Brake Road Safety Week – Bike Smart

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Cycling, as a way of travelling, has become incredibly popular in the last few years and people are making more of an effort to incorporate cycling into their daily lives. Cycling is well known for being one of the healthiest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly forms of transport available.

With the theme of this year’s Road Safety Week being ‘Bike Smart, it is important for drivers to be aware of how to drive safely around both motorcyclists and cyclists. To ensure that everyone is safe on the roads.

In 2017, there were 281 cyclist injuries (of all severities) recorded in Leeds and there were a total of 170 motorcyclists injured in the same year, including 2 fatalities.

Leeds City Council feel strongly about improving cycle and motorcycle safety. Whilst understanding the important role that cycling has to offer in terms of the wider benefits to the city (improving air quality; reducing congestion; improving physical health and wellbeing), the most important factor is the health and safety of those who travel by two wheels.

If we want to get more people choosing to travel by two wheels then it is only understandable that we accept that people should feel safe and expect that their journey from A to B is a pleasant and uneventful one.

The simple fact is that everyone who uses the road has a part to play in making them a safe place, no matter how they travel. It’s easy to blame others, but if we all take a little more time and pay more attention to how we use the roads then we can help to make the roads a safer place.

Bike Smart is the message at the heart of this year’s Brake Road Safety Week, focusing on the safety of those on two wheels. Taking place between 19th and 25th November, Road Safety Week seeks to raise public awareness of road safety, aiming for positive change on our roads.

That’s why this year Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour Team (ITB) are supporting Brake’s road safety event which will be held in Victoria Gardens on Tuesday 20th November 2018.

The ITB team will be engaging with the public by encouraging road users, particularly drivers, to look out for cyclists and motorcyclists and give them sufficient space on the roads. Other key priorities for the ITB team are to provide information on safe routes and using appropriate equipment while cycling and motorcycling.

Here are some ways in which you can help keep cyclists safe on the road:

Traffic lights

If you are behind a cyclist when approaching a red or amber traffic light, make sure that you give the cyclist plenty of time to pull away when the light changes to green. Although some traffic lights have a designated area for cyclists (Advanced Stop Lines / Cycle Boxes), not all sets of lights have this. Even if the lights don’t have a designated area for cyclists, make sure that you don’t get too close to them. If there is a cycle box please leave this clear.

Minimise distractions

Concentration behind the wheel is crucial for the safety of all road users. It is especially important for vulnerable users such as cyclists. Looking at your mobile phone, eating or listening to loud music can all contribute to a driver losing focus. Factors such as fatigue can also have an impact on concentration.

Maintain a consistent driving style

Unpredictable drivers can make cyclists feel unsafe on the road. Although it can be frustrating to be stuck behind a cyclist, make sure that you wait for a safe opportunity to overtake. If there is an oncoming car or a blind turn coming up, wait until a more appropriate time to overtake. When it is safe to pass the cyclist, keep your speed low and leave them plenty of space as you drive past (the recommended distance is 1.5 metres).

Misjudging cyclists’ speeds

Some cyclists can reach higher speeds than many car drivers expect. Misjudging the speed of a cyclist can cause a collision as the gap between the car and cyclist may not be as large as expected. This is particularly important when making a right turn which involves cutting across oncoming traffic. If a cyclist is approaching faster than expected, you may not have time to move across the road. If carrying out this manoeuvre, always check for cyclists filtering down the inside of queuing traffic.

Plan ahead

Consider your route before overtaking a cyclist. It can be dangerous to speed up to overtake a cyclist and then have to immediately slow down to turn off onto another road or to stop at traffic lights. If your journey is about to take you onto a new road or cause you to stop for some reason, it is safer to stay behind the cyclist.

Remain observant

Cyclists can be easy to miss as they are often obscured by larger vehicles. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to your surroundings and drive at a suitable speed to ensure that you have enough time to stop if a cyclist emerges unexpectedly.

On a final note, the number of people choosing to cycle or ride a motorcycle in Leeds each year is increasing at a rapid pace. But there are still a large number of people who could cycle, yet don’t as they don’t consider it an option due to perceived and real personal safety risks. Therefore it is imperative that the dangers (and opportunities) for those on bicycles and motorcycles are addresses, and that those on two wheels feel confident that their journeys will be safe and pleasant.

We are united by the urgent need to reduce their risk of death and injury on our roads. Please come and support this event we will be in Victoria Gardens between 10am and 4pm on Tuesday to promote cycle safety and support Brake Road Safety with a ‘Virtual Cycle’ event to highlight the number of casualties on bikes each year.

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If you’re free and would like to pop down at some point, it would be good to see you.

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