Cyclists are road users too

31 July 2013: 

All road users need to obey the rules

We are all shocked by the road death statistics each year, but what most people donít know is that, on average, at least 40% of all road fatalities and injuries come from pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists - our vulnerable road users. It is important to remember that South Africaís roads belong to all users, not just those behind the wheel of a car.

It is unfortunate that it took the death of a well-known South African champion mountain biker, Burry Stander, to remind the public that there are road users other than drivers. What is more unfortunate is that Burry was one out of hundreds of cyclists that are killed on our roads each year.

We tend to forget that there are cyclists around us who are also using the roads as a means of transport. Other than the recently built cycle-lanes in Cape Town, we do not have dedicated lanes in South Africa for cyclists to use. This means that everyday cyclists are fighting for road space amongst often aggressive and ignorant drivers, according to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA).
While the law states that cyclists must wear protective headgear while riding a bicycle, for many this is a cost that they simply cannot afford, making them almost invisible to the drivers on the road.

So as a driver, what can you do to avoid colliding with a cyclist? The AA provides some safety tips for drivers:
  • Yield to cyclists, especially at intersections and circles
  • Check your blind spots and make sure the way is clear before changing lanes or direction
  • Do not drive, stop or park in a bicycle lane
  • Give cyclists enough room when overtaking - this should be at least 1.5 metres  
Changing the behaviour of drivers will assist in the fight to stop cyclist crashes and deaths on our roads, however cyclists also have to do their part by following the rules and making sure they are visible. Here are some safety tips for cyclists on the road:
  • Obey the traffic signs 
  • Keep left and keep at least one metre clear of the pavement and parked cars
  • Ride with the traffic and not against it
  • Be visible - wear reflective clothing and a bright-coloured helmet at all times
  • Use lights at night - a white headlight and a red rear lamp 
  • Use hand signals when turning or changing lanes
  • Always cycle in single file
In order to reduce the level of carnage on our roads we need to work together as road users, and this means that both cyclists and drivers need to follow the rules.

Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180

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