Undertaking HGV's a cyclists perspective

by bikeboy76   November 21, 2013  

So this happened; okay it wasn't actually an HGV, it was a Bin Van, but either way it was a bloody big lorry. I was on the way to work, it was a cool crisp dry morning. Up ahead was a woman on a bike about 50m ahead, I was catching up to her. As she passed a side street a large council refuse collection vehicle pulled out between up and headed off up the road. Within a couple of seconds I was closing in on it and easing off the match its pace; there was a parked transit van up ahead and little room between it and the Lorry. It wasn't going very fast following the other cyclist anyway and then slowed and started to indicate left to pull over behind the transit. This wasn't a turn it was pulling over to collect more bins.
I had come to a stop a few metres behind it, mindful of all those stories of young people being squashed by left hand turners in London. At this point time becomes very elastic; it didn't take more than two seconds stopped behind the lorry to know he was not going to pull over, just sitting there in the middle of the road, so I gave a forward wave; still no movement, then I wave again and shout 'Get on with it' - one of my favourites. Still no movement so with a glance over the shoulder I turn and go right around the outside of the Lorry. He gets the idea and starts to pull over finally. As I start to speed up again I pass the open window of the driver he shouts something, could have been 'what do you want?' I shout back (as there no choice but to shout to be heard) 'You indicated first.'
Now I don't know if he though I was taking the piss or not, or getting in his way even though he was ahead on the road. What I don't understand is why he would thing I would happily cycle up the inside of him whilst he was indicating left. He might have stopped but how am I to know he won't change his mind as soon as I set off? Perhaps he has had many bikers with a death wish undertake him; or perhaps just perhaps he didn't understand what I was doing or why.
Result is possibly one more driver of a heavy vehicle annoyed with cyclists but I am still alive and lost another 30seconds changing time at work.

Sorry if the title is a bit sensationalist, but an anecdote about NOT undertaking a van that is NOT an HGV wouldn't scan right. Anyway I hope this is apropos this week.

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I don't think so, the driver was obviously not a dickhead as he was aware of your presence and anticipated a hazard. You also behaved correctly by avoiding a potentially hazardous position. I can understand his frustration at the behavior of cyclists in general but I bet he wasn't particularly pissed off at you in particular. Bin wagons have to pull in a lot so the best position is to be drafting, prepared to overtake on the right as it pulls in.

posted by drfabulous0 [188 posts]
21st November 2013 - 23:27

like this
Like (3)

I wonder if he had put his hazards on but a bulb was out?

posted by hexhome [19 posts]
21st November 2013 - 23:29

like this
Like (2)

I am assuming you are in London, but this is the problem on the roads for HGVs. Damned if they do, damned if they don't, and a fair amount of the time the issue is that cyclists are pulling silly manoeuvres (undertaking HGVs etc).

I get exasperated with the people talking about 'victim blaming', but if cyclists behaved more as they should, according to some of the more basic rules cyclists would probably have a better time of it, and better awareness.

I read some post in the Huffington Post talking advocating RLJing to avoid being crushed at a junction. But it completely missed the point that you don't need to be at the head of a set of lights, and quite often it is the mindless effort to do so which puts people in danger (i.e. heading into blind spots on HGVs in a desire to get to the ASL).

Ignoring issues of infrastructure, there seems far too much figure pointing and don't blame the victim when it comes to HGVs. But the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Anyway vented my frustration for the day. I will reset the mechanism and go about my way (mindful of the fact that I will no doubt trigger some other to vent spleenic displeasure on what I have said).

posted by Colin Peyresourde [978 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:29

like this
Like (1)

I would have been up the road before you could have said bin.

posted by northstar [942 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:55

like this
Like (5)

hexhome wrote:
I wonder if he had put his hazards on but a bulb was out?

It would have been flashing at double speed if that was the case.

posted by farrell [1032 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 12:53

like this
Like (2)

hexhome wrote:
I wonder if he had put his hazards on but a bulb was out?
A very, very good point. All cyclists should be aware of this possibility.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [429 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 12:53

like this
Like (3)

Neil753 wrote:
hexhome wrote:
I wonder if he had put his hazards on but a bulb was out?
A very, very good point. All cyclists should be aware of this possibility.

....at all times. The problem with lights is that you never know when they are broken/not working. Only if someone outside the vehicle sees you using them and then has the chance to tell you.

Once had a situation where visibility dropped due to wet conditions where my front lights went while on a motorway. That was awkward, but got the AA man to sort me out, but I only slowly became aware of it because it seemed a bit gloomy.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [978 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:30

like this
Like (1)

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
Neil753 wrote:
hexhome wrote:
I wonder if he had put his hazards on but a bulb was out?
A very, very good point. All cyclists should be aware of this possibility.

....at all times. The problem with lights is that you never know when they are broken/not working. Only if someone outside the vehicle sees you using them and then has the chance to tell you.

Once had a situation where visibility dropped due to wet conditions where my front lights went while on a motorway. That was awkward, but got the AA man to sort me out, but I only slowly became aware of it because it seemed a bit gloomy.

On every car I've owned the indicators and hazards have flashed at double speed when a bulb has been out.

Have I just been lucky in the models I've had? I've always thought it to be a design feature on every vehicle.

posted by farrell [1032 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:37

like this
Like (2)

I'll make a positive comment for a truck driver I spotted this week who really was keeping watch and doing everything he was supposed to. I was commuting along the South Circular in London earlier this week and the traffic was really heavy. I got stuck behind a bus and there was an articulated tanker truck coming the other way. Now I knew I could squeeze past, just about, but thought it was better to wait. Not so the roadie coming the other way. He squeezed through a very tight gap between the two vehicles. He didn't have much space. The traffic flow started in front of the truck but the driver had spotted the cyclist and waited until he was past before moving off.

I shook my head at the roadie to show my disapproval, not sure if he noticed. I thought after I should've said to the roadie that it was a stupid overtake that made very little difference to his commute and that this trucker was obviously doing a good job.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1959 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:45

like this
Like (5)

farrell wrote:
Colin Peyresourde wrote:
Neil753 wrote:
hexhome wrote:
I wonder if he had put his hazards on but a bulb was out?
A very, very good point. All cyclists should be aware of this possibility.

....at all times. The problem with lights is that you never know when they are broken/not working. Only if someone outside the vehicle sees you using them and then has the chance to tell you.

Once had a situation where visibility dropped due to wet conditions where my front lights went while on a motorway. That was awkward, but got the AA man to sort me out, but I only slowly became aware of it because it seemed a bit gloomy.

On every car I've owned the indicators and hazards have flashed at double speed when a bulb has been out.

Have I just been lucky in the models I've had? I've always thought it to be a design feature on every vehicle.

It's not so much a design feature as a side effect of how flasher systems work. I took a broken one apart on my old Ford - uses a folded bit of metal that heats up as current passes thru it and then clicks to make a contact. If an indicator bulb is out, more current flows through the unit and it heats up quicker so switches more quickly. Newer ones might be electronic but the extra current means they still switch more quickly if a bulb is out.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1959 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:49

like this
Like (2)

OldRidgeback wrote:

On every car I've owned the indicators and hazards have flashed at double speed when a bulb has been out.

Have I just been lucky in the models I've had? I've always thought it to be a design feature on every vehicle.

It's not so much a design feature as a side effect of how flasher systems work. I took a broken one apart on my old Ford - uses a folded bit of metal that heats up as current passes thru it and then clicks to make a contact. If an indicator bulb is out, more current flows through the unit and it heats up quicker so switches more quickly. Newer ones might be electronic but the extra current means they still switch more quickly if a bulb is out.

Fine if you know about it, but I don't think they tell you about that in the highway code, or anywhere meaningful - though I agree that it is 'obvious'. The other part is that a driver may only find this out when he is stuck deep in city traffic and changing one becomes a problem....I am making excuses I know - but I'm sure we have all been in a rush, cut a corner - the point is that we should just look out for it and not expect everything to be alright.

I guess I have spidey sense because I've been in several situations where I've sensed a road user wants to turn-left and there has been no indication. Once at a junction a delivery food scooter had pulled into the ASL ahead of me. He was parked in the middle of the road waiting for the lights. I just had a feeling that he wanted to turn so I asked him, he said 'yes', so I told him to indicate, but let him pull away first - I think his indicator was broken anyway. Sometimes it is more obvious than others though.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [978 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 14:23

like this
Like (2)

Colin Peyresourde wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

On every car I've owned the indicators and hazards have flashed at double speed when a bulb has been out.

Have I just been lucky in the models I've had? I've always thought it to be a design feature on every vehicle.

It's not so much a design feature as a side effect of how flasher systems work. I took a broken one apart on my old Ford - uses a folded bit of metal that heats up as current passes thru it and then clicks to make a contact. If an indicator bulb is out, more current flows through the unit and it heats up quicker so switches more quickly. Newer ones might be electronic but the extra current means they still switch more quickly if a bulb is out.

Fine if you know about it, but I don't think they tell you about that in the highway code, or anywhere meaningful - though I agree that it is 'obvious'. The other part is that a driver may only find this out when he is stuck deep in city traffic and changing one becomes a problem....I am making excuses I know - but I'm sure we have all been in a rush, cut a corner - the point is that we should just look out for it and not expect everything to be alright.

I guess I have spidey sense because I've been in several situations where I've sensed a road user wants to turn-left and there has been no indication. Once at a junction a delivery food scooter had pulled into the ASL ahead of me. He was parked in the middle of the road waiting for the lights. I just had a feeling that he wanted to turn so I asked him, he said 'yes', so I told him to indicate, but let him pull away first - I think his indicator was broken anyway. Sometimes it is more obvious than others though.

That sixth sense is something you develop, particularly if you're a cyclist or motorcyclist. I get that feeling someone may be about to make a manoeuvre at times as well whether I'm on my motorbike, a bicycle or in my car.

"Use the force Luke."

Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1959 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 15:17

like this
Like (3)

I understood the fast indicators to be a deliberate design feature, at least on more modern circuits. It's easy to design a driver nowadays that will not vary speed.

If a bulb is out then less current will flow, unless you've got Christmas tree lights which you don't in cars. Each bulb is in parallel and sees the full 12V. A failed bulb will mean half the current. A trailer will mean more current if wired into the existing circuits without relays. I think this was the case in my first car. You don't want the indicators slowing down!

Some/many modern cars have different indications of bulb failure. Our current car is the first we have to have the trailer lights powered by a relay box operating off the car's internal data network and power, so completely separate to the circuits that operate the normal bulbs. The car manual implies that the manufacturer's own trailer kit can use the data network to pass information back to the dash board about bulb failure, though ours seems to be a cheap one that just beeps.

posted by m0rjc [35 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 15:18

like this
Like (1)

Current is measured in Amps, not Volts.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1959 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 16:37

like this
Like (2)

This was in Manchester and there was no hazard light involved. I will have to watch out for bin lorries in future. I am well aware that buses will likely pull over and often try to get on their right. However all to often I find some car is following the bus far to closely; on a single carriageway they can't pull out and simple box me in; having to weave between the car and the back of the bus, or wait for the bus to leave. I can see it coming time and time again but they still don't hang back from the bus.

Between the S and the LOW

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1053 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 19:57

like this
Like (1)