RLJing buddy wants to cycle-commute... what to do?


Post of The Year 2009 winner
Bromley, Kent

Am facing a bit of a quandary here, so thought I'd ask your advice. I have a VERY good friend who is rediscovering fitness and considering a daily rush hour cycle-commute into Greenwich from Bromley.

In preparation, we've ridden the route together one evening a week for the last fortnight. Although a few summers back he was good for 60 odd (leisurely) miles in a day, these are the first rides he's really done in the last year. His weight and fitness are against him, but he's got more than enough determination to make it work.

So far, so good. The problems are:
  • His bicycle control skills are not great. Imagine arriving too fast at every junction, braking too late, pulling up (over the line) between two shades of wrong gear, then pulling away to loud complaints from the drive train.
  • His road positioning / awareness is awful. Generally within 2 ft of the gutter, filtering up inside of cars turning left, buses, trucks, irrespective of whether lights are red/amber/green etc... On each ride he's managed to claim a toot / beep / curse from at least one other road user (sometimes me) which he generally considers to be their fault. He'll pop up on your inside when you're a metre out, or filter through when you've decided its not safe and hung back, or ride in front of you then swerve, wobble, decelerate rapidly without rhyme or reason. I can't ride behind him without feeling unsafe, and if I ride ahead, I'm very much aware of the toots sounding behind me every few miles. I don't think I've ever seen him indicate, or allow his road position to give any guidance as to which way he's going.
  • He RLJs. Every time. Pedestrian crossing. Contraflow traffic. Roadworks.. you name it. If I'm stopped at the lights, with another cyclist alongside, he'll think nothing of passing between me and the kerb, or between the two bikes at speed. 80cm gap will invite this.

All in, this tells me I'm about to lose a good friend. Given the speed at which he gets himself into trouble on local traffic free routes (assume 3 bikes trying to use same road) I worry he may well be killed if he tries the commute in rush hour.

I'm on my absolute best behaviour when riding with him, and have pointed out a few of these concerns. I don't want to discourage him from riding, and know that his chances are better than a lot of 'cyclists' I see out there each day (ninjas, pavement hoppers, traffic salmon, etc) but he seriously needs to understand the risks he's taking (and the impression he's leaving) each time he goes out.

Any thoughts?

Ps. He'll be on the A21, so it can only be a while before he makes it onto youtube via Mikeycam.


Tattooed Beat Messiah
Or 6 feet under... underestimate the A21 at your peril as you well know Andy.

arallsopp said:
Ps. He'll be on the A21, so it can only be a while before he makes it onto youtube via Mikeycam.
Tell him you think his riding is unsafe and will lead to death or injury of him and/or others, if he really is a good friend then he will take in on board and ask for help to alter this, if he is a pretend friend then he will be a tw*t about it and you will be free of him.


Just call me Chris...
As you've said he's a very good friend, then personally, I'd point it all out.

Maybe even point him in the direction of this thread to demonstrate your concerns, and the responces from other cyclists?


Legendary Member
Let this thread run for a day or two, then send him a link with a cover email saying 'If you weren't such a good friend I wouldn't give a damn but...'


Rabid cycle nut
Aye, I'd definately have another word. If he's not taking stuff on board then you could go deeper into the reasons for it. Does he, can he read? Sounds like someone in need of reading CycleCraft.

Setting off in the wrong gear you could tell him. A) he's putting unecessary strain on his knees which will cost him his health. :smile: slipping cogs, stretching chains will cost him in his pocket. C) if he really does stress the chain so much that it snaps it'll cost him in the tackle department.

As for RLJ jumping just call him a twat and be done with it. :smile:



Girl from the North Country
You say he's a VERY good friend. Buy him a copy of Cyclecraft, explain that you won't watch him risk his life in the rush hour until he's read it and improved his road sense.

And offer to keep riding the route with him at quiet times until he learns.


Tattooed Beat Messiah
is it worth getting him out on a Bromley Massive Sunday Ride?
He may find it unsocial to do those type of things amongst a few others.
And I am sure a few of us will point out his errant ways.


Cycle Camera TV
South Croydon
Talk to him about it. If you didn't and he got hurt. How would you feel?

If he chooses to ignore you then at least you tried.


Über Member
East Sussex
I would probably break it to him in the s**t sandwich method. Pick out a few good points and how much you value your friendship and then hit him with what you think of his riding and end by saying something positive again. It might also be a good idea to tactfully mention cycle training by saying how much it will benefit him and have some details of some schemes in your area handy to give to him.


Well-Known Member
Could you convince him that he needs a bit more practise before he begins commuting on his own, then tackle one problem per ride? It's easier to learn if you're concentrating on one thing at a time, then moving on to the next, and that way he won't feel like he's being bombarded with criticism.


Well-Known Member
By the Ching
Many years ago when riding to/from work with my best mate he would RLJ some lights. In the end he had to get used to the fact that he would end up waiting for me as I wouldn't. Eventually his incidence of jumping lights reduced, although never completely stopped. I mentioned that I disagreed with it a few times (without getting too high and mighty), but it never really registered with him.


Cycling Excusiast
Andy, I'd second Ian's suggestion of him coming out on a Sunday ride where a group of people can give him tips and as others have said - just chat with him; all you can do it talk about it and unfortunately if he does get defensive and the ego gets in the way then he may have to learn about stuff the hard way. Sometimes this may be the only way but good idea to trial out a few other approaches firstly. The gearing issue may be that he just isn't aware of gear changes making life just that bit easier - that comes with practice but hopefully the dangerous stuff can be explained properly.
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