Saturday, April 22, 2006

Improving Driving Skills

I both cycle and drive a car. Time spent as a more vulnerable two wheeled road-user has benefited my driving, to be more understanding and safer (for me and everybody nearby).

A lot of drivers only experience one perspective on the road - driving a car. Understanding ALL the other types of road-users who share the public road network (e.g. HGV's, cyclists, motorcyclists, bendy-busses, horses, etc), makes for a more considerate driver in my opinion.

Dear Drivers...

Most common driving mistakes you make, which endanger my life while cycling:

Source: Opening your parked car door without fully checking what's coming.
Why is it a problem?

  • a) The cyclist will crash in to your hard metal car door and be seriously injured.
  • b) Sometimes the thoughtlessly opened door is the beginning of bigger accidents; (e.g. cyclist clips your open car door sending them off-course, to a head-on fatal impact with on-coming traffic.)
  • c) If a passing larger vehicle (e.g. bus, lorry, van, etc) hits your door, it will be smashed from its hinges.

2/. Forgetting to check your mirror for the cyclists passing either side of your car, before turning in to a road.
Why is it a problem?

  • a) Because the cyclist will crash side-on in to your car as you turn.
  • b) Or you will run over the cyclist if he travels just in-front of you as you turn.

3/. Overtaking too close to cyclists.
Often this happens when you fail to plan-ahead for road-width narrowings caused by; parked cars, pedestrian refuge islands, keep left signs, speed cushions, etc. Why is it a problem?

  • a) You're guessing - Passing things on your right hand side, you have much better judgement of space available, because in the UK drivers sit on the right. Passing things on your left hand side (cyclists), you can never be certain of the exact space available, side-by-side between the cyclist & your car. You can (& often do) misjudge the gap between overtaking cyclists.
  • b) It is intimidating, and often an unnecessary risk, because you are only heading to the next red light anyway.
  • c) Wind - A strong side wind can shift cyclists 2 or 3 feet off line quite easily, so leaving a wide gap while overtaking a cyclist, allows a margin for this to happen without incident.
  • d) Clip another car & the wing mirrors bend back. Even the slightest clip of a cyclist will result in loss of control of the bicycle, causing an unpredictable outcome - possibly crashing in to street furniture, possibly under the wheels of the following car, possibly off-course injuring pedestrians, possibly crashing in to your car.

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