Cycling safety

Cycling is a great way to keep fit and get about, but we can all do more to keep pedal cyclists safe.

For drivers, that means taking a second longer to look for bikes at junctions, giving them plenty of space when overtaking, and looking over your shoulder to check your blind spot before opening the car door.

Cyclists can do their bit too to help reduce the risk of collision and injury, such as wearing a good quality helmet and reflective or bright clothing, and ensuring they follow the law and use lights on both the front and back of their bikes at night. It is also advisable to have lights on during poor weather. Of course, these things may not prevent every collision, but they can help to reduce the risk.

Accident and emergency consultants from the region know only too well what can happen if cyclists don’t wear the right level of protective gear and are urging people to wear helmets when out on their bikes. Read their story.

Stay safe out there!

Drivers urged to give cyclists space when overtaking

Motorists are urged to give cyclists more room when overtaking with a road safety campaign designed to eradicate ‘close pass’ drivers.

Motorists should leave at least 1.5m of space between their vehicle and the cyclist when overtaking at speeds less than 30mph, and this should be greater in poor weather conditions or when the car is travelling at speed.

Paul Watson, Chairman of RSGB NE, said: “I don’t believe drivers knowingly put cyclists at risk, but perhaps they’re not looking for them, or maybe they are unaware of the dangers of close pass overtaking.

“People overtaking too close to cyclists is a cause of a number of collisions, however, there may be numerous near misses that we know nothing about. We are asking all road-users to look out for each other and to help safeguard cyclists.”

Cleveland and Durham Road Policing Unit have received a Close Pass safety mat from national cycling group Cycling UK, which they will use to demonstrate to drivers the minimum space they should allow when overtaking bikes.

West Midlands Police launched the first Close Pass campaign last year to target drivers who overtook cyclists too closely. As a result, they saw a 50% drop in close pass offences in the first three months after the campaign.

The initiative was supported by Cycling UK, prompting them to launch their £12,000 ‘Too Close for Comfort’ fundraising campaign to enable specially-designed Close Pass mats to be distributed to every Police Force in the UK.

Facts and Figures

  • Pedal cyclists only account for about 1% of the total miles driven and ridden around the North East – yet they make up 8% of road traffic casualties and 13% of serious injuries.

  • Cyclist casualties in the region peak in July, August and September, with around a third of all collisions involving bikes happening over the summer months.

  • Between 2012 and 2016 there were 3,044 cyclists reported as injured on North East roads. However, actual numbers could be much higher as incidents resulting in slight injuries, or where no other vehicle was involved, are unlikely to be reported to police.

  • Failing to look properly, by either the driver or the cyclist, is the most common cause of cycle-related collisions – accounting for three quarters – and men aged between 35 and 44 are the most at-risk group.

So, whether you’re a keen cyclist, a child on a bike, or a driver, do all you can to be seen and look out for each other!

Tips to keep cyclists safe

Advice for drivers:

  • Take a second longer at junctions and roundabouts to look for cyclists
  • Look over your shoulder to check your blind spot before pulling out
  • Give cyclists at least 1.5m when overtaking, more in poor weather or when travelling at speed
  • Look over your shoulder before opening the car door, or try doing it with your left hand
  • Be patient when travelling behind cyclists if it’s unsafe to overtake
  • Be prepared for cyclists to move across the lane to avoid a hazard or take a corner

Advice for cyclists:

  • Be seen. Use reflectors and ensure your lights are working in the dark/poor weather
  • When preparing to turn left at a junction, don’t travel along the left side of a lorry
  • Position yourself in the centre of the lane at junctions and roundabouts
  • Ride on the left edge of the traffic flow – at least 0.75m away from the kerb
  • Look for drivers to react to you. If you don’t see a reaction, they may not have seen you
  • Avoid riding or waiting in blind spots
  • Overtake vehicles on the right-hand side when oncoming traffic allows

For safety videos and downloadable road safety material, please visit our Resources page