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Pushing Pedals: From Potholes To Positions And What’s Enough Room To Overtake?

Published on: 30 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 31 Jul, 2021

Continuing our monthly column on local cycling by the Guildford Bicycle User Group (G-BUG). Its vision is to make cycling in Guildford safer, more convenient and fun. Members share a passion for making the borough more accessible through increased cycling.

By Bridie Sullivan

This month’s column from G-BUG explores some frequently asked questions, many aimed at how to share busy roads and paths in urgent need of an update.

Last year the UK government launched a long-term Cycling and Walking Plan, a Highway Code consultation and updated general guidance on cycling infrastructure across the country.

Photo James Toose on Unsplash

The government wants to convince more of us to avoid using cars for shorter journeys, cut pollution and reap the personal benefits by tackling the causes of poor health.

Unsurprisingly the Highway Code consultation has proved to be the most topical of these measures.

Cycling bodies such as Sustrans and Cycling UK have received thousands of responses to their campaigns to have the cycling section thoroughly revisited.

Photo Rai Camara on Unsplash.

Today’s cycling section of the Highway Code answers many of the questions, from parking, to passengers, rules for roundabouts, junctions and even what to wear.

Driving instructor Phil Gunney, with over a decade of experience teaching Surrey motorists, puts it into perspective.

He said: “Understanding how to safely deal with obstacles on the road is essential as we share the road with those trying to get safely to where they are going.

“Surrey roads are full of potholes and hazards. Drivers have to be aware these can have a serious affect on vulnerable roads users.”

Some of Phil’s most frequently asked questions centre around overtaking. How do I pass a cyclist safely? What is enough room?

The answer starts with a check for the signs that the cyclist is not about to change course. Looking over their shoulder is an indication they are about to change their position in the road.

Photo on Unsplash.

A cyclist’s road positions is categorised by the national Bikeability training course as primary when in the centre of the lane for visibility and secondary when they are an arm’s length from the kerb. This is not yet formally recognised by the Highway Code.

Cyclists on average ride one metre from the curb to avoid potholes and drains. Should a cyclist still encounter a surface issue, they may need up to three metres from the curb to avoid an accident.

In Phil’s view the other side of the central white line is the only safe distance to pass a cyclist on the road, even in a cycle lane.

Cyclists need to be visible.

But cyclists need to be visible. Contrasting colours make a difference to a driver’s detection.

Motorists, and HGV drivers wonder why cyclists position themselves in the middle of the lane at traffic lights and make eye contact before setting off. The answer is they want assurance they have been seen.

Let’s remind our MPs that cyclists should have the right to safe cycling. You can use the website writetothem.com to let them know your views on how things can be improved.

Safe Cycling

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test One Response to Pushing Pedals: From Potholes To Positions And What’s Enough Room To Overtake?

  1. Vaughan Moseley Reply

    June 30, 2021 at 11:24 pm

    With respect to the car driving instructor’s advice, the first thing a motorist should ask themselves is, “Do I need to risk trying to overtake the cyclist/s at this time?”

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