Cyclists are urged to seek eye contact in tricky road situations. Photo: Chris Sant FournierCyclists are urged to seek eye contact in tricky road situations. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Cyclists encounter 90 distracted drivers every 1000 kilometres they travel, a worrying trend that an advocacy group is warning riders about ahead of an awareness ride tomorrow.

“Distracted driving is a worrying trend and cyclists are urged to seek eye contact at junctions and other tricky road situations,” James Wightman, from the Bicycling Advocacy Group, said.

“There is very little that a person on a bike can do. Our advice in this situation is: if in doubt, shout.

Despite this trend, the group has collected “promising” data that show there has been a reduction in other incidents that put cyclists’ life at risk.

The number of reported near misses – when a driver passes too close to a cyclist – has fallen slightly.

Reported cases of drivers emerging from side streets into the path of a cyclist have dropped by nearly half when compared to 2012.

Number of near misses has gone down

There were 16 reported incidents of a door opening into a cyclist’s path for every 1,000 kilometres travelled, compared to 27 in 2012.

Drivers overtaking and making a left turn across a rider’s path has become slightly less common, although there are still just as many drivers making a right turn and cutting across.

Mr Wightman was speaking to this newspaper ahead of a bicycle awareness meeting tomorrow at the Chalet promenade in Sliema between 10am and 11.30am as part of a campaign to promote cycling and the safety of road users.

The event, organised by a coalition of cycling organisations, is being held after a protest calling for safer roads was cancelled in May following a “positive” meeting with Transport Malta and the minister.

Many group members will be riding their bikes to the event from various parts of the island to raise awareness of how easy it is to get around by bicycle.

Sliema Mayor Anthony Chircop, who is also planning to attend, said signs would go up on the street along the promenade in the coming months warning drivers that they are sharing the road with cyclists.

Riding a bicycle, he said, was not allowed on the promenade, so it was only fair that cyclists had some form of protection on the road.

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