The Daily Commute by Bike: Is it Getting More Dangerous?

Cycling is in the spotlight again, in light of the tragic news of another death on London’s roads.

This brings the number of deaths in London to 14 this year – however, six of those have occurred in the last two weeks alone.

As cycling becomes a more popular mode of transport, there are suggestions that an increase in the number of inexperienced cyclists who have decided to commute by bike could be contributing to making roads less safe.

Cycling - A Plea for Tolerance on the RoadsThe dangers are increased when you consider that a large proportion of motorists are not used to dealing with so many cyclists, so there is a possible lack of awareness of the rules of the road governing cyclists.

According to this article on the BBC website, theories suggest that as the sheer number of cyclists increases, motorists will be more likely to adjust their driving to accommodate them. But what advice is there to keep safe in the meantime?

Jason desk webJason Wiltshire is a member of the RTA department at NW Law. He is a keen cyclist and secretary of the Lancashire Road Racing club. Below he discusses the Department of Transport’s advice to cyclists, which are:

 

 

  • Ride positively, decisively and well clear of the kerb
  • Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  • Always use lights after dark or when visibility is poor
  • Wear light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark
  • Follow the Highway Code including observing “stop” and “give way” signs and traffic lights
  • Wear a correctly fitted cycle helmet

 

Jason:

I know from my own experience as a cyclist and being a member of the Lancashire Road Club that cycling is not as safe as it used to be.

It is good that more people are cycling and awareness has risen, but it is also noted that some less experienced cyclists do not help themselves when it comes to being involved in an accident.

Looking at the DoT guidelines that are listed above, the issue over lights is not an option – they are obligatory should you choose to ride at night. Many cyclists choose now to use lights during the day as well to increase their visibility.

High visibility clothing makes a huge difference and there are now hundreds of products available to suit every cyclist needs.

The two points that should be noted in particular are:   

  1. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles, like lorries or buses, where you might not be seen
  2. Wear light coloured or reflective clothing during the day and reflective clothing and/or accessories in the dark

The deaths in London recently do tend to centre around cyclists riding up the inside of large vehicles. Large trucks do have difficulty seeing cyclists in their blind spot.

Often cyclists have not given themselves an ‘escape route’ when the truck turns or move lane. This is made all the more difficult in Autumn/Winter as often windows are fogged or mirrors have moisture on them.

Recently large trucks have started fitting new mirrors to enable them to see cyclists and buses have placed large notices on the back of buses advising cyclists to be careful when passing on the inside.

Accidents caused by the excessive speed of some motorists, widespread mobile use and general impatience will only reduce with a shift in mindset or a change in the law.

 

Jason Wiltshire joined NW Law in July 2013 and is a member of our Road Traffic Accident Department. He has 15 years experience dealing with large loss RTA claims and motorbike and cycling accident claims.

Jason is available on 0161 772 9922 to discuss your cycling accident queries.

 

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