Always keep a safe distance when passing cyclists
The Government has taken actions to increase cycling. The COVID-19 pandemic has also boosted the popularity of bicycles. With the start of the holiday season, it is therefore highly likely that there will be increasing numbers of cyclists on the parts of the roads without special tracks dedicated to cycling. To make holiday travelling smooth, nice and safe, the Police would like to draw the car drivers’ attention to the safe way to overtake cyclists and take them into consideration.
According to the Road Traffic Act, the overtaking vehicle must keep a safe distance to the vehicle or pedestrian being passed, also taking care that the passing does not endanger anyone. This also applies to situations involving cars and cyclists. The Finnish law does not provide for any particular minimum distance for passing a cyclist, but several other countries give a specific statutory requirement, at least 1.5 metres, which is a good rule of thumb for us, too.
The air current caused by the passing vehicle can, alone, cause danger to the cyclist. So please, do not hesitate to pass the cyclist using the opposing traffic lane. You should also decrease your speed when passing a cycle to reduce the impact of the air current. The overtake situation must be safe, and the passing vehicle driver must ensure that there is sufficient free space on the road ahead and that the distance to the other vehicle being passed is constantly wide enough. If you cannot ensure this, you should wait for a safe place to overtake. The passing vehicle driver is responsible for safety.
When cycling, stay as close to the right edge as possible
The cyclist being passed also has responsibilities. According to the Road Traffic Act, the vehicle being overtaken on the left – the opposing traffic’s side – must drive as close to the right edge as possible, considering the rest of the traffic and overall circumstances. It is important for car drivers to understand that the road edges are often spotted by frost damage, there may be rumble strips or other factors preventing driving and making cycling at the edge line not safe so that the cycle must be a little further away from the edge line.
You must not speed up or otherwise make passing more difficult. Those driving at a speed essentially lower than others must, on a narrow or curvy road, or when the opposing traffic is heavy, decrease their own speed and, if possible, give way to facilitate the passing situation. In such cases, it is permissible to drive on the roadside if this does not endanger safety or otherwise prevent other traffic.
Cyclist, make yourself visible! Visible outfits and lights make cycling safer, especially in rain, dusk or in otherwise poorer visibility conditions.