Motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians: These three groups often share the same traffic area in urban centers – despite the major differences in their speeds. “Life-threatening encounters are bound to happen here,” warns DEKRA accident expert Danijel Cakeljic. At times, it is difficult for motorists to keep an adequate lateral distance from cyclists where the streets are narrow. In Germany, for example, the law prescribes a minimum distance of 1.5 meters in built-up areas and two meters outside built-up areas. On narrow streets, passing is made safer when motor vehicles wait for a place where the cyclist can move further out of the way.
In situations like this, cyclists should – in turn – also consider the interests of motorists and give them an opportunity to pass at suitable passing places. In order to prevent such conflicts, it would be helpful if cyclists could plan their routes so that they avoid busy roads with no bicycle path where possible and preferably accept a less direct route that poses no danger.
“To some degree at least, this could prevent cyclists from becoming a hindrance for motorists too often due to their lower speed,” says the accident expert. It would also be helpful if cyclists would use the bicycle paths provided more consistently when traffic is heavy, even if they would make progress more quickly on the road.
But a lack of traffic separation also frequently leads to dangerous situations away from roads used by motor vehicles – namely those involving cyclists and pedestrians. “Here, more mutual consideration can make a major contribution to the prevention of accidents,” emphasizes Cakeljic. He sees cyclists ringing their bell in good time before passing pedestrians as a positive danger signal that should not be misunderstood as pushing them out of the way. He would like to see more caution and consideration on the part of pedestrians when they are using and crossing cycle paths.