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Government focus on cycling awareness and training

Posted on in Cycles News , Political News

Driving instructors to receive bespoke training and police set to crackdown on ‘close passing' in new UK initiative.

Driving instructors will be offered bespoke training to ensure cyclists' safety is at the forefront of their minds when they teach new drivers, in a pilot initiative launched by Cycling Minister Jesse Norman.

The government is also launching a new UK-wide initiative to help the police crackdown on the dangerous practice of ‘close passing'. This will include providing training materials and support for police forces to ensure drivers are aware of safe distances when overtaking cyclists.

bike pathSpeaking at the Cycle City Active City conference in Manchester, Cycling Minister Jesse Norman said: "The benefits of cycling and walking are enormous. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health. For businesses, it means increased productivity and increased footfall in shops, and for society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places.

"But we will only achieve our ambitious aims if people feel safe when they walk and cycle.

"We shouldn't only concentrate on catching and punishing drivers when they make a mistake, but try to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to drive safely alongside cyclists in all conditions."

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, said: "Cycling UK has long argued that driver training and testing processes should ensure that drivers are made aware of and understand both cyclists' needs and their safety. Training the trainers, and embedding cyclists' safety in the mindset of driving instructors, is a fantastic first step towards achieving this.

"But education and awareness on its own is not enough, which is why close pass operations by police forces have proved so effective in places like the West Midlands. It's great that there's now a commitment to make additional government resources available to help the police crackdown on close passing.

"Cycling UK look forward to working with the Department for Transport, as we have with willing police forces, to try to make sure this initiative helps lead to close pass policing being the norm, not the exception."

PC Mark Hodson, from West Midlands Police's Road Harm Reduction Unit, said: "Cycling groups are telling us that, on the whole, motorists are becoming more considerate and understand we will prosecute them if they endanger vulnerable road users. We've seen reports of close-passes halve in the West Midlands since we started the project and the number of cyclists seriously hurt in collisions fall by a fifth - that's incredible against a backdrop of increasing numbers of people cycling on our roads.

"Drivers who endanger vulnerable road users need to understand that we run operations to catch them, and if they avoid our officers we can still prosecute them using footage provided by cyclists and other motorists."

Reader Comments (2)

CYCLISTS ADVICE to motorists Things you may not realise about cyclists on the road By Brian Robb (Haven Cycles) The following subjects are covered in this document. ROAD TAX INSURANCE CYCLE PATHS ROAD USE BAD WEATHER CONDITIONS STRAIGHT ROAD NARROW ROADS ROUNDABOUT BENDS IN ROADS TRAFFIC ISLANDS TRAFFIC LIGHTS FIRSTLY PACIFYING MOTORISTS Cyclists should obey the Highway Code as a motorist. Keep to the left where road conditions allow and is safe to do so. Cycling groups should ride in single file when a vehicle is approaching from behind Extra large cycling groups should leave passing opportunities for cars, try to limit pockets of riders to 8 or less. Appropriate lighting should be used after lighting up time. At night suitable clothing should be worn either bright or reflective. Cycles should be suitably maintained for roadworthiness. Helmets at the moment are advisory, but it is sensible to use. ROAD TAX The majority of adult cyclists own a car, whilst a car owning cyclist is out on a cycle ride their car is not being used it would be fair to say the amount of duty they have paid on their car is more than enough to cover the minute damage the cycle does to the road. When roads have been significantly modified to cater for cyclists meaning CYCLE HICHWAYS without the hindrances of pedestrian’s dogs and cars then it could be argued road tax should be directly applied to cyclists, what are the chances of cycle highways ever being developed?. INSURANCE Cycling insurance should be included in a motoring insurance policy and needs to be included automatically. Independent cycling insurance is available and should be purchased; it should cover theft, accident, injury costs, liability and legal help. Cyclists are more likely to be involved in an accident in this country because roads are not cycle friendly. CYCLE PATHS CREATED AND FUNDED BY THE CYCLING INDUSTRY, CYCLIST VOLANTEERS HELP WITH THE MAINTAINANCE, MAINTAINED BY SUSTRANS National Cycle Network A cyclist should not use a pavement that has not been allocated as a cycle path. It is not a legal requirement for a cyclist to use a cycle path. A cyclist who commutes to work or intends to go a relatively long distance will primarily use the main roads instead of cycle paths for the following reasons: - Cycle paths do not always follow the route the cyclist wishes to go. Many cycle paths come to an abrupt end with a redirection to the other side of the road it is not practical to alternate back and forth across a main road at rush hour this could take a long time. Trying to follow urban cycle paths will require the cyclist to stop at every road junction and be cautious of every driveway and household entrance. Many Cycle paths are 2 directions but there are many which are not wide enough to allow 2 cycles to pass each other. Cycle paths have pedestrians and dog walkers in some cases dogs running free will attack cyclists. Dog walkers tend to walk on one side of the cycle path and the dog will walk on the other side with the dog lead stretched across the path creating an obstruction which at times of poor visibility the cyclist will not be able to see the lead. Many dogs foul the cycleway which on a wet day emulsifies creating a pool of excrement that can spray up onto the cyclists back. On rural cycle paths, there is mud in wet weather, thorns on the paths after hedge cutting which causes punctures, broken glass and debris which is rarely cleaned due to cycle paths being maintained by a voluntary organisation called Sustrans who rely on donations from cycle shops and other organisations, maintenance is carried out during summer months only. During the winter months added hazards are present on the cycleway, decaying leaves in autumn, snow, ice and frost in winter, tree branches after stormy weather. Cycle paths are fine for leisure cycling and teaching the kids to ride but are not practical for dedicated cyclists who commute to work or travel long distances so to shout at cyclists that do not use cycle paths holds no justification. Nearly all the following road conditions listed below will ultimately come down to one subject: - HOW AND WHEN TO OVERTAKE A CYCLIST SAFELY ROAD USE A cyclist has the right to use any part of a road as is deemed necessary for a safe commute. Although you would expect a cyclist to keep to the edge of a road it is not always possible for reasons motorists are not aware of: - INEXPERIENCED RIDER SIDE WINDS DEBRIS LAYING IN THE GUTTER DROPED DRAIN COVERS POTHOLES CAT EYES OVERHANGING TREE BRANCHES, THORN BUSHES OR BRAMBLES APPROACHING JUNCTIONS OR ROUNDABOUTS APPROACHING DIVERSIONARY LANES It is not possible for a cyclist to ride perfectly in a straight line, always be prepared for a cyclist to make unexpected manoeuvres to avoid obstacles that you may not be aware of. Give cyclists plenty of room when overtaking at speed especially HGV trucks, the wind alone can send the most experienced cyclist into a wobble. Advisory clearance: - Distance Speed 2’6” = 5mph – 25mph 3’6” = 25mph – 45mph 4’6” = 45mph – 60mph Always be aware of cyclists that need to manoeuvre across a road where the road ahead converges into directional lanes, the cyclist will ride in the middle of the road until accessing the required lane to avoid being pushed into the wrong lane by cars squeezing past. BAD WEATHER CONDITIONS Be extra cautious when you see a cyclist in bad weather, wind, rain, frost or snow will greatly affect the braking ability and stability on the road. A cyclist is much more vulnerable than a motorist especially in frost and icy conditions. Wind can stir up dust and debris Example: - dust gets in your eyes a simple plastic bag can become trapped in the wheel and get caught on the brakes as it rotates which can throw the cyclist off balance. Unexpected side winds can push a cyclist into the road without any warning so on a windy day take extra care when passing. NARROW ROADS Make sure there is no oncoming traffic before attempting to pass; there will not be enough room to give adequate clearance to the cyclist. Always be aware of cyclists that need to turn right on narrow roads, the cyclist will ride in the middle of the road until reaching the junction to avoid being sandwiched by cars squeezing past on the left and oncoming traffic passing on the right. STRAIGHT ROAD On a straight road don’t overtake a cyclist just before you want to turn left you may underestimate the speed of the cyclist and cause an accident. When a cyclist is passing parked cars, the cyclist must be given extra room when overtaking, someone opening the door of their car will be less likely to see a cyclist therefore a cyclist needs to give a wider birth when passing parked vehicles. When an experienced cyclist is following a vehicle at the same speed some drivers will pull along side of the cyclist despite there being no room for their vehicle to pass fully pushing the cyclist into the verge, don’t pull alongside, wait until there is room to completely overtake. ROUNDABOUT Don’t overtake a cyclist just before a roundabout. On approach to a roundabout you decide to pass a cyclist, your attention is diverted to the possibility of traffic coming from your right the cyclist is riding immediately on your inside which you cannot see; you are instinctively turning left to enter the roundabout pushing the cyclist into the verge. Be aware some experienced cyclists will ride towards a roundabout in the middle of the road to avoid being pushed into the verge by motorists. A cyclist will need to use a roundabout in the same manner as a motorist following the correct lane so slow down when a cyclist needs to cross the flow of traffic to exit the roundabout. When a cyclist is already on a roundabout don’t try to speed past to get to your exit. Some inexperienced cyclists may want to use the outside of the roundabout despite wanting to turn right therefore motorists should be aware the rider cannot continue to hold out their arm indicating they are going all the way round so if they do not hold out their arm to exit the roundabout you should assume they intend to continue round to the next junction. BENDS IN ROADS On approach to a bend do not try to overtake a cyclist until full view of oncoming traffic is visible. Be aware of cyclists negotiating a bend at speed, left hand or right the amount the cyclist will require to lean into the bend will take up one third of the highway. TRAFFIC ISLANDS When approaching a traffic island don’t overtake a cyclist there will not be enough room to give adequate clearance some cyclists will ride in the middle of the road to prevent overtaking. TRAFFIC LIGHTS A controversial subject but with courtesy in mind When a cyclist approaches lengthy narrow road works a judgement has to be made for the time it will take to cycle the full length holding up the traffic behind and the oncoming traffic after the lights have changed, a cyclist may decide to go through just after the last oncoming vehicle so as not to cause too much congestion and hold up to both flows of traffic. A CYCLIST IS JUST ANOTHER ROAD USER SO IF YOU TREAT A CYCLIST AS YOU WOULD ANY OTHER MOTORIST YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Brian Robb, 6 Jul 2018

Great round up from Brian, though the note on ROAD TAX coming from someone who is otherwise clearly a relatively knowledgeable rider goes to show how little understanding there is of this tax and law. Road Tax does NOT exist! Vehicle Tax (aka Emissions Tax) however does. Just like bicycle users are exempt from this due to their lack of emissions, electric vehicles are too! It has nothing to do with damage to roads caused by the user or their right to use them. It is to do with the amount of pollution their vehicle fills our air with. So please, next time someone shouts from their vehicle while you are riding that you need to pay tax that doesn't exist, kindly tell them to go and shout the same thing at the next electric car they see :D! And yes, surprisingly enough, many riders do also own vehicles and do therefore pay the same taxes as the ignorant fool shouting at you.

Jeremy Fletcher, 9 Jul 2018

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