Oh how close was that?

Cyclist on MTB with foot on kerb and large truck about to turn left

Give me space: cyclists are vulnerable road users and vehicles passing to close are both frightening and dangerous.

A common fear among cyclists (most would think that it is falling off, which is part of the truth), is that their actions may well cause someone else to fall off and be injured. There are many other fears that riders can suffer from particularly newer comers to the cycling scene. Fear of cornering, going downhill too fast, are all factors that are faced and overcome through gaining experience and given encouragement.

There are however some sharing the road fears that we have very little control over but to be mindful they exist and try our best to be predictable in the manner in which we share the road and place ourselves in the view and flow of other traffic users. We appreciate that some professional drivers such as taxi, bus and truck drivers have great judgment and precision skills but this does not take away the shock of when vehicle of any kind suddenly appear very close in the shared space. 

Buses in particular are very difficult to hear coming as they have a rear motor and the noise does not reach you making aware of their approach from behind until right beside.  This is not the fault of the driver it is just a matter of fact that buses can create a real shock to cyclists when passing. Their physical size is daunting as they overshadow a rider unlike a car that is around head height in most cases. Buses are quite wide and they seem to fill the lane provided where as a car or similar can give a clear metre of clearance and still not have to encroach over the centre line.

Buses and large trucks also create a vortex that has a tendency to make a pull on the rider as they pass. Trucks with dog trailers give quite a scare as well with their large open wheels, cyclists generally cope with the first approach of the prime mover but the closeness of the trailer can sometime be a quickening of the heart as again as riders we are pulled sideways by their draft and vortex wind.

Another that has a similar affect and create those moments of “oh how close was that” is tradesman with their four wheel drive utilities and tandem trailers that are just that bit wider than the vehicle. We can brace ourselves when we are aware of the passing vehicle but the closeness of what is following is an added challenge.

Remaining relaxed and not getting over tense taking account that what may seem close is not always as close as we may think, but the heartfelt question remains “oh how close was that?” There are other times when we can feel quite vulnerable apart from the “I know you are there you just don’t know how big and long you are or what you are towing” feeling that can overwhelm a rider.

There is a real sinking feeling when any vehicle draws beside you with their left hand blinker flashing making your space very limited not to mention the uncertainty of “are they going to cut me off and turn anyway?” and some do make the turn giving rise to the heart rate suddenly.

Our hope is that others may well have a fear of not wanting to injure cyclists and try to share the road safely.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing.

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