I would be happy to report that all motorists were considerate to everyone but unfortunately, I would not be correct. While there is a percentage of those that are actively aware and take appropriate precautions, there is a significant percentage of motorists that are simply ignorant of passing distances, being they don’t know or are unable to gauge distances, and then there is the group that believe they should not share the road and purposely try to intimidate cyclists on the road. This can sometimes lead to disaster.
There is responsibility on both sides here and the key point I would make is education. This is for the cyclist, the motorist and importantly, the authorities (Police)
As a Cyclist, what do we need to do?
a) Ride according to the road rules. This is very important as the rules are there to keep us safe and coordinated with other road users. It is important to know the rules for a bicycle riding on the road and abide by them.
b) Awareness – Be aware of what is happening around you, keeping a mental note of all motor vehicles, and bikes in your immediate vicinity at any time. It is a personal thing, but ear pods may block out sounds of approaching vehicles.
c) Mechanically, make sure your bike is in good working order. Make sure your brakes are good, fasteners all tight, you have spare tubes, CO2 cartridge or pump.
d) Lights! We can utilise reflectors, but lights are far more effective. I have lights front and back.
e) Cameras – Forward and Rear mounted cameras are an essential piece of equipment for riding in traffic conditions with varying road users. Personally, I use Cycliq Fly 12 on the front and Fly 6 on the rear and they have integrated lights as well. Apart from the enjoyment of documenting your ride, reliving experiences or using the videos for social media, they are an important item to have to document close passes for reporting to the authorities.
As a Motorist, We need to
a) Be patient and stay calm. Sometimes you get caught behind a bike, but it is usually only a few seconds of your time until you are able to pass safely with the legal separation. The motorist needs to ask themselves about the importance of where they are going. Cyclists are not responsible for the motorists bad day.
b) Do not be so aggressive / bully – what if the cyclist was a big truck? Would you still be thinking the same way?
c) Give plenty of room when passing. Minimum one metre. The faster you go, the wider you pass. It really is than simple. If you have two lanes, then co ordinate yourself to change lanes when passing. This is the safest way.
d) Keep your attention focused. Put your phone away. Try not to be distracted when driving – passengers, food, loud music etc.
What to do if you are passed too closely?
a) Report the incident to the relevant authorities (Police). I understand this process can be quite frustrating as in some cases the Police do not seem to take these incidents seriously (until someone is seriously injured), however, it is important to log the complaint. By law it does need to be dealt with. We may, or may not like the outcome, but the record is there that can be used if the motorist has a history (or makes practice) of this kind of behaviour.
b) Ideally you would have cameras on your bike where the footage can be used to identify the vehicle and possibly the driver, and the actions of the motorist (and cyclist) before and after the close pass.
c) You may need to edit the footage, or at least understand where the relevant footage is on the recording as the files can be quite large. Too large usually for the upload space on the complaint form.
d) Once edited, upload to a You Tube account where you can save a viewing link, or alternatively save to a thumb drive so you can hand it in or post it to the relevant station that will handle the complaint.
e) Make the complaint – The authorities have a form that needs to be filled out that describes the time and place of the incident. This can be a physical form or an online form, cyclist specific or another type of form that can be used to report dangerous activities witnessed on the road.
f) It is important to include as many details as you can about the terrain, weather, time of day and other traffic, the vehicle (make, model, colour), the driver (this is important for identification), road conditions and the like. Especially if you do not have video that you can show. Make sure the Police can download the video or you make sure they take receipt of the thumb drive.
Stay Safe out there People
We must be observant and defensive at all times. We all think about some sort of retaliation when someones uses their car against us, but it puts us back years if we are caught. Be the bigger person!