Cycling in Cape Town has become the new norm, especially with the Cape Town Cycle Tour coming up soon, however, in the midst of this cycling revolution, driving a car still is the most realistic form of transport to get in and out of the city.
With so many more bicycles on the road, this does not mean that cyclists should be pushed onto sidewalks and ignored. They also need to follow the road rules just as much as vehicle drivers do, but vehicle drivers need to be a lot more aware and alert than ever before.
If you are mindful in your approach to sharing the road, then there is no reason why both vehicles can’t ride, safely, in the same space. In order to share the road, you need to follow these few steps:
Watch the space around you
Many roads have cycling lanes next to them, meaning that you need to respect those lanes and not drive too close to them or zoom past a cyclist that is in one. Be mindful of the people around you, and watch out for them when looking to turn or overtake other cars. Driving too fast in residential areas is also creating a safety hazard for those cycling around you, and it can also make cyclists nervous which could lead to an accident. Be careful and give them at least a metre away from you at all times.
When you drive close to a cyclist, remember to slow down because the wind carried with you can make a cyclist wobble or even lose balance. You can only imagine how intimidating it is to be overtaken by a vehicle, so try not to tailgate a cyclist as it could frighten them and cause a serious accident. When you pass, give them plenty of space, in case they feel uneasy and make a sudden stop. This might sound like common sense, but these are the small reasons why vehicle owners cause freak accidents.
Make use of your indicators
Make sure that both indicators on that used Polo for sale that you bought recently are working properly to avoid any missed signals. Many accidents happen when people are not watching the cyclist’s movements (in terms of them indicating) or you not indicating yourself. Get into the habit of always using your indicator, and properly, no matter where you are or who is around you. Give cyclists and other vehicles safe signals before moving.
Cyclists are a lot more vulnerable on the roads, so if you are coming towards them, try not to flash your lights or hoot as this might cause confusion and fear.
Look out for cyclists at intersections
Be attentive to your blind spot as many people forget to check it before causing an accident with a cyclist. Utilise the side mirrors on your before you start any sudden manoeuvre, and when emerging from a sharp corner or intersection, be aware of the possibility of a cyclist appearing. When children are riding bicycles, it is especially difficult for drivers to see them on the road because they are so much smaller. They are also very unaware and unfamiliar with road rules, let alone on bicycles, so if you do see a child on a bicycle, be sure to slow down and allow them right of way at all times.
Check for cyclists before opening doors
South African drivers need to be careful when their passengers open their doors. Whether you’re making a quick stop or parking your vehicle on the side of the road, watch before opening your door. This is incredibly dangerous, as cyclists can be harder to see or hear when you’re making that hasty exit.
Do not answer your phone
One of the biggest distractions and causes of any accident is drivers being on their phones. When you are not concentrating on the road, you are a hazard to both cyclists and any other driver.
Refrain from picking up or touching your phone when you’re driving as you need to have all your attention on the road, especially when you are surrounded by cyclists on busy roads.
If you can help it, do not hoot
Blaring your hooter can be scary for any cyclist who may be near to you, so refrain from using it unless it is an emergency. It’s both a safety feature and a dangerous risk for both the driver or the cyclist as it may frighten them and cause them to lose control of their bicycle. If you feel that you must use your horn, tap it quickly and lightly while you are still some distance away from the cyclist.
Before you think about hooting at any cyclist, make eye contact with them to show them that you are aware of their presence and that you have seen their passing signal. When driving in autopilot, confusion is the first thing that happens, so try your best to always be aware and keep your eyes on the road.