Cyclists, nuisance or fellow road user?

Nationally almost 20,000 cyclists were killed or injured on our roads in 2013 (of these figures almost 3,000 were killed or seriously injured).  Two-thirds of cyclists killed or seriously injured were involved in accidents at or near a junction.  The most common reason for accidents is that one party or the other failed to look properly. 

In 57% of serious or fatal collisions that person was the driver rather than a cyclist.In Plymouth, on average, a collision between a cyclist and vehicle happens every 5 days.  The total number of accidents is decreasing, falling from 92 in 2011 to 77 in 2013 however the number of serious accidents is increasing.If you are a non-cycling car driver you may well have your own views as to why cyclists are being injured on our roads.  Perhaps you think cyclists should not be on the road at all or that cyclists are a danger on the roads.   How would you feel however if you were the driver involved in the collision, particularly if the accident killed the cyclist or led to life-changing injuries such as brain damage, paralysis or amputation? Of course, it’s not always the driver's fault but given that cyclists are the more vulnerable road users shouldn’t we, car drivers (I am not a cyclist), be more aware of cyclists and drive in a manner that causes the least possible chance of an accident?  Perhaps, as Inspector Richard Pryce of Devon & Cornwall Police told the Evening Herald, the problem is one of mutual respect:““While the volume of collisions involving cyclists has seen a reduction, it is concerning that the number of collisions in which they are involved and sustaining serious injuries has risen. It is crucial that road space is properly shared and that there is mutual respect between all road users, whichever method of travel is chosen.

“Drivers of all vehicles must ensure that a good margin of safety is afforded to cyclists on the road giving due regard to the effect a vehicle has upon a cyclist and being patient when necessary. It is also vital that cyclists observe the rules of the road and ensure they can be seen.”

Interestingly, research by the University of Bath has shown that car drivers tend to give less room to cyclists wearing helmets when overtaking. The reasons for this are not clear but it is thought that this may be because cyclists wearing helmets may be seen to be more experienced. The person who carried out the study, Dr Ian Walker, conducted research himself by cycling with and without a helmet.  During the course of his research he was knocked off his bicycle twice and on both occasions he was wearing a helmet. ( is likely that the number of cyclists will increase in the coming years as more cycle lanes are established and people are encouraged to be greener and get out of their cars.  Let’s show cyclists some respect and make the roads safer for everyone.

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