Road safety hinges on a willingness to share space

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There are many benefits to be had from getting out of our cars and jumping on our bikes more frequently.

Cycling can be a great form of exercise and also provides people with the chance to leave their cars at home and commute into work using a more environmentally-friendly mode of transport.

When you consider how congested Portsmouth in particular can get, the arguments for riding a bike become even harder to ignore.

And yet all the benefits in the world won’t persuade people to cycle more if they don’t feel they will be safe when they actually get out there on the roads.

That’s why we should all be thankful for anything that the police and local authorities can do to improve road safety for cyclists.

The Steer Clear campaign has already highlighted why this is an issue that needs more attention due to the increase seen in the number of cyclists involved in accidents on our roads in 2011.

By seeking to warn cyclists and motorists of the dangers, the police’s aim is to increase awareness.

A number of roads in Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport will now feature signs alerting people to the fact that there have been accidents on that stretch in the past. Officers will also be on hand to talk to cyclists about the dangers and will hand out high visibility rucksack covers.

Crucially, this campaign isn’t just aimed at cyclists.

While those on two wheels have a duty to ride in a safe and responsible manner, car drivers must also remember they have a role to play here too.

The relationship between cyclist and motorist must be based on mutual respect. No-one should make the mistake of thinking they are the king of the road.

Cars and bikes must be able to share the space equally and that involves careful consideration, an awareness of others at all times and a respect for the importance of keeping everyone safe.

We’ve all seen cyclists whose behaviour falls short of what is required, just as we’ve all seen bad examples of appalling driving.

It’s time for that to end and for everyone to take more care.