While cyclists have found some relief from the coronavirus pandemic on the quieter roads caused by the lockdown, the easing of restrictions has re-ignited road safety concerns as motorists return.
With people being encouraged to take up cycling as a mode of transport to reduce the strain on public transport, which will be limited due to social distancing measures, the increased volume of bikes has inevitably seen a rise in thefts, and now also an increase in incidents with motor vehicles.
One cyclist shared shocking images of his injuries after being kicked off his bike at 26mph, while a 63-year-old cyclist suffered multiple facial injuries after objects were thrown at him from a moving vehicle.
Last week, a cycling club secretary was also left with a broken back after a crash in which he believes he was deliberately hit by a driver.
The resumption of road safety concerns appears to not just be a UK phenomenon, with Cofidis’ Elia Viviani saying nothing has changed on Italian roads.
“If we hoped that motorists had changed in terms of [their] respect for us…it is a lost cause,” Elia Viviani told Gazzetta dello Sport. “On the road, everything is as before the lockdown and the danger has not diminished. Nothing has changed.”
American track cyclist Mandy Marquardt also revealed she had been passed too closely and beeped at by multiple vehicles in Pennsylvania, calling the incident “terrifying” and “harassment”, pointing out both motorists had broken state law with their actions.
“I’m here, riding on the side of the road, hugging the shoulder, there are two cars behind me, beeping, passing me ‘this’ close, why? For what? There’s no car coming in the opposite direction, I’m not in the middle of the road, I also want to get home and see my family, I’m sure they have somewhere important to be,” Marquardt said in a video.
“Especially in these times, why? I’m just trying to be outside, enjoy the day, do what I love, do my job. There have been too many people who have lost their lives in this sport because of people being so inconsiderate…there have been so many people affected by it and I just don’t understand it, why can’t we be out here doing what we love too? It just takes a few seconds, we are humans, not objects.”
Broadcaster and writer Ned Boulting revealed one motorist had driven their car at him over the weekend, writing on Twitter: “Intriguing new form of aggression from a person behind the wheel of a car today. They had parked up for a fag illegally blocking the entire pavement. I asked them politely if they might move, especially as a person behind me was in a wheelchair.
“They ignored me and when I passed again five minutes later, forced to walk in the road, because they were still on the pavement, they started the car and drove it at me.”
Former Olympian and now Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman last week urged the UK Government to introduce presumed liability.
This legislation, which is present in all but five European countries already, considers the least vulnerable road user to be liable in the event of a traffic collision unless they can establish the other party was at fault.
The idea is that it encourages mutual respect between road users and creates a hierarchy in civil cases. Boardman hopes this law change will encourage more people to feel safe cycling on roads.
“Nearly all other countries have done this, to put a duty of care in their legislation for everyone on the roads to look after a more vulnerable road user,” Boardman told the Telegraph.