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:
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.
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.
You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals.
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD reg 10(1)]’
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!