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Share and share alike

There’s no doubt it can feel frustrating trailing behind a cyclist and forced to slow down as the road is too narrow to overtake or heads uphill. The point to remember here is that no one is king of the road and you have to share the space with a range of vehicles, so accept it gracefully and adjust your driving accordingly. When you do encounter cyclists, observation and quick decision-making are key. Should you try to overtake or keep a safe distance back? The answer is both. To help maintain a steady flow of traffic, you should aim to overtake cyclists as soon as it’s safe to do so. If you’re on a winding country road with blind bends, this safe widow may never appear so remain at least two or three car lengths behind them. However, if you have a clear view of the road ahead, plenty of space and no oncoming traffic, you should be good to overtake. Check your mirrors and blind spots, indicate and carefully drive around them, but don’t speed up to pass only to slow down directly in front of them as they can be travelling at speed, especially downhill. As you overtake, be sure to leave a space of at least a car’s width or a minimum of 1.5 metres at speeds of 20-30mph, and even more space at higher speeds and in poor weather. There are good reasons for this. Imagine what it’s like to stand too close to the platform edge when a fast train passes through a station. That’s how it can feel on a bike when a vehicle overtakes at 60mph without leaving sufficient room. Passing too close reduces the margin for error should the cyclist need to move suddenly to avoid potholes or puddles. It can also make them nervous and more likely to become unbalanced. In fact, cyclists are advised to keep out of the gutter and ride further from the kerb than you might think, which is why on narrow roads they move towards the middle to prevent drivers passing too closely. As the number of bike riders grow, it’s essential you adapt to their needs and respect their safety.