Drivers 'should ride bikes before getting licences'
If everyone rode a bike on the road they would be more defensive drivers, says a Hamilton cycling enthusiast.
Teacher and cyclist Sean Cosford has had his share of close calls on two wheels and found it made him "highly defensive".
"If people got on a bike for a couple of years on the road before they ever got a licence they would be . . . more defensive drivers, by a country mile."
He is convinced that educating drivers about cycling logic would improve safety, and part of his plan is getting them out on bikes, "the only real way that you are going to understand a cyclist's predicament".
Activities educating Kiwis about cycling are happening throughout New Zealand for Bike Wise Month this February.
The campaign aims to encourage New Zealanders to take up cycling for health and to share safe cycling techniques.
Mr Cosford is talking to a local trucking firm about launching a driver education programme.
His current vision has two parts - a workshop on past accidents and how they could have been avoided, and getting drivers out on bikes.
"It'll certainly hit home to them just what it feels like when you're sitting on a bike and something rushes past . . . doing 100ks and you're doing 30."
Mr Cosford cycles on rural Waikato roads around three times a week, and says the experience has made him "highly defensive".
"It's my responsibility for myself when I'm out riding," he said.
"If we [cyclists] make one mistake, it's going to be us that bears the brunt of it basically. And that means that you have to be highly aware of what's going around you all the time. There's just things that I do when I ride that basically keep me alive."
Among those tools are making eye contact at every intersection, avoiding narrow roads at busy times, and instinctively checking for cars behind him if there is an oncoming vehicle on the road.
He regularly has cars squeeze between him and an oncoming vehicle on narrow roads, and others come too close or approach too fast.
But there are excellent drivers who go around cyclists as if they were a vehicle and wait for oncoming vehicles before passing, he said.
"If everybody did that, cycling would be so much safer out in our rural areas."
For more information on Bike Wise events visit www.bikewise.co.nz or facebook.com/bikewise
TIPS FOR CYCLING SAFETY
Don't wear headphones - hearing cars approach could save you
Plan routes, eg to avoid narrow roads at busy times
Be aware of cars behind you when there's an oncoming vehicle
Avoid riding into the setting sun for visibility reasons
Make eye contact at intersections to confirm drivers have seen you
Drivers on rural roads:
Warn of your approach with a light toot or touch of the air brakes
Allow oncoming vehicles to go by before you pass a cyclist
Move out to allow space when passing