As a former professional cyclist and now behind the wheel of one of Team Sky’s support vehicles at the Tour de France, Servais Knaven has covered hundreds of thousands of miles in the saddle and in the driver’s seat.
There’s not much he hasn’t seen on the road, and he has a unique perspective on why cyclists and drivers get angry with each other.
“It’s scary when vehicles pass too close when I’m riding, or if a driver pulls out without checking the road first and nearly hits me. But cyclists also do dangerous things, such as cutting in front of me when I’m driving and coasting through red lights. Our roads are busier than ever and the situation becomes dangerous when people are only interested in their own journey,” said Knaven.
One change Knaven wants is for cyclists and drivers to stop seeing themselves as two separate groups competing for road space. He believes we are all road users – that we’re all in it together, trying to get where we’re going safely.
“Improving infrastructure in cities is a step in the right direction, to enable drivers and cyclists to have dedicated road space, but I’d also like to see a change in mindset. We need to show more patience and consideration when road space is limited. It doesn’t matter if you’re primarily a cyclist or a driver, we all should watch out for each other and share the road,” he said.
A recent survey showed 63 per cent of UK cyclists have experienced aggressive behaviour from drivers. Another poll had 86 per cent of UK drivers saying there should be tougher penalties for riders who speed or jump red lights.
Team Sky, the world’s premiere cycling team, supports our ‘Share The Road’ campaign that aims to foster greater harmony and empathy between both drivers and cyclists. We are the team’s exclusive supplier of cars and vans, and this year that includes a specially liveried ‘Share The Road’ Ford Ranger pickup to scout in front of the riders to recce the road ahead on each race stage.
As part of the campaign, we recently produced a groundbreaking virtual reality experience. ‘WheelSwap’ shows first-hand the potential consequences of inconsiderate driving and riding. Initial studies show that after undergoing the experience, nearly all participants said they would change their behaviour.
“Everyone makes mistakes on the road, whether you’re a cyclist scooting up the inside of the traffic or a driver opening a car door without looking. But getting angry doesn’t solve anything. Having a better understanding of how it is for the other person, as with WheelSwap, goes a long way to creating more empathy on the roads,” said Knaven.