing mirrors and blind spots for oncoming cyclists. Cyclists can be travelling at speed and be completely unaware that your door is about to open. It is your responsibility to look out for cyclists before opening the door.

3. Use your indicators  

This tip might sound a little obvious but using your indicators in the correct amount of time can drastically improve the safety of Irish roads. Indicating is a basic principle of the rules of the road but each year a high number of accidents are caused by road users failing to indicate in time or indicate at all. Give plenty of time when indicating to turn left or right, moving over or pulling out to allow cyclists and other road users see your intentions and react accordingly. 

4. Give cyclists enough space

Article 10 of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997, states that a driver should not overtake / attempt to overtake if doing so poses a risk to the safety or causes inconvenience to any other person. This means that if you want to overtake, there should be no car oncoming from the opposite direction and you need to leave enough space between you and any cyclists.

According to the Road Safety Authority you must leave at least 1 metre clearance when overtaking a cyclist in areas of 50km per hour and under and 1.5 metres in areas of over 50km/h. This space is needed in case the cyclist swerves to avoid uneven ground or a gust of wind pushes them off course while you are overtaking.

5. Learn to recognise cyclist’s signals  

Cyclists should signal with their arms before they intend to turn or make other moves. However, this isn’t always possible to do as the cyclist might need both hands to brake or steer. Often when a cyclist needs to change lanes to prepare for a turn they will overlook their shoulder to check the traffic behind them before pulling out. Watch out for these signals and be prepared to slow down and give the cyclist space to complete their move safely. 

6. Follow the rules of the road

Cyclists and drivers should be able to safely share the road. This is only possible if both groups respect and follow the rules of the road. This means stopping at stop signs, giving right of way, stopping at red lights and waiting for green lights to mention a few. Motorists should stop at the stop lines giving space for cyclists to get to the front of traffic so that they can see better. 

7. Do not tailgate a cyclist

Tailgating a cyclist on the road will not increase the speed at which the cyclist is going. It will scare the cyclist and leaves no space if the cyclist had to break suddenly. It’s an extremely dangerous action to take. Always leave plenty of space between you and a cyclist. 

8. Consider your speed when driving beside a cyclist

It’s important to drive at a considerate speed when around cyclists and quick accelerations or sudden brakes can distract cyclists and increase the risk of an accident or collision. 

9. Don’t stop in cycle lanes  

Never park or temporarily pull over into a cycle lane. This forces cyclists to pull out onto the main stream of traffic, puts them in danger and could cause an accident.

Read more: ‘Tips for Safe Driving’ and ‘What to do if you’re in an Accident’.

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