Home

I haven't cycled into central London to work for many years now but often have to drive in and out. Yes, there's bad driving and riding on both sides, but to give an idea of why so many have a downer on cyclists, here are my observations from just one short leg of a journey in this afternoons rush hour.

At cyclist coming towards me from opposite side of a crossroads who was chatting on a mobile phone, makes a left and all the way to the next lights and who knows where one handed still chatting.

A minute later, I overtake a lady well in front of red light cross roads. She rolls up my inside through the stop line, sees that the traffic crossing us is stationary, then swings a left straight through the pedestrians crossing on the green man.

A mile down the road, ladies ambling two abreast swinging out past stationary vehicles etc with not a look or signal or a care in the world. Only went to single file to get up the inside of queuing traffic before resuming two abreast in font of said vehicles.

Within another mile, three kids (teenage at a guess), all on one bike riding on the wrong side the road against the traffic (as in opposite kerb).

Why post? Admittedly they may have been 'fair weather' non-commuting cyclists this afternoon, but they were a let down. I see enough bad with the commuters too to understand both sides of the argument.

69 comments

Avatar
Ghostie [93 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

It's not just London. They are everywhere. I was out and about cycling last week and there were four "fair weather" let's go for a fun ride down a quiet country road, all riding abreast in a straight line across the road. Three adult men and one kid. I'm riding at about 22-25 mph as I see them on the horizon, slow down slightly and decide that there's enough room for me to pass them (obviously keeping an eye out for any oncoming traffic). Just as I get closer, the kid riding with them decides to swing out from their leisurely formation to the other side of the road to ride on the opening of a farm track on the field. I have to slam on the brakes, swerve out of the way, managing to unclip myself in time to stop myself ending up in a roadside ditch. The three adults didn't say a word to the kid. Imagine if that had been a car behind them.

I have also nearly run into a woman doing that chat thing on a mobile, one handed thing - she actually stopped her bike suddenly saying something like "I know! Ha ha" on her mobile. No warning, wasn't aware of her surroundings at all. And there's me having to cycle slowly behind her, watching and second guessing what she will do next. And there's another one who bikes round my way. Watched her the other day wobbling around on her bike; car comes up behind her. The driver slows down, keeping his distance and then indicates and passes her slowly as someone would do with a horse rider, she waves to thank him for giving her room, at which point she decides to steer her bike right towards the side of the car and shouts at the driver as if it's his fault.

With idiots riding around like that, I'm not surprised so many motorists get peeved (even if some do it just because it seems to be the in thing at the mo to have a go at cyclists). But then we all get branded the same.

Avatar
kcr [107 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

A few random UK accident stats:

For the UK, from 2008 to 2012 (inclusive), out of the total numbers of pedestrians killed in single vehicle collisions with vehicles in any location, cycles were involved in about 0.4% of fatalities and around 1.4% of serious injuries, while cars were involved in about 68% of pedestrian fatalities, and 81% of pedestrian serious injuries:
http://www.ctc.org.uk/sites/default/files/file_public/pedestriansbrf.pdf

In Scotland in 2011, there were 168 accidents caused by disobeying an automatic traffic signal. In 9 of these accidents the vehicle responsible was a pedal cycle. So around 95% of all accidents in Scotland caused by ignoring traffic lights are caused by motorists
http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/analysis/statistics/TablesPublicatio...

Edinburgh's road safety figures for 2004-2010 show that motorists were responsible for 72% of accidents resulting in serious injury to cyclists:
http://streetsaheadedinburgh.org.uk/info/4/pedestrians/79/road_safety_st...

There are around 5 deaths every day in the UK caused by motorists.

I think the accident stats suggest some road users do have a bad name. I don't think it's cyclists, despite the behaviour of the "bad apples" that you identified on your journey.
Perhaps we should start challenging the "cyclists give themselves a bad name" statement, instead of repeating it, and point out the road users who are really earning themselves a bad name by actually causing accidents, injuries and deaths?

Avatar
severs1966 [334 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Go ahead and try to reinforce the "bad bad cyclists" trope. Count how many times you see a cyclist kill someone by running into them while doing something stupid.

Then count how many people die as cars smash into them during the same period.

Then wonder why drivers don't have a "bad name"

Then you will realise why everything in the original post is very close to irrelevant.

Avatar
Northernbike [229 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

every single day I am overtaken by a long line of vehicles when I am travelling at 70 on the motorway - giving motorists a bad name

every single day vehicles run red lights on the slip road of the light controlled junction I go through - giving motorists a bad name

every single day when walking around town there are vehicles parked either partly or completely, all 4 wheels, on the footpath - giving motorists a bad name

every single day I see drivers on phones, even doing their make up - giving motorists a bad name

do I need to continue....?

Avatar
andyp [1448 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Interesting stats, but a complete red herring.

Avatar
Yorkshie Whippet [526 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

100% of riders in my household think all drivers are arseholes
100% of drivers in my household think all cyclist can be a pain in the arse.
100% of cyclists in my household drive
100% of drivers in my household cycle
100% of the above needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Conculsion,
You enter life with nothing, leave with nothing, what have you lost? Nothing!

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

As above... seen plenty of terrible cycling out there, seen plenty of terrible driving too... I am fairly comfortable in saying that none of it really matters.

Yes, I can see why a car driver might get annoyed at cyclists perceived lack of self preservation, but honestly, the benefits of driving a car come with responsibilities ... you the car driver, drive the lethal weapon, its your job to keep people safe from that, not cyclists/pedestrians job to keep out of your way...

If cyclists are bumbling about in a world of ignorance and incompetence that's their right, they would need to do something monumentally stupid to cause anyone any serious damage... therefore its actually fine if they don't always use the greatest care or make the most sensible choices out there.

This stance is equally relevant when comparing the serious cyclist enthusiast and casual rider... the faster you cycle, the more responsibility you bare, as you are the one that will ultimately cause the damage or get hurt. Take responsibility for your actions, your speed and conduct around these less competent riders... hell everyone, and honestly, really quickly it'll all seem a lot less annoying.

Avatar
mrmo [2070 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

drover to Kew on Saturday driving across kew bridge and whatever the road that goes down the side of Kew, as far as I can tell it is a 30. Shockingly almost no traffic, but had a car scream past at about 45mph at 9:30 in the morning.

Something else I have noticed is London is full of ***** be they on bikes or in cars, I get the impression that no one actually bothers with any traffic regulations, and it does seem far worse than other places I have been to in the UK?

Avatar
Eebijeebi [102 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Stats - don't you just love 'em.

9 out of 168 ATS accidents caused by cyclists. Put that into the proportion of cycles/vehicles and I doubt it will look good as a percentage of users.

I like this site but it does seem to have a disproportionate number of anti car/driver jihadists (at least that post), and I for one won't be beaten down by zealotry.

It is a sad fact, as both a cyclist and a driver, that I witness more and more inappropriate behavior by cyclists every day. I also witness more and more bad driving every day.

Imagine what they'd be saying on a pedestrians site?

Avatar
farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Eebijeebi wrote:

anti car/driver jihadists

Eebijeebi wrote:

I for one won't be beaten down by zealotry.

When language like this is used, it makes me think you are the one with the chip on your shoulder.

Eebijeebi wrote:

It is a sad fact

These usually aren't facts.

Avatar
zanf [830 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Everyday I see people using various methods of transport with little consideration to others, whether they be more or less vulnerable than themselves.

I constantly see pedestrians walk into roads either staring into their mobile or in another world with it glued to their ear, completely oblivious to their surroundings. I see the same with vehicle drivers constantly looking at (the obvious mobile in) their lap.

I see cyclists who jump red lights (doing a very very late "amber gamble") or position themselves in unsafe places. 'Shoaling' I've heard it termed as: slow cyclists that cut right in front of you while waiting at the lights so when you pull off, you have to take extra action to pull around them.

When it comes down to it, its not 'cyclists', or 'drivers' but people. A lot of people are arseholes and act exactly the same no matter what form of transport they use. Constantly framing it in tribalist terms is non-constructive and provides no solutions.

Avatar
jacknorell [963 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
kcr wrote:

Perhaps we should start challenging the "cyclists give themselves a bad name" statement, instead of repeating it, and point out the road users who are really earning themselves a bad name by actually causing accidents, injuries and deaths?

+1

Avatar
divingrob [23 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Because they are vulnerable and a easy target.

Avatar
jacknorell [963 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
mrmo wrote:

Something else I have noticed is London is full of ***** be they on bikes or in cars, I get the impression that no one actually bothers with any traffic regulations, and it does seem far worse than other places I have been to in the UK?

Virtually the only time I see metropolitan police they're either parked by the side of the road or blue lights hurrying away somewhere.

OK, so see the occasional other vehicles, but they're never ANPR marked, so not traffic police.

It's been months since I saw anyone pulled over.

Avatar
Eebijeebi [102 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
jacknorell wrote:
kcr wrote:

Perhaps we should start challenging the "cyclists give themselves a bad name" statement, instead of repeating it, and point out the road users who are really earning themselves a bad name by actually causing accidents, injuries and deaths?

+1

Because for most other road users it's not about the deaths and injuries but about their everyday life, and their 'perception' of what cyclists do (wrong). IMHO opinion it's highlighted to the larger and majority groups, i.e. motorists and pedestrians.

As the minority I suggest that cyclists need to be seen to be squeakier clean to get a better hearing amongst that majority and stop portraying the motorist in general as 'the enemy'. An acceptance that there is a lot of bad cycling going on (as any reasonable motorist accepts in their case) may go some way to a better understanding and hearing.

Avatar
Shades [293 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

The 'occasional' summer cyclists; kind of entertaining in a scary sort of way  13 . Only a few more weeks and they'll be hibernating again.

Avatar
MarcMyWords [71 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

As someone who cycles through Central London every day, I see both sides of the argument. Buses and Taxis are the very worst at running reds and stopping without a warning. it seems buses also have no idea how long they are, once the cab is past you, they just start pulling in. How they don't injure or kill more cyclists, I really don't know. Drivers on their phones, see it every day. Drivers putting on make-up, reading maps or papers!? See it all the time. I also see cyclists jumping reds into oncoming traffic, swerving all over the road and overtaking cars on the outside, which, by the way, means the car swerves in on me when I'm trying to go down the inside as I should. Motorbikes using the cycling lane and sitting in the bike box, drives me mad!!

Honestly, there are some people who think cyclists can do no wrong and cars are accountable for everything but everyone is responsible for their own behavior including cyclists. As a driver and a cyclist I like to think I can understand both view points. You can't say every cyclist is bad/good in the same way you can't say every driver is bad/good.

It's about infrastructure as much as anything else, surely? We need an infrastructure that allows us to share the road rather than fight over it.

Avatar
Flying Scot [918 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Bad names:

Tejay van garderen
Bradley Wiggins
Floyd Landis
Levi leipheimer

All entered cycling just to be referred to by the number on their back.

Avatar
PurpleDog [37 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
zanf wrote:

When it comes down to it, its not 'cyclists', or 'drivers' but people. A lot of people are arseholes and act exactly the same no matter what form of transport they use. Constantly framing it in tribalist terms is non-constructive and provides no solutions.

Yeah, that...

Avatar
Matt eaton [742 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I don't want to condone bad/illegal behaviour on two wheels but if 50% of drivers in any town/city switched to using bikes the urban environment would be a much more pleasant one, even if they were a bit naughty about red lights/mobile phone use/generally being new and wobbly cyclists etc.

What I'm getting at is that we need more people to cycle (and walk, and to some degree choose public transport) rather than using the car for every journey. Until cycling levels are comparable with the best exampes in Europe the focus should be on increasing cycling's modal share and we shouldn't get too caught up in minor infringements.

Avatar
Wookie [233 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

"Why post?"
Because you were bored and wish to troll maybe?

Avatar
PurpleDog [37 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
MarcMyWords wrote:

...overtaking cars on the outside, which, by the way, means the car swerves in on me when I'm trying to go down the inside as I should.

Are you suggesting cyclists 'should' overtake on the inside and never on the outside? If so, I'm afraid you're plain wrong!

There's no legal or highway code rule directing us to overtake on one side or the other, but assuming there's sufficient width available, overtaking on the inside puts you in far more danger than overtaking on the outside, where drivers have better visibility, they are used to being overtaken (and hopefully checking for motorcycles before pulling out) and you have more room to take avoiding action.

People turning left don't check the inside - they don't expect anyone to be there. That's why so many people die in London under the wheels of large left-turning vehicles.

In the absence of a dedicated cycle lane on the left, it is terribly dangerous to overtake there so please reconsider. If you encounter slow traffic, overtake on the safer outside.

Consider this - when you are overtaking on the inside and another cyclist is doing the same on the outside, you say the driver tends to swerve in towards you? Well, of course he shouldn't swerve, but the reason he does is that he can see the cyclist on the outside, and he can't see you on the inside!

Avatar
MarcMyWords [71 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
PurpleDog wrote:
MarcMyWords wrote:

...overtaking cars on the outside, which, by the way, means the car swerves in on me when I'm trying to go down the inside as I should.

Are you suggesting cyclists 'should' overtake on the inside and never on the outside? If so, I'm afraid you're plain wrong!

There's no legal or highway code rule directing us to overtake on one side or the other, but assuming there's sufficient width available, overtaking on the inside puts you in far more danger than overtaking on the outside, where drivers have better visibility, they are used to being overtaken (and hopefully checking for motorcycles before pulling out) and you have more room to take avoiding action.

People turning left don't check the inside - they don't expect anyone to be there. That's why so many people die in London under the wheels of large left-turning vehicles.

In the absence of a dedicated cycle lane on the left, it is terribly dangerous to overtake there so please reconsider. If you encounter slow traffic, overtake on the safer outside.

Consider this - when you are overtaking on the inside and another cyclist is doing the same on the outside, you say the driver tends to swerve in towards you? Well, of course he shouldn't swerve, but the reason he does is that he can see the cyclist on the outside, and he can't see you on the inside!

Drivers in CL are more than used to Cyclists being on the inside and when you're riding on a reasonably clear road, where do you ride? On the inside. I'm not saying it's illegal but you shouldn't be overtaking a car on the outside ona road bike, half the time in the opposite lane. You ride on the inside. I believe the reason that drivers swerve sometimes when they see a cyclist on the outside of them is actually because they don't expect to see them there and most of the time because there's not enough room for them to be there! You shouldn't be riding up the inside of a lorry, full stop. They have a blind spot on the outside as well so if they were turning right and you're halfway down the side, you'd likely still get hit. People don't die because they've gone up the inside rather than the outside, they die because they've gone beside a lorry which is simply a massive no-no.

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

The title question is actually the really important one... why do cyclists have such a bad name?

We are all trotting out the usual; red light jumping, mobile use, blah, blah, blah, but these are all things that those calling cyclists out will witness daily from car drivers/pedestrians, without labeling or bad mouthing complete user groups...

What I am trying to say is that the obvious behavioral stuff is merely the justification for the label, but the label is already there... why is that?

Its important, as to me, doing as some people say and behaving impeccably on the road will make no difference, as its not addressing the root cause of the problem.

To have a stab at why, may I put forward;

1. The hierarchical nature of our society in action... car drivers are seen as richer and better than lowly bike riders... when cyclists are seen to be getting ahead in queues etc, this goes against the hierarchical system and only deepens animosity.

2. Dealing with cyclists in a car will highlight our own short comings as car drivers - many are not comfortable with how, when and what is appropriate overtaking procedures - which will generate resentment for the thing (cyclists) that is highlighting this shortcoming. Again this is compounded when cyclists are seen to be doing stuff that makes it harder to overtake.

3. Media coverage and the tribe mentality. Society can't help itself.. the media say its OK to hate cyclists, so everyone feels that they should, and its right to hate cyclists.

Any thoughts?

Avatar
MarcMyWords [71 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Shades wrote:

The 'occasional' summer cyclists; kind of entertaining in a scary sort of way  13 . Only a few more weeks and they'll be hibernating again.

So, so true. Not long until it's just us hardcore cyclists left.

Avatar
Matt eaton [742 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
MarcMyWords wrote:
PurpleDog wrote:
MarcMyWords wrote:

...overtaking cars on the outside, which, by the way, means the car swerves in on me when I'm trying to go down the inside as I should.

Are you suggesting cyclists 'should' overtake on the inside and never on the outside? If so, I'm afraid you're plain wrong!

There's no legal or highway code rule directing us to overtake on one side or the other, but assuming there's sufficient width available, overtaking on the inside puts you in far more danger than overtaking on the outside, where drivers have better visibility, they are used to being overtaken (and hopefully checking for motorcycles before pulling out) and you have more room to take avoiding action.

People turning left don't check the inside - they don't expect anyone to be there. That's why so many people die in London under the wheels of large left-turning vehicles.

In the absence of a dedicated cycle lane on the left, it is terribly dangerous to overtake there so please reconsider. If you encounter slow traffic, overtake on the safer outside.

Consider this - when you are overtaking on the inside and another cyclist is doing the same on the outside, you say the driver tends to swerve in towards you? Well, of course he shouldn't swerve, but the reason he does is that he can see the cyclist on the outside, and he can't see you on the inside!

Drivers in CL are more than used to Cyclists being on the inside and when you're riding on a reasonably clear road, where do you ride? On the inside. I'm not saying it's illegal but you shouldn't be overtaking a car on the outside ona road bike, half the time in the opposite lane. You ride on the inside. I believe the reason that drivers swerve sometimes when they see a cyclist on the outside of them is actually because they don't expect to see them there and most of the time because there's not enough room for them to be there! You shouldn't be riding up the inside of a lorry, full stop. They have a blind spot on the outside as well so if they were turning right and you're halfway down the side, you'd likely still get hit. People don't die because they've gone up the inside rather than the outside, they die because they've gone beside a lorry which is simply a massive no-no.

Just as a point of clarification, I don't think that we are talking about overtaking here, more likely filtering when trafic is slow/stationary. In a genuine overtaking situation (free-flowing traffic or an individial slow-moving vehicle) you should always pass on the right.

FWIW I almost always filter on the right as I do believe it's safer and that you are more visible. It's also easier to filter back into the traffic flow when the cars start moving again. Filtering on the left can leave you stuck on the inside; it's both a safety and a practical consideration. I feel that filtering past large vehicles is also OK as long as you are certain that they are not going to move in the time it takes to get past them.

Avatar
kcr [107 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

9 out of 168 ATS accidents caused by cyclists. Put that into the proportion of cycles/vehicles and I doubt it will look good as a percentage of users.
So what is the significance of percentage of road users in this case? If the objective is harm reduction, I would argue that you concentrate on the cause of 95% of the absolute number of accidents. There was actually some analysis on this website which suggested that if you do adjust figures to reflect accidents per pedestrian miles walked, cyclists still present a much lower risk to pedestrians than motorists.

I do like statistics, or facts, rather than anecdotes. No one is suggesting that cyclists can do no wrong, but this is not a balanced problem. The overwhelming majority of harm is caused by motorists, and by any measure cycling presents a low risk to other road users. I am suggesting we should challenge the false popular perception instead of saying cyclists have some sort of collective responsibility to be whiter than white.

Avatar
MarcMyWords [71 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

[/quote]Just as a point of clarification, I don't think that we are talking about overtaking here, more likely filtering when trafic is slow/stationary. In a genuine overtaking situation (free-flowing traffic or an individial slow-moving vehicle) you should always pass on the right.

FWIW I almost always filter on the right as I do believe it's safer and that you are more visible. It's also easier to filter back into the traffic flow when the cars start moving again. Filtering on the left can leave you stuck on the inside; it's both a safety and a practical consideration. I feel that filtering past large vehicles is also OK as long as you are certain that they are not going to move in the time it takes to get past them.[/quote]

Certainly something I can agree with. I am referring to generally moving along with the flow of traffic otherwise the cars wouldn't be swerving, they would be stationary. Filtering, I agree, is a different kettle of fish.

Avatar
PurpleDog [37 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
MarcMyWords wrote:

I'm not saying it's illegal but you shouldn't be overtaking a car on the outside ona road bike

So it's not illegal, it's not mentioned in the highway code... so where does this "shouldn't" come from?
If I say you shouldn't overtake on the inside on a road bike that presumably carries just as much weight?

Firstly I don't think the kind of bike matters - if I'm going faster than the traffic on my mountain bike I'll overtake, just as I would on my road bike. And in both cases I'll overtake where I have better visibility and more room. Admittedly I don't line in central London (which I assume you meant by CL?) so perhaps the expectation is different, but I ride (mountain bike, road bike and motorbike) and drive (car) in both town and country and I can see people coming up on the right far earlier and easier than someone sneaking up on the left.

You're telling me, without any law, rule or justification that I should not overtake on the right. You have to do a lot more to make any kind of case.
I overtake where I feel safest. Sometimes (depending on the road, the conditions, the traffic etc.) that will be the inside, sometimes I will filter between lanes (i.e. at traffic lights), but most often the outside is where I have the room, the visibility and can be more easily seen by those I am passing.
Simply stating that "you shouldn't" doesn't cut it I'm afraid. At the very least, if you're making such a claim, you should back it up with some reasoning. Make a start by telling us why you feel safer on the inside (which of course has no bearing on the rest of us choosing where we think we are safest), and follow that with why those of us who don't feel the same should be stuck there regardless. I assume you have a reason for your blanket statement that it is wrong to overtake on the outside? What is it?

Avatar
Matt eaton [742 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The title question is actually the really important one... why do cyclists have such a bad name?

We are all trotting out the usual; red light jumping, mobile use, blah, blah, blah, but these are all things that those calling cyclists out will witness daily from car drivers/pedestrians, without labeling or bad mouthing complete user groups...

What I am trying to say is that the obvious behavioral stuff is merely the justification for the label, but the label is already there... why is that?

Its important, as to me, doing as some people say and behaving impeccably on the road will make no difference, as its not addressing the root cause of the problem.

To have a stab at why, may I put forward;

1. The hierarchical nature of our society in action... car drivers are seen as richer and better than lowly bike riders... when cyclists are seen to be getting ahead in queues etc, this goes against the hierarchical system and only deepens animosity.

2. Dealing with cyclists in a car will highlight our own short comings as car drivers - many are not comfortable with how, when and what is appropriate overtaking procedures - which will generate resentment for the thing (cyclists) that is highlighting this shortcoming. Again this is compounded when cyclists are seen to be doing stuff that makes it harder to overtake.

3. Media coverage and the tribe mentality. Society can't help itself.. the media say its OK to hate cyclists, so everyone feels that they should, and its right to hate cyclists.

Any thoughts?

Good observations. The only thing I would disagree on is that car drivers are considered as 'richer'. The hierarchy certainly exists but I think it has more to do with the perception that cyclists are a) wierdos who don't follow social norms and b) that owning and running a car is expensive. Drivers feel that they have paid for a priviledge that cyclists are preventing them from enjoying to the full. Not so much that drivers have more money but that they have spent more and therfore deserve more.

The final point - national politics and big business: they don't really want us to cycle instead of using the car and this is reflected in a range of ways in all aspects of our lives.

Pages