Cycling is not just the sport you see on TV. It’s also a means of transportation. Every day, thousands of cyclists set out onto roads and streets of our cities to enjoy free time or just trying to get to the point of destination. We do so knowing that sharing the road with other vehicles can lead to high-risk situations if we do not follow the rules and, above all, if an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding is not the norm.
People who ride bicycles are not just cyclists; they are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends and co-workers. And just like any other road users, we have rights and responsibilities, but our form of transportation makes us particularly vulnerable. We have no chassis to protect us, and our best safety system is caution. A collision that would cause a scratch or a simple fender bender in a car, for a cyclist could mean a bruise, a fracture or even death. That’s why it is imperative that we are given special consideration. We are not asking for anything major or unusual, just some respect and keeping a safe distance.
We’re also drivers, so we know that getting behind the wheel comes with its challenges. Traffic jams, busy roads, the pressure to be on time – all of this can be stressful. But we need to remember that the cyclist who’s out training or getting home from work by bike is not to blame. Don’t take your frustrations out on them. How long does it take you to wait to overtake while keeping a safe distance? 10 seconds, 30 seconds at most. Such a small, insignificant figure that can have tragic consequences for a cyclist.
The safety distance when overtaking a cyclist is not a whim, it is a necessity. In many countries, it is recommended to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters when overtaking a cyclist. This distance not only helps prevent collisions, but also protects the cyclist from wind gusts caused by the passing vehicle and from being hit by side mirrors.
But how much exactly is 1.5 meters? Well, it’s a bit more than a broomstick, which is usually around 1.3 meters. The inside of your car from door to door is probably less than 1.5 meters. The width of this IKEA queen size mattress is 150 cm. LeBron James’ wingspan is 2.13 meters. As you can see, 1.5 meters is a lot more than it looks. Which is why it is better to be on the safe side: overdo it, don’t underdo it. If possible, use the opposite lane to overtake.
Apart from the rules and regulations, there can be a wide range of situations on the road in which respect must always prevail. Take conscious decisions, recognizing and valuing the life and safety of all users, regardless of their means of transport. Roads are not exclusive to any one group; they are a shared space that requires mutual cooperation and empathy. Nurturing a culture of respect on the roads is not the responsibility of one party alone. Both cyclists and drivers must be educated about best practices, traffic rules and the importance of maintaining a safe and friendly environment for all. The road is a reflection of our society, and with a joint effort, it can become a place where respect and safety prevail above all else.