Cycling safety plan in progress

Sporting body steps in to protect cyclists after spate of tragic accidents.

South Africa was shaken to its core when top cyclist Burry Stander was killed by a taxi in an accident in January.

His tragic death was greeted with high emotions from a cross section of society and a huge outcry on the vulnerability of cyclists, who participate in one of the fastest-growing sports in the country.

Since then, Cycling SA (CSA) has been up and about in a bid to come up with the means to curb the rising number of accidents that claim the lives of participants in the sport.

This week, CSA president William Newman told City Press that his organisation was finalising a National Safety Plan aimed an combating the scourge.

“We started by having meetings with our members and affiliates, and then stretched the meetings to the provincial stakeholders,” he said.

“We are now finalising the National Safety Plan, which will be presented to different stakeholders such as the minister of transport, the road agency, taxi associations, bus companies and motorists.”

Newman said CSA was also embarking on a serious education programme for cyclists in a bid to get them to “ride responsibly and respect all road users”.

The organisation has also put up tips for cyclists and motorists on its website as part of its educational drive. (See boxes)

Accidents that happened this month include the death of a cyclist who was hit by a car and fell in front of a bus in Durbanville, Western Cape; a cyclist who died tragically after a hit-and-run while cycling on Bottelary Road near Stellenbosch; and an East London cyclist who was killed by a cement truck while cycling on the yellow lane.

Stander was only 25 when he was killed on January 3 in Shelley Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

His achievements include coming fifth in the men’s cross-country race at the 2012 London Olympics and 15th in the Beijing Games.

In 2009, he won the Under-23 title in the Mountain Bike World Cup series in Canberra, Australia, and in 2011 he became the first South African to win the Cape Epic stage race in the Western Cape with Swiss partner Christoph Sauser.

Tips for motorists

» Motorists need to be considerate to cyclists who are in single file and who are close to the curb on a narrow road.

Do not overtake cyclists on narrow roads while there is oncoming traffic. When overtaking, allow for at least a 1.5m gap.

» Be vigilant and look carefully before pulling off from a stop street or T-junction.

Do not just glance and pull off if you do not see a vehicle.

Runners and cyclists also use the road, and are not as prominent as vehicles.

Ensure the road is totally clear before pulling off.

» When parking on the roadside, look behind you before opening your door. Cyclists approach quickly.

» Judge your driving distance carefully. If you know you’re turning down the next street, don’t race past the cyclists and turn in front of them.

It will not take more than two to three seconds of your time to let the cyclists pass the street, and then you are on your way again.

» When overtaking a vehicle, ensure that you have a clear path of visibility and that it is safe to do so.

Don’t just look out for oncoming vehicles, but be aware of oncoming cyclists as well.

» As per an old road-safety campaign slogan: PPP – be patient, be polite and be prepared.

Safety tips for cyclists

» Always wear your helmet.

» Do not wear earphones and listen to music while cycling.

» Try not to cycle alone and at least one of you should have a cellphone with emergency contact information readily available in case of an emergency.

» Do not cycle two, three or four abreast.

» Cycle in single file and don’t overlap your wheels. If wheels touch through a lapse of concentration, it can cause an accident among the whole bunch.

» When the roads are narrow, be considerate of traffic behind you.

» Be extra cautious of oncoming traffic. Accidents are often caused by oncoming vehicles overtaking and the driver not seeing cyclists.

» Don’t tailgate vehicles while descending inclines.

» Cycle with confidence and be sure of your route.

» Indicate to the traffic where you intend going – left arm out to turn left and right arm out to turn right.

» Obey the rules of the road.

» Don’t be a trickster and bunny-hop on and off pavements.

» Try to avoid training during rush hour or during other busy road times (near the end of a school day, for instance).

» When approaching a stationary vehicle, slow down and assess whether the vehicle is about to pull out.

» Be mindful of pedestrians and pets.

» Do not use the road to learn how to clip in and clip out new cleats.

» Wear brightly coloured cycling clothes and reflective clothing at dawn or dusk or in poor light.

» Ensure you use a powerful headlight and tail-light.

» Be aware of oil slicks, painted road markings and water-filled potholes.

» Show motorists respect.


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