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Stay safe while cycling

As the sun starts to rise earlier and summer approaches, many of us will be back out on the road, riding or running.

Sadly, hit and run crashes involving cyclists have become a common phenomenon in South Africa. Many of these accidents occur in the early hours of the morning when drivers return from a night out on the town.

“Many cycle in the early morning hours, out of necessity or preference. Especially over weekends, cyclists need to be extremely careful and alert on their morning rides,” says CEO of the Pedal Power Association, Robert Vogel.

Exposed to risks

“The roads in South Africa are unsafe for everyone, but cyclists and pedestrians don’t have the protection of sitting inside a vehicle,” says Vogel “Being out early morning comes with challenges and risks as many motorists return from a night out, intoxicated and not completely in control of their vehicles.”

Road safety means giving fellow road users space. A cyclist has as much right to use the road as any motorist and should be afforded the same tolerance and respect as a motorist. When cars follow each other, they leave a safety gap to the car ahead. When cars overtake they give each other space, so why not give a cyclist a safety gap when passing? Why take life-threating risks and insist on overtaking a cyclist on a blind rise, in the face of oncoming traffic, in a corner, literally shaving past the cyclist with no safety gap?

Safety tips

While we ask everyone to share the road and show respect, the motorist has the potential to cause the most damage to life and limb. “As cyclists, we can keep left, indicate with hand signals and ride in single file but we remain vulnerable road users nevertheless,” says Vogel.

“Obeying the rules of the road, does not always offer cyclists maximum protection,” says Vogel. “It is up to the other road users, specifically motorist, to give cyclists a wide berth and ensure there is enough space when passing.”

The one-metre passing law in the Western Cape states that vehicles need to pass cyclists with a wide berth of at least one metre. A motorist is allowed to cross a solid white line in order give a cyclist at least one metre if it is safe to do so.

“We advocate tolerance and mutual respect towards one another on our roads. Our message is simple. We ask cyclists to ride single file and motorists to wait until it is safe to pass and then give cyclists a gap of at least one metre when overtaking. Space Saves Lives,” Vogel concluded.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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