Cyclist says some drivers do not take enough care
A keen cyclist who travels roughly 200 miles a week during the summer months on his bike has spoken about his experience on the road.
Andy Aitken has spoken after conerns have been raised about the safety of cyclists using main roads.
Mr Aitken, from Lerwick, is a keen sportsman who belongs to the Shetland Triathlon Club and the cycling group Shetland Wheelers.
He says the majority of motorists treat cyclists well – but some are prone to pass too close when they overtake people on their bikes.
“Generally, most of the time that you’re on the road, you do feel safe,” he said.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the drivers out there you’re never really aware of, which is how it should be.
“But there are a ‘select few’ who are passing too close to you, overtaking you and not giving you enough space.
“The worst ones are when you have got a car coming towards you on the other side of the road and a car squeezing between you and that oncoming car.
“It’s a bit hairy – you can almost reach out and knock a wing-mirror off yourself. That’s not how it should be. The car overtaking should at least be straddling the centre-line to get past you.”
Mr Aitken stressed those were in the minority, and added cyclists had a duty to use the roads responsibly too.
But he said Tuesday night time trial events which were run at a time when traffic-flow was on the up during Total’s gas plant construction, had to be re-organised following concerns about possible incidents.
“It was pretty horrible”, he added.
“When you’re out and a car, van, or bus does pass too close, you do wonder if it’s just ignorance that they’re doing that or if they know they are passing too close.”
Mr Aitken said he had taken to making non-aggressive gestures to passing motorists who drove too close to him while he was out on the road.
“Usually I’ll put a hand up and gesture at them. It’s not aggressive, it’s just putting the point across. You just hope they’ll learn if they do something wrong once maybe they won’t do it again.”
Meanwhile, the Shetland Place Standard consultation, which started last year, has revealed the extent to which cyclists and walkers feel unsafe on the roads.
Participants were asked to rate particular issues on a scale of one to seven, with ratings of one signifying displeasure and a need for improvement.
Around a fifth of the people who responded to the “moving around” topic on roads gave the lowest possible rating.
Key issues highlighted by the respondents included feeling unsafe due to traffic speed and driver behaviour and a need for improved pavements and verges.