Time for a proper discussion about cycle safety

Cycling safety debates often end up polarised with those who ride criticising drivers for their misdemeanours and drivers doing likewise.  The obvious fact is that road users need to respect one another and share the road and a new campaign in the West Midlands aims to highlight opposing views.

Rather than cover the clichéd topics of red-light-running cyclists and cyclists ‘not paying road tax’* there are some more useful messages from both sides.  Of course, the vast majority of cyclists also drive a car and one in five drivers say they cycle at least once a month so there should best room for mutual understanding.  A lot of the messages are ones we support and hear time and time again from motorists and cyclists when we are out and about.

The top messages from the campaign are as follows:

What Drivers Want Cyclists to Know

  • I want to see you; this means wearing bright colours, using lights, avoiding vehicle blind-spots and cycling in a prominent position.
  • Use appropriate hand signals, make eye contact with drivers to show you are about to carry out a manoeuvre, keep consistent road positioning, don’t use headphones while riding as it sends out poor safety intentions.
  • When setting off look over your shoulder to signal your intention to move, be cautions when filtering through traffic, don’t undertake when filtering, if possible move out to the offside where visibility is better.
  • Split up into smaller groups if possible and ride in single file.


What Cyclists want drivers to know

  • We just want to get along.  We are often drivers too and choose to cycle sometimes but when we do we are more vulnerable.  Also, it’s my choice to use the road even if a cycle-path is available.
  • Please pay more attention and take extra time to look out for cyclists, especially at junctions. Double-check for cyclists when opening your car door too as you may hit us or make us swerve into traffic.
  • Don’t be distracted by mobile phones, eating or anything else – driving is tough enough already.
  • When overtaking please be patient and don’t do it in a dangerous position e.g. a bend.  Make sure you leave as much space as possible (you do have the whole other side of the carriageway) and don’t squeeze us towards the kerb.
 *Impossible as it was abolished in 1937