The relationship between cyclists and motorists is similar to that of oil to water – they are not a great combination when using the same surface. Both travel along many of the same roadways and both seem to think they have right of way over each other.
Social Media sites like You Tube entertain us with a multitude of clips posted by aggrieved helmet cam wearing cyclists, who have recorded near misses, and often violent confrontations, with angry drivers while on the road.
A common theme of these ‘incidents’ is the overtaking motorist passing far too close to the cyclist and/or cutting in too quickly once they thought they had passed their two wheeled nemesis.
Many motorists assume that a cyclist should keep to the far left of the lane in which they are travelling but according to the Highway Code, it is permissible, and encouraged, to use the full width of the carriageway. It is the responsibility of the passing motorist to wait until the road is clear enough to attempt a full passing manoeuvre, leaving a gap of at least a metre between themselves and the cyclist. They should then make certain they are well ahead of the cyclist before returning to the lane they were originally in.
It sounds simple when written on paper, but when driving through congested towns and cities where heavy traffic fills the oncoming lane, it leads to fewer opportunities for executing a text book overtaking manoeuvre. That leads to frustration for the motorist and often an incident.
However, there are no excuses for ignoring the rules. Many police forces have recently set traps to catch impatient motorists. They use a Lycra clad officer riding a bicycle fitted with cameras. If an overtaking motorist passes too close, or cuts in too quick, they are stopped further down the road and either ‘spoken to’ or issued with a penalty notice.
Of course, not all drivers are bad and not all cyclists are good. There are members from both camps who take chances hoping they can get away with it.
What we have to remember is: we are all here to stay and where dedicated bike lanes are not available, we’re obliged to use the same road space.
Maybe it’s time for everyone to demonstrate some consideration – whether we’re on two wheels or more?