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Road Safety

I guess most of us feel that at times the roads in the UK are pretty inhospitable places. Particularly during commuting hours city roads are a death trap, but also I doubt there are many of us who haven’t had near misses or accidents out on the open road because of inconsiderate or simply incapable drivers.

We cyclists have as much right to use road space as anyone else (in fact one could possibly make good case that we have more right!) but I constantly feel like ‘car culture’ has a strangle hold on UK roads and that we are merely an inconvenience.

So, what do you feel needs to be done to make the roads a safer and more hospitable place for cyclists?


  • To kick off, I feel that reducing the number of cars on the roads would solve a lot of evils; therefore a more widespread introduction of congestion charging would get my vote. Also making city centres traffic free zones (bar busses & taxis) during the daytime would help. Both of these ideas would force people out of their cars, many of whom might switch to cycling.

    Also making some sort of cycling proficiency part of a car driving test would increase driver’s awareness of cyclists.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Yep, at least a compulsory mention and some questions about cyclists as part of the driving test. Or maybe a compulsory video - proper special effects and all, a real video nasty - showing exactly what happens when you use a push-bike as a crumple zone.

    Education is the key. A straw poll around friends tells me that drivers are totally unaware that cyclists have a right to wobble and that it is the responsibility of car drivers to make allowance for it.

    Harsher penalties for drivers who hit cyclists sounds good, too, but I'm not convinced that this sort of thing works as a deterrent and I may be straying into vengeance territory there.
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    More cyclists doing more cycling.

    Cycling tends to be safer where it is most common (e.g. Netherlands).

    The more cyclists, the more drivers understand how to deal with them.
    The more cyclists, the less drivers there are.

    I started riding to work the year before last. Stopped when it got too dangerous. (Started running instead!).

    Recently I've started again (it's the only way to get enough miles on the clock). I've radically altered my route though - it's longer (which is good). But, counter-intuitively, I'm going up some theoretically busier roads - the main arterial ones. This means that I can use the bus lanes a lot. Which makes a huge difference. The number of near-misses has declined a lot.

    Again, there are a lot more cyclists this year than there were in 2007. And it's the summer holiday, so everyone is abroad crashing their hire cars into Spanish cyclists instead.

    For now, route planning and defensive cycling is the way to go!
  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    I always find my three biggest problems are:

    -general awareness - like turning left without looking, caught me out a month or so ago and the woman was oblivious when I clipped her bumper with my front wheel whilst the back one was off the ground under heavy breaking, very close to an accident, but also a lot of people lack awareness out of the car (think of walking down the street and someone stops right in front of you or steps in your path - same issue) and I'm not sure how this could be fixed.

    -the "im in a car so I should overtake bikes" mentality, one of the most dangerous for me. riding in London its amazing how many people will approach you from behind and either beep (even if you are moving at the same speed as the traffic!) or attempt a dangerous overtake on tight roads very close to the cyclist just for me to pass them 2 seconds later when they reach the car in front. This one is more of a forward thinking issue and should be taught when learning to drive.

    -the "look for car sized objects when giving way at a junction" problem, resulting in the car driving out of the junction right in front of my bike even though the driver has looked directly at me the size of my vehicle seems to make it impossible to see me). This is just laziness.
  • I think fixing the roads would drastically reduce a lot of the issues. For example, the unpredictability of cyclist angers a lot of drivers and this, well in my case, is mainly down to avoiding what can only be described as death holes on the side of the road.

    Agree wth harsher penalties for drivers that hit cyclists and also a name and shame policy. Maybe all dirvers that have been convicted of hitting cyclist should be made to have a large sign attached to their roof indicating that they have no idea how to drive!!!
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    the car driving out of the junction right in front of my bike even though the driver has looked directly at me
    You get this problem on motorbikes, too. You start to develop a 2nd sense that says the driver has not seen you... on a scary number of occasions I've already being doing an emergency stop even before the car started pulling out.

    On advanced motorcycle training (many, many years ago) the instructor told me that there is a natural animal reaction to spot things staring right at you. When you see a car at a junction don't look at the bonnet or wheel: look directly at the driver's eyes. If he/she is looking in your direction they WILL see you. Look at the front of the bumper and you are invisible. Weird, but it has saved my skin many times. You sometimes see people jump when a push/motor bike suddenly 'appears' in their view as they make eye contact.

    Drifting off-topic a little, there, but it seemed apropos.
  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    In terms of a fix, the main one id say is that drivers need to experience being a cyclist to really understand the issues we face - theory doesnt do it justice
  • huwdhuwd Posts: 228
    Bopomofo wrote:
    the car driving out of the junction right in front of my bike even though the driver has looked directly at me
    You start to develop a 2nd sense that says the driver has not seen you...
    Thats very true - I've only been caught a couple of times but theres definitely a lot you can read from the driver (speed, time spent looking, road position etc.) that really can help to get you one step ahead.
  • jibby26jibby26 Posts: 261
    There are three major problems as I see it.

    1. Whilst drivers think the the quality of the road is rubbish a lot of the time with pot-holes that make their journey a bit bumpy, they have little appreciation for how many more pot-holes there are at the kerb where they want us cycling and what effect they have on a bike. The result being they do not expect us to swerve to avoid a hole that will cause us to crash.

    2. Drivers don't appreciate that some cyclists can be quite fast, hence pull out into a gap based distance they could cycle in a given time, but as uber fit triathletes we go faster hence it's not really a gap.

    3. Cycling on pavements is now so commonplace (it really annoys me as a pedestrain around town) that drivers (who rarely walk) expect cyclists to use a footpath which is wholely unsuitable.
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    I can only really agree with the above - the road surfaces are ridiclous, drivers (particularly London's black cab and bus drivers) seem to think that they always have right of way over a cycle, people don't bother to check their mirrors before turning/changing lanes. In short a lot of people have no conisideration - although that goes for both cyclists and motorists.

    Solution, put them on a bike and then have a 10 tonne loory decided that the bus lane actually belongs to it and let them squeeze the said driver into the kerb, then once they have ridden home in their p*ss soaked underwear they may have some consideration in the future.

    Or, just throw any driver who does not also cycle at least 3 times a week to the wolves and leave the roads virtually car free for the rest of us.
  • JellybabyJellybaby Posts: 180
    Unfortunately, unless something can be done about London's frankly atrocious transport system, then we can't do anything about the number of cars on the road. Having commuted for a few years using buses/trains/tubes/walking, there is no room for more people to get onto public transport. I think most people that drive into London probably do so because they need to - I wouldn't drive in London unless there was absolutely no way to avoid it, it's slow and much faster on a bike

    Awareness needs to be addressed in the driving test. but that won't help. I know the first thing I did after passing my test was find a nice relatively quiet bit of road with lots of nice corners to drive about in far too quickly. And how many drivers actually drive with both hands on the wheel all the time - my point being that most of the stuff in your driving test is ignored fairly shortly after.

    Maybe drivers should be made to cycle so they can appreciate the plight of the cyclist, especially when it comes to narrow roads and overtaking dangerously only to be overtaken by the cyclist a couple of seconds later. However, (this isn't going to be popular) maybe cyclists should have a crack at driving too. I imagine it will be a bit of an eye opener as to where we can position ourselves on the roads so we can be seen, and just how irritating it is when a cyclist zooms across in front of you to go round other traffic when you are trying to go forward in the car.I try and use bus lanes where practical, obviously stopping buses make this tricky, and try to avoid using cycle lanes if there's enough road - I don't want a puncture from all the crap that gets swept off the main carriageway into them or from the pot holes of doom.

    Obviously it would be ideal if everyone knew what everyone else was going to do all the time. I agree that drivers are mainly at fault as they are in control of 3 tonnes of potential cyclist killer and often seem to have switched off (like the guy who pulled round from behind me into a petrol station, smashing my bike and my arm - c*nt). No cars would be great but is thoroughly impractical.

    How many of you want more cyclists on the road (other than to make cycling more common and safer as in the Netherlands example). I spend most of my morning commute watching cyclists who I've previously overtaken sail past me across a red light at a traffic junction and then swear at a driver who nearly hits them coming across the junction, then proceed to overtake them again a bit later. That and trying to avoid the ones who decide at the last minute that they are going to use a different lane and swerve across without looking behind them (this is a personal thing, I' do a little bit of track cycling and am used to checking over the shoulder to make sure I'm not going to get bashed in). I'd like less cars on the roads with no increase in cyclists. (rant over)

    Everyone needs to read the road. Drivers should look and realise that overtaking the cyclist is not going to make things any faster for them before that next light turns red. Cyclists need to keep a bit of awareness about other road users, especially if a car driver is behaving like a c*nt, just drop behind them until you can overtake and get a fair way ahead. You WILL lose if he decides to take offence to you and rams your bike.

    Finally, all triathletes should be allowed to mount disintegration lasers in their tri bars to remove all traffic in their path
  • JellybabyJellybaby Posts: 180
    Whoops, immensely long rambling post. Sorry chaps and chappettes
  • durhamvamdurhamvam Posts: 246
    ok in general I agree with most of the comments above but I'm bored (away for work at a central research facility - five hours into a 24 hour shift!) so I'm just going to sit back and get flamed

    Perhaps a bit more defensive cycling and awareness on behalf of (the minority) of cyclists would be a good idea too

    I've lost count of the number of times I've nearly been run down on a pedestrian crossing/ cut up at traffic lights/ seen someone whizzing down the left hand side of a bus indicating left/ had someone appear out of nowhere without looking etc etc

    For my own safety I like to be predictable and smilely where possible (and its surprising how often you can be) and I get really fed up with people who won't wait to overtake me even 20 seconds.
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    vam, I completely agree there is a breed of cyclist who has no regard for the road, rules or anything and they are as much a danger as cars (mainly as to avoid crashing into them means you swerve in front of a car/bus etc) and during the recent tube strikes there was an inordinate number of them commuting and putting everyone in danger. It was so bad that I ended up cycling half way home chatting to another cyclist who commutes regularly discussing it...but she was very pretty though
  • FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    There's a bloke here at work who keeps bangin on about how much he hates cyclists!

    Truth of the matter is there's a wide a range of good and bad cyclists as there are good and bad drivers, pedestrians etc. Therefore I always always ride cautiously. I'd rather arrive 10mins later at work than stressed out or not at all.

    Need to get a better bell though. That little 'ping' annoys the hell out of me. Might see if I can strap an airhorn on to my handlebars.
  • I was in the Netherlands for a long weekend recently in Den Haag and was astounded by the sheer number of cyclists and a noticeable lack of obesity because of it!! Apparently, there are 2 bikes per head of population and they have the infrastructure in place for it to be possible to cycle just about everywhere.

    Our friends lost their car when we did need to drive somewhere as they hadn't used it for several weeks and couldn't remember where it was parked!!

    Cyclists really are kings there. We borrowed a couple of bikes to experience it first hand - it was a real eye opener for sure. We cycled eveywhere: to the markets, to the shops, to the bars, to the beach. It was incredibly liberating and safe to know that cyclists aren't inferior road users espcially as my GF doesn't cycle generally I had piece of mind she would be safe.

    Back down to earth with a bump and cycling on UK roads!! The costs to put the equivalent in place in the UK would be astronomical and sadly wasted but for a minority. There does seem to be a mentality that people just don't want to get out of their cars here.

    I'm about to renew my road tax and found out its reducing by 30 quid for the 12 months as of April next year - I'm happy about it but isn't it sending the wrong message on sustainability and alternative forms of transport?!? Sure, its an economical car and due to home location I don't have any alternatives but its sending out the wrong message if you ask me.

    I've commuted to work by bike for years in the past, both in open country and city centre and i loved it and miss it. I passed my cycling proficiency (is this still going these days?!?) when I was 10yo through a course at primary school 25 years ago!! so I know how to cycle and I always give cyclists the respect when I'm out driving as I know what its like to be there and be vulnerable.

    I work alongside a transportation team and I can say that cycling and providing useful cycling infrastructure is not high on anybodies agenda unfortunately. Road charging schemes on a larger scale of one form or another are inevitable though, its just a matter of time.
  • I've had enough ! I get so totally p1ssed off with drivers continually overtaking with inches to spare I've started giving them the nescafe shake, not big or clever but I'VE HAD ENOUGH.

    I realise I'm now equally as likley to be the victim of road rage, as I am sprawled accross the bonnet of Honda Civic with blacked out windows, but I just can't help myself.

    And breathe.
  • ShaggyShaggy Posts: 140
    I go with 'if I can spit in your window you were too close, stop and discuss it if you want to!'

  • sportevesporteve Posts: 141
    i am a new cyclist and this is only my second week i have been commuting to work which is in the west end of london
    everytime i reach my destination i consider myself lucky to be alive and standing - it is a shame we have as cyclists to feel this way but at least i am relieved to know i am not the only one!
    i agree with all the comments made here and i think the most important thing it to infiltrate awareness, awareness, awareness mainly through the media and advertisement in the hope that any ignorant idiotic driver will be exposed to it
    i also believe in the power by numbers so the more of us there is out there the more drivers and even pedestrians will take notice - we however as cyclists also need to show the same awareness and not take advantages
    my experiences so far are the same as many of you, cars and especially taxis that feel the need to overtake you no matter what your speed and how tight the space is, others that literally brush by you etc
    absolutely no one is willing to give you the space you can rightfully have on the road so no matter what you have to move to the curb
    they even try to push you to the very side when you try to keep a safe distance from parked cars (apparently most accidents involving cyclists happen by idiots that open doors without looking)
    as for traffic lights it seems i am one of few cyclists who stop when they are red! almost everybody else either thinks they are constantly green or only stop at major ones and when they do it is not for the whole time it is red - now how is this right? imagine if cars would do this: 'oh its ok, it seems nobody is coming the other way i think i'l cross over...'
    i try to cycle as safely as possible and respect all the road rules but it feels i am one of very few and to the annoyance of many cowboys out there both drivers and cyclists!
    london feels like a very dangerous place to cycle most of the time and not the right one to be practising my race pace so i will stick to be careful and legal and hope for the best!
  • durhamvamdurhamvam Posts: 246
    Ohh don't get me started on opening car doors

    I once went into a truck door that some idiot opened into me and the wheel arch went right up over my arm - it was sooo lucky I was on a hybrid thing and not a road bike or I would have gone into it head first and been toast. As it was bits of truck went everywhere instead.
  • diddsdidds Posts: 655
    much good sense written hear and I;m not sure i'll add much, but I see it falls into several areas:

    *crap driving by SOME/many drivers : not enough road awareness generally which is potentially lethal with regard to cyclists; not enough appreciation as to what cycling is in reality on (British) roads

    *crap cycling by SOME/many cyclists : not enough road awareness of there impact on traffic, and how they need to control traffic at times; too much blatant law breaking (e.g. red lights) possibly also through ignorance (eg pavement riding)

    *Ignorance (deliberate?) and myopia : e.g. "Cyclists don't pay road tax so shouldn't use the road" - I'd wager that the majority of cyclists in the UK DO pay road tax ... on their cars that they have chosen not to drive on that journey. Own a car of a certain vintage and you don;t pay road tax either - I wonder if such owners get the same argument? I suspect now...

    *A car centric culture : even in these times of concern over the environment, what is the ONLY industry outside of finance that has been HUGELY compensated by public funds? The car lobby has so much political clout. And programs like Top Gear only promote this vision of car is king etc.

    *well intentioned but ultimately IMO "initiatives" : e.g. cycle lanes which have created a perception (incorrect) amongst many that cyclist MUST be in a cycle lane. Cycle routes that in fact are fine for weekend family fun, but useless for day to day commuting. Sustrans has done a great job in many ways - but its created another perception, that cycling is a leisure activity away from roads and cars, rather than actually being a viable alternative to motorised transport.

    *an increasingly centralised office culture that requires more and more people to drive miles to reach a place of work and return, rather than working at smaller, local offices or even (*hush my mouth*) from home which today's technology makes very feasible.

    *public transport systems that are based on reactive processes rather than proactive - more trains and buses will be provided when the market requires it... but the expanded market is not prepared to suffer waits and crowded public transport until service providers later provide the additional resources. And which do not serve the communities they serve unless they are wanting to make a shopping trip in the late morning or early afternoon. round these parts you can;t even GET a bus to the nearest railway station for a 7 am train! possibly not even a 7.30 am train! And possibly not a bus to get you back after 6pm...

    *public transport fares that make driving, even in a single occupancy car, cheaper!


    *all round education and methods of CPD wrt road use
    *a genuine and affordable public transport system that WORKS
    *by all means "tax" to encourage alternative transport but provision for genuine alternativces must be made... otherwise its is merely a revenue raising initiative.
    *promote de-centralised working and tele-commuting

  • clv101clv101 Posts: 45
    I was in the Netherlands for a long weekend recently in Den Haag and was astounded by the sheer number of cyclists and a noticeable lack of obesity because of it!!
    Same in Copenhagen, I was there a couple of months ago and snapped this:

    It is a it chicken and egg thing, biking would be better in every way if more people did it. If just one out of ten drivers in a city switched to a bike it would make a huge difference.

    Road quality is crazy though, today I did a 37mile loop between Bristol and Clevedon on fairly busy B-roads. There must have been at least a dozen holes a metre or more from the edge of the road a few inches deep. Hard to spot at 25mph with dappled sunlight through trees!
  • sorry to play devils advocate here, but as a motorcyclist, car driver and a cyclist i do see the road from all perspectives. i do think drivers are inconsiderate to cyclists, but on that same point, cyclists riding in big groups 3 abreast is actually illegal isnt it? if your 3 abreast and a car drives too close then you cant complain. but if youre on your own and a car gets too close then do whatever it takes to make them realise the fact
  • ShaggyShaggy Posts: 140
    Agree with the fact that you seem to have to be a certified moron to work in road/cycle lane design.

    look here


    scroll through the pictures in horror, but read and howl with laughter at witty captions.

  • jibby26jibby26 Posts: 261
    Shaggy wrote:
    Agree with the fact that you seem to have to be a certified moron to work in road/cycle lane design.

    look here


    scroll through the pictures in horror, but read and howl with laughter at witty captions.

    Excellent, got a couple of odd looks as I chuckled at some of them in the office.
  • got a lot of funny looks because of my chuckling which makes it even funnier considering I am currently working in a civil engineering design office!!
  • risris Posts: 1,002
    i'm not sure i have anything new to add, much of what i think has been said (mainly by jellybaby and didds). i'm a motorist and cyclist and i think i benefit from being both - coming to cycling from 10years of driving made quite a difference to me as i suspect that i think more like a motorist.

    i think the problem lies in intolerance, inconsiderateness and a desire to assign group-blame. just because a beemer cuts me up while i'm driving doesn't mean all beemer drivers are tw*ts (actually, maybe it does... ) and in the same way just because some cyclists run red lights doesn't mean that all cyclists do.

    personally i think that cyclists should be considered as a part of traffic. this means that they have a responsibility to obey the rules of the road (no red light jumping, hopping on and off pavements etc). it should also mean that they are afforded the same respect as traffic by other road users; given necessary space etc. personally, i rarely filter in traffic at queues, if there are 5 cars between me and the lights then i'm going to save little time and all i will do is hold up those 5 cars a bit unnecessarily. i filter more in london but that's only because i want to get to my destination today!

    sometimes i wonder if there is a general thing of being inconsiderate, as if each of us sees outselves as so damned important that we have to be there first, beat the lights and get in front of the guy ahead. the delay from the guy doing 29mph in a 30 is bad enough, so the cyclist is nothing short of scandalous in this mentality. bullying and intimidation of other road users, particularly vulnerable ones (and cyclists are far more vulnerable) seems self defeating to me.

    i think we should all try to be aware of other road users and act in the most considerate way that gets us all from a to b as smoothly and safely as possible. it can't be that hard, can it?!
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    Picking up on a couple of points only, since most of my sentiments have already been echoed here...

    Firstly, if there does happen to be anybody who can integrate lasers into tri bars, please get in touch, I have cash waiting.

    Anyway, yes, cyclists are a bit unpredictable but it's essential to be able to wiggle round potholes as the alternative is lying down even more suddenly. They (we) need to be treated as per the highway code definition of "vulnerable road users". Would most car drivers speed past a horse at 60? Well then, don't do the same to a cyclist. I always thank a driver who gives me plenty of space.

    Dual use pavement and cycle lanes are impractical because you have to give way at each junction with a side road, they're not designed for travelling at any kind of speed above about 10mph, pedestrians stray into them because they just don't look, and they get filled with detritus because they don't get used very much. And they don't get used much because... well, see above.
    Bus lanes are ok, except for taxis who are genetically blind to cyclists, and when they're textured bus lanes, that's totally rubbish for cycling on.

    Finally, picking up on the comment about looking into people's eyes - this genuinely does work. Also helps to determine whether or not you have been seen!
  • durhamvamdurhamvam Posts: 246
    They have made a laser thing that projects green lines on the road on either side of the bike - sort of your own private bike lane, shame it doesn't incinerate cars that intrude though

    Oh and trust me they whizz close past horses too only its easier to scrape down the roof with a stirrup than a pedal!
  • bulletbullet Posts: 115
    I was nerly taken out by a women in a Peugeot 307 today , she started to pull out on me at an island ,then thought better of it .......can't repeat what I said *@%$ .

    My sister used to live in China , and they have cycle lanes which are a full car sizes lane with a kerb in between the main road .

    Would be tooo expensive here I guess ?

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