Thursday, 16 June 2011

"Use the cycle path!" (here we go again)


The driver of this silver car LC10PYB has a number of excuses for nearly killing me.  He responded to the policeman who wrote to him that I was presenting an unneccesary hazard by not using the shared use cycle path alongside this road.  He was affronted that my presence caused him to have to move further into the offside lane (did he??) than was usually required to pass a bicycle.  He was not apparently to blame at all, as I should not have been there.  He reinforced these points by asserting that his passenger agreed with him.  According to the policeman, who forwarded these comments to me, he is not alone amongst the drivers whose carelessness I have reported in expressing those sentiments.  This is a motorist's mindset that ought, as I have explained in earlier posts, to have been dispelled finally by the quashing of the conviction of Daniel Cadden.

I have tried segregated cycling infrastructure.  I tried it again this week on my way back from a race at Hillingdon when I was willing to spin out at slow speed, but I just cannot see it as a sensible way of travelling a moderate to long distance in a reasonable time.

There is a shocking irony here; that motorists many of whom are highly antagonistic to any attempts to get them to slow down in built up areas or even in some cases hostile to attempts to enforce existing speed limits(and thereby unquestionably to save lives), consider it perfectly reasonable to expect cyclists to sacrifice speed and convenience just to get out of their way or (so some like the driver of LC10PYB imply) it is perfectly alright to endanger our lives by passing by at 50mph with a couple of feet to spare.


  1. Segregated cycle lane provision in this country is by and large bloody awful, bad surfaces in disrepair, those anti-motorbike barriers everywhere, dangerous junctions with roads, pedestrians meandering along them without even occasionally checking if there's a cyclist coming and as you note just s.l.o.w. Proper dutch style cycling infrastructure would be nice and I really hope we get it but until then I'll be using roads.

    Did the policeman rebuff the drivers comments or just say "oh that's alright then" do you know?

  2. Yes it is time we needed the cult of the The Sacred Driving Licence and started pressing for the law to be properly enforced on the roads, for the good of all.

  3. I was passed on a residential back street on Tuesday by a driver only an inch from my handlebars. When I caught up with him and asked him not to pass so close I got a stream of abusive swearing. Then he drove his car directly at me and proceeded to get out and physically assault me.
    My life had been put in danger, his was merely held up for a few seconds. Yet he was almost apoplectic with rage.
    I called the Police who informed me that 'an offence had not been committed' but they would go and 'have words' with the driver.
    The fact that I was assaulted and he had caused a public order offence were not dealt with even though we had witnesses from the shop outside which it happened who also informed us there were CCTV cameras covering the scene!

  4. Donk and a few others have asked me about the policeman's response. He emailed me as follows:

    "I have had a reply from the driver who responds with four points which
    The cyclist was causing a hazard by cycling in the middle of the inside lane of the dual carriageway, thus causing me to move further into the outside lane than usually neccessary when I over took him.
    There was a passenger in my car who also witnessed this individuals erratic cycling.
    This individual was causing an unecessary hazard by being in the dual carriageway when there is a dedicated cycle lane on the pavement next to him.
    I would question his allegation that I caused him to 'struggle to keep control of the bicycle' as this individual was composed enough to shout abus at me and memorise my registration.
    [The police officer then continues]..Point 1 and point 2 have also been mentioned by other drivers. I have offered to send a copy of the video clip to this driver to show how close the vehicles were.
    I am sure the comments are of interest."
    The officer is a cyclist and generally supportive so I am not sure how much to read into the last sentence. I replied but have had no further response.

  5. Bournemouthcyclist, I am sorry that you too have been subject to both the assault and an unacceptable police response. I have been there myself with a motorist whom the Thames Valley Police chose to caution. Some other forces, noteably Greater Manchester, appear to be better. The increasing problem of violence on the roads directed at cyclists needs a firm crackdown.

  6. Rule 163 clearly states to give room to vunerable road users. This is the only issue here.

    I fear it's another case of a vexed car driver 'punishing' a cyclist for having the temerity to use the road rather than some poorly designed cycling farcility :( a worrying trend!

  7. UNTIL more Police Officers get back on the beat in Uniform or plain clothes , the motoring [ublic will treat "cyclists" as obstructions !
    Just finished with the Tour de Suisse where i was told by the head of the "Wurth Sponsors Organisation" that cyclists "were a bloody nuisance by interfering with their passage on the route of the TDS whilst they were working to give their clients a "good time" demonstrates that even those employed in the Cycling Industry do not think about "Cyclists' Safety"!

    Signalling overtaking by Swiss drivers in general is 90% but by those with Sponsor decals is closer to 10% !

    Who will buy a "Focus bike product" when those working for them can't be bothered to promote Cycle Safety when they pass a cyclist by signalling ?

    ALL TOUR employees should be working at showing the public how easy it is to behave in a courteous manner than as they do currently which is driving in a manner unacceptable to the rest of the community !

    Checkout & also @skippydetour where you can win some "Continental tyre products " as you help "Para Athletes" !

  8. OK, important things first. Do you really sing to yourself as you are riding?

    I don't know if it is the effect of the head camera, but some parts of that looked scary (even leaving aside the driver on the cycle path - where did he come from?). I can understand why nobody would want to use such a cycle path. But are you against segregated structure in general or just badly designed and maintained infrastructure? I know that I prefer to use segregated cycle paths when they make the experience of cycling more pleasant. That includes balancing the state of the surface, side roads and driveways, changing from one side of the road to the other against the unpleasantness of cycling close to cars. Here in France, some of the infrastructure is excellent, but it is very variable. I would say that the only place that I have ever cycled where I would always use the cycle path is Holland. The equation works out in favour of the cycle path such a high percentage of the time that you stop working out the best option and just ride where the path goes. Sadly, I don't think that the political will exists either in France or in the UK to create a Dutch quality network.

  9. Ah yes, the "Use the cycle path" yell. I know it well. I will only use cycle lanes that are completely separate from roads. In the UK that means one thing: former railway lines. Anything else will inevitably require me to give way at side roads, which is dangerous, slow, and if I were to pedal at the speeds I normally do on the road would make me the asshole by endangering pedestrians. I can see no reason for me to use them, just so that drivers can get to work or the shops a few seconds sooner. There is no minimum speed limit on ordinary UK roads, so if motorists find themselves having to temporarily go slower than they would wish because of me, then that is their tough luck.

    Does that make me selfish: continuing to do what I have done for decades, namely ride my bicycle in a safe manner, risking nobody else's life, on the roads I have ridden since I was a child, and have contributed to the upkeep of which through my income and council taxes? According to some people I have talked to, including some Stockholm syndrome suffering cyclists, yes. But then I guess moral behaviour means something different to what it once did. These days, not acquiescing to the great sea of desires of the majority, and obstructing in any way the maximal flow of employees and consumers to the destinations at which those desires can be satiated, for somebody's profit, is the ultimate sin. There was a short window during the last century when rationality and morality seemed to be coming into alignment, as religion began to die, but that opportunity is more or less closed now, and the irrational and unsustainable growth of the motorcar has played a role in that process.

    I say irrational, because it is only a perception that I am responsible for making people late. They could have got out of bed ten seconds earlier, but chose not to do so. They could have decided to live closer to their workplace, but had other priorities. All the traffic coming the other way, preventing them from overtaking, is surely as much to blame as me. But then those oncoming cars belong to fellow motorists, in other words members of the same tribe. All the traffic calming installations that restrict the space in which to overtake, were only added because motorists cannot be trusted to drive at safe speeds in built-up areas. And, finally, there is the often excessive width of the driver's own vehicle. For example, the current-model Range Rover (not an uncommon vehicle on the roads of Britain these days) is substantially more that the width of an average road bicycle wider than a 1980s-era Ford Fiesta. Lots of people currently driving Range Rovers learnt to drive in Ford Fiestas during the 1980s, so it is not surprising that they are amongst the least patient and most unaware of the space they are taking up, of all drivers. But it is not just luxury marques that hog more and more of the road space: a current-model Ford Focus is wider than a 1980s-era Range Rover. But, given the not insignificant contribution the Range Rover alone makes to the UK's meagre balance of payments, I guess the chances of a statutory maximum width for passenger vehicles is extremely low. Probably about as likely as tearing up half of Britain's verges, widening and resurfacing thousands of miles of pavements, and demolishing billions of pounds worth of private property to make way for the Dutch or Danish-style cycling infrastructure that segregationist think would solve all our problems.