Farmers have been reminded to be extra vigilant for cyclists and motorbike riders with roads set to get busier this spring as the lockdown eases.

As the weather improves, more cyclists and motorcyclist are expected to take to rural roads, just as farmers are preparing for the busy silage season.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has asked anyone driving tractors and trailers to be extra careful.

See also: Road rules reminder: Trailer safety, tractor speed and licences

UFU rural affairs chairman Jennifer Hawkes said: “Farmers will be coming in and out of fields onto public roads very often.

It’s important that they keep an eye out for bikes and muck or debris that has fallen from their tractor or equipment, and we would ask them to keep the road clear.

“Debris and muck pose a hazard as it can create a slippery surface, which would be made worse by rain and could have the potential to cause a serious accident, especially if on a corner.”

Motorcycle Action Group UK has reminded motorcyclists to ride appropriately for the conditions and consider what dangers there may be on rural roads, such as tractors using field entrances.

Advice to prevent collisions with cyclists and bikers

  • Stay alert Recognise that you are in an environment where you might encounter groups of road cyclists enjoying a Tuesday evening bash or a Sunday spin.
  • Be seen Always use your amber warning beacon if you are travelling on an unrestricted (70mph) dual carriageway and where the maximum speed of the vehicle does not exceed 25mph. It is at your discretion to use the beacon at other times and at other locations. 
  • Slow down Farm vehicles often travel at slow speeds anyway, but resist the temptation to assume you are the only vehicle on the road. On the flat, a group of cyclists can easily be travelling at 20-25mph and they can suddenly 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 Road cyclists have their own hand signals, but they also need to know where you are going, especially if you are making a wide left-hand turn. Always use your mirrors and 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.

Source: Farm Safety Foundation