The following are the opinions of members of the Cork Cycling Campaign, borne from our experiences of urban cycling in Ireland, on how to interact safely, responsibly, and courteously with others on the road and path. It is neither comprehensive nor definitive. Nevertheless, we are sharing it in the hope that it provides helpful guidance to cyclists and others on how to think about and cycle safely and responsibly in shared public space, and how to foster mutual understanding and respect between all road and path users, be they pedestrians, drivers, or other cyclists.
This is a discussion document and you are welcome to add polite comments and criticism of its contents. Please specify which points you refer to in your comments.
ROAD & CYCLE LANES
- Share the road responsibly. For legal purposes, cycling is regarded as controlling a vehicle in road traffic.
- Follow the rules of the road – they apply to everybody, not only motorists. In particular, cyclists should stop at red lights.
- Respect other road users, motorists and pedestrians alike – be a partner!
- Maintain your bike in good working condition. Two working brakes, bright front and rear lights, and a bell are not only mandatory, but are sensible and a courtesy to others.
- Take reasonable measures to be visible to others: Wear reflective gear and have reflectors in the right place on your bike.
- Be cautious but confident. You have exactly the same right (no less and no more) to use the road as motorists, buses, and goods vehicles.
- Take the space you need for your own safety. Do not allow others pass you if it is not safe to do so.
- Equally, never force your right of way.
- Be cautious around HGVs and buses, as their drivers often have a blind zones and limited visibility. Never pass a HGV / bus on the inside when approaching a junction.
- Signal your intentions clearly using arms signals or road position before changing lanes, turning, or other such manoeuvre. Make eye contact with drivers to see whether they have seen you and understand your planned actions.
- Thank others when they show consideration towards you.
- Try anticipate what others might do. Make eye contact – are you sure that others are aware of your presence and intentions?
- Cycle on the correct side of the road, cycle lane, or path – the LEFT!
- Use cycle lanes, especially on the roadway, and only in the correct direction. (But see point 2 below – not all cycle lanes are safely designed.)
- Be aware what’s happening around you, including behind you. Your ears are important tools – headphones will reduce your situational awareness.
- Do not text or phone while cycling. (And, yes, this really needs to be said!)
- Our starting position is that cyclists should not be on footpaths. Doing so can be threatening to pedestrians and could result in injury. Even when no cycle lane or path exists, cyclists should still be on the road.
- Some nuance is needed, however. Safety should be the most important concern in all transport matters. Regrettably, some road designs (including cycle lanes) pose grave dangers for cyclists. External circumstances such as road and weather conditions may also make cycling on the road or cycle lane unacceptably dangerous. Where such conditions exist, we contend that cycling on footpaths is a reasonable and responsible action. No person should be expected to obey a regulation that greatly compromises their personal safety or that of others.
- We also believe that children should be permitted to cycle on footpaths after instruction on how to do so safely.
- If using the footpath is inevitable for short stretches, cyclists should be respectful to pedestrians and behave as a “guest”, passing pedestrians slowly and with great care if it is safe to do so. Be prepared to stop and yield the right of way to pedestrians if necessary.
- On shared paths and greenways, be aware of and respectful towards pedestrians. Be prepared to stop and yield the right of way to pedestrians if necessary.
- Ring your bell (politely) to warn pedestrians of your approach – no one likes to be startled.
- Pass pedestrians slowly and with as much space as is reasonable and feasible.
- Give significantly more leeway to children and animals: they lack situational awareness and can behave unpredictably.
- Do not obstruct footpaths when parking your bike. Be especially considerate towards the needs of those using wheelchairs and mobility aids.
- Other cyclists use shared bike racks, so make sure your bike does not obstruct or scratch theirs.
- Lock your bike (including the frame) securely to a fixed item such as a rack or pole.
- Have a solid lock. Do not leave your bike in a public place indefinitely (even if parts are stolen). See here for some great advice from Dublin Cycling Campaign on securing your bike.