Chill out to ride and drive safe this winter, urges CTC and AA

CTC and the AA have joined forces to issue a list of winter guidelines to ensure cyclists and motorists share the road safely during the current cold snap.

With lying water now freezing over on thousands of roads, and the sun low in the sky, the CTC and Britain’s largest motoring organisation advising road users to tread, pedal and drive carefully.

CTC has drawn up six tips for cyclists, while AA President Edmund King has reminded drivers to give cyclists an even wider berth in the icy conditions than they usually do (which isn’t usually wide enough).

CTC advises cyclists to:

Deflate – grip is improved by increasing contact with the road. Letting a little air out from your tyres can make a real difference.

Slow down – icy conditions and narrow cycle tyres at speed can be a recipe for disaster. Give yourself more time and, if in doubt about conditions, take it easy.

Keep out of the gutter – this advice stands no matter the conditions, but with the recent rain and following a freeze the sides of roads can be treacherous. Seek the primary position where you can.

Chill pill – if you do hit some ice or a similarly slippery surface, sudden steering movements and sharp braking can see you go from the vertical to the horizontal in record time. Relax and ride it out or, if it’s an extended stretch, consider walking the distance

Stay seen – low winter sun and the longer nights can make the cyclist’s visibility all the harder for other road users. If it’s dark make sure you have the appropriate front and rear lights (a legal requirement) and if in the day, watch out for that low sun – it’s a hazard for all road users.

Dress appropriately – layers are best for trapping in warm air and can help you regulate your temperature while riding. Pay particular attention to your extremities like hands, feet and head, these are all set to suffer more in the cold. Also consider bringing a thermal top in case you need to stop for a long period of time.

AA President Edmund King said: “All road users need to ensure they get into a winter mindset. People need to appreciate that potentially they will not stop in the same sort of distances they normally would.

“This cold snap comes fast on the heels of heavy rain. Puddles have now frozen over and cyclists face a minefield of icy patches, especially at the side of the road where so much water has accumulated because drains have been unable to cope. Drivers need to bear that in mind and give cyclists a wider berth when overtaking.

“The low winter sun can also be a particular problem at this time of year, especially as it is at its most dazzling at the end of the morning commute and the beginning of the evening rush hour from 4-5pm, when the roads are at their busiest.

“We would advise drivers to get up at least 10 minutes early to give time to prepare the car. Don’t drive off like a tank-commander, with a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen. Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer to ensure good all-round vision.”

The AA website provides detailed advice about winter driving and coping with snow, cold and ice, as well as a list of general tips for drivers regarding cyclists.

King stressed: “Cyclists have the same rights on the road as drivers.”

He added: “Drivers should give as much room as practically possible when overtaking a cycle – Highway Code Rule 163 illustrates one car’s width – they may have to move out to avoid hazards like drains, potholes, or other debris on the road that you may not be able to see. And now ice has added to the potential dangers.”

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