Tag Archives: lane position

Cyclist riding too close and hit by left-turning car

How do motorists and cyclists misunderstand each other? (1)

When cyclists and motorists share the road, it is important for both parties to be considerate to each other. The cyclist, being the slower mover, should try not to obstruct traffic, provided it is safe and practical to do so. On the other hand, being the operator of a powerful and potentially deadly machine, the driver must allow extra safety space when they approach vulnerable cyclists. Courtesy should be common sense, but when a cyclist’s action is misunderstood by a motorist, it may lead to anger and even reckless behaviour, as in the recent altercation between the lorry and the cyclist. (At the start of the video, it seemed like the lorry tailgated very close and tried to squeeze past the cyclist dangerously. Then the cyclist seemed to be provoked, didn’t want to give way while waiting at the traffic light, and later smashed the side mirror of the lorry. In the end, the lorry swung toward the cyclist and pushed him onto the grass verge.)

Cycling in Singapore roads is challenging. Cycling with fast-moving traffic requires an awareness of the traffic situation, adapting bicycle handling skills, and confidence to ride in a stable and predictable manner.

Most of the time, the safest position for a single cyclist is near the left side of the road, as recommended by the Road Traffic Act (RTA).

Road Traffic Act (Bicycle) Rules 8.  A person who rides a bicycle, power-assisted bicycle, trishaw or tricycle on a road must ride the bicycle, power-assisted bicycle, trishaw or tricycle as near as practicable to the far left edge of the road.

However, sometimes it is neither practical nor safe to remain in the leftmost position. Below are a few examples:

1- Going straight at an intersection:
Before approaching an intersection, it is safer for a cyclist to ride near the centre of the lane if he/she wants to go straight. This helps to prevent left turning car from dangerously overtaking and cutting in front of the cyclist (Left-hook).

Here is a short animation showing a cyclist riding too close to the curb and hit by a left-turning car.

Cyclist riding too close and hit by left-turning car
Cyclist riding too close to the curb and hit by left-turning car

To prevent left-hook accidents, experienced cyclists will “take the lane” by riding near the centre. This positioning temperately prevents the motorist from overtaking within the same lane. A left turning car will be forced to slow down behind the cyclist. Once the cyclist has cleared the junction, the motorist can make the left turn safely. The cyclist will then shift back toward the left after crossing the junction. This is shown in the animation below.

Cyclist riding at centre of lane prevented left-hooked by turning cars.
Cyclist riding at centre of lane prevented left-hooked by turning cars.

2- Going straight next to dedicated left-turning lane:
If a cyclist needs to go straight but the leftmost lane is reserved for left-turning, he/she will have to take the next lane which is going straight. This would appear to the drivers as “cycling in the middle of the road”.

3- Where the edge of the road is not well paved:
It is safer to stay away from the double yellow lines on the left to avoid sudden potholes or uneven metal grilling. Bicycle wheels are thin and light, and even a small protrusion can send the cyclist flying.

Typically, fast cyclists (>25 km/h) prefer using the centre of the lane in order to secure a bigger safety buffer. Slow cyclists (<15km/h) normally stay nearer to the double yellow lines to avoid obstructing the traffic or from being hit from behind.

I hope this short article helps to clarify some misunderstanding. Next time if you see a cyclists not riding at the left edge of the road, it may be due to one of the above situation. Allow him some slack and just relax.

Likewise, I believe there are cases when cyclist misread the intention of a driver, becomes upset, angry and even reckless as shown in this recent case above, which is totally unnecessary.

If given a second chance, I’m sure both the lorry driver and the cyclist would slow down and to give way to each other, rather than wasting time with the insurance agent, lawyer, the police, repair mechanic and doctor in the hospital.

In the end, what we all want is simply to go home safe, isn’t it.

Part 2, why cyclists riding two abreast blocking the whole lane?