Philip Pank Transport Correspondent
Published at 12:01AM, May 25 2013
Learner drivers taking lessons with the two biggest motoring schools will receive compulsory tuition on driving around cyclists, in an attempt to reduce the number of collisions.
Instructors at the AA Driving School and BSM will take a cycle safety training module and all learners will be taught about what to expect from cyclists and how to share the road safely with them.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said it was vital to break down the “two tribes” mentality pitting drivers against cyclists. The issue was highlighted this week when a young driver allegedly sought to justify knocking a cyclist off his bicycle because “he doesn’t even pay road tax!”
The training module will point out to all would-be drivers that road tax does not exist in Britain and that everyone pays for roads through local and national taxation. “I was outraged that a driver could come up with such a crass excuse. That is the kind of attitude that we are trying to break down,” Mr King said.
The driving schools, backed by the Department for Transport, hope that the initiative will help stop a rise in the number of cyclists who are killed and hurt on the roads. While the number of fatalities fell to 107 in 2011, the latest year for which data exist, the number of cyclists seriously injured rose by 16 per cent to 3,085.
Learners will be told to watch for cyclists when turning left or moving into the left-hand lane, to allow cyclists to pass a junction rather than overtaking them and turning left across their path, to wait behind cyclists turning right rather than trying to pass on the inside, and giving them 2m space to avoid collision if the cyclist swerves to avoid a pothole or a car door.
Drivers are also advised to dip their headlights when they pass cyclists and to give them a wide berth in poor weather. Mark Peacock, the head of BSM, said: “Successfully teaching a learner to drive safely around cyclists means instilling a good attitude, as well as, the necessary practical driving skills.
“It can be intimidating and confusing for learners the first few times they come across a cyclist. Understanding why cyclists behave in certain ways, such as avoiding potholes or how they are affected in strong winds, is key to being safe.”
The Times is urging supporters of its Cities Fit for Cycling campaign to sign a petition on the Government’s website calling for a blueprint for increased cycle use. Almost 65,000 people have so far signed the petition which can be found at thetimes/cyclesafepetition