Safer cycling on our roads

Yesterday as I made my way home from a spin I began to consciously watch what the motorists around me were doing whilst driving their vehicles. One after another the majority were nodding their heads up and down like those nodding dogs that used to adorn the rear shelf of many an Opel Kadett. They were glancing at the road, glancing down something in their hands and back up at the road again. What were they glancing down at? Well you wouldn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that it was their mobile phones.

Drivers are just a reflection of society as a whole nowadays which is why this is now such a huge problem out on the roads.

Everyone is now in a hurry. All trying to multitask as much as possible. There is no longer a clear line between work and home time and everyone sits watching tv with a phone, iPad or laptop near at hand. In the past listening to the radio was enough of a distraction to keep a drivers mind occupied whilst cruising along an open road. Nowadays the phone is picked up at every opportunity to check emails and texts, facebook and twitter and plenty of other non essential information.

1 in 4 of all road accidents in America are caused by drivers texting.

You are 6 times more likely to crash into someone on their phone than a drunk driver.

How can you solve what is now becoming an epidemic on our roads?

Asking people nicely won’t do it.

Maybe if there were 12 penalty points for a first offence. There is no logical excuse for looking down at facebook whilst driving. Taking a call might have some half valid reason behind it. Might, which is why 4 or 6 penalty points for a first offence would be acceptable.

Maybe a mobile data blocker would be good too. If mobile phone companies were compelled to install some add on to the phones gps that turned off all mobile data when the phone travels at more than 5kph it might be a start.

In the meantime what can we as cyclists do to try to protect ourselves out on the road ?

Make yourself visible. Wear some form of hi vizibility clothing at all times. Also use flashing lights just as much in the daytime as the night.

Make eye contact with drivers as much as possible approaching junctions and roundabouts. Take it that if you don’t make eye contact that the driver does not see you and adjust accordingly.

Expect every driver to be a Murphys law muppet. If they can do something stupid and dangerous chances are they will so prepare yourself accordingly.

Take the ‘chance it’ option off the table for the drivers behind you. Drivers should leave 1.5 meters of a gap when overtaking cyclists. Many traffic calming areas are designed to be just the width of a truck to pass through so a motorist would do well to have 15cm to spare when overtaking a cyclist in these areas but many still do. The best thing to do in this case is to ride 60 cm out from the kerb thus taking the ‘I’ll chance it and probably squeeze by’ option away from the driver. As soon as you clear the road furniture pull right in to the hard shoulder to let them pass now that it is safe to do so. Most drivers will be OK once you do that.

Stay Calm. If you have the choice between being right and being patient and kind, don’t try to be right just because you are in the right. Especially if the other person has two tonnes of metal surrounding them and all you have is 3mm of lycra. No matter who is right or wrong there will always only be one looser should there be any form of contact in that scenario.

Finally, choose quieter roads. There are thousands and thousands of almost deserted roads all throughout Ireland where you can easily go for over an hour without meeting a single car. Seek out those roads and enjoy the peace and tranquility. You will arrive home feeling refreshed rather than stressed out.


2 thoughts on “Safer cycling on our roads

  • September 20, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve had much time to reflect on this over the last few months as an injury has forced me spend more time on the roads (on bike and foot) rather than my preferred activity on the hills. You don’t realise how safe you are on the mountains until you spend a good bit of time on the roads. Your only worry of someone else causing you harm or death is a paraglider falling from the sky.

    To be honest, I can’t wait to get back to the hills as they’re stress free. I don’t have to worry about that vehicle coming too close to me, from behind. I don’t have to fret about that eejit with the mobile to his/her ear coming towards me and I don’t have to get stressed and angry with both of them after a close shave. It would put you off being on the road but then, the driver wins.

    Our law enforcement officers could ‘saddle up’ on busy bike routes like the WMP . I mean, on nearly every 70km spin you come across someone using the phone and the gardaí must know this.

    Is there any merit in wearing something like (an Irish version of) the ‘Polite’ High Viz

    I’ve no issue with reporting a HGV driver to the company whose brand/logo are on the truck. Do it on their FB page, Twitter account or by email. If your name/company is on the truck, that’s your public face. If you look at these company websites you’ll see that they do ‘advertise’ their health & safety record to court new business. There’s no point in going into a big rant though, your complaint has to be calm, measured and polite – plenty detail of time, location and your version of the ‘event’. If a driver is doing something to damage the public image of your company, the owners should do something about it. Maybe the driver is a repeat offender and the owner is looking for a reason to fire his ass? Not reporting it will definitely let the driver off the hook to do the same next time, with no consequences.

    There’s great merit in choosing quieter roads but we need a bit of help from our CoCos etc. Perhaps they might designate specific sections of road as ‘Cairde An Rothar’ and mark them as such. Ban HGVs from them, lower the speed limits on them. Improve the surface. Downgrade the roads that were supposed to be downgraded when the motorways opened. Show me the local politician that’s against improving road safety and the potential tourism spin-off.

    Don’t forget, you need public support for this kind of stuff so if you’re acting the boll***x by not showing a mutual respect to drivers, littering the countryside with gel wrappers or generally being oblivious to all other users of the road then, we’re going to have an uphill battle. And I know how much you all love hills.

    PS: Don’t knock any ideas for improving road safety: if you’ve put the thought/energy into why something wont work you can put the energy and thought into a potential solution.

  • June 13, 2017 at 4:18 am

    Accidents may happen anytime specially when in driving. so we must be extra careful to, when we are in driving specially when we are in a hurry. this blog post is good thanks for this. keep it up and more powers!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *