Bi­cy­cles have same le­gal rights as cars on roads

The Witness - Wheels - - BIKING - SA­MAN­THA GREATHEAD

SOUTH Africa has more on-road crashes in­volv­ing cy­clists than coun­tries with a higher car-to-cy­clist ra­tio.

Ir­re­spec­tive of what the rea­sons be­hind the crashes are, driv­ers share at least 50% re­spon­si­bil­ity in pre­vent­ing col­li­sions with a cy­clist.

The man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of MasterDrive, Eu­gene Her­bert, said cy­clists are more vul­ner­a­ble, which of­ten re­sults in driv­ers pay­ing them less re­gard.

“Speed is a ma­jor fac­tor in cre­at­ing this vulnerability. Col­li­sions which ex­ceed 45 km per hour give cy­clists a less than 50% chance of sur­vival. Even if cy­clists are hit at slower speeds, they face se­vere in­juries. Al­ways look out for cy­clists as well as cars. You are set­ting your­self up for a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion if you only pay at­ten­tion to other cars on the road.”

He said the ThinkBike move­ment in South Africa arose partly due to the lack of re­gard paid to cy­clists by driv­ers.

“There is a be­lief that cy­clists have less right to the road and should keep out of a mo­torist’s way. Part of keep­ing cy­clists safe is to change at­ti­tudes to­wards two-wheel driv­ers. They are just as en­ti­tled to be on the road as you,” said Her­bert.

He ad­vised driv­ers to take heed of the laws that gov­ern cy­clists. “In South Africa, bi­cy­cles are con­sid­ered as le­gal ve­hi­cles and are bound to the same laws as mo­tor ve­hi­cles. If you know what rules of the road gov­ern cy­clists, you will bet­ter un­der­stand how to in­ter­act with them in tricky sit­u­a­tions like round­abouts,” he said.

He said driv­ers have to show ex­tra care when mak­ing a right turn, when A and B pil­lars in a ve­hi­cle typ­i­cally block the driver’s view of on­com­ing mo­tor­bikes or bi­cy­cles.

“There could also be a cy­clist next to you who needs to go straight. Make an ex­tra ef­fort to dou­ble check that there are no cy­clists be­fore you make a right turn. This also ap­plies to cy­clists who might be in the op­po­site lane com­ing to­wards you. Do not un­der­es­ti­mate how fast a cy­clist may be mov­ing. A cy­clist can ride at up to 30 km/h,” he said.

While on the road, Her­bert said driv­ers must al­low about a me­tre of space when pass­ing and even more dur­ing wet weather.

Also look for cy­clists be­fore open­ing your door and ex­it­ing your car.

EU­GENE HER­BERT MD of MasterDrive

“In South Africa bi­cy­cles are con­sid­ered as le­gal ve­hi­cles and are bound to the same laws as mo­tor ve­hi­cles.”


The Ba­bel bike, made by Crispen Sin­clair Tech­nolo­gies, can lay claim to be­ing the safest bike on the road, thanks to seat belts, a roll cage and toe guards. Yet it has only gar­nered 35% of its goal on Indiego since its launch on the plat­form last year.

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