The bicycle is a favoured means of transport. For children, it is also a toy, while adults are more and more frequently using it not only for transport, but also for recreation.
Cycling, a very simple and ecological means of movement and transport, contributes to a cleaner environment and in the warmer months of spring and summer is also one of the most pleasant outdoor activities, thus enabling cyclists to maintain their physical fitness. Cycling increases endurance and strength, and is good for the heart as well as for blood circulation.
|Therefore, cycling is healthy, active and pleasant - make sure it is also safe! Cyclists as well as pedestrians are the most vulnerable and exposed group of traffic participants.
According to statistical data, in 2007, 1,377 cyclists were involved in traffic accidents resulting in 17 deaths (10 of whom caused the accident) and 164 suffering serious injuries (over a half, or 91, causing the accidents) and 998 suffering light bodily injury (with 451 causing the accidents). In the first five months of 2008, 247 cyclists were involved in traffic accidents. Among them, 4 died (3 perpetrating the accidents), 28 suffered serious bodily injury (with 15 causing the accidents) and 170 sustained light bodily injury (50 perpetrators).
The number of cyclists who die in traffic accidents has not essentially changed in recent years (less than 20 a year). This number had been higher in the past (e.g. 26 deaths in 2000).
Cyclists are the perpetrators of the most serious traffic accidents in over half the cases. Cyclists frequently cause traffic accidents due to:
- riding on the improper riding side and direction (riding too close to the road curb or even on the side of oncoming traffic), which is also frequently connected to riding under the influence of alcohol;
- riding under the influence of alcohol;
- non-observance of right-of-way rules (most frequently at crossroads, with cyclists forgetting that the "stop" or "crossroads with a precedence road" sign also applies to them and not only to motor vehicles;
- frequently not adapting their speed to the conditions and characteristics of the road, especially on individual steeper road segments.
Cyclists are also victims of other road traffic participants, most frequently speeding motorists and those driving under the influence of alcohol. Often their paths are blocked by improperly parked vehicles.
The fact remains that cyclists are less safe in road traffic than other road traffic participants. They are often poorly visible and their visibility is also proportionate to riding speed of: the faster they ride, the less visible they are.
Thus, cyclists, ride carefully and care for your own safety, observing the following rules and advice:
- Be aware of traffic signs and obey them!
- Where a traffic light is present, obey the light signals.
- Do not ride under the influence of alcohol!
- Prior to changing your riding direction, frequently look behind you and promptly and decisively indicate your intention.
- Observe the right-of-way rules which apply to cyclists at crossroads, especially in locations marked as cycling paths.
- Only ride on cycling paths and cycling lanes or routes. Always use only the area intended for cyclists (marked through traffic signs and ground marks). On such pavements ride in the right lane in the prescribed direction, and on two-way cycling paths ride on the right side of the path.
- If no cycling path or lane exists, ride along the right side of the road in the direction of traffic as close to the curb as possible not more than a metre from the road curb).
- At night and in conditions of reduced visibility, make sure the white illuminating light at the front of the bicycle is turned on and at the back, the red position light is turned on. A red reflector should also be installed at the back of the bicycle, while both pedals should have yellow or orange reflectors and the tyres, yellow or orange side reflectors.
- When riding with a group of cyclists, ride one after the other. Exceptionally, if the road is wide enough, two cyclists may ride in parallel.
- The amended Road Transport Safety Act, which entered into force on 30 April 2008, has amended the rules governing cyclist training, which due to the specificity of the cycling sport cannot train and at the same time observe all rules in effect for cyclists. The law enables cyclists possessing a license from the Cycling Federation of Slovenia to ride in a group, which must comprise at least four cyclists.
- Pay attention to traffic and anticipate the actions of other participants.
- Be especially aware of vehicles behind you and those overtaking you.
- Be particularly careful at crossroads and decisively indicate your direction using your hand and ensure that other road traffic participants have seen you. If the situation is unclear, it is best to dismount from your bicycle and cross the road on foot.
- Use a bell to ensure that other road traffic participants, pedestrians and cyclists notice you more quickly.
- At night, make sure you are even more visible (lights and reflectors are mandatory and light clothing is advised).
- Transport possessions in a basket intended for this purpose or affixed to a rack. Keep your hands free for manoeuvring the bicycle and for indicating direction.
- Never: let go of the handlebars, raise your feet from the pedals, manoeuvre, pull or push other vehicles, allow yourself to be pulled or pushed, transport items which could impede your riding or transport other persons except if otherwise defined by law.
- For safety reasons, it is better to stop and let a vehicle pass you.
- Your bicycle should undergo regular maintenance and be roadworthy.
- Mandatory equipment for bicycles comprises: a bell, road illumination light, back light, rear red reflector, yellow reflectors on pedals, fully working back and front brakes and side reflectors.
- It is recommended that the bicycle also be equipped with:>a spacer with a reflector, chain sleeve, mudguards, suitable tires and seat, and a mirror.
- Helmet: Cyclists under the age of 14 must wear a certified protective helmet while riding; the same applies to children who are passengers on a bicycle. It is recommended that adults also wear a helmet, although this is not mandatory.
To ensure that children also ride safely, special rules apply:
- A child at least eight years of age who has with him/her a valid bicycle permit and persons over 14 may independently ride a bicycle in road traffic.
- In order to ride a bicycle, children must receive training and take a bicycle examination, acquiring the bicycle permit at the elementary school they attend.
- Children up to the age of 14 without the bicycle permit may only ride a bike in road traffic if accompanied by a person of full age, who may depending on the traffic circumstances accompany a maximum of two children.
- Children up to the age of 6 may only ride bicycles on pedestrian paths or zones, and if accompanied by a person of full age, also in light traffic areas.
- Cyclists under the age of 14 must wear a certified protective helmet while riding; the same applies to children who are passengers on a bicycle.
Elderly cyclists are the most vulnerable road traffic participants. Statistical data show that older cyclists, especially those over the age of 65, are most frequently involved in road traffic accidents since they are often not attentive enough to vehicles overtaking them, have diminished hearing and seeing ability and are slower in reacting appropriately. Age changes also include a decreased ability to recover from serious injuries. This, of course, does not mean that the elderly may not ride bicycles. At any rate, the following is worth considering:
- They should be responsible and aware of their abilities and should only use a bicycle if convinced that they are actually capable of safe participation in road traffic.
- It is recommended that elderly people avoid riding at night, given that their sight adapts to the darkness more slowly than that of a younger person. Rides should be as short as possible. They should avoid riding on roads which allow for greater speeds. They should in any event avoid roads without cycling paths.
- Thus, if cyclists act so as to first ensure their own safety and not put themselves in dangerous and/or critical situations, they will enjoy the benefits and pleasures of this healthy activity.
Here, cyclists should also be attentive of operators of other transport means, such as passenger cars:
- If a cyclist turns right at a crossroads, he/she should allow vehicles driving in the same direction along the cycling path or lane they are crossing to pass.
- Whenever turning at a crossroads which crosses a cycling path, cyclists should allow all vehicles driving across the cycling path to pass.
- They should never park on cycling paths or lanes in such a manner that impedes or endangers cycling traffic.
- At night and in conditions of decreased visibility, they should use the prescribed lights and ensure that they do not blind oncoming cyclists, especially in locations where there are no pavements, pedestrian crossings or pedestrian paths.
- They should also realise that they may also be cyclists one day.