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Half of cyclists feel unsafe in Wallonia, study shows

09:37 11/04/2024

More than half of cyclists do not feel safe biking in Wallonia, according to a new survey by the Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR).

The agency said cohabitation and the sometimes-strained relations between cyclists and motorists can increase the risk of accidents, and the survey revealed that aggressiveness shown towards cyclists by some drivers has bikers feeling anxious.

“While cyclists are fairly satisfied with sharing the road with other cyclists and pedestrians, the survey reveals that they are particularly critical of cohabitation with motorised (four-wheeled) vehicles,” the agency said.

“In fact, seven out of 10 cyclists believe that cohabitation with motorists is a problem.”

Every week in Wallonia, almost 20 cyclists are injured in road accidents, with an average of 15 deaths a year. Three quarters of these accidents involve someone driving a car.

Two out of five Walloon drivers (41%) admit they sometimes overtake a cyclist without respecting the statutory safety distance.

“Often cited by cyclists as the behaviour that leads to the greatest feeling of insecurity in traffic, this is also a dangerous practice that can cause accidents by destabilising cyclists or, worse still, hitting them,” AWSR said.

“The Highway Code stipulates that when overtaking, drivers must leave a lateral distance of at least 1.5 metres between their vehicle and the cyclist or scooter rider outside built-up areas and at least one metre inside built-up areas. Overtaking is prohibited until these safety conditions are met.”

Other ways for motorists to increase safety for cyclists include the use of the "Dutch reach" for opening car doors - meaning opening the door with the opposite hand, which results in turning the body in such a way that it’s easier to check for oncoming cyclists - and using turn indicators properly and in a timely manner.

“Generally speaking, whether you're in a car or on a bike, it's important to communicate your intentions clearly before a manoeuvre or change of direction,” said AWSR.

“This helps to avoid many risky situations that can lead to an accident.”

AWSR is launching a new campaign to encourage more harmonious cohabitation between cyclists and drivers, as the warmer weather brings with it an increase in the diversity of road users.

During April, a number of rules and behaviours that are essential for cyclists' safety will be published on almost 100 TEC buses and via social networks, the agency said.

Written by Helen Lyons