To overtake or undertake ?


Über Member
Been wondering this for a while, 9 times outta 10 I tend to undertake tailed back traffic at lights etc. When there is quite a heavy static line of traffic and I can see clearly and safely I tend to overtake, what do the good people of CC think is the correct method and when to do so ?


Cycle Camera TV
South Croydon
Totally depends on the road. in some cases i will undertake, some i will overtake, i will even sit in traffic. both done with just as much care and always prepared to stop!


Dog on a bike
It all depends where the space is. I will tend to overtake if I'm doing any kind of speed (to be honest >5mph) although I occasionally undertake static traffic if there is a gap there, more often than not though you get one numpty out of a long line of traffic who will pull right into the curb.:smile: (and i know they're not numpties really, they have every right to use the whole lane in the same way that I have that right!)


Agree with most of the above.

Another reason to do the overtake is because car deivers tend to look in the drivers side mirror rather than the passenger side mirror with a greater expectation of a hazard on the offside.


Mancunian in self imposed exile in leafy Cheshire
As said already be very careful about going up the inside of an hgv they quite often will have no idea you are there and if they are turning left it could get very nasty. The view from the cab of an hgv means you need to be a considerable distance in front of it before they can see you.
As a word of caution. It very rarely happens when overtaking as you're in the drivers near side mirror but you also got to be aware for the driver who has been sitting in a queue losing patience and u-turning. You can spot when they are going to do that though.
Or the other similar one I've seen is the impatient driver pulling out on to the wrong side of the road to overtake 4 or 5 cars before turning right into the next side road.


Über Member
East Sussex
I had this dilemma when riding home this afternoon and would of been able to do a video to demonstrate it, however the memory card became full and the footage became corrupted, so couldn't rescue it from the camera.

I was holding my position in traffic when I had noticed that the lights at the pedestrian crossing started to change. I had the choice to overtake on the outside, but this would of probably of left me stranded when the traffic got going again. So I went up the inside so that as soon as the lights changed the traffic could get going without me being out of position.


Until I started riding motorbikes, I'd always filter or sit in the traffic. Riding a motorbike has introduced me to the other side of a queue of traffic, though, and I will now use whichever feels like it has more space, although I think I probably default to the overtake if anything.


Cycling in the sun
I will do either depending on road layout, traffic, space etc. I am much less likely to undertake a stationary lorry than overtake it ... it would have to be definitely stuck unable to move and with a large gap (bus lane sized probably) before I would go past the lorry the left. And I may not go past on the right either.

You also have to be aware of the hiding affect of traffic so that you may be hidden from traffic turning into or out of a side road/drive.


Senior Member
I came off the upwrong many years ago cos I was undertaking a queue of traffic. ever since I overtake or hold position in traffic queues everywhere - except one road which is 4 cars wide but has only two lanes of traffic so the gap on the near side tends to be about 1/2 car width or greater.



usually under where there's a lane, it's where people expect a bike to be, there's an escape to the pavement

I over when there's parked cars on the inside, but I often find over less safe as there's both sides to watch for and peds walking through a lane of stopped traffic never expect a bike to be riding between the two lanes
HLaB said:
,,,you also got to be aware for the driver who has been sitting in a queue losing patience and u-turning [or] the impatient driver pulling out on to the wrong side of the road to overtake 4 or 5 cars before turning right into the next side road.
Plus watch for the motorcycle that may appear quickly behind you, or the moped which may weave out erratically

I do both. It all depends on my reading of the particular road at the particular time.

One thing I find however, if cutting into a lane of traffic, say if the lights change and the queue moves...if undertaking then the car behind will almost always try to squeeze alongside and drive bumper-to-bumper, but if cutting in from the offside, it's far rarer for a car to try to undertake and squeeze you out
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