Influence for safer roads Drivers and cyclists sharing the road

CYCLING is a fantastic way to get and stay fit. Regular cycling can also help you lose weight and reduce the risk of heart disease. People who cycle regularly in mid-adulthood typically have a fitness level of someone 10 years younger, and just to mention their life expectancy might be even two years above average. Whether you are a driver, cyclist or both, understanding other road users can help your anticipation and forward planning skills and ability to take evasive action, leading to safer roads and less conflict between road users.

Misunderstanding is a major cause of conflict. Patience to share room and understanding the action of the other driver or rider is key. Some cyclists feel threatened by inconsiderate driving and close overtaking. Whilst some drivers cannot understand why cyclists at times ride in the middle of the road, or ride two abreast.

The information contained in this article might be helpful to clear up some of these mysteries.

Sharing the Road

Now and then our own actions or the actions of others around us can put us in danger, or make driving and riding unpleasant and stressful. For example, drivers who overtake cyclists too closely cause intimidation and upset, often unintentionally. Equally, cyclists can place themselves in danger (deliberately or inadvertently) by their actions, such as riding off the pavement into the road, which can contribute to serious injuries to cyclists, and is extremely annoying for drivers.

Drivers: It’s easy to forget (especially if you don’t cycle) that a cyclist does not have the same protection that you have in a vehicle and that even relatively minor contact can seriously injure them.

Cyclist: It’s easy to forget that drivers sometimes find it difficult to see cyclists, especially in the dark, or to predict what they are about to do, and that they may not understand why you adopt the ‘Primary Position’ on the road.

Importantly though, it is worth mentioning that cyclists are trained to ride away from the gutter where there may be a debris and grid covers. In normal conditions, a cyclist will ride in what is known as the secondary position, approximately 1/3 into the roadway.

However, sometimes they will need to ride further out in what is called the primary position, to improve visibility or to deter drivers from squeezing past where the road narrows, for example at a pedestrian island. Whilst riding in the primary position, a cyclist will be in the middle of the road between the kerb and centre line.

When you see a cyclist move out, remember they are trained to do this to protect themselves and are not doing it to deliberately hold you up. They will move back into the secondary position when it is safe to do so. Try to be patient and hold back for a few moments.


What cyclists want drivers to know

They feel threatened by inconsiderate driving.

They need to keep away from the gutter to avoid potholes and debris.

They feel exposed when turning right

They feel very threatened by close overtaking.

They are not deliberately trying to get in your way and slow you down.

When they are riding in the middle of their lane, this is so they can see and be seen better and often because there isn’t room for drivers to overtake then safety.

Large vehicles pose a very high risk to them when they true left at junctions.


What drivers want cyclists to know

They find it very difficult to see cyclists who don’t use lights at night.

They get annoyed when cyclists ignore traffic lights.

They get dazzled when very bright cycle lights are not adjusted correctly.

They get annoyed when cyclists ride two abreast (even through it’s not illegal).

They sometimes find it difficult to predict what a cyclist is going to do.

They always understand why cyclists sometimes ride in the middle of the lane.

When driving large vehicles they can find it very difficult to see cyclists on their nearest, even with all their extra mirrors.

Riding without lights at night is extremely dangerous and sometimes drivers find this annoying. Approaching a cyclist dressed in dark clothing without lights could mean that the driver sees the cyclist very late, which can be a frightening experience for both parties.

Cyclists should ensure that they are dressed in bright or fluorescent clothing in the day and white clothes front and with red rear lights lit at night. See and be seen.

For more on this and other road safety tips please email Join the Women and Road Safety project and become a road safety champion in your region. Call us at +264 811279321 or +264 812400268.