“Cyclists must claim their lane,” says IAM

Institute recommends increasing visibility and 'asserting presence' to raise safety while riding
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The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has advised cyclists to “claim their lane” to boost their safety on the roads.

The organisation said that by moving out to the middle of the lane when approaching a junction or parked cars, cyclists are raising their visibility to drivers.

Studies have reportedly shown that drivers primarily pay attention to the major stream of traffic when navigating junctions, and consequently paying little attention to auxiliary roads that are more likely to have cyclists on them.

“There has been some debate as to whether cyclists should stick to the kerb or push out into the road when riding in built-up areas,” explained Duncan Pickering, IAM Cycling Development Manager.

“Our advice to cyclists, based on a comprehensive study, is to stay near to the kerb on long even stretches, but to assert yourself when approaching a junction, pushing out into the road and putting yourself in the direct view of drivers.
 
“Sticking to the kerb where drivers are not necessarily looking means they are less likely to see you.”

Pickering added: “Drivers are more likely to notice bikes travelling in the same direction as the oncoming traffic and, when turning left, mainly focus their attention on cars coming from the right, as they don’t see the left as posing a particular threat. This means they fail to see cyclists from the left early enough.”

The IAM recommends that cyclists:"

  • -Take up a primary position around 75-100m before reaching a junction, in the centre of the lane, providing it is safe to do so. This move will mean that drivers exiting the junction will be more likely to see the cyclist as they are in the same traffic flow as more hazardous vehicles.
  • -Take the “secondary position” when cycling along a straight stretch of road which is clear of junctions and parked cars.
  • -Keep a sensible distance, about half a meter, from the kerb to avoid hazards such as slippery drain-covers.
  • -Remember it is not always sensible or appropriate to take the centre of the lane especially if traffic is heavy."

The IAM went on to stress that motorists lack of awareness is undoubtedly a huge factor in car/bike collisions, but it pays for the cyclist as the more vulnerable road user to be seen wherever possible."

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