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IAM urges cyclists to "claim their lane"

Road safety charity says bike riders should move out into road when nearing junctions or passing parked cars

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), Britain’s largest road safety charity, is urging cyclists to make themselves more visible and “claim their lane” by moving out into the middle of the lane when passing parked cars or approaching junctions.

Duncan Pickering, IAM Cycling Development Manager, said: “There has been some debate as to whether cyclists should stick to the kerb or push out into the road when riding in built-up areas. “
Our advice to cyclists, based on a comprehensive study, is to stay near to the kerb on long even stretches, but to assert yourself when approaching a junction, pushing out into the road and putting yourself in the direct view of drivers.”

He added: “Sticking to the kerb where drivers are not necessarily looking means they are less likely to see you.”

According to the IAM, studies prove that when drivers negotiate a junction, they focus on the main traffic stream, which means that they pay less attention to auxiliary roads where cyclists are more likely to be present.

“Drivers are more likely to notice bikes travelling in the same direction as the oncoming traffic and, when turning left, mainly focus their attention on cars coming from the right, as they don’t see the left as posing a particular threat,” Mr Pickering explained. “This means they fail to see cyclists from the left early enough,” he added.

The IAM recommends that cyclists:

  • “Take up a primary position around 75-100m before reaching a junction, in the centre of the lane, providing it is safe to do so. This move will mean that drivers exiting the junction will be more likely to see the cyclist as they are in the same traffic flow as more hazardous vehicles.
  • “Take the “secondary position” when cycling along a straight stretch of road which is clear of junctions and parked cars.
  • “Keep a sensible distance, about half a meter, from the kerb to avoid hazards such as slippery drain-covers.
  • “Remember it is not always sensible or appropriate to take the centre of the lane especially if traffic is heavy.”

The IAM adds that although “a lack of awareness on the part of some motorists is no doubt a huge factor in car/bike collisions, it pays for the cyclist as the more vulnerable road user to ride to be seen where possible.”


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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