I want to ride my bicycle…..

I have to say that one of my biggest concerns as both driver and driving instructor is the role of the cyclist on the road.  Of course,  I ensure that I teach all my learners to have the utmost consideration for all other road users which includes our friends on two wheels whether they be motorised or leg-powered. However, what about their consideration toward us?

The Highway Code is essential reading for anyone who uses our highways and byways in this country and, it constantly surprises me that, there is a general lack of introduction of it in schools.  When I was at school I distinctly remember at around the age of 8, the Green Cross Code man visiting. It was Dave Prowse aka Darth Vader from Star Wars (the body, not the voice!) and so we were all very starry-eyed and took as gospel everything he said about safety and how to cross the road.  It’s a shame our children don’t have this type of role model to look up to!

I would like to address some of the Highway Code in regards to cyclists. The Code cites them as one of the most vulnerable road users. Many rules in the Code are in fact legal requirements and if disobeyed you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points or disqualified from driving. Whilst you are not obliged to have a licence to ride a bicycle on the road, I am shocked by just how many people don’t have any type of training on two wheels and incessantly flout the law on a bike.

So, here are some of the laws for cyclists which are regularly ignored, and the law enforcers seem to do nothing about:

Rule 60

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

[Law RVLR regs 13, 18 & 24)

Lets face it, I am sure we all constantly see – or should I say don’t see?! – cyclists riding without lights.

‘Rule 64

You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.

[Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129]’

Now then, I know that the roads can be dangerous places but with the introduction of numerous cycle lanes, the fact that you should wear a safety helmet and use adequate lighting and reflective gear, there really is no excuse in putting pedestrians in peril by using the areas dedicated to the walkers amongst us.

‘Rule 69

You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.

[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)]’

AND

‘Rule 71

You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic (see Rule 178).

[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 36(1)]’

These are the two laws which are ignored and, therefore, anger me the most. I am repeatedly having to remind my students to look out for cyclists who have decided that they are immune to the law of road signs and, in particular, that of the red traffic light.  For goodness sake, do you WANT to die?!

Cyclists are one of the main reasons for checking not only in your mirrors but over your shoulder and all blind spots.  Something happened to me a couple of weeks ago which is a prime example for this.

I pulled up outside my daughters school around 15 minutes before pick-up time and was delighted to find a space right outside the school gate. It meant a parallel park between two cars which was no problem whatsoever.  I pulled up next to the car ahead of the space ready to reverse in.  As I did so, a cyclist decided to ride across the space and in between my vehicle and the adjacent car.  How ruddy dangerous is that?! Thankfully I have to teach people regularly to look all around them and as a result have not become complacent with my observations.  I have to admit, reverse my life 12 years to the time before I was an instructor and that cyclist might not have been so lucky!

I will continue to ensure that anyone learning to drive a car has the utmost consideration for bicycles out there, but please help us to help you!

Do you think these are reasons that training should be compulsory for people to ride bicyles on the road?  I’d love to know what you think. Have your say below!

 

 

 

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10 Comments

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  3. Katie Vyktoriah
    September 30, 2012 / 2:37 pm

    I’ve got some horrible experiences with cycles involved. One time when pulling up in front of Argos in Reading, I went to hop out of the passenger seat so I could run in, and unfortunately as I opened the door, it was directly in front of a cyclist who ran smack into me and the door. I hadn’t looked in the mirror, mostly because I never expected anyone to pass us on the inside, but similarly the cyclist didn’t stop to think that if a car stops on the side, it is likely because they are getting out.

    I was also clipped by a driver the first time I took a new bike out when I used to live in Mortimer. I wound up in a ditch, and the driver just drove off. Luckily I was more scared than hurt, but I never rode the bike again!

    And finally, one of my friends from college was killed while cycling. She had not observed the rules of the red light, as she was cycling on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, she kept going and a bus was coming around the corner and she was caught in the wheels and killed instantly.

    My parents always taught me that a car is a weapon and that it only does what you tell it to do, and therefore you must always be observant and know what it is aiming at. But I don’t think anyone reminds cyclists to be as aware. There is a sense of entitlement they seem to have which makes them arrogant on the road, and can end up ruining more than just their own lives if they’re not careful.

    • Victoria
      September 30, 2012 / 4:40 pm

      Thanks for your comments Katie :), seems it takes two to tango, eh?! So sorry to hear about your friend, an untimely departue :(.

      I teach all my students that cars are weapons too – a good way of putting things into perspective. I sincerely think that cyclists should have a similar type of training.

  4. Dave Meehan
    September 30, 2012 / 8:19 am

    Shame you don’t apply the same level if scrutiny to drivers behaviour, you’ll generally find them to be worse than cyclists. The over riding problem is lack of empathy for other road users. Most cyclists are car drivers too, so they don’t suddenly forget the rules of the road when on two wheels.

    Also, helmets and multicoloured clothing are not requirements for cyclists. Although I cycle in such attire it’s completely wrongheaded that any road user should need to compensate for other road users lack of observational skills. It’s the same logic that has school children wearing flourescent jackets to walk to school. I’ve even seen families walking to the shops all in the same garb.

    Drivers – slow down, open your eyes, pass slow and wide, and show some respect for other human beings! The world just might be a nicer place to live.

    • Victoria
      September 30, 2012 / 12:25 pm

      Thanks for your comments Dave. I completely understand how you feel as a two wheeled user. Which, in fact, I also am in both leg and motorised form!

      I have to say that this blog is about cyclists, my blog about car drivers hasn’t been written…yet! Dangerous car drivers are for another post. I just feel that car drivers are usually the ones to cop the blame when a cyclist is knocked off without looking at the potential of whether they are to blame. Last night I drove up to to London and saw 4 cyclists completely ignore the red traffic lights at each set of crossroads we came to! Unbelieveable! I didn’t see any car drivers dare to do that! (thats not to say I haven’t seen them do that!). Also, car drivers don’t drive on pavements!

      I hope you haven’t taken this as a personal slight on cyclists! I certainly wasn’t generalising about them, I was just pointing out that the ones who do break the law seem to get ignored.

      Helmets and reflective clothing are just suggested requirements by the Highway Code, just as reflective jackets at night are for pedestrians. They are not law.

      Yes, Drivers are generally the more inconsiderate ones., with that there is NO doubt. Cyclists should note that the Highway code also applies to them. We all want to stay alive out there!

  5. lisa
    September 28, 2012 / 10:25 am

    My one and only accident involved a cyclist….THEY rode into the side of my car whilst I was moving! no helmet on! I still have nightmares of them going over the bonnet of my car and driving near cyclists still causes sweaty palms. Thankfully the only harm done was to my car but I for one would welcome more regulations and training for cyclists.

    • Victoria
      September 28, 2012 / 12:01 pm

      Crikey, you see how much these cyclists put us through?! I wish they would take as much responsibility as we do as drivers.

  6. Ian
    September 28, 2012 / 12:35 am

    When I was young (to long ago) I would hardly dare to ride my bike at night without lights for fear of being stopped by the police. Cycling proficiency training which included basic maintenance was usual for many of us. Ok so traffic was light in comparison but the principles were the same. So where is the training today? Why do police totally ignore these offences, and is it not time for third party insurance for cyclists so that should a cyclist accidentally molest my car, I have a recourse to claim damages. Sensible protective attire including Helmets are now desirable. After all it is compulsory if you ride even a moped.
    So I agree with Victoria:
    Police do your job and pull up errant cyclists.
    Cyclist protect your self with training & attire.
    Government protect me by introducing compulsory insurance( it could be family based to cover children when required)
    Councils build real cycle tracks, don’t steal a third of the road for fake ones.

    Or is this just to much for those who claim the green agenda

    • Victoria
      September 28, 2012 / 11:43 am

      Thanks for your comment Ian, so glad you feel valid points have been made. I love your suggestion about insurance – what a great idea!

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