What hope is there for cyclists?

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by NigC, 30 Apr 2010.

  1. NigC

    NigC New Member

    I've not been visiting this forum for very long, but from the number of threads detailing close calls, accidents and sadly deaths, it's clear that the cyclist puts their life at risk every time they go out.

    Obviously certain roads are more risky than others, but the fact still remains: a cyclist is a very vulnerable road user.

    No matter how careful we are, we are ultimately at the mercy of bigger, heavier and faster vehicles and their drivers. I'm sure not all cyclists are completely blameless, but the fact still remains that cycle vs motor vehicle is a mismatch made in hell.

    So what hope do we have for an improved life on the roads? I can only think of one: better education that highlights the vulnerabilities of the cyclist. Going back to my driving lessons, I really can't remember much if anything about giving space for a bike or anything else cyclist-related. It's something I've had to learn on my own.

    There's a few things that could be better highlighted for learner drivers:
    • How to safely overtake a cyclist. They are human beings, liable to make mistakes when under pressure and more susceptible to uneven roads and must be allowed at least 3 feet of clearance (more for larger vehicles).
    • That cyclists are vulnerable to the door zone (cyclists probably need better education on this too) and may appear to be taking up a lot of road when passing parked cars.
    • That cyclists will often filter on the left. So use of the nearside mirror and more cycle-awareness is vital when changeing lanes or turning left whilst in traffic.
    • A cyclist is a moving object - it is not safe to immediately turn left after overtaking them.
    • A cyclist might not take the same route on a roundabout as a motor vehicle would.
    • A cyclist has just as much right to be on the road as a motor vehicle and so must be given the same respect. For example: When approaching a narrow gap, a cyclist has right of way if they reach it first.
    • On some roads, cycle lanes are provided but it may not always be practicle to use them. A cyclist is not obliged to always use a cycle lane.
    I'm sure there are other pointers that also need adding.

    The problem is how on earth are drivers going to be educated? I don't know!

    The only thing I can think of is while a new driver is still learning, they are given better cycle awareness training too. I'm sure most human beings are decent enough people that if educated will be better able to manage a situation where cyclists are using the same road they are.

    Now it's over to somebody else who might be able to get the message across to the people that matter...... anybody?
  2. karan733

    karan733 New Member

    IIRC the license system in the UK is quite heavily critisised by other nations, who impose time limits before acquiring a full license, rather than get through the test in as few lessons as possible.

    I think some countries have a minimum 12 months on a provisional license before you can convert it to a full license. I think this is a stellar idea, which stops the 'race' to get licensed, which in turn then turns the roads into some sort of piranha pool of me vs you.
  3. Theseus

    Theseus .

    Although there are a number of horror stories on here, you have to remember it is a place for us to vent. I have had for more miles of incident free cycling than I have had close calls.
  4. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    Although there are lots of threads about accidents - in reality its not our normal day to day experience of cycling.... and how often do we come on here just to say what a lovely ride we have had.

    Even when I've had a mild incident of being cut up or something the same would happen if I was a pedestrian or a car driver too.

    Not saying tha we shouldn't educate other road users - just trying to say that on a forum you are going to get a bias towards the things that go wrong rather than right.
  5. Don't pay too much attention to the "I went near a bike and nearly died" threads. My experience - and that of many others - over twenty-odd years of urban and rural commuting, Audaxing, rural cycling and riding on busy A roads is that most days pass trouble free and the odd incident there might be can usually be laughed off within a few hours. The problem is that no one wants to read "I went cycling and had a nice time" threads.

    I must say that I think we could do with fewer threads about road incidents. Half this forum seems to be trying to big up cycling as a means of transport and a leisure pursuit while the other half seems determined to portray it as slightly more dangerous than teasing an enraged rottweiler and the sort of thing you'd have to be a cross between Mad Max and Rambo to even contemplate doing.

    I'm sure that's not the intention, but that's how it comes across. Especially if you imagine the effect of "I headbutted a bus then the driver ripped my arm off and made me eat it" threads on someone who's just bought their first bike, is not entirely confident about cycling on the road and who has logged on here for advice.
  6. 4F

    4F Active member of Helmets Are Sh*t Lobby

    Bad news makes good news. If we all posted "Nothing happened on my ride in this morning" it would get very boring.

    My personal experience of 5000 miles a year for what must be going on nearly 10 years now is that maybe I have had a dozen occasions of really poor driving where I have felt endangered.
  7. gouldina

    gouldina New Member

    So it's not just me that's happened to? :bravo:

  8. martynjc1977

    martynjc1977 Guest

    Thinking about the amount of miles i put in on my bike about 3000 per year(about the same amount as i drive thb) to the amount of idiots and close calls i have (1 this year maybe 2 on the bike) it is actually comparable to driving and no less safe, if done properly and not taking silly risks ie undertaking traffic.
  9. OP

    NigC New Member

    I can appreciate that this is used as a place to vent ones anger and that it will appear worse than normal if you take this as the norm.

    But I have had many close-calls in the past 18 months that more than outnumber anything I can remember in 18 years of driving. And of course I'm much more prone to bruising and bleeding whilst sitting on 2 wheels rather than encased within 4.

    I still think things could easily be improved with a little education at the right time :bravo:

  10. I can understand why people post this stuff - after all, everyone needs to let of steam - but it wouldn't hurt to imagine the effect of it on someone who's just bought a Pashley Poppy to pootle to the shops on and has signed up here for advice.
  11. The problem does not just lie with new drivers, but motorists of all ages. Women are becoming just as agressive and thoughtless as men now, older drivers need re-educating (and by older I mean anyone over forty years of age), a whole sea-change of attitude needs to take place.
    So I'll see you here (hopefully) in ten years time to see what has changed, probably nowt!
  12. The "hope" is the guy in his 70's who was admiring my bike outside Tesco this morning and talking about getting around by bike, in particular "whatever the traffic - just tell the cars to bugger off!"

    Cycling hasn't done him any harm
  13. 4F

    4F Active member of Helmets Are Sh*t Lobby

    Agreed, As it happens I drove in this morning and nearly got side swipped by some dozy bint who moved lanes without looking or indicating.

    You just have to keep your wits about you at all times
  14. MacLean

    MacLean Well-Known Member

    Too many cyclists on here expect perfect driving from those all around them... Never gonna happen no matter how much training you give them... The only hope is riding defensivly to how people drive, not how their suppose to drive according to the highway code.... How many average driving people do you think read the highway code on a regular basis? Ride expecting everyone to be a nutter and do the craziest thing at any moment then you dont get angry when they do it.

    Cycling is riskier than driving, but if you want a life without risk then stay at home and take up knitting. Everyones gota go one day, one way or another.
  15. OP

    NigC New Member

    I agree in priciple - the more defensive you ride, the safer you're gonna be. But most of my close-calls have been while I was pootling along happily when suddenly a car/skip lorry (seems to be the most often) gives you almost no space and you wonder how the hell their mirror missed you. The only defense against that is to keep off the roads.
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