Our Safer Roads Team in Merseyside come from all different walks of life and their combined road safety experience makes us a very effective team. Paul Mountford writes about his experience as a cyclist and what we can do as drivers to share the road more responsibly.
Paul works for the Safer Roads Team. Paul drives a car to work each day. Sometimes he rides his motorcycle (when the sun is shining!). On other days, he cycles to work, commuting through the peak time traffic in the city centre. At weekends, he rides for recreation.Very occasionally he takes a train and walks to the office.
How would you define Paul as a road user? Why do you need to define him? Paul is someone’s father, husband and brother who uses our roads in a variety of different ways, for a variety of reasons. There are 1000s of people like Paul in Merseyside.
When you see a cyclist riding along the road, what do you see? A nuisance who is holding up traffic, making you late for work? Someone who ignores traffic signals and rides on the pavement – after all, they’re all the same, aren’t they? Or do you consider that that person may simply be someone who chooses to cycle because it’s more affordable, or who cares about the environment and air quality, or who simply wants to exercise and enjoys it.
As a driver, would you regard a child on a small bicycle riding to school in the same way as an adult in lycra on their racing bike? Why might you treat them differently? After all, they should be afforded the same level of care and safe space shouldn’t they?
More and more people are choosing to cycle on our road network, a network that is not increasing in size to cater for them. In the future, they may have dedicated cycle lanes, separating them from traffic. However, for the time being, they must ride among the cars, taxis, buses and heavy goods vehicles, along narrow traffic lanes, dodging potholes and coping with poor road surfaces. Their safety should not rely upon them wearing protective helmets, reflective clothing and having bright flashing lights.
Without the presence of motor vehicles, crashes that result in injury and road death would be far less likely to occur. Drivers have a huge responsibility towards the safety of more vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cycle riders. They have no more rights or privileges than a cycle rider, regardless of the size and type of their vehicle.
And if you are a cycle rider, remember that whilst you have every right to ride on our roads, by your very nature, you may not always be seen by a driver and are more vulnerable to serious injury.
We are all just different people, from different backgrounds, using our roads in different ways. The law and the Highway Code apply to all of us, drivers and riders alike. We all have a duty to share our roads and use them safely and responsibly.