Cyclist safety

With bicycle usage growing in popularity and cyclists being more vulnerable to injury than other road users, preventing injury and fatalities of cyclists, remain a challenge for cities not only in South Africa, but globally.

While increased bike use is good for the environment and personal fitness, it can create tension between cyclists, motorists and even pedestrians. The result of this has produced deadly consequences.


South Africa is filled with a cauldron of chaotic noise – honking car horns, trucks, busses and the sound of people fill the air at any given time of the day and all travelling at high speeds. Despite some efforts to create bicycle lanes in our major South African cities, an increase in cyclist deaths in 2015, have shown that a mutual understanding and respect between motorists and cyclists will need to be met in order for the number of cyclist deaths to decrease.

A recent study by Sustrans, summarized the key points that are important to remember for both motorists and cyclists:

For cyclists:

  • Don’t jump red lights and Stop streets
  • Ride in a position that you can see and be seen
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing and use bicycle lights at night, dusk and dawn
  • Signal clearly at all times and provide enough time for motorists to react – motorists don’t know what you want to do
  • Use your bell – not all pedestrians can see you
  • Don’t ride two abreast
  • It’s safer to cycle in the same direction as the traffic instead of cycling into oncoming traffic

Many collisions occur when a cyclist is on the inside of a vehicle which is turning left. Always be cautious of which direction the motorist is going. Don’t assume he is going straight just because it isn’t signaling left.

To make roads as safe as possible, motorists need to be alert and considerate of cyclists too:

  • When turning left or right, watch for cyclists coming up on your near side
  • Give cyclists a wide berth when overtaking
  • When travelling at night, dip your headlights when approaching a cyclist.
  • In wet weather, allow cyclists extra room as surfaces may be slippery

It’s important to remember that cyclists and motorists are equally entitled to use and share the same road space. Respect eachother so that everyone can benefit from safe travelling on the road.