Legal Protection for Cyclists
In a recent judgment handed down by the Johannesburg High Court where an 8-ton truck passed by a cyclist and its wind-rush and tail-end vortex caused the cyclist to fall and be injured, the court found that a motorist has certain duties when overtaking a cyclist:
- The motorist is under a duty to be aware of the effect of wind-rush and tail-end vortex caused by the vehicle being driven. The larger the vehicle and the faster it is moving, the more marked the effect will be.
- The motorist is under a duty to assess whether there is sufficient space between the cyclist and the oncoming traffic to pass through the gap without interfering with the cyclist.
- The motorist is under a duty to observe the road surface on which the cyclist is riding, the weather conditions, especially the presence and effect of wind and rain which could lead to the cyclist weaving on the road.
- As a rule of thumb, the prudent distance to allow is not less than 1 metre, if the motorist is travelling at a modest speed, and 1.5 m, if traveling faster.
- Where the cyclist is a child, the motorist is expected to be aware of the possible erratic nature of the way in which the child may ride the bicycle.
- A motorist who drives past a cyclist close enough that the wind-rush or tail-end vortex causes the cyclist to wobble is negligent.
- If a cyclist is interfered with by wind-rush or tail-end vortex, and as a result of that interference, suffers injuries and damages, the motorist is liable to that cyclist.