Cyclists are the vulnerable road users when comparing with motorists and car drivers, so cycling safety has attracted a lot of attention. This article is going to list some practical tips that cyclists should follow when overtaking another vehicle.
Checking out the road condition
When you attempt to overtake another vehicle proceeding in the same direction with you, you should check out the road condition ahead the overtaken vehicle to make sure it is sufficiently clear and there is enough space in front of the overtaken vehicles. That is to say, you should observe is there any obstacles such as other vehicles or whether there is a turning in front of the overtaken vehicles. In this way, you could confirm that your own bicycle could safely keep on moving after overtaking the vehicles ahead of you.
Showing signals when overtaking
Before overtaking, you’d better show your intention to the overtaken vehicles by conventional signals. We once heard a lot of complaints from cyclists that someone always overtakes or pass them at high speed without any signals showing, which seem to a danger to their safety. And they also make an example to prove their opinion that when they were walking and trying to pass another walker, they would yell “on your left” so that the walker ahead would know someone was coming behind them. Therefore, they think that the cyclists should also show signals to warn the overtaken vehicles to get out of the way for them otherwise the two vehicles may be hit by each other.
Maybe in some countries, it is not required to show signals when overtaking another vehicle, but you’d better do that before overtaking to warn the vehicle ahead, which could avoid some accidents in some degree. And yelling “on your left” or showing notice to the cyclists ahead would be regarded as a good etiquette in the countries where showing signals before overtaking is not required. However, in some countries, the driver of a vehicle has to give an appropriate signal such as hand signals or turn indicator light when he attempts to overtake the vehicles proceeding ahead in the same direction. And an audible signal or flashing lights should be released by cyclists or other drivers of vehicles to warn the overtaken vehicles at night.
Leaving sufficient space
According to the traffic law, sufficient space should be given to motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders when other vehicles attempt to overtake or pass them. Taking the traffic law and safety into consideration, we advise cyclists to keep sufficient space between yourself and the overtaken vehicles when overtaking another vehicle, and space should be an opening car door wide. If cyclists don’t leave sufficient space between two vehicles when overtaking, the overtaken vehicle driver might be too nervous to control the vehicle in the right direction, which results in an accident. Therefore, if you give the enough room between two vehicles, you could avoid hitting the overtaken vehicle when passing it.
Changing lanes when overtaking
In principle, cyclists have to accomplish overtaking safely without interfering other vehicles’ movement. On the above tips, we mentioned that cyclists should keep sufficient distance with the overtaken vehicles when passing it. Specifically speaking, if the lane which cyclist is on is not wide enough to overtake another vehicle safely, the cyclist has to change lane where oncoming vehicles are on when passing the overtaken vehicles. That is to say, cyclists have to change lane when overtaking if the width of the lane is less than 14 feet. And the specific limit on lane width depends on the size of vehicles. And cyclists could remain within the lane if they could measure the 3-feet clearance between themselves and the overtaken vehicles.
Caring about the oncoming vehicles
Cyclists are required to change lanes if the lane is not wide enough for overtaking, so cyclists have to face the danger from the oncoming vehicles. Before overtaking, cyclists should pay much attention to the oncoming vehicles on the another lane, especially at night when it is difficult to judge the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles. If you found there are a lot of oncoming vehicles on the another lane, you’d better not overtake the vehicles ahead until there are no oncoming vehicles in your visual field.
Moving quickly when overtaking
After observing the road conditions in front of the vehicles ahead and showing signals, cyclists could begin to overtake. Once you start, you should accelerate and move quickly as possible as you can to pass the vehicle you are overtaking. In this way, you would accomplish safe overtaking without interfering with other vehicles.
Never following another overtaking vehicle
Since overtaking is quite dangerous for the vulnerable road users, some cyclists might think it is wise and safe to follow a vehicle ahead which is overtaking. We could certainly tell you that this idea is not wise at all because it might not have sufficient space for you in the front of the vehicles ahead. Therefore, do remember not to follow anther vehicles which are overtaking.
Only overtaking on the left
When you determine to overtake the vehicle ahead, you have to overtake on the left side. Generally, overtaking or passing another vehicle on the right side is not permitted for the reason that when the overtaken vehicles see the overtaking signals, it might give way to the right. If the overtaking vehicle passes the vehicle ahead on the right side, this two vehicles may hit each other. In order to overtake safely, cyclists have to overtake on the left side.
In reality, overtaking is quite dangerous for cyclists because they have to face a lot of potential dangers from oncoming vehicles, the overtaken vehicles and so on. Therefore, cyclists would better think twice before determining to overtake the vehicle ahead. However, cyclists might some special situations which require them to overtake the vehicles ahead. When you have to overtake, do remember the practical tips we mentioned above, which would hep you accomplish safe overtaking.