Sharing the road with cyclists: what motorists should know

MasterDrive SA
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 COMING OUT OF HIBERNATION: Cyclist are a common sight on SA roads in the build-up to an important cycling event. Image: iStock ~ iStock

Cape Town - When big cycling events draw near in South Africa, many drivers may have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists on the roads.

In SA, crashes involving cyclists is higher for various reasons. Irrespective of what these reasons are, drivers should take preventative steps to ensure they are not involved in a fatal collision with a cyclist.

Keep an eye on cyclists

The MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says cyclists are more vulnerable which often results in drivers paying them less regard.

He said: “Speed is a major factor in creating this vulnerability. Collisions which exceed 45km/h give cyclists a less than 50% chance of survival. Even if a cyclist is hit at slower speeds, they face severe injuries. Always look out for cyclists as well as cars. You are setting yourself up for a dangerous situation if you only pay attention to other cars on the road.”

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The ‘ThinkBike’ movement in South Africa arose partly due to the lack of regard paid to cyclists by drivers.

Herbert adds: “There is an unfortunate belief that cyclists have less right to the road and should keep out of a motorist’s way. Part of keeping cyclists safe is to change attitudes toward two-wheel drivers. They are just as entitled to be on the road as you."

Cyclists have rights, too

Spend some time brushing up on the laws which govern cyclists to learn what their responsibilities are in relation to vehicles. In SA bicycles are considered as legal vehicles and are bound to the same laws as motor vehicles.

If you know what rules of the road govern cyclists you will better understand how to interact with them in tricky situations like roundabouts.

Remember that when you need to make a right turn there could be a cyclist next to you who needs to go straight. Make an extra effort to double check that there are no cyclists before you make a right turn. This also applies to cyclists who might be in the opposite lane coming toward you. Do not underestimate how fast a cyclist may be moving. A cyclist can ride at up to 30km/h.

For more information on safe driving practices, visit MasterDrive.

Notes:

  • Give cyclists approximately a meter of space when passing and even more during wet weather.

  • Look for cyclists before opening your door and exiting your car.

  • Do not park in cycle lanes, it puts cyclists in even more danger when they move around your vehicle.