Two driving schools plan training in cyclist safety

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LEARNER drivers will be given specialised training on how to safely drive around cyclists in a move being rolled out by the two biggest driving schools in Edinburgh.

AA Driving School and BSM are introducing mandatory requirements that will make all their instructors teach vital skills to learners about 
awareness of cyclists.

Instructors will sit a training module on the “dos and don’ts” for driving around cyclists. They will also be given worksheets about safe driving for their pupils to use.

Topics covered will include the need to check door mirrors for cyclists before turning left and allowing cyclists ahead on the roadway to pass junctions before overtaking.

The move comes after Red Driving School, which has 25 instructors across the Lothians, last month backed proposed strict liability laws that would see motorists held responsible for all collisions with cyclists.

AA president Edmund King said training about cyclists would not only be standardised, but given more importance thanks to the changes.

He said increasing training around cyclists was even more important in historical cities like Edinburgh that were trying to radically boost the number of bike riders. The council is targeting 15 per cent of 
commuter journeys made by bike by 2020.

“Edinburgh’s not yet reached a critical mass of cyclists and it’s the period in between where you really need to educate the drivers and cyclists to be aware of each other. This initiative for our driving instructors across Edinburgh is very timely because there is this great ambition to increase cycling and we want to see it increase safely.”

More than 154 serious incidents, including five fatal accidents involving vehicles and cyclists, were recorded on Edinburgh’s roads in the five years to November 2011.

Mark Peacock, head of BSM, said it can be intimidating for learners when they first came across cyclists.

He said: “Understanding why cyclists behave in certain ways, such as avoiding potholes or how they are affected in strong winds, is key to being safe around them.”

Dave du Feu, a spokesman for cycling campaign group Spokes, said: “We’ve been thinking about driver awareness. We’re making a video which we’re hoping could be used by driving schools to highlight things that motorists have to be aware of in relation to cyclists.”