Person riding a bike through cars in a town

How To Drive Safely Around Cyclists

In 2021, there were some 7,493,000 cyclists on British roads*, a whole 2.4 million more than just five years previous in 2016!

Rightfully so, cycling is continuing to grow in popularity across the UK. It’s a healthy and environmentally conscious way to get about and bikes are as deserving of their place on the road as cars. However, it’s safe to say drivers and cyclists don’t always get along.

So, as certain seasons can mean more cyclists on the road, and with cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester becoming more bike friendly than ever, we’ve put together some quick tips to help both drivers and cyclists ensure everyone is safe and happy while on the move.

Person riding bike along road in city

Tips for Drivers

It’s key to be considerate around cyclists when driving. They are in a much more vulnerable position than drivers, so you should always practice care when driving near a cyclist, making sure to:

  • Always look for cyclists before pulling out at a junction or roundabout, making a turning manoeuvre, or changing lanes in slower-moving traffic.
  • Give cyclists space and never drive too close behind them.
  • Leave extra room when it’s raining/has rained as the road surface will be wet and slippery, creating issues for both the cyclist and your car’s stopping distance.
  • Always hold back if you’re unsure of what a cyclist’s intention might be.
  • When driving at night and you see a cyclist, make sure to dip your headlights as you would for any other road user.
  • Don’t get frustrated at cyclists who aren’t hugging the curb, or a row of parked cars. Cyclists are trained to ride a little further into the road to increase their visibility and overall safety.
  • Never drive within or park in a cycle lane that is marked with a solid white line. This is a traffic offence and can result in a fine of up to £130 in London and £70 for the rest of the UK.

These are just some general tips, however as there are circumstances that require extra care, such as overtaking, pulling out at junctions and when actually getting out of your car, we’ve compiled further tips to cover each of these areas…

What to do when overtaking a cyclist?

There will be times as a driver when you’ll need to overtake a cyclist, although there are added dangers involved with this manoeuvre. Make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Adhere to the rules of the Highway Code’s Rule 163 which states to give cyclists (as well as horse riders and motorcyclists) at least 1.5 metres of room.
  • Keep in mind that cyclists will need to move further out into the road to avoid drains, potholes or debris on the road, so always look for hazards and give them room.
  • Never overtake when you can see that the road ahead will narrow, or when approaching a corner.
  • Some cyclists travel in groups or ride side-by-side to increase their visibility, as well as the ease and safety of cars overtaking (as opposed to needing to overtake a long line of cyclists at once). Allow even more room for this.

How to keep cyclists safe at junctions?

  • Each year, cyclists are killed on UK roads by vehicles turning left and not taking the correct care. When turning left, always check your mirrors and blind spots for any cyclists approaching on your nearside, and allow any cyclist ahead of you to pass the junction first before turning out.
  • Cyclists can travel faster than you think, so take care to judge their speed before pulling out in front of them at a junction.
  • If a cyclist is turning right, wait behind them just as you would with a car.
  • Avoid driving into the ‘advanced stop area’ reserved for cyclists at traffic lights.

What to do when parking/exiting your car

In early 2022, a change to the Highway Code made headlines, which introduced the ‘Dutch Reach’ method to Rule 239.

This was introduced to stop the occurrences of ‘dooring’, where cyclists often ride into, or have to swerve out the way of car doors being opened by drivers who haven’t checked behind them – resulting in serious or even fatal injury.

The Dutch Reach method requires drivers to open their door with the hand that is furthest from the door (this would be your left hand for UK drivers) as it forces you to turn around and check behind you, avoiding any potential accident.

Outside of this, remember to never park in a cycle lane to avoid fines and penalties, and disruption to cyclists.

Tips for Cyclists

Cyclists also need to play their part to keep the roads safe for all, so should keep the following tips in mind whenever out on a ride:

  • Wear bright clothing during the day and make sure to wear reflective clothing or accessories during the night, as well as using lights on your bike (white at the front and red at the rear). You could be fined up to £50 for cycling without lights at night!
  • Avoid cycling with headphones playing music, as you won’t be able to hear the traffic around you.
  • Ride away from the gutter and use hand signals when making a left or right turn.
  • Be mindful of the driver’s blind spot and make sure not to ride within this space.
  • If you’re cycling along a road that would be too narrow for a vehicle to pass safely, consider riding in the middle of the road as this will prevent any dangerous overtaking.
  • Wait in front of other vehicles at a junction or at traffic lights, making sure to make use of the advanced stop line where applicable.

There you have it, we hope these tips keep yourself and other road users safe when travelling. For other useful driving tips and info, check out more advice from the Scrap Car Comparison team!

*Cyclist numbers via Statista

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