Keeping safe

CatInTheHat

New Member
Hi,

I'm new to this forum. I've had a few near misses recently on my commute. All in the morning on the way in to work. I would appreciate any advice on keeping myself as safe as possible.

Near miss 1 - 1 week ago
Approaching a left turn. Car overtakes on the right, gets to about 1 metre in front, no indication and turns left, cutting me up. I had to emergency brake and missed him by literally a few centimetres.

Near miss 2 - last friday
Big junction in Vauxhall, at a set of traffic lights that feeds into 5 lanes. I signal and move into the 3rd lane (for waterloo). I'm in position for a few seconds and when I look to my right I see a car heading straight for me that has just left the lights. I try to make eye contact without success. The car comes along side and continues the manoeuvre as if I wasn't there. I had to change lanes with them to avoid being hit. Thank god the car to my left saw what was happenning and gave me space.

Near miss 3 - yesterday
Almost identical to miss 1 (it was even at the same junction) except the driver hadn't even passed me by before turning. Had to turn left with them just to avoid a collision.

I've been cycling since March without any major incidents until these 3. I consider myself quite careful - I try not to get into positions that leave me vunerable. The only thing I don't do is wear high-visibility clothing - but with the current weather I'm not sure it would have made much difference to these situations.

My confidence is seriously shaken at the moment. I'm starting to think I'm not being careful enough or not doing enough to keep myself visible to drivers.

I would really appreciate any advice. I don't want to stop commuting on my bike but I'm seriously considering it at the moment.
 
I've found adopting a more dominant position at problem points as you would in a car helps reduce these events (be warned it doesn't work against all numpties though :-( )
Jonny Jeez wrote quite a good guide on things.
 
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CatInTheHat

New Member
Thanks HLaB,

That's a really useful guide! I haven't read it all yet, but I'll give it a good read over lunch.

I have to admit that I tend to adopt the "secondary" position most of the time. My concern was that adopting a more dominant position would annoy other road users to the extent that they get impatient with me.

I'll try to adopt the primary position more often (especially in danger areas) and see what effect that has.

Thanks!
 
No matter what you do there are some idiots on the road. The biggest one to worry about isn't (IMO) the 'didn't see you' left hook, it's the 'clearly did see you but since I was at least 10cm in front of you by the time I needed to turn left I had right of way' left hook. There have been some of those to me recently, where I KNOW they've 'seen' me as they've had to overtake me, and then they turn left anyway.

If you've been done twice at the same junction, it sounds like you'll need to take stronger positioning there if possible. Are you turning right at the junction or is there a straight-on for cyclists? And yes, a more dominant position does annoy some motorists but then at least they've noticed you...

Not quite the same situation but I have a junction on my commute where the light is normally red; I'm going straight on (cycle lane on the left); many motorists want to turn left but don't indicate. Even if I'm stationary at the junction (lights red) they will pull up and as the lights go green left hook as if I wasn't there; without indicating! Now I make full use of the ASL at that junction (right hand lane) - and if I'm being 'obstructive' at least I'm alive and un-squashed.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
Not much you can do...

Incident 1 - Shout Very Loudly
Incident 2 - Shout Very Loudly and punch car
Incident 3 - Shout Very Loudly and pray..... they either back off or carry on...50/50

Make sure you don't gutter hug, especially near left turns.

Pedal fast, look mean and perfect your Kilngon Death Stare......:blush::rolleyes:
 

Origamist

Legendary Member
Location
Sandbach
A crude way of looking at left hooks is that you tend to get two types:

1. Driver looks but does not properly gauge your speed (or doesn't care) and cuts you up as he attempts to turn left.

2. Drivers simply does not look or does not see you, or does not register you correctly.

My experience is that I get far more 1s than 2s, but 2s tends to be more serious.

If you're coming to junction, look behind and see if any approaching vehicles are indicating or slowing, get more central in the lane (it gives you more time to take evasive action), cover the brakes if you're not already doing so, watch the tyres to see if a left hook is imminent once they're along side, brake in anticipation of a left turn if they're still parallel with you. If they're along side and are turning (i.e about to hit you), try to turn left with them and shout.

Vauxhall is an area I avoid, depending on the direction I'm travelling in.

Funnily enough, I had a left hook incident yesterday, I'll post it on this thread later.
 
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CatInTheHat

New Member
Yeah, I try to assume that all other road users are idiots by default. Then, when they're not, you get pleasently surprised. Better this way round, IMO, rather than assuming everyone is decent and then get squashed.

SavageHoutkop said:
Are you turning right at the junction or is there a straight-on for cyclists? And yes, a more dominant position does annoy some motorists but then at least they've noticed you...
The road is straight on, with a left turn. So it's basically a left turn where I go straight on (not a T-juntion at all!). The dominant position is definitely something I will try here. The road is fairly narrow at this point, so it will stop overtakes until after the turn.

The lack-of-indication thing annoys me the most. I don't think drivers realise how valuable this information is to cyclists - especially at left turns. I guess I didn't realise how useful it is until I started cycling either, so I can't really blame drivers for this. It's more of a lack of education or understanding.
 
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CatInTheHat

New Member
fossyant said:
Not much you can do...

Incident 1 - Shout Very Loudly
Incident 2 - Shout Very Loudly and punch car
Incident 3 - Shout Very Loudly and pray..... they either back off or carry on...50/50

Make sure you don't gutter hug, especially near left turns.

Pedal fast, look mean and perfect your Kilngon Death Stare......:blush::rolleyes:
Hahaha. Good advice. I'm definitely a gutter hugger at the moment. This will need to change!

I also didn't shout. Didn't even think of it whilst in the situations...thinking about it, the drivers probably haven't realised they had put me in these situations so shouting helps to keep cyclists in people's minds
 

gaz

Cycle Camera TV
Location
South Croydon
CatInTheHat said:
My concern was that adopting a more dominant position would annoy other road users to the extent that they get impatient with me.
You will get some twip that gets impatient, but this would probably be the numpty that passes too close or does a left hook.

Origamist said:
Funnily enough, I had a left hook incident yesterday, I'll post it on this thread later.
It will be intresting to see how it looks from your camera position.
 
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CatInTheHat

New Member
Origamist said:
A crude way of looking at left hooks is that you tend to get two types:

1. Driver looks but does not properly guage your speed and cuts you up as he attempts to turn left.

2. Drivers simply does not look or does not see you.

My experience is that I get far more 1s than 2s, but 2s tends to be more serious.
That's generally my experience too. I think I had one of each in the misses I mentioned...although I'm slightly suspicious of miss 3 as they gave my quite a lot of room before turning.

Origamist said:
...watch the tyres to see if a left hook is imminent once they're along side, brake in anticipation of a left turn if they're still parallel with you.
Watching the tyres is a great bit of advice. That hadn't occurred to me. I normally look for indication, but the tyre idea is way more reliable!

Origamist said:
Vauxhall is an area I avoid, depending on the direction I'm travelling in.
It's normally been OK for me. The lights are usually red, so you can get to the front of the queue and place yourself right in front of cars.
That said, if I have another miss 2 experience I think I may seek alternative routes!

I'm interested in hearing other peoples experiences...especially in or around London.
 

dondare

Über Member
Location
London
Expect all these things all the time and you won't get caught unawares.
Cycling is common - serious cycling accidents are rare. You have the laws of probability on your side.
 
CatInTheHat said:
The road is straight on, with a left turn. So it's basically a left turn where I go straight on (not a T-juntion at all!). The dominant position is definitely something I will try here. The road is fairly narrow at this point, so it will stop overtakes until after the turn.
Ah, that makes more sense now! I do have a t-junction for cars on my alternate route in, but with a cycle lane straight on; now that's a nightmare junction as no-one expects you to be where you need to be...

One caveat - don't expect dominant position on a narrow road to stop overtakes, but it will give you room if some idiot comes past anyway with oncoming traffic and ducks back left at the last minute.
 

Origamist

Legendary Member
Location
Sandbach
CatInTheHat said:
That's generally my experience too. I think I had one of each in the misses I mentioned...although I'm slightly suspicious of miss 3 as they gave my quite a lot of room before turning..
If they have to alter position to pass you, you can safely assume they've seen you! If there's two lanes, it is harder to be sure.


CatInTheHat said:
Watching the tyres is a great bit of advice. That hadn't occurred to me. I normally look for indication, but the tyre idea is way more reliable!
In left hook situations, looking at tyres is often easier and more profitable than trying to check what the driver's doing with the steering wheel as sightlines can be blocked by passengers, obscured by tinted windows etc


CatInTheHat said:
It's normally been OK for me. The lights are usually red, so you can get to the front of the queue and place yourself right in front of cars.
That said, if I have another miss 2 experience I think I may seek alternative routes!

I'm interested in hearing other peoples experiences...especially in or around London.
I'm not sure whether your going west to east or south to north (or vice versa) at Vauxhall and at what time of day. I prefer the rush hour as speeds are generally slower and it's easier to claim the centre of the lane. It's often easier to go 5 or so cars back as the concertina effect slows vehicles down and you can still make the green traffic light phasing.

There are back street routes to avoid Vauxhall, but they can be convoluted and they're not without problems themselves. There is also a cycle path at various points, but you need to be a very skilled cyclist to use that;)
 

Origamist

Legendary Member
Location
Sandbach
gaz said:
It will be intresting to see how it looks from your camera position.
It looks fairly innocuous and it was really - just a hard yank on the brakes. That said, it was only straightforward as I'd clocked him just before and was ready for it...

The 170 degree lens does foreshorten things, that's for sure...
 
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