While cycling continues to prove an increasingly popular way to get around there has also been an increase in danger.
British Cycling, the national governing body for cycling now boasts over 166,000 members – a threefold increase in membership since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With increased cycle traffic on rural roads, often when people move there from urban areas, comes increased pressure on drivers of farm vehicles to be aware of these road users. Unfortunately, 99 cyclists were killed on UK roads in 2018, 48 of these on rural roads and, in 2018, rural insurer NFU Mutual’s claims involving agricultural vehicles and pedal bikes totalled over £22 million!
Rural roads may seem safe due to less traffic, but they’re deadlier than you think: Higher speeds, hidden dips and twisty roads reduce the distance that all drivers, not just driver of agricultural vehicles can see ahead, giving less time to react and resulting in more severe collisions.
Cycling on rural roads may leave a cyclist feeling free, safe and relaxed but their perceptions are often unfounded. The countryside can often have narrow, winding roads with no markings, high hedges and soft verges.
In fact, according to a recent poll of 5,697 British Cycling members, 60% of respondents felt that poorly maintained roads were one of their biggest safety challenges.
Farmers can pass road cyclists safely in some circumstances. In fact, Rule 163 of the Highway Code states that, when passing cyclists, all drivers should give ‘as much room as you would when overtaking a car’ – typically 1.5 metres.
What about cyclists riding side by side? Road cyclists don’t ride two abreast just to chat or to purposely hold you up.
This may come as a shock to many who think that riding side by side is dangerous, illegal, or just downright rude and inconvenient.
The first thing to say is that riding side by side is perfectly legal, with Rule 66 of the Highway Code only stipulating that cyclists should ride in single file “on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.”
If you think of a group of cyclists as a single vehicle, by riding two abreast they make that vehicle shorter and therefore quicker to overtake safely.
To bring more awareness to this issue and highlight the safety measures farmers – and the general public – should be following, Farm Safety Week have come up with the following rules to ride by: