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26 Mar 2010

Every motorist is taught from day one to check their mirrors, check, and check again when it comes to that much less conspicuous and much more vulnerable road user – the cyclist.

But accidents do happen and sadly, all too easily and often. The latest statistics for cyclists from the Department for
Transport for the year 2008 showed a total of 16,297 casualties, including 115 fatalities.

However, solid advice came from the Institute of Advanced Motorists this week. They urged cyclists to know when to keep to the kerb, and when to assert themselves so that they can make themselves seen to drivers.

Cyclists were told to “claim their lane” when approaching junctions and parked cars, as drivers primarily pay more attention to the major stream of traffic when navigating junctions than the cyclists around them.
Duncan Pickering, IAM Cycling Development Manager, said: “Sticking to the kerb where drivers are not necessarily looking means they are less likely to see you.

“Drivers are more likely to notice bikes travelling in the same direction as the oncoming traffic and, when turning left, mainly focus their attention on cars coming from the right, as they don’t see the left as posing a particular threat. This means they fail to see cyclists from the left early enough.”

The IAM recommends that cyclists should take up the primary position in the centre of the lane around 75-100 metres before reaching a junction.

While the Institute rightly reminds the cyclist that the lack of awareness of motorists is a huge factor in car/ bike collisions, it also emphasizes common sense and the potentially huge safety gains to be had from making themselves as easily seen on the road as possible.

So cyclists – go out and assert yourselves among the big bad cars (within reason)!

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