Bicycles have same legal rights as cars on roads

2016-11-03 06:00

SOUTH Africa has more on-road crashes involving cyclists than countries with a higher car-to-cyclist ratio.

Irrespective of what the reasons behind the crashes are, drivers share at least 50% responsibility in preventing collisions with a cyclist.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, said cyclists are more vulnerable, which often results in drivers paying them less regard.

“Speed is a major factor in creating this vulnerability. Collisions which exceed 45 km per hour give cyclists a less than 50% chance of survival. Even if cyclists are hit at slower speeds, they face severe injuries. Always look out for cyclists as well as cars. You are setting yourself up for a dangerous situation if you only pay attention to other cars on the road.”

He said the ThinkBike movement in South Africa arose partly due to the lack of regard paid to cyclists by drivers.

“There is a belief that cyclists have less right to the road and should keep out of a motorist’s way. Part of keeping cyclists safe is to change attitudes towards two-wheel drivers. They are just as entitled to be on the road as you,” said Herbert.

He advised drivers to take heed of the laws that govern cyclists. “In South Africa, bicycles are considered as legal vehicles and are bound to the same laws as motor vehicles. If you know what rules of the road govern cyclists, you will better understand how to interact with them in tricky situations like roundabouts,” he said.

He said drivers have to show extra care when making a right turn, when A and B pillars in a vehicle typically block the driver’s view of oncoming motorbikes or bicycles.

“There could also be a cyclist next to you who needs to go straight. Make an extra effort to double check that there are no cyclists before you make a right turn. This also applies to cyclists who might be in the opposite lane coming towards you. Do not underestimate how fast a cyclist may be moving. A cyclist can ride at up to 30 km/h,” he said.

While on the road drivers must allow about a metre of space when passing and even more during wet weather.

Also look for cyclists before opening your door and exiting your car.

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