Mutual appreciation brings benefits

I saw the early morning train from Echuca approach a crossing near Epsom recently. It gave a couple of toots, then a series of urgent toots. I could see a car approaching at a speed that suggested the driver wasn’t aware of the train. The train driver was obviously very worried about the driver’s intentions.

Luckily the train passed through safely, but it got me thinking about the way motorists and cyclists can sometimes worry each other. What do motorists and cyclists appreciate that makes coexisting easier?

Cyclists appreciate being acknowledged as a slow vehicle and given a fair share of the road. It certainly helps when cars pass with at least a metre’s clearance. Being granted right of way at an intersection or space and time to get through a roundabout without being squeezed into the gutter make cycling a pleasure.

Just a few second’s wait from a car turning left when we’re going straight through an intersection means we can get through stress-free. We don’t have to take evasive action when a car turns left in front of us.

A little patience makes all the difference. It doesn’t lose much time to slow when rolling past in the dirt on a narrow road. Not being sprayed with stones and choking dust makes all the difference to a rider though.

Motorists appreciate cyclists behaving as a vehicle. That means obeying the road rules and stopping at traffic lights and intersections.

Just as cyclists appreciate space, so do drivers. Cyclists squeezing up between cars at lights can be quite intimidating, especially a group of them. Riders are allowed to ride up along the inside of cars slowing or stopped cars, but they are also obliged to give way to a car turning left if it is waiting at the intersection.

Sometimes it can be unnerving for drivers starting off from lights with a cyclist. If you’re in too high a gear, or carrying a load or you’re not too confident handling your bike at slow speeds you tend to wobble when you get started. Take care to try and hold a straight line.

It always helps motorists see you if you dress brightly and light up at night. Riding predictably and giving plenty of notice of your intentions gives a driver the chance to anticipate your movements and avoid you.

Thinking how other road users see you and your behaviour helps us all share the road safely.

See you on the road soon, God willing.


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