The Spring and Summer lockdown saw a dramatic decrease in the number of cars on the road. This dramatic fall was mirrored across the country and even the globe. In fact air pollution in China was estimated to have fallen by almost 50% in the first 20 days of their lockdown in February, as a result of less traffic on the roads.
However, as lockdown eased and people were encouraged to avoid public transport where possible the number of cars on the road has steadily crept back up. So how has the safety of the roads been affected by the unprecedented events of 2020?
The verdict is a bit murky to be honest. On one hand with less car users on the road there was a decrease in road accidents simply due to there being less cars on the road overall. However the number of pedestrians, and cyclists especially, took a big leap and this is where things get a bit unclear.
Surveys have shown that cyclists believe they are now being treated better by drivers than ever before. 20% of drivers say that they are now more patient when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists. From the cyclists point of view an amazing 46% now say they think car users are showing better road manners when it comes to interacting with them. Compare this to a previous finding that said a whopping 78% of cyclists were frustrated with driver habits and the change is huge.
However, a survey by Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland found that just under 40% of drivers said they had not changed their driving style to accommodate the increase in cyclists on the road. So it is clear that safety on the road is still a major concern, especially as the nights get darker and people are once again urged to avoid public transport where possible.
Luckily there are a variety of car free cycle routes available to cyclists that avoid any conflict with cars. You can find out more about these options here. There are options for getting from Paisley to Glasgow and Braehead. You will also find ways of heading west to Johnstone, Linwood and Lochwinnoch.
For cycle journeys that cannot avoid the road it is wise to wear reflective clothing and add lights to your bicycle. The nights truly do draw in quickly and the weather can easily take a turn for the worse. Even if you plan to be in by sundown it is wise to kit yourself out with highly visible clothing in case you are out longer than you expect..
Drivers can also help keep all road users safe by paying particular attention to situations that are traditionally the cause of most accidents – not slowing down or stopping at junctions. Cyclists are not just at risk here, pedestrians are also in danger of finding themselves victims of road traffic accidents, according to solicitors, Thomsons Scotland, due to cars not reducing speed or coming to a stop at junctions. Just like cyclists, visibility is also an issue for pedestrians and school aged children especially should have some sort of highly visible clothing or accessories on at all times..
The need for social distancing on narrower streets has also increased the likelihood of pedestrians stepping out onto the road in order to avoid others, making heightened awareness of your own personal space and the road users around you even more vital.
With this second lockdown set to go on into December it is clear that while less cars can mean less danger, staying aware at all times and being respectful of all road users- whether cars, bikes or walkers is of the utmost importance.