Like many other cyclists I am also a driver. My experience is that cycling makes me a better driver; it teaches me to be more aware of traffic – as a cyclist you quickly learn to expect the unexpected. But equally importantly, cycling teaches me to have a greater respect for cyclists when I am behind the steering wheel; I know how much space a cyclist needs and I know what it feels like when a vehicle gets too close.
The highway code states that drivers should “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car”. They even include a photograph of a car overtaking a cyclist and giving it the full lane.
However it is rare that a driver will adhere to these recommendations. While the majority of drivers are respectful of cyclists, they is a large minority that are not. Often drivers will not slow down, but just squeeze past in the space that is available, whether or not it is enough to guarantee the safety of the cyclist. Some drivers are reckless, being more concerned about getting somewhere quickly, others allow themselves to be intimidated by drivers behind them who they think may be impatient to get past the cyclist.
As a driver I always make sure I give cyclists plenty of room. If this means that cars behind need to wait a few extra seconds so be it. What about you? How much room do you give cyclists?