Be a Better Road User
By Mike Street
By writing this blog post I am no way saying that I am the best road user, but I believe I am more thoughtful than some
The Blog Post:
I've been cycling since I can remember, and driving since 2009. Over the last few years, I've believed something more and more and I would like to make a bold statement:
Cyclists make better drivers, drivers make better cyclists
I know that traditionally, there has been a big rivalry between the two. Drivers thinking cyclists should pay road tax and cyclists thinking drivers are bigots - but hear me out.
It's Made Me A Better Driver #
Thanks to my cycling, my driving is safer and I feel I am more aware. When I drive, I try to:
Not just for bikes but for cars - more and more people don't indicate when they are pulling over or turning.
Check My Mirrors More
Just becuase you didn't overtake a bike, It does not mean it isn't there. Please always check your wing mirrors before you turn a corner. If you are indicating (and have been before the turn) then the cyclist will be aware. But please check.
Allow Room Between Me and the Curb
When waiting at lights, I always make sure there is enough room down my left side for a bike to get down. Bikes pull away faster than cars, and its safer for us to be seen at the front of the traffic queue. When the lights go green, its always hard to go the pace of the car in front as it pulls away - just because they didn't move over. Let cyclists get to the front and it saves everyone hassle.
I know how slow cyclists can be, and I know what its like to have a car breathing down your neck to hurry up. Just give the bike a bit of patience and a bit of space - you're not doing anyone any good by riding the back wheel.
It's Made Me A Better Cyclist #
Beacause I'm a car driver, I know what it feels like to be stuck behind (or to be trying to overtake) an ignorant, unaware cyclist. So when I am cycling, I try to:
Yes, much like when driving, everyone benefits from a cyclist indicating. The only time I don't indicate is if i'm going down a steep hill - as unlike cars I need my hands to brake.
Bike lights are underrated. You shouldn't be able to buy a bike without buying lights. A bike with no lights, to a car, is like its not there.
Check My Surroundings More
As a cyclist I make sure I check behind me regularly. I make sure i'm watching the parked cars to see if anyone is about to get out. I check the roads to make sure I avoid pot holes.
Position Myself Better
This is a hot topic of conversation and the biggest bug bear of a driver. Why does the cyclist sit in the middle of the road? There are plenty of reasons why but the main four are:
- Turning Right
- Going straight on at a junction (so that a car turning left doesn't appear on the right)
- Being more visible
- Forcing the driver out
The last one may seem like an odd one, but picture this scenario:
Steve is out riding his bike along a country lane. Like a "good" cyclist, he sticks to the gutter. Behind him, a black car comes roaring up and starts to overtake on a slight bend. Coming the other way is a red car. The black car is on the opposite side of the road to overtake, but on seeing the red car, swerves back onto his side. This forces the cyclist more into the gutter, into that pothole.
Now I know you might think this is an extreme case, but it happens more often than you think. If the cyclist was further out, or riding 2 abreast, than the black car would have been forced to make sure the road was clear before overtaking. We sit in the middle of the road for our safety and yours.
The Flip Side #
On the flip side to all this, there are a few things I try to make sure I don't do when driving:
- Overtake to then cut a cyclist up (it takes more power to get a bike back up to speed than a car)
- Block cycle paths (they are there for a reason)
- Hug the curb (while driving or waiting)
- Try to squeeze past bikes (see above)
There are also a couple of things I try to avoid doing when cycling (both these things really irk me!)
- Jump red lights (that's just a stupid idea)
- Be on your mobile phone
Lastly, if you are cycling, I would ask kindly that you wear a helmet. I was saved from a horrific accident as a child because my parents forced me to wear a helmet and for that, I am eternally grateful.