New Zealand is a great country for cycling but when it comes to road safety, all road users have a responsibility to be conscious and mindful of others on the road.
New Zealand roads attract a multitude of different road users from pedestrians to livestock. Drivers have their fair share of challenges on the road.
It’s easy to see how road accidents happen when cyclists and motorists compete for space. These accidents sometimes have fatal consequences, typically for the cyclist. Cyclists have an equal right to the road but because they are less powerful, they often come off second best when it comes to sharing the space.
High-risk areas for cyclists include residential areas where blind spots and driveways become a major hazard, cities where traffic is congested and open roads where speed is a factor. Cyclists riding at night are also at higher risk.
Here are some tips on driving safely with cyclists:
- Respect that cyclists have as much right to the road as you do
- Take care when driving around a cyclist, slow down when passing and do not drive too close
- Check your blind spots carefully for cyclists, for example, when changing lanes, overtaking or even opening your door
- Be aware when driving that cyclists movements are different from other cars and often happen without warning
- Take special care at intersections, double check for cyclists
- When overtaking leave at least 1.5 metres between the car and the cyclist
- Take care when back out of driveways onto the road
- Check for cyclists before you slow down or stop
- When dealing with large groups of cyclists be patient and give them a wide berth
- Take care at night or in low light or fog and keep an eye out for reflective vests worn by cyclists.
Tensions between cyclists and motorists have run high in New Zealand in recent years with a few high profile accidents igniting debate about the issue of cyclists on our roads. The statistics however paint a better picture for cyclists than the news might have you believe. Approx. 45% of all deaths in New Zealand are attributed to road accidents, of that only 3% are cyclists.
For more information about sharing the road with cyclists and for other road safety information, please see the New Zealand Road Code at www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode