February is Aotearoa Bike Challenge month with people all over the country taking part to promote the benefits of biking while competing against other workplaces for pride and prizes.
Last year, 24,500 people and over 2,450 workplaces took part in the Aotearoa Bike Challenge, a fun, free national bike initiative run by Waka Kotahi NZTA and Love to Ride.
Cycling is a great form of exercise with the added bonus of reducing your carbon footprint at the same time. Sharing the road with other vehicles however means cyclists need to watch out for hazards and practise safe cycling. At the same time, drivers need to be considerate of cyclists.
Useful tips for cyclists and drivers
- Check carefully for cyclists before you open your door. The “Dutch reach” or far hand reach is a simple technique to stop drivers and passengers from opening their door in front of oncoming cyclists, vehicles or pedestrians. Using the hand furthest away from the door, rather than the hand closest to it, forces you to turn around. That gives you an opportunity to check if any cyclists are approaching your vehicle before you open the door.
- Allow at least 1.5 metres between you and cyclists. Take care when overtaking because parked cars, glass, litter, potholes or other hazards can cause cyclists to change direction suddenly and into your path.
- Be patient. Wait for the appropriate space and time before passing a cyclist.
- Stay out of cycle lanes except when entering or leaving side roads, driveways or parking spaces. When crossing a cycle lane, give way to cyclists before you cross.
- Bicycles are small and can be difficult to see, especially at night. Check carefully for cyclists especially when turning at or moving through an intersection or when reversing or moving out of a driveway or parking space.
- Dip your headlights for cyclists as well as other drivers. Cyclists are easily dazzled by full headlights.
- Cyclists have a right to be on the road too. Please understand and respect their needs.
- Wear a helmet.
- Make sure your bike is in good working condition. Inspect your bike prior to riding and ensure all components are working properly.
- Check your tyres are inflated to the right pressure.
- Adjust your seat to the proper height and make sure the saddle is locked firmly in place.
- Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes
- Extras such as a horn, bell, rear-view mirror and lights are also recommended
- Make certain drivers can see you. Dust off your disco duds or wear a neon vest, fluorescent top or other bright clothing.
- If you are riding at night (from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise) wear reflective clothing and flashing lights.
- Ride during the day where possible.
- Know the Rules of the Road and how they apply to cyclists. Cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists.
- Cyclists are not allowed on the footpath unless you are delivering newspapers, mail or leaflets, or there are signs indicating it is a shared pedestrian and cycle path.
- Ride single-file in the direction of traffic.
- Ride with focus. Stay alert, scan ahead of you for any risks or hazards, and look out for opening car doors, potholes and pedestrians.
- Avoid riding with headphones or AirPods. You need to hear as well as watch what’s going on around you.
- Always be prepared to yield the right of way to cars. Drivers should learn to share the road, but you can’t make them. Be ready to stop at a moment’s notice.
- Use hand signals when turning and take care at intersections.
- At intersections, you must follow the rules for motor vehicles, or get off your bicycle and walk across.
- Always ride in single file if passing another vehicle.
- Be patient. Slow down near parked cars, pass slowly and only when safe. On shared paths, slow down and use your bell to warn pedestrians before you pass.