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Britain’s busy roads

Most roads in this country were built for horses and carriages, carts and animals. When cars were first made they were few and far between and did not go very fast.

In 2012 the surface of these roads may have improved, but they are not much wider, and now have to accommodate all sorts of different transport - lorries, buses, faster cars, cyclists, motor bikes, pedestrians and horses. For most of the time, all these different forms of transport manage to co-exist without bumping into one another but the problems caused by the different sorts of vehicles has been highlighted recently by two incidents involving cyclists in London, one who was, unfortunately, killed and the other, very seriously injured.

The latter incident was caused by a lorry. These vehicles are huge, heavy, powerful objects, amongst the biggest which we see on the road today. The fact that they are able to co-exist with cyclists on, already busy, roads is nothing short of a miracle.

With all these different forms of transport, all trying to use the same roads, all road users, whether cyclists, pedestrians, or drivers, need to be more aware of other people. Car and lorry drivers should be looking in their rear view and side mirrors on a regular basis, almost as much as they are looking ahead. What is happening behind you, and coming up either side of you, is almost as important as what is about to happen in front of you. Lorry and car drivers need to be particularly aware at junctions, when they are about to pull off, that either pedestrians or cyclists are not about to ride off at the side of them, particularly at a left hand junction, or pedestrians step out etc.

Equally, the responsibility is not solely on the driver of the bigger vehicle. Cyclists and, indeed, pedestrians, should also be on a constant lookout for what is happening around them. In particular, cyclists should appreciate the fact that a lot of bikes are now relatively fast but also small and, very often, not visible, particularly from tall lorries. A lorry driver sitting high up in the cab of his lorry will not always be able to see a cyclist, low on the ground, especially when they are very near to the side of the lorry - perhaps the most dangerous place to be.

Cyclists should also be aware that a high percentage of lorries on Britain's roads today have come from abroad. Each day, ports all around the country - Dover, Portsmouth, Hull and Liverpool, disgorge hundreds of foreign registered lorries, arriving from Europe. These lorries are just as big, and some bigger, as UK lorries. But these European lorries are left hand drive and therefore the driver is not only high up in the cab but also sitting on the left hand side and his mirrors will not have been adjusted properly to account for the amount he needs to see on his right hand side.

Anyone approaching a lorry, whether a cyclist, motor bike or car driver, should check to see whether the lorry is from this country or a foreign one. If foreign, extra caution should be taken and allowance made for the fact that the lorry driver will be sitting high up on the left hand side of the lorry and will not be able to see you as you overtake on the right hand side. It is better to be aware of this, and to take evasive action, rather than ending up in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

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