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British drivers clueless about cyclists' rights on the road

Posted on in Cycles News

Study reveals over half of drivers are clueless about cyclists' rights on the road.

cycling in the cityAnimosity between those who like two wheels and those who prefer four becomes more strained with each incident on Britain's roads. And a new survey by eBikes Direct has revealed just how clueless British drivers are about cyclist rights despite sharing the roads with their fellow bike users on a day to day basis.

The survey of 1,000 drivers from across the UK has exposed how ill-informed we are when it comes to what cyclists can and can't do on the road which may lead to accidents and driver/cyclist confrontations. Road rage incidents are often reported in the news - one of the most well-known recently being that of BBC reporter Jeremy Vine, who clashed with a 22-year old driver when she verbally abused him for cycling in the middle of the road in order to avoid car doors on a very narrow city-centre street. He filmed the incident on his GoPro headcam, which then went viral, and resulted in a conviction for the driver.

The survey tested drivers' knowledge about cyclists' rights on the road. Firstly, however, as the above incident illustrates, eBikes Direct found that drivers regularly lose their rags with cyclists, thinking they're breaking the law or cycling without due care and attention. As a result, 39% of drivers surveyed confess to having got angry with a cyclist. Men are typically more prone to road rage, and they got angrier than women: 42% compared to 37.5% overall. The angriest region was the South East: 80% of drivers there have yelled - or worse - at a cyclist. This makes sense when you consider that our biggest city, London, is located here, and there are more cyclists there than any other UK city.

When it comes to the law, 81% of drivers believe that cyclists are required to remain on the left-hand side of the lane. However, as demonstrated by Jeremy Vine, it is actually legal for cyclists to ride in the middle of the lane/road. Similarly, 65% of drivers incorrectly believe that cyclists are required to cycle within a cycle lane if there is one - but cyclists can ride outside of the cycle lane and it is not against the law.

Drivers' naivety doesn't stop there - over half of those questioned (53%) incorrectly believe that cyclists are not allowed on dual carriageways. And 55% of drivers believe that laws should be passed that require cyclists to have insurance to ride Britain's roads.

A whopping 73% of Brits (and 92% of Londoners!) believe that cyclists are not allowed to ride two abreast on the road. Again, legally, cyclists are entitled to. They are not, however, allowed to cycle on pavements - although nearly a quarter of drivers (22.8%) believe they can. This may explain why many motorists tend to act as if the roads belong to them!

When it comes to electric bikes, they are subject to the same rights as push bikes. And motorists seem to be just as ignorant when it comes to those. 42% of drivers do not think electric bikes are allowed on both cycle lanes and roads - but electric bikes can be ridden on any cycle paths and anywhere else that bicycles are normally allowed.

Over half of drivers - 56.5% - do not believe an electric bike rider is allowed to overtake a car. In fact they can, in the same way cyclists can. And nearly a third - 30% - of drivers believe that an electric bike will power itself up to 30mph. Legally, however, an electric bike will only power itself up to 15mph; this mistaken belief could be dangerous if, for example, a car is behind an electric bike, and believes the rider will accelerate to a far quicker pace than he or she can actually do.

Finally, the survey found that 35% of drivers do not check behind them when opening the door to their car on a road.

"A lack of knowledge about cyclists' rights on our roads is leading to altercations and accidents" says Matt Flanagan from eBikes Direct. "In order for us to all stay safe and happy on our roads, it's vital that we equip ourselves with the right information."

Click to view The Ultimate Guide to Cyclist Safety


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