POPULAR SPORT: Craig Gibson, owner / manager of Sunrise Cycles in Ballina with some equipment to help you get to the Tour de France.
POPULAR SPORT: Craig Gibson, owner / manager of Sunrise Cycles in Ballina with some equipment to help you get to the Tour de France. Cathy Adams

Sharing rules with cyclists could prevent fatalities

DOUBLE the numbers of cyclists have died on NSW roads in the past year, with 14 fatalities recorded for 2013.

The figures are in stark contrast to the pedestrian road toll, which was the lowest since 1924 with 339 people killed, down from 369 in 2012.

Craig Gibson from Sunrise Cycles in Ballina said the figures may reflect a lack of understanding from some drivers about the road rules concerning cyclists, as well as the increasing number of people riding.

"Cars don't realise that bikes have the same rules on the road as cars," he said. "If you pass a bike and cross a double white line you can be fined exactly the same."

Mr Gibson said the increasing number of people taking up cycling would likely contribute to the road toll as well.

"There's more and more people riding," he said. "If you look at triathlon, triathlon last year in 2013 had 17% growth in NSW, and this year it looks like it's going to have another 25%."

Darryl Pursey, owner of Harris Cycle Co in Lismore, said aggression between cyclists and drivers, as well as roads that aren't designed to cater to cyclists, could also contribute to the statistics.

"There's a minority of driver's who show total disregard," he said. "Some people think they're doing the right things and don't give enough room.

"[They don't realise] you can't hold a straight line on the road."

He said many roads, particularly outside of cities, are not designed for both cars and cyclists.

In particular, the shoulders on roads are often neglected or not wide enough, with many drivers unaware that racing bikes aren't designed to go off-road.

"If I go off the smooth road I'll fall over," he said. "I don't think drivers realise how little it takes to knock you off the road."

safety TIPS

For riders:

Always wear a helmet

Obey the road rules

Ride in a predictable manner

Give hand signals when changing lanes or turning

Make yourself highly visible

Plan to use quiet streets or bicycle paths

For drivers:

Be aware that cyclists are more difficult to see

Always give the riders enough space when overtaking - at least one metre in a 50km zone and more if the speed limit is higher

Check for bicycle riders at intersections

Don't underestimate the speed of cyclists

Remember that it takes longer for a bicycle to stop

Bicycle riders are allowed to ride side by side.



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