Government is working on changes to the Highway Code to make road use safer for cyclists and pedestrians so whether you’re a pedestrian, horse rider, cyclist or driver (I wonder how many of you are all 4?) have a go at this quiz on the proposed changes to the Highway Code which is on the BBC website:-
With so many people cycling during our present health lockdown even I as a regular/daily cyclist for a few years now have been checking what cyclists legally can and can’t do on our roads. Whilst Googling around on the subject I came across this very recent Chronicle newspaper article which I thought was both well written and informative:-
One thing some cyclists can easily forget or even deliberately disregard is that pedestrians are the most import thing on our roads, not cyclists or indeed vehicles. The other thing about some cyclists is that they don’t have bells on their bikes. How on earth are they to warn pedestrians, whom they are coming up on from behind, that they are there without a bell? I know some cyclists will think they are not cool with a bell on their bike but I can’t get my head around that rather daft excuse.
Also, because I’m a cyclist I find that non-cyclists seem to think I should be able to explain the deficiencies of other cyclists as if we are some kind of Borg Collective! (Star Trek fans will get this). Questions I’ve been asked:-
* Why don’t you cyclists use cycle lanes/tracks and keep off the road? (I do when they are available)
* Why don’t you cyclists have a bell on your bikes (I do)?
* Why don’t you cyclists carry insurance (I do), we vehicle drivers have to so you should too.
* Why don’t you stick to cycling outside of rush hours, you get in the way. (Do I really have to answer this?)
I could go on but you get my drift. Firstly, I am no more responsible for the behaviour of other cyclists than one vehicle driver is for another. Why on earth do some non-cyclists think cyclists are?
And another thing, bad cyclists will invariably be bad drivers too. Most cyclists are also drivers of vehicles you know.
But what has really struck me in recent times is that cycling, outside of those who do it, seems to be quite unpopular. It’s as though some folks think it should be banned. In a bizarre and dangerous incident a while back a van driver overtook me just before a junction which I had signalled to turn left at. He then cut straight in front of me and turned left into the same road and slammed his brakes on. A more deliberate act of intimidation aimed at me I have never seen whilst cycling. Not only that he jumped out and told me to get off the road! I assume he wanted me to cycle illegally on the pavement (see the newspaper article linked above)? *
Yes I too get upset when I see adults riding bikes on pavements which have not been designated for cycling; it’s wrong and in my locality Merseyside or Lancashire Police should be challenging cyclists who do it. And yes I also deplore cyclists jumping red lights; they need catching a fining just like vehicle drivers who do it.**
I find cycling fun and it keeps me fit. What’s more it’s an environmentally friendly way of getting from A to B over short to medium distances. I try not to be a pain in the a**e to other road users and I hope the recent uptake in cycling will make bike riding a normal everyday thing which no longer requires explanation, apology or accusations.
* By the way does anyone have any stats from Merseyside and Lancashire for fines handed out for cycling on pavements? If you’ve read the linked article above you’ll have noted that between 2012/13 and 2017/18 only two people paid fines for cycling on pavements in the Northumbria Police area.
** Although in defence of the odd bit of pavement riding I can think of two places in my locality were cycle tracks start/end in daft/unsafe places all but forcing cyclists to use a short section of pavement.
The BBC has the article on its website – see link below
This is genuinely interesting but the biggest problem faced by cyclists is vehicles overtaking them too close. The cycling fraternity is presently lobbying government to have the next edition of the Highway Code* amended so instead of it saying ‘leave as much room as possible’ or words to that effect it becomes something like ‘leave 1.5m where possible when overtaking a cyclist’. I’ve blogged about this previously and here’s a link to that posting:-
My point being that if this jacket could indicate the 1.5m to vehicles approaching a cyclist from behind it would be of great help. Just a road safety thought.
* Rule 163 of the Highway Code states that when passing cyclists, drivers should give “as much room as you would when overtaking a car”. Cycling UK is calling for the code to include guidance on a minimum distance to give when overtaking, suggesting a minimum of 1.5m when travelling under 30mph and 2m over 30mph.
Did you know that the new Highway Code is likely to say that a driver should leave 1.5m between their vehicle and a cyclist when overtaking and that the Police may well be encouraged to take drivers to task, even penalise them, for not adhering to this change?
The change is coming about because a small minority of drivers are putting cyclists at risk by passing far too close when overtaking. Most drivers pass well away from cyclists but some don’t care and pass cyclists in a very dangerous way. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences recently when cycling and oddly both were on Winifred Lane in Aughton, the latest one being a few days ago. This later time the vehicle was identifiable so I’ve contacted the firm (name not mentioned here) concerned asking them to speak to their driver:-
‘I was cycling on Winfred Lane in Aughton around 12.20 today when one of your vehicles nearly had me off my bike by passing far too close to me.
I could tell what was going to happen as the driver made little or no attempt to slow down as they tried to squeeze between me and a parked lorry on the other side of the road.
The new Highway Code says that vehicles should pass leaving 1.5m between them and a cyclist, I doubt there was 6 inches in this encounter! Can you please identify your driver and have words with them. I look forward to your reply.’
Here’s a link to a recent newspaper article about overtaking a cyclist and the changes coming to the Highway Code:-
The other big danger to cyclists are dogs. On the amusing side of things I’ve been told by owners ‘he does not like hats’, ‘he does not like cyclists’, ‘he does not like bright colours’ etc. etc. as though training their dog is something they’ve just never thought of. But joking aside passing a dog and dog walker when the dog is on one of those extendable leads is an art form as you have to try to guess what the dog will do i.e. which way it will run and how far. This is an issue you don’t even need to think about when a dog is on a traditional lead as they can’t move very far in any direction. The problem is most obvious on pedestrian and cycling ‘shared space’ routes
And before you ask yes I’ve been chased by a dog whilst cycling but fortunately, I managed to outpace it, so I’m yet to have an accident or be bitten by a dog whilst cycling. However, I have been bitten by one whilst a pedestrian. That ended up in court and the person responsible for the dog got a £300+ fine if I recall correctly. It happened a few years back in Thornton. My advice to anyone who has an unfortunate dog encounter is to report it to Sefton Council’s Dog Warden, that’s how my case got taken to court.
Oh and before you think I’m a dog hater, no I’m not. Chester, a friend’s Chocolate Lab’, is my best doggy chum and yes our family has in the past had a dog. To be honest the dog is never the problem it’s the owners who don’t train them whilst treating them like children who can do no wrong. Dogs are pack animals and need to know where they stand. If you treat them like they are the top dog that is how they will act making your and other folks lives a misery in the process often.
* Thanks to ukcyclelaws blogspot for the graphic above
The BBC has the story on its web site – see link below
I’m a driver and a cyclist so I can see things from both sides of the divide. That some drivers are inconsiderate and dangerous is a given but so are some cyclists who jump red lights just like the mad drivers. In many ways they are likely to be the same people i.e. if you drive through red lights you probably cycle through them as well. The bottom line is that there is a section of the cycling population who are as much a pain and danger to the travelling public as there bad drivers.
One of my big bugbears is vehicles overtaking me and getting far to close, almost brushing past me. And yes I do shout my opinion at such drivers who are usually doing this dangerous stunt because they are in too much of a hurry and can’t give a cyclist a wide enough berth due to traffic on the other carriageway. To combat this, where the road is narrow, I move out further into the road to stop vehicles trying to pass me.
You are always wary of opening vehicle doors as so many motorists just don’t look and some don’t even care, taking the attitude that other vehicles will just have to go around their open door. Of course the daft and the selfish, together with the distracted, do this to cyclists as well as other vehicles. In my experience young men are the worst for doing this and often they could not give a toss but I lost a cycling friend in Southport because someone opened a car door just as he was passing by a car.
Cycling at rush hour, particularly the evening rush hour, is the worst in my experience because drivers become manic when trying to get home and some think they are driving guided missiles. As more and more people start to cycle these days how we drive on our roads will have to change and that’s why these Highway Code updates are on the cards.
When I’m driving I always try to keep in mind that pedestrians and cyclists are more important and far more vulnerable than I am in my enclosed warm bubble of a car.
Here’s a link to how Cycling UK views the proposed changes to the Highway Code:-