Safer Roads Greater Manchester has launched a new campaign calling on drivers to play their part in ensuring people using a cycle are kept safe from harm.
The ‘See The Rider Not The Bike’ campaign uses images of people going about everyday journeys and reminds motorists of the requirement for them to leave at least 1.5-metre gap when overtaking at 30mph, or a bigger gap at higher speeds.
Research shows that people see the behaviour of other road users as the biggest barrier to cycling regularly, with close passing and inattentive driving being two of the most frightening experiences for people riding their bike.
More people cycling their short journeys means fewer vehicles taking up space on the road, which in turn is good for the health of the population.
In January 2022, the Highway Code was updated and now states that motorists should leave at least a 1.5-metre gap when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph – and even more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
If it is not possible to meet this safe passing distance, drivers are told to wait behind the cyclist and not overtake them until it’s safe to do so. Drivers also need to look ahead and be aware of people travelling in the opposite direction when overtaking.
The rules seek to improve the safety of all road users, with a hierarchy of road users being clearly defined with those most at risk in the event of a collision placed at the top of the scale.
While all road users are responsible for their safety and the safety of other road users, those in charge of vehicles that can cause the most harm in a collision – cars, vans, taxis, light and heavy goods vehicles and motorcycles – bear the greatest responsibility to look out for others.
This does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly, with people riding bikes – together with horse riders and drivers of horse-drawn vehicles – expected to reduce danger to pedestrians.
As it starts to get darker later in the mornings and earlier at night, people will also need to be more mindful and alert when travelling on the roads in the dark as they and other road users may already be fatigued after working or attending school.
According to Department for Transport figures, in 2021 five people riding bikes were killed on Greater Manchester roads and 127 were seriously injured. Any death or serious injury on our roads is one too many.
But by reminding drivers of the role they play in driving responsibly, making a journey in their car can have a big impact in making Greater Manchester’s roads safer for all road users – particularly cyclists.
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Being able to choose to ride to the shops, school or work shouldn’t need to come with a side helping of bravery because you are afraid a driver may frighten you by not giving you enough space. Like all road users, people riding bikes are just everyday people using the road for everyday trips.
“I particularly like the See The Rider Not The Bike campaign because it focuses on the human side of making a journey by bike and is a call to action for drivers to play their part in ensuring more trips by bike are enjoyable and free from the fear of being involved in a near miss or collision.
“The minimum safe passing distance is also there for the safety of the occupants of the vehicle as well as the people riding their bikes. Taking time to check for bikes, ensuring you can leave enough space to overtake and that no one is riding towards you are three simple ways of keeping everyone safe and making sure everyone gets to their destination stress-free.”
Superintendent Gareth Parkin of GMP’s Safer Transport Unit added: “The safety of all road users is of paramount importance to us, and we’d like to encourage everyone to be more aware of how they are using the roads.
“Cyclists are one of the most vulnerable on our roads and the new changes in the Highway Code have been set out for their safety and to ensure they are more visible to other road users, especially when conditions on the road may be dangerous such as at night or in wet weather.
“We are proud to support this campaign alongside Operation Considerate, which encourages all road users to show each other consideration and would urge anyone that has any concerns out on the roads to report them to us via the dedicated link on our website or by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.
“I’d like to thank the majority of our road users who have used our networks responsibly.”