Safety for Road Cyclists

Road traffic laws do not differentiate between the driver of a car, nor a cyclist. In the eyes of the law, they are equal; each with a set of rights and responsibilities. A bicycle is considered a vehicle, under South African law. Too often cyclists are observed ignoring traffic lights and “jumping” red robots. Cyclists are breaking the law and will be liable for a fine if they are observed ignoring traffic lights.

There are several ways to stay safe on the roads:

Be visible. Unlike in many global cities - where thousands of cyclists commute and drivers are used to keeping an eye out - drivers in South Africa don’t always expect cyclists. Cyclists can help by wearing high-visibility clothing (orange, neon green, yellow or pink), flashing LED belts and trouser-straps – and by riding 1.5m in from the road edge rather than in the road gutters.

Obey the rules of the road: South African law considers you the ‘driver’ of a vehicle, so you have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.

 

Be assertive, but polite. Show others the respect you would like to be shown.
Pay attention at intersections and traffic circles – particularly where vehicles may be turning left in front of you.

Be predictable. At busy intersections indicate to traffic where you intend to go.
Ride often and keep up your urban riding skills - nervous, hesitant cyclists often endanger pedestrians and motorists.

Ride in single file and wear a helmet – a helmet won’t prevent you from being involved in a crash, but it may prevent serious injury if you are.
Don’t deliberately swerve your bike from side to side, and always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.

Light up your bike: white lights/reflectors on the front; red lights/reflectors on the back.

Be prepared: Carry water, a pump, a puncture repair kit, and identification (on your person and your bike, not only in your wallet and on your phone, as unfortunately these may be stolen if you’re in a collision).
Check your bike for obvious mechanical problems every time you leave for a ride.

Tolerance, awareness and mutual respect is key for road safety, especially during this busy cycling season.