Summer marks the unofficial start of cycling season in South Africa, with hundreds of cyclists starting to train ahead of the 2017 Cape Town Cycle Tour.
Unfortunately this also means an increase in accidents and cycling-related injuries.
With so many jostling for space on the road, race organisers are urging cyclists and motorists to make safety their number one priority.
“Many cycling-related accidents could have been prevented if cyclists and motorists were more aware of one another, and respect one another’s space on the road,” says David Bellairs, a Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust. “Tolerance, awareness and mutual respect is key during this time. If cyclists and motorists take the time to be considerate of each other’s needs, the roads will be a safer place for all.”
With this firmly in mind, the Cape Town Cycle Tour has formed a number of relationships with products designed to increase cyclist’s safety on the road. The eeziFone device, which is available on the CTCT online store for R560, is a fully customisable GSM handset that features buttons pre-assigned to dial only select numbers, meaning you have instant access to family or emergency services should you require them.
Another is the I.C.E ID (with the CTCT logo embossed on it) bracelet which has the wearer’s emergency and medical information.
Cape Town Cycle Tour will also be partnering with Garmin to ensure ease of navigation.
The Pedal Power Association (PPA) has thrown its considerable weight behind their ‘Stay Wider of the Rider’ campaign that aims to create maximum awareness among all road users.
“Lack of visibility is a key issue that contributes towards cycling accidents on our roads. This is why we brought out safe cycling jerseys that are highly visible and include the simple “Stay Wider of the Rider” message,” says PPA chairman Steve Hayward. “Let’s practice tolerance, respect and unity in order to be safer on the roads.”
However, all the equipment and gear in the world is worth nothing without some common sense. Here, PPA and CTCTT have put together a comprehensive list of safety tips, which they encourage all cyclists to follow:
- Head gear: Never get on your bicycle without a helmet. Head injuries are the leading cause of cyclist fatalities so invest in a hard-shell helmet that fits properly and correctly position it on your head. A helmet is an important investment, so steer clear of the cheap ones. You are legally required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.
- Wear some form of ID: When you are in an accident, you need to be sure that something or someone will speak on your behalf if you are unable to. When cycling, ensure that you have some form of identification on you and emergency contact details for a spouse, relative or friend – like the I.C.E ID
- Ride unplugged: You need to know what’s going on around you. So in the interest of your own safety, do not ride with earphones in. Chatting on your cell phone is not a good idea either.
- See and be seen: Motorists are naturally conditioned to keep an eye out for other vehicles. This means cyclists are often not seen until it’s too late. Increase your visibility by wearing bright, reflective clothing and fitting lights on your bike (a white light in front; a red one on the back) – especially when you ride at dusk or dawn.
- Obey the rules and be traffic savvy: As a road user you are required to obey all traffic laws and signs. Be assertive but not aggressive when riding. Show common courtesy and respect the rights of all other road users.
- Use hand signals: In the interest of courteousness and safety, tell motorists what you intend to do.
- Get out of town: Nothing beats the countryside when it comes to safe riding. Or even better: do some off road riding where there are no cars at all!
- Enter fun rides: This is the perfect environment to develop skills, and expose you to real-time race conditions. While indoor cycling is a great way to train for nervous first-timers, it is imperative to practice riding among other cyclists. Visit pedalpower.org.za or the calendar section on www.cyclingsa.com for a fun ride near you.
- Mind the weather: Avoid riding in bad weather – especially in foggy conditions. If you are out on a training ride and the weather turns foul, ride in single-file and be especially vigilant.
- Safety in numbers: Avoid riding alone. Group riding will not only teach you valuable bunch-riding skills, but will also ensure that help is at hand in case of an emergency.
- Join a club: Your local cycling club provides an instant supply of riding buddies, as well as a fun and safe environment in which to hone your cycling skills. Visit cyclelab.com and www.pedalpower.org.za for more information
- Obey the rules: Treat cyclists like you would fellow motorists – always obey traffic laws and signs.
- Be aware: Cyclists may have to swerve to avoid an open car door or road hazard.
- Mind the gap: Leave at least a metre – ideally 1.5 metres – between yourself and a cyclist when overtaking. This gap is often misjudged, which leads to unnecessary accidents. If you are not sure you have enough room to pass a cyclist, don’t.
- Be patient: When the road is too narrow to overtake a cyclist safely, wait until the oncoming lane is clear before you pass.
- No hooting please: Do not hoot when approaching a cyclist from behind. This may startle a cyclist and causing them to veer into the road in front of you.
- Predict the future: Keep an eye on cyclists at intersections to judge their next move.
- Look out: If you are parked on the side of the road, first check for oncoming bicycles before opening your car door.
- Stay in your lane: When driving along a winding road, do not move into the yellow line or shoulder of the road to let someone pass – there may be cyclists around the next turn.
- Be seen: Drive with your headlights on – especially at dawn, dusk, in bad weather or when travelling on a long stretch of road.
We wish you a safe and enjoyable festive season and a prosperous new year.
For more information about the Cape Town Cycle Tour visit www.capetowncycletour.com. For more on the PPA’s Stay Wider of the Rider campaign visit http://www.pedalpower.org.za/safe-cycling-initiative/.