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Back in the day there was space to pass on either side of a car so it may not have been necessary to form a rule as to which way it should be done.

Now however, cars have become wider but roads have not. This results in some cars leaving the additional room on the nearside, some on the offside, to create an impassable maze by bicycle.

Isn't it time that the Highway Code rules as to which side of a car you should use to pass and also the correct positioning of a car relative to the kerb/lane separator?

27 comments

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sergius [548 posts] 5 days ago
13 likes

Would be nice, though I tend to think half the drivers like to deliberately block cyclists as they feel we shouldnt be able to bypass the queue.

 

A better solution would be to just ban all Q-series Audis, XC-series Volvos, X-series BMWs etc  1

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brooksby [3289 posts] 5 days ago
2 likes
sergius wrote:

Would be nice, though I tend to think half the drivers like to deliberately block cyclists as they feel we shouldnt be able to bypass the queue.

True. It's not that they hate cyclists (well, it might be) but that they're jealous!   Hence the rage about RLJ - I suspect it's just that many motorists wish they could too. (EDITED:) Actually, many do.  I  notice far more motor vehicles either going through a light just turned red, or moving off on amber, than bicycles.

Quote:

A better solution would be to just ban all Q-series Audis, XC-series Volvos, X-series BMWs etc  1

The old claim that it is bicycles causing traffic queues, and not all of the single occupant SUVs which are far far too large for an urban environment...

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KendalRed [206 posts] 5 days ago
9 likes
brooksby wrote:

The old claim that it is bicycles causing traffic queues, and not all of the single occupant SUVs which are far far too large for an urban environment...

Even worse in rural areas - there's this pointless reasoning that to live in these areas you need an SUV/4x4 monster. Perhaps for two weeks per year they may be a tad more useful, for the rest of the time they're the main reason why the roads are blocked when they meet each other at pinch points. And they blame us cyclists for slowing traffic down!

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Edgeley [535 posts] 5 days ago
2 likes

Most car drivers sat in a queue don't look in their wing mirrors to see if a two-wheeled vehicle is coming up from behind.   It isn't necessarily malice that means that they block our way; the real issue is that drivers assume that everyone else on the road is a car or a lorry or bus.

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sergius [548 posts] 5 days ago
5 likes
Edgeley wrote:

Most car drivers sat in a queue don't look in their wing mirrors to see if a two-wheeled vehicle is coming up from behind.   It isn't necessarily malice that means that they block our way; the real issue is that drivers assume that everyone else on the road is a car or a lorry or bus.

It is when they only overtoook you 30 seconds perviously  1

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hawkinspeter [1986 posts] 5 days ago
1 like

It'd be nice to have it specified in the Highway Code, but I don't think it's particularly practical. It's difficult to enforce laws such as not using mobiles, let alone a subtlety such as where to leave room for a bike.

Also, it's not clear which would be better. I prefer to pass slow/stationary traffic on the inside as you have protection from traffic going the opposite direction, but you're more at risk of being doored or  getting squished by a driver pulling in (especially if they're squeezing past a right-turning vehicle).

I'd go for a recommendation of trying to keep in line with the vehicle in front, so at least the space on the inside/outside will be more consistent and avoid the need to weave in and out round a badly placed vehicle.

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fukawitribe [2439 posts] 5 days ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:
sergius wrote:

Would be nice, though I tend to think half the drivers like to deliberately block cyclists as they feel we shouldnt be able to bypass the queue.

True. It's not that they hate cyclists (well, it might be) but that they're jealous!   Hence the rage about RLJ - I suspect it's just that many motorists wish they could too. (EDITED:) Actually, many do.  I  notice far more motor vehicles either going through a light just turned red, or moving off on amber, than bicycles.

 

To take central Bristol as an example, which you'll be familar with, I do too - in absolute numbers - but  I tend to notice a higher proportion of cyclists ignoring the lights than other road user types. That may well be highly inaccurate, either way, so i'm not really drawing too much of a conclusion from it.

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hawkinspeter [1986 posts] 5 days ago
0 likes
fukawitribe wrote:
brooksby wrote:
sergius wrote:

Would be nice, though I tend to think half the drivers like to deliberately block cyclists as they feel we shouldnt be able to bypass the queue.

True. It's not that they hate cyclists (well, it might be) but that they're jealous!   Hence the rage about RLJ - I suspect it's just that many motorists wish they could too. (EDITED:) Actually, many do.  I  notice far more motor vehicles either going through a light just turned red, or moving off on amber, than bicycles.

 

To take central Bristol as an example, which you'll be familar with, I do too - in absolute numbers - but  I tend to notice a higher proportion of cyclists ignoring the lights than other road user types. That may well be highly inaccurate, either way, so i'm not really drawing too much of a conclusion from it.

I've spotted a different pattern between cyclists and motorists jumping red lights. Motorists seem to do it the most when the traffic light just turns to red and they speed up to reduce the amount of time between when the lights were amber and when they go through.

Cyclists are more likely to do it just before the lights turn green (i.e. get a head-start to go through the junction safely). Of course, there's always the left-turn-on-red jumpers or junctions with very little traffic that tend to entice cyclist RLJers.

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fukawitribe [2439 posts] 5 days ago
1 like

Agree on the motorists - for cyclists, it's somewhat junction dependent but in the city centre here there seems to be a reasonable percentage of people that just seem to ride through oblivious to much anything - other traffic, pedestrians, what-have-you - stare straight ahead and pop, through they go.. reminiscent of the traditional student walking glaze. Odd.

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kil0ran [917 posts] 5 days ago
0 likes

I'll always pass on the outside. If, (if!) a driver checks his mirror before moving off he is more likely to check his offside mirror. As I usually ride with a fork mounted daylight running light hopefully that will also have attracted his attention.

A bit like driving without a seatbelt I have an absolute mental block about passing down the nearside, I think it comes from when before I cycled and nearly left-hooked a cyclist.

When I learnt to drive I was taught road positioning as follows:

1) line up the shut line of your bonnet (back when cars had higher/wider wings) with the edge of the kerb, when looking straight ahead.

2) in a queue, always stop so that the front edge of your bonnet doesn't obscure the contact point of the rear tyres of the car in front with the road.

As car design changes it's less easy to pick up these visual cues. One thing I have noticed is modern Mini drivers seem to consistently underestimate how much room they've given you when overtaking. Never driven one but I wonder if the low seating position and relatively high window sills are responsible for this. Probably just BMW genetics rubbing off...

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ChrisB200SX [769 posts] 5 days ago
0 likes

What I don't like, is having to weave around/between (and sometimes overtake in the oncoming lane) a queue of cars that are queueing two-abreast in a single lane and occupying the whole of the width of the lane and sometimes even more, including the centre-divide hatched area!
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/general-rules-techniques-an...

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Mb747 [12 posts] 5 days ago
1 like
kil0ran wrote:

...

As car design changes it's less easy to pick up these visual cues. One thing I have noticed is modern Mini drivers seem to consistently underestimate how much room they've given you when overtaking. Never driven one but I wonder if the low seating position and relatively high window sills are responsible for this. Probably just BMW genetics rubbing off...

Minis are around as wide as any moden family car, bit wider than the average hatchback, 2.0m inc. mirror, but some models have longer mirrors than average.

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Canyon48 [990 posts] 5 days ago
1 like

Ha, agreed with the comment about cyclists around Bristol - many, many of them are totally unaware and danger to everyone (I actually had more problems with other cyclists on my commutes than most traffic). Though I did get caught in one or two brushes with taxis...

I used to pass on the left, particularly if there was a cycle lane. I never pass on the left anymore (unless it's two lanes and I'm cycling down the middle), drivers are simply too unaware, so passing on the left isn't worth trying.

I always pass on the right as you can see the driver more easily, both through the car and through the wing mirror. There is also the benefit that when you pass behind the car (from left to right) you pass across the rearview mirror which tends to attract drivers' attention.

If you a regularly having to pass cars, commuting etc, stick a great big flashing light on the front. I use the Cateye Volt 800 on my commute, it works very well  1

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JohnnyRemo [231 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
Canyon48 wrote:

 

I used to pass on the left, particularly if there was a cycle lane. I never pass on the left anymore (unless it's two lanes and I'm cycling down the middle), drivers are simply too unaware, so passing on the left isn't worth trying.

I always pass on the right as you can see the driver more easily, both through the car and through the wing mirror. There is also the benefit that when you pass behind the car (from left to right) you pass across the rearview mirror which tends to attract drivers' attention.

Recent experience of passing a long queue on the right only to encounter white van deciding to turn right into side street with no signal or (presumably) look in mirror. Took me into the street with him and required all of my ancient track and crit-racing ninja-like-bike-handling-skills* to avoid a crash.

 

(*or maybe I was just lucky!)

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brooksby [3289 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
brooksby wrote:
sergius wrote:

Would be nice, though I tend to think half the drivers like to deliberately block cyclists as they feel we shouldnt be able to bypass the queue.

True. It's not that they hate cyclists (well, it might be) but that they're jealous!   Hence the rage about RLJ - I suspect it's just that many motorists wish they could too. (EDITED:) Actually, many do.  I  notice far more motor vehicles either going through a light just turned red, or moving off on amber, than bicycles.

 

To take central Bristol as an example, which you'll be familar with, I do too - in absolute numbers - but  I tend to notice a higher proportion of cyclists ignoring the lights than other road user types. That may well be highly inaccurate, either way, so i'm not really drawing too much of a conclusion from it.

I've spotted a different pattern between cyclists and motorists jumping red lights. Motorists seem to do it the most when the traffic light just turns to red and they speed up to reduce the amount of time between when the lights were amber and when they go through.

Cyclists are more likely to do it just before the lights turn green (i.e. get a head-start to go through the junction safely). Of course, there's always the left-turn-on-red jumpers or junctions with very little traffic that tend to entice cyclist RLJers.

I'd agree with this, hawkinspeter - what we're all kind of saying (feel free to correct me) is that cyclists tend to RLJ defensively (ie. to move to safety) or where they're not causing harm.  Motorists tend to RLJ because moving their foot slightly from the accelerator to the brake or clutch pedal is a real inconvenience yes 

The left turn on red is a particular behaviour I've noticed.  That said, if there are no pedestrians crossing in front, and no traffic coming in other directions, then I really haven't got a problem with it, tbh.  Example here (Jamaica Street/Marlborough Street, Bristol): https://goo.gl/maps/P7CDbhiLA5u - seriously, every single cyclist I've ever seen here either RLJs to turn left, or starts moving once the lights go amber.  The motorists here all treat it as a drag strip to get to the next lights onto St James Barton roundabout (if you rotate the image a bit you also get to see a car sitting in the ASL, for added value).

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brooksby [3289 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
JohnnyRemo wrote:
Canyon48 wrote:

 

I used to pass on the left, particularly if there was a cycle lane. I never pass on the left anymore (unless it's two lanes and I'm cycling down the middle), drivers are simply too unaware, so passing on the left isn't worth trying.

I always pass on the right as you can see the driver more easily, both through the car and through the wing mirror. There is also the benefit that when you pass behind the car (from left to right) you pass across the rearview mirror which tends to attract drivers' attention.

Recent experience of passing a long queue on the right only to encounter white van deciding to turn right into side street with no signal or (presumably) look in mirror. Took me into the street with him and required all of my ancient track and crit-racing ninja-like-bike-handling-skills* to avoid a crash.

 

(*or maybe I was just lucky!)

Thats the other side of left side or right side passing.  If the oncoming road is clear, very few motorists will bother to look in their right side mirror if they're turning right, because no motor vehicle would be coming up on their right...

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Podc [99 posts] 4 days ago
2 likes

Been shouted at for both. I'll just do what looks the best option, based on safety and making progress. 

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hawkinspeter [1986 posts] 4 days ago
1 like

@brooksby - agreed. I think it's about time that left turn on red was allowed in the UK, at least for cyclists. It works fine in other countries with the proviso that other traffic, especially pedestrians, take priority over the left turners. (Turning into Jamaica St has its own peculiar hazards - lots of discarded Special Brew cans).

It's tricky to come up with a fool-proof way of passing slow/stationary traffic. Both inside and outside passing has risks and I vary which I do according to the road and traffic conditions. If there's little oncoming traffic then I would go for the outside, but otherwise it would depend on where there's the most space.

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brooksby [3289 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

(Turning into Jamaica St has its own peculiar hazards - lots of discarded Special Brew cans).

yes

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brooksby [3289 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
Podc wrote:

Been shouted at for both. I'll just do what looks the best option, based on safety and making progress. 

Don't forget the adrenaline rush when you DO stop at a red light and then wonder whether a car is going to plough into the back of you...  

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scrumpydave [24 posts] 4 days ago
1 like

I stick to a simple rule these days. I only filter if I can be certain I will get to the front of the queue before the traffic starts to move and there will be space in the ASL when I get there. A lot of the time this means I don't filter at all.

I've also been shouted at for not filtering so it looks like there's no way of avoiding abuse entirely.

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ChrisB200SX [769 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
scrumpydave wrote:

I stick to a simple rule these days. I only filter if I can be certain I will get to the front of the queue before the traffic starts to move and there will be space in the ASL when I get there. A lot of the time this means I don't filter at all.

I've also been shouted at for not filtering so it looks like there's no way of avoiding abuse entirely.

I've been shouted at for having lights on during the day. You simply cannot escape anti-cyclist hatred.
I like filtering past big vehicles only to find the ASL box is full of taxis, cars and/or motorbikes/mopeds... basically everything that shouldn't be stopped there and cannot be seen until you get there  2
You can't win whichever side you choose, because you can't trust most drivers to not drive dangerously and be aware of their surroundings before performing manoeuvres.

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Bmblbzzz [191 posts] 4 days ago
1 like
brooksby wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

(Turning into Jamaica St has its own peculiar hazards - lots of discarded Special Brew cans).

yes

Not to mention Chris "King of Stokes Croft" Chalkley and his banana van, which of course has a licence to park anywhere he wants. 

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brooksby [3289 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes
Bmblbzzz wrote:
brooksby wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

(Turning into Jamaica St has its own peculiar hazards - lots of discarded Special Brew cans).

yes

Not to mention Chris "King of Stokes Croft" Chalkley and his banana van, which of course has a licence to park anywhere he wants. 

Don't know if he still does, but he used to live off Mogg Street in St Werburghs.  This is about fifteen years ago.  He parked like an @arse back then, too!

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Mungecrundle [973 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes

I do not have a very urban commute but there is an opportunity to filter  at one particular set of lights. I have come to the conclusion that there really is no point unless I am certain to get to the front of the queue before the lights change. Fortunately these particular lights are visible from some way off so I can see where they are in their cycle from a decent way back to make that judgement. 

If there are just 1 or 2 cars waiting I usually don't bother at all unless they are of the stinking diesel kind. Just wait, I'm not in a race.

One trick I learned from watching a Police motorcyclist years ago was to get to the front of the queue and then angle my bike across the centre of the lane. No-one moves until I move. Also angles a bright tail light away from the driver which seems courteous.

Oh, and in this circumstance I filter on the left but that is to do with the way the road layout works in this particular instance. Otherwise I would filter as if I were a motorcycle on the right or use a cycle lane on the left.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2018 posts] 4 days ago
2 likes
KendalRed wrote:
brooksby wrote:

The old claim that it is bicycles causing traffic queues, and not all of the single occupant SUVs which are far far too large for an urban environment...

Even worse in rural areas - there's this pointless reasoning that to live in these areas you need an SUV/4x4 monster. Perhaps for two weeks per year they may be a tad more useful, for the rest of the time they're the main reason why the roads are blocked when they meet each other at pinch points. And they blame us cyclists for slowing traffic down!

About 25 years ago I travelled up to the Lake District for a weeks holiday ... in January, it snowed heavily on the way up, the M6 was white but managed to drive in the outside lane at about 30mph through the freshly laid snow. It was still snowing when we turned off and it was starting to get icy and larger vehicles and cars wheelspinning up the slopes, I managed to drive around them in places and was only blocked off by a snowdrift which the police couldn't get through in their 'landy'. We detoured around to the cottage (next the farm) we'd booked and the owners were incredibly surprised when they saw my F plate (that's 1989 for you pups) MKII Astra 1.3L parked outside. 880kg, front wheel drive, 13" tyres that had the pressures knocked off, I'd driven up and down dale in that car into London and up through Lincolnshire on my way to visiting my folks during winter time over the 6 years I had it and it never missed a beat nor failed to get through where many turned around.

Today's fat bloaters with their overly large low profile tyres are garbage. She'd do up to 55mpg on the motorway if I was being extremely careful and averaged around 43ish including urban driving (I used to keep a weekly log), this was your bog std 5 seater mid sized PETROL hatch with a 75bhp non injection engine. I've moved people using it, could get a 2 seater sofa bed in the boot with the rear seats folded down not to mention bikes. I can't remember the outside dimensions but it'd be slighter shorter than my neighbours Ibiza but a fair bit narrower however around 450-500kg lighter!

I don't want a specific side to overtake, I want motors to be made smaller or simply forced off the infrastructure in towns and cities as much as possible. let's give them a time slot between 10am-11:45am and 7pm-8:30pm Mon-Fri, 8-10am & 3-5pm Sat, Sundays they can fuck off and have to keep it parked up/off road.

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hawkinspeter [1986 posts] 4 days ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:
KendalRed wrote:
brooksby wrote:

The old claim that it is bicycles causing traffic queues, and not all of the single occupant SUVs which are far far too large for an urban environment...

Even worse in rural areas - there's this pointless reasoning that to live in these areas you need an SUV/4x4 monster. Perhaps for two weeks per year they may be a tad more useful, for the rest of the time they're the main reason why the roads are blocked when they meet each other at pinch points. And they blame us cyclists for slowing traffic down!

About 25 years ago I travelled up to the Lake District for a weeks holiday ... in January, it snowed heavily on the way up, the M6 was white but managed to drive in the outside lane at about 30mph through the freshly laid snow. It was still snowing when we turned off and it was starting to get icy and larger vehicles and cars wheelspinning up the slopes, I managed to drive around them in places and was only blocked off by a snowdrift which the police couldn't get through in their 'landy'. We detoured around to the cottage (next the farm) we'd booked and the owners were incredibly surprised when they saw my F plate (that's 1989 for you pups) MKII Astra 1.3L parked outside. 880kg, front wheel drive, 13" tyres that had the pressures knocked off, I'd driven up and down dale in that car into London and up through Lincolnshire on my way to visiting my folks during winter time over the 6 years I had it and it never missed a beat nor failed to get through where many turned around.

Today's fat bloaters with their overly large low profile tyres are garbage. She'd do up to 55mpg on the motorway if I was being extremely careful and averaged around 43ish including urban driving (I used to keep a weekly log), this was your bog std 5 seater mid sized PETROL hatch with a 75bhp non injection engine. I've moved people using it, could get a 2 seater sofa bed in the boot with the rear seats folded down not to mention bikes. I can't remember the outside dimensions but it'd be slighter shorter than my neighbours Ibiza but a fair bit narrower however around 450-500kg lighter!

I don't want a specific side to overtake, I want motors to be made smaller or simply forced off the infrastructure in towns and cities as much as possible. let's give them a time slot between 10am-11:45am and 7pm-8:30pm Mon-Fri, 8-10am & 3-5pm Sat, Sundays they can fuck off and have to keep it parked up/off road.

I reckon that if you want an off-road vehicle it should be kept off the road - permanently.