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Mutual respect needed for motorists and cyclists

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In light of recent events that saw a 53-year-old cyclist left in a critical condition after negligent driving, perhaps it is time that safety awareness is once again discussed to refresh the minds of motorists and cyclists.
With laws that keep motorists at least 1m away from cyclists when passing them and that enforces cyclists to wear lights and reflectors, negligent driving and irresponsible cycling still leave cyclists most vulnerable.

As long as there are cyclists and drivers on the same road, the inevitable of the two crossing paths will not come to an end regardless of safety measures. But regardless of the inevitable, the recent story of cyclist Alroy Davey stands as a reminder that preventive measures can play a part in reducing the risk and diminishing the chances of fatality.

The cyclist Alroy Davey was hit from behind by a white double cab bakkie in Klipheuwel Road near Durbanville on Saturday. He is now in intensive care recovering from his injuries. The motorist fled the scene and the police is now currently on a search to find the hit-and-run culprit.

“A motorist or cyclist, if they see each other approaching, raises a level of awareness,” says Pedal Power Association CEO Robert Vogel.

Vogel, the CEO of a company that enforces safety for cyclists with campaigns such as the “Stay Wider of the Rider” campaign, says that the responsibility should be shared amongst motorists and cyclists when they are on the road together. He also states that the message of Pedal Power Association is to be reinforced and that the level of awareness should be kept high.

Vogel believes that what can help a cyclist is to wear very visible clothing that stands out to motorists and that motorists should use their headlights when driving in poor visibility conditions. He then goes on to say that a cyclist should use hand signals when wanting to change direction and that cyclists should treat the road as if they were in their car.

As for motorists, he advises that when cyclists are seen on the road, the driver should slow down and that if a motorist cannot overtake a cyclist, the motorist should then wait for the right opportunity to do so.
Vogel says mutual respect is one way of bettering the relationship between motorist and cycler and that getting on together could create an understanding that could then strengthen the mutual respect.

Here are some other safety tips for cyclists:
1. Avoid busy streets – the less cars on the road, the less the chance of being knocked accidently by a motorist. Choose your place and time of cycling wisely as it could make a difference.
2. Obey the law – Cycling without reflectors and lights in the dark is illegal. The chances of being knocked in the dark without lights and reflectors are very high, so it is best to make yourself visible in the nightime.
3. Wear the appropriate safety gear – Wear headgear at all times.
4. Signal when turning – Let motorists know when you are about turn so that they will not be taken by surprise by sudden movement.
5. Do not ride against traffic – Be sure to ride with traffic and not against it, as this is dangerous for you and for motorists.

Here are some other tips for motorists:
1. Abide by the rules – As a motorist, you are required to have a 1m berth away from a cyclist when passing by law.
2. Approach with caution – If you are aware a cyclist in your vision whilst driving, keep your distance and raise your level of awareness.
3. Do not drive in a cyclist’s lane – In areas such as Salt River and lower main road Woodstock where there is a green bike lane for cyclists; make sure to never drive in the lane as it may lead to knocking a cyclist.
4. Create an understanding for cyclists – Understanding the cyclist’s side of the story can help to change your perspective and drive with more caution around cyclists; this can be done trying out cycling.

VOC (Imraan Salie)

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