Safe and respectful road-sharing
Whether a bicycle is seen as a practical, inexpensive and eco-friendly mode transport or a way of pursuing a sport or leisure activity that’s good for your health, it always brings pleasure to an ever-increasing number of cyclists. Laws, rights and obligations are naturally in place to govern how cars and bikes share the road, but mutual respect and understanding are required to make this a safe and relaxed experience.
The equipment on cars is identified and checked at the compulsory MOT. But when it comes to bikes, it’s more up to the rider when it comes to legal requirements. The following items are compulsory: two independent lights, a bell, a yellow or white front light and a red rear light. Bikes must also be fitted with reflectors on the spokes (2 per wheel) and pedals and at the rear. Cyclists are permitted to replace the white front and red rear light with the same colour reflectors if the journey is being made during the day and good weather conditions. Racing bikes are exempt from the light regulations as they are classed as training equipment for competitions. That said, in your own interest, we advise you to fit lights to your racing bike. Electric bikes with a maximum power of 0.25 kW, dropping as speed increases and cutting out at 25 km/h are considered as regular bikes according to the legislation. But e-bikes that can reach up to 45 km/h are subject to the same rules as mopeds, and cannot be used on cycle tracks, for example.
Car drivers must observe a distance of at least 1.5 m when overtaking bicycles.
Remember that cyclists need to observe a safety distance from parked cars and the edge of the road. When overtaking a cyclist, be aware that they might swerve into the middle of the road due to an obstacle or gust of wind! If traffic is coming the other way, wait patiently for the road to be free before starting your overtaking manoeuvre, respecting the minimum distance. When you make a turn, make sure that you don’t have a two-wheeler in your blind spot! Always bear in mind that it’s the cyclist who runs the greatest risk - be patient and leave them enough room.
The right equipment
As a cyclist, you can obviously make a contribution to your own safety. Safety equipment isn’t restricted to your bike, and accessory shops now sell all sorts of lights and reflective bands for helmets, jackets and shoes to make you clearly visible. Think about your journey in advance. You might be able to swap a very busy section of road with a small country road or cycle track. Always maintain visual contact with other road users, drivers and pedestrians. Try to interpret the sounds around you. The more aware you are of what’s going on around you, the better you will be able to anticipate dangerous situations. You may ride side-by-side (2 cyclists) inside and outside urban areas, but you must ride in single file in the following situations: in urban areas where the maximum permitted speed is 50 km/h or more, when being overtaken or if you think that a vehicle is going to pass you, as you may be pointlessly delaying other road users. The same rules apply before the brow of a hill, a bend or a level crossing. Whatever the law says, riding abreast comes with a certain number of risks. It can frighten other road users on sections with poor visibility and cause bad reactions, for example. Make an effort to keep to the right on bends. As a driver or a cyclist, you should always act sensibly rather than simply insist on your rights. This makes traffic situations more relaxed for all concerned. A final piece of advice for drivers: when you park at the side of the road, always open the driver’s door with your right hand! This means you will automatically turn towards the road behind you, and by opening the door carefully, see any approaching cyclists(s), even in a blind spot.