As we enter into the darkest months of the year the AA is advising cyclists to make sure that they are properly lit and well behaved, and is advising motorists to be bike aware for the winter.
“It is not fully bright before 0800 these days and dark again by 5,” says Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan. “That means most commuting is done in darkness, and with wet and windy weather forecast that makes it particularly dangerous for cyclists and vulnerable road users,” says Faughnan.
One in ten AA Members are regular cyclists with commuting numbers increasing steadily. The AA is calling on all cyclists to be properly prepared for winter. That means checking that brakes and gears are in good working order but most importantly making sure that you are properly lit, front and rear.
“On a wet winter’s evening in city traffic the car’s glass will be covered with beads of rain, all reflecting the lights of cars and streetlamps. The windows mist up on the inside and bead up on the outside and you can’t see a thing apart from the space cleared by your wipers. Peripheral vision is gone, and if there is an unlit cyclist on your inside it would be a miracle if you saw him,” says Faughnan.
The law for cyclists was strengthened this year and they can now be fined on the spot for offences like running red lights. The AA is aware of quite a number of cases where this has happened and is advising cyclists to keep their discipline on the roads.
“To be clear, drivers have the greater responsibility and rightly face stiffer penalties because the car is a lethal weapon. But cyclists also have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road,” says Faughnan
Like drivers, cyclists are obliged to use the road “without reasonable consideration”. The AA warns that this includes avoiding mobile use. Incredibly there are people who can be seen every day trying to use their mobile while cycling, clearly an extremely dangerous practice.
The AA also advises cyclists and drivers to be particularly careful in windy weather such as we are experiencing this week. Strong and blustery winds are a particular hazard and even the best behaved cyclist can be buffeted and forced to swerve which means drivers must be especially careful.
AA’s top tips for cyclists this winter:
Be alert and never use mobile phones while cycling (obviously)
Consider luminous, reflective clothing such as a high vis vest and fluorescent armbands which are a very helpful addition to proper lights.
Make sure your lights work, front and especially rear, and remember to switch them on
Check weather forecasts in advance of your journey
Ensure that any scarves or garments are safely fastened so that they won’t obstruct vision or become caught in a wheel
Obey traffic lights – they are not just for pedestrians and motorists