As a Cambridge girl myself, I’m both an occasional cyclist as well as a motorist in our fair City and I’ve gathered many thoughts on this topic over the last year or two.
With Le Tour De France about to race on through Cambridge City centre and the surrounding villages en route, I’ve been thinking more and more about cyclist etiquette.
In my own personal experiences, everybody seems to have road rage…and I mean EVERYONE. Cyclists, dogs, motorists, pedestrians, absolutely everyone – in fact, we all need to calm the heck down, chill out and put our manners into practice every which way.
Cyclists like to blame motorists for bad behaviour, motorists like to shout about cyclists and dogs like to do whatever they want… Come on guys, let’s all follow some simple rules whilst out and about and keep the peace whilst wheeling!
Here’s my guide to cycling etiquette…
First rule of thumb, please don’t expect that just because you have one light on at dusk that everyone can see you whilst cycling in dark clothing, even if it is still technically light outside – we don’t always see you! Reflective and colourful gear makes it easy to spot you as motorists pass, dark clothes make it tricky to see you right away.
Both front & rear lights need to be prominent, no bags hanging over your rear light please, it’s simple sense.
Do acknowledge it when a car gives way to you, especially if they have right of way at that time. Be nice to each other share the road, there’s far too much agro between cyclists and motorist, which in turn leads to more accidents, so please be nice to motorists and help to keep the calm if they allow you some space.
This also goes for vehicles who give you a wide birth when driving past you, I know personally that there’s nothing more scary than a motorist who almost clips your handlebars. So, please, acknowledge and show your thanks when a driver gives you plenty of space, a simple nod and/or hand risen in thanks shows your appreciation of their gesture.
Don’t be a road hog, stay as close to the lines as you can where possible, motorists can find it highly irritating to have to pass a wobbly cyclist in the middle of the road when there’s a designated cycle path right next to you.
And please don’t double/triple up on group rides, especially on city roads. The amount of cyclists I see chatting away to each other as they swerve around side-by-side is very high up on my personal pet peeves!
Get off your phone whilst cycling. No further explanation needed, surely? If it’s dangerous for motorists to be doing at the wheel, it’s most certainly equally so whilst cycling. It’s a scarily high volume in my own experiences on the road, cyclists making AND taking calls whilst wobbling around in the road… Please stop to take your call and save us all the potential dangers and hazards!
DON’T jump red lights – ever. There’s no excuse, getting somewhere a minute quicker isn’t going to change your life. As cyclists we are as responsible for our actions as car/lorry drivers are for theirs. I’ve personally seen accidents where a car has hit a cyclist in town, who decided to jump a red light on a cross roads, it’s scary just HOW many people I see doing this – why would you do this?!?!?!
If cycling through a highly populated pedestrian area, please dismount and show some patience if required. As required of motorists, watch the road ahead and gauge any potential hazards before approaching. I’ve personally experienced passing fellow pedestrians in Cambridge where somebody has literally pushed me off the pavement and into the road – a cyclist nearly hit me and stopped to scream, swear and spit at me. It was as unexpected for me as it was for him, but he didn’t care to show me some patience, even with an apology from me regardless – road rage doesn’t just occur from motorists!
Come prepared when cycling in a group, bring plenty of water and follow the right nutrition for your ride, make sure that your tyres are at the right pressure and that you have the relevant emergency supplies in case of a puncture or other such incident. Slowing down a group die to poor planning is bad etiquette and won’t go down well with the other cyclists, so show consideration and be prepared.
Always point out the road conditions when riding in a group – if somebody is riding fourth wheel, then the chances are they won’t see a danger up ahead, such as a pothole, so help each other out and signal accordingly.
Never criticise someone’s riding style or their bike and don’t leave them behind, make sure you stay as a group for everybody’s safety, including the motorists you may encounter.
As listed above, please give cyclists a wide birth when passing where possible, especially in tougher weather, as there’s nothing more terrifying than a fast-moving vehicle almost brushing you as they pass. Please be patient and don’t get aggressive because you may to be able to pass right away, it’s intimidating to square up, so do bare this in mind.
Cyclists WILL wobble, perhaps because of a large pothole or because they’re sipping water as they steam ahead, so a bit of space is a safe precaution.
If you hit a cyclist it will hurt them far more than you, but it will AFFECT you. It may just be the insurance claim, it may well be the blood on your hands. THINK. There’s no excuse, getting somewhere a minute quicker isn’t going to change your life as much as an accident could.
Please do not drive OR park in designated cycle lanes, even if you are “just going to be a minute” – this is infuriating for any cyclist and makes it dangerous should they need to swerve around your vehicle into the road, not to mention, I’m pretty sure this is illegal as well as darn right irritating.
Look at the road as well as the cyclist. If you’re approaching a junction, don’t over take a cyclist and cut them up by turning left. Is there a pinch point coming up? Yes, well, stay back and hold off overtaking until it’s 100% safe ahead.
Le Tour De France comes through Cambridgeshire on Monday 7th July 2014, will you be joining in with the festivities?
What are your pet peeves when it comes to this topic? I’d love to hear from you below!
With special thanks to those who helped with advice on this subject:
Dan – @Moosola
Dave Jackson – @CambridgeAroma