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Preventing incidents with cyclists

By Graham Evans
Practice Leader - Risk Solutions

The popularity of cycling has grown in recent times due to factors such as the success of British cyclists in the Olympics and Tour de France. The desire for healthier lifestyles and money saving commuting has also meant that cyclists are a common sight on our roads. 

The benefits of cycling are clear but the Police receive 19000 reports each year of cyclists being killed or hurt on the roads. Whilst 16% of these incidents do not involve a motor vehicle hitting the cyclist it is suggested that there are many more incidents that are not reported to the Police.

Most accidents involving motor vehicles and cyclists occur in urban areas and particularly around T-junctions and traffic islands. The higher the speed limit the more serious the accident with half the cyclists being killed on rural roads. Most fatal accidents occur in the dark and the majority of non-fatal accidents, not surprisingly, occur during rush hour.
The Police normally record the cause of accidents involving cyclists and motor vehicles as due to either party not making adequate observation at junctions. Around 20% of cycling accidents involve heavy goods vehicles hitting a cyclist. However, in London, a quarter of accidents involving cyclists involve heavy goods vehicles.

Common Causes of Accidents with Cyclists
Drivers making poor manoeuvres and displaying reckless driving behaviours are the cause of most accidents. In particular, accidents are caused by:

  • Motor vehicles pulling out into the path of a cyclist
  • Motor vehicles turning across the path of a cyclist
  • Cyclists, particularly children, riding off the pavement into the road
  • Cyclists turning right into a road
  • Heavy goods vehicles turning left or driving too close to the cyclist.

Advice for Drivers
Remember that cyclists have as much right to be on the road as you. Advice to help prevent accidents involving cyclists includes:

  • Always check your mirrors before turning and pay special attention to your blind spot
  • Give as much room as possible when you overtake a cyclist
  • When you've parked, check your mirror before opening your door
  • When turning left, let the cyclist in front pass the junction first
  • Don't overtake a cyclist if you can see the road narrowing
  • Don't sound your horn at a cyclist
  • Judge a cyclists speed with care, they may be travelling faster than you think
  • Merge completely to the far right of the road when turning right
  • Avoid parking in cycle lanes
  • Avoid driving into the 'advanced stop area' for cyclists at traffic lights
  • Ensure that you can stop well within the distance you can see on rural roads
  • Allow cyclists extra space in wet weather as slick road tyres can slip on wet roads.

Increasing our vigilance, increasing the space we give cyclists and decreasing our speed near cyclists will go a long way to reduce the number of collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists. If its been a long time, try riding a bike to get the cyclists perspective!