Being a cyclist
Being part of the cycling community in Merseyside can be rewarding and fun. In fact, Merseyside has one of the most welcoming and supportive cycling communities in the UK. Commuting to work on a bike, as well as just cycling for pleasure, is something more and more people are trying all across the region.
There are cycle paths all over Merseyside, some were created to give you a better look at the scenery, others to make your commute safer and more efficient. Despite this, it’s a sad truth that cyclists are still an ‘at risk’ group.
From 2013 – 2017, 455 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Merseyside’s roads. Additionally, there were also 1441 ‘slight’ casualties. Sometimes the difference between a slight casualty and a fatality can be a matter of seconds or millimetres, especially when involving a cyclist.
Sometimes the difference between a slight casualty and a fatality can be a matter of seconds or millimetres, especially when involving a cyclist.
What are we doing to help cyclists?
Most of the Merseyside councils now have cycle maps on their websites to help people find the safest routes. If you find that cycling to a particular destination is hazardous, or makes you in any way uncomfortable, the local authority cycle route maps can help you plot a more cycle-friendly way.
Merseyside Police recently upskilled a section of the force to provide an exemplary cycling presence in Liverpool and across the region. Officers in Merseyside have to attend specific cycling courses before being allowed on the roads. Officers are also exploring new outreach strategies to engage more with Merseyside’s thriving cycling community.
Merseyside Road Safety Partnership recently invested in a targeted region-wide ‘shared space’ advertising campaign to educate motorists on how much space cycle users need on the roads to be safe.
Practical advice for cyclists
A really important part of improving the roads for cyclists is submitting information about dangerous or anti-social driving to Merseyside Police. Video footage can be submitted on the force’s website.
Without video footage, it’s hard for the police to take action. It’s incredibly helpful, therefore, for cyclists to have a camera fitted either on their helmet or bike so that any incidents are captured, and can be dealt with by Merseyside Police.
The national initiative Collideoscope is an important resource for all cyclists. Cyclists report collisions or near miss incidents so that they can compile the data and inform local councils so that change can be actioned. Every reported incident helps them to build a clearer picture.
Drivers who don’t cycle can find it hard to understand what it’s like to ride a bike on the road.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Cyclists must have a minimum of 1.5m of space on the road
- Cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast on the road – this can help inexperienced cyclists feel safe
- Cycle paths aren’t always well maintained, meaning sometimes, cyclists are forced to be in the road with motor vehicles
- Be careful opening car doors – a surprising amount of injuries happen this way
- Never pull over in a cycle lane – it forces cyclists to move out into the road, putting them at risk
Remember, not every cyclist on the road is experienced! Someone commuting to work on a bike might look the part, but it could be their very first time doing it. We all know how frightening it is to be new at something, especially when the people around us are impatient or intimidating.
It might seem as though, when we’re pedestrians (which we all are at some point), we aren’t a threat to anyone on a bike.
There are some things we need to be aware of though:
- Don’t walk in a cycle lane, experienced cyclists can travel quietly and at high speed. You may not have time to move out of the way.
- If an obstruction forces you to walk on a cycle lane, always check for cyclists first – if a cyclist had to swerve to avoid hitting you it could lead to a fatal collision.
- Do not go near the edge of a cycle lane or walk by the kerb with headphones in – a cyclist will assume you have heard their signal or bell and be expecting you to move.