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Car breakdown company to drivers: don't assume if one cyclist does something stupid that they all do

GEM Motoring assist urges drivers to give riders room and not rebuke cyclists whose riding offends them

A car breakdown and insurance company has warned its customers against "rebuking" a cyclist "whose riding behaviour offends you" and not to assume that if one cyclist does something dangerous that they all do it.

Car breakdown and insurance company, GEM Motoring Assist, has joined the likes of the AA in offering sensible advice to its motoring customers in the light of an 8% rise in serious injuries to cyclists, which, it says, can be higher in summer as more people get out on their bikes.

In an article on its website, the company's chief executive tells drivers "to accept we're all on the roads to get somewhere safely", and points out "failing to look properly" is one of the main causes of crashes. The article also points out cyclists are entitled to the full lane of the road, not just the "extreme left part", and advises drivers to give cyclists as much room when overtaking as they would a car.

GEM chief executive, David Williams MBE, says: “We believe there are two really important actions drivers can take immediately to reduce the risk to themselves and to cyclists. First, to accept that we’re all on the road with the intention of trying to arrive somewhere safely. Second, to be more observant on journeys, because ‘failing to look properly’ is the most common contributory factor recorded by police in a collision involving a bicycle and another vehicle."

GEM's five tips for drivers are:

• Remember above all that everyone on the road is trying to get somewhere safely. Do everything you can to play your part and you’ll be contributing to a safer road environment.

• Good observation is key, especially at junctions. This, combined with patience, helps ensure safer journeys for drivers and riders. As drivers, we should try to defuse tension, not increase it.

• Don’t stress when a cyclist performs a risky or illegal manoeuvre, and certainly don’t make any attempt to rebuke someone whose riding behaviour offends you. And don’t assume that if one cyclist does something dangerous, then all cyclists do it.

• Cyclists are entitled to the full lane of a road, not just the extreme left part. They need to manoeuvre round hazards such as potholes or drains, so be sure to anticipate this and give the space they need to stay safe.

• Give cyclists plenty of space when you pass – ideally as much space as you would give when overtaking another car. Avoid squeezing past or starting an overtaking manoeuvre when you can’t see far enough ahead to know you can complete it safely.

Although driver education in isolation has limited effect on behaviour in the real world, it's worth recognising the companies that serve drivers which are increasingly on-side with people on bikes, while condemning 'punishment', and negative generalisation which can be played out in risky, aggressive behaviour.

The AA's Edmund King has been on the front line of promoting cyclist-motorist harmony from the motorists' side, even expounding the benefits of the bicycle over the car in cities, and has gone so far as to call cyclist-hating drivers "idiots".

Green Flag advises drivers to give plenty of room when passing cyclists, ideally crossing to the other side of the road. It says "hold back, be patient and wait until it is clear to pass with a wide berth."

The relevant section of the RAC's website offers as much, if not more, advice for cyclists as it does for drivers, however, and includes the government's Think! campaign advice, including giving a cyclist at least half a car's width when passing. It also says "cyclists should ensure they are visible to motorists and other road users at all times by wearing bright-coloured clothing," along with advice to wear cycle helmets.

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