David Moseley

How to stay alive while riding a bike

2013-11-19 14:30

David Moseley

Let's not get emotional now. Cyclists and cycling, cars and motorists, pedestrians too, are here to stay. Roads will get busier as the holiday season starts. Cyclists will ride. Don't act shocked, it happens.

All we can ask is for everyone to follow the very easy-to-follow rules. Don't be a dick, try and be patient, and don't be a dick.

As a cyclist, I see a lot of dicks - mostly through ill-fitting Lycra waddling around coffee shops, but also driving cars and riding bikes. I'd like to see less.

Failing those three survival basics mentioned above, I’ve been given some pointers from Nolan Williams, the Senior Inspector at Cape Town Traffic Services, on how we can all best go about our business on the roads as the world’s largest timed cycle race draws near.
No cyclists are allowed on freeways
In Cape Town, this includes the N1, N2, N7, M3 and M5. This is a national regulation, as stipulated by the Department of Transport. "These roads are clearly marked with the freeway sign," says Williams, "and in most cases the same cyclists using the freeway are motorists themselves and must know what the sign means. The speed limit varies from 80 – 120km/h. Considering the speed on these roads, cyclists put themselves and other road users at great risk."

Red Traffic Lights
"The same rules apply to pedal cyclists. Stop before or on the stop line and remain stationary at a red traffic light until it turns green. Any intersection must be entered only when safe to do so." Dick cyclists like to speed through red lights because they have shaved legs. Stop it. The light-jumping, that is. You can keep the legs, they look pretty.

Hand signals
"Use of hand signals by cyclists is a requirement as per the Road Traffic Act. This allows motorists to discern the intentions cyclists. Stopping, slowing down, left or right turn and so on, the signals must be clear, timeous and repeated. Check and make sure fellow road users have seen your intentions before execution of a manoeuvre (a right turn or so on)."

Single file
"When cycling in groups, cyclists should remain in single file where possible," advises Williams. The Department of Transport states, "Persons riding bicycles on a public road shall ride in single file except in the course of overtaking another bicycle, and two or more persons riding bicycles shall not overtake another vehicle at the same time."

For motorists, the AA has a few simple guidelines:
Yield to cyclists, especially at intersections and circles
Check your blind spots and make sure the way is clear before changing lanes or direction (you should be doing this anyway, looking out for other motorists)
Do not drive, stop or park in a bicycle lane
Give cyclists enough room when overtaking - this should be at least 1.5 metres.

It's all pretty straightforward. But if it's too much to take in, then let's just try and remember to not be dicks on the road. That way we might all make it to the New Year alive. Happy road-using.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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