RISING REPORTS of cyclists killed on rural roads have been highlighted during Farm Safety Week.

The Farm Safety Foundation took the opportunity to team up with British Cycling to make the public more aware of cycling in rural areas and hazards to look out for.

With increased cycle traffic on rural roads comes increased pressure on drivers of farm vehicles to be aware of these road users. There were 99 cyclists killed on UK roads in 2018, 48 of these on rural roads and, in 2018, rural insurer NFU Mutual’s claims involving agricultural vehicles and pedal bikes totalled over £22 million.

Rural roads give off a sense of being safer due to less traffic, but with higher speeds, hidden dips and twisty roads reducing the distance that all drivers can see ahead, there is less time to react, resulting in more severe collisions.

Farmers were reminded of the Highway code and to respect the legal right of cyclists to ride side by side to make overtaking distances shorter and therefore quicker to execute.

To bring more awareness to this issue and highlight the safety measures farmers – and the general public – should be following, Farm Safety Week came up with the following rules to ride by:

  • Stay alert – Recognise that you're in an environment where you might encounter groups of road cyclists enjoying an evening ride – they have every right to be on the road. Stay alert, make eye contact and wave, when possible.
  • Slow down – Farm vehicles often travel at slow speeds anyway but resist the temptation to assume that you are the only vehicle on the road. On the flat, a group of cyclists can easily be travelling at 20-25mph and be could appear out of nowhere.
  • Pull over carefully – Take the standard precautions: Wait for a safe passing zone, watch for oncoming traffic, signal and return to the lane once all the cyclists are in your rear-view mirror.
  • Signal – Be prepared that rural roads may be prone to potholes and loose dirt and stones and cyclists may have to manoeuvre or stop suddenly. So always use your mirrors and always check for erratic cycling, hand gestures or lights signalling the cyclists’ intention to swerve or overtake.
  • Know the basics – Following the speed limit and wearing your seat belt is just as important in the country as it is on city streets. Seat belts are a legal requirement on all tractors where there is a risk of overturning and it is reasonably practicable to fit one.
  • Take a second look – Before you pull into any intersection, turn into a field or driveway or make a move to pass, be 100% sure your path is clear in all directions. This is especially important when entering the road from an unmarked access drive or in an area with particularly high hedges.