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Both come away with new understanding of the other's perspective...

The Metropolitan Police has released a video showing a cyclist and a lorry driver taking part in one of its Exchanging Places events, aimed at fostering better understanding between the two types of road user.

The scheme, which last month won a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award, has been running since 2007 but the impetus for making the video is the deaths in the first half of November of six cyclists in London, all of them killed in collisions with lorries.

In the short film, cyclist Christopher and tipper truck driver Darren, accompanied by Sergeant Simon Castle from the Metropolitan Police’s Cycle Task Force, gain an appreciation of how things are from the other’s perspective.

Christopher, who cycles daily, says: “London traffic for me is the most intense traffic. I am extremely careful around trucks – it’s not a good mix, it’s not a good match.”

Darren, who’s been driving tipper lorries for about a decade, comments: “The limitations I have driving the lorry around London is that I’m very high up and the cyclists are very low down, and there’s lots of blind spots around the vehicle.”

Once Christopher is in the cab, and with Sergeant Castle moving around the vehicle with a bicycle, Derek explains when the cyclist can and can’t be seen.

With the camera also showing the driver’s point of view, it’s quite an eye-opener to learn just how easy it is for a bike rider to disappear from sight.

“In the moment it takes for him to look to his right to see if there’s any traffic, by the time he’s looked back, a cyclist could have come up along the side of the truck and be hidden,” says Christopher. “If you’re in that place, you’re in trouble.”

“My recommendation would be to a cyclist, number one, try to avoid at all costs going up the side of an HGV at lights, try and avoid coming up the inside of a lorry at these traffic lights especially if the lorry’s turning left,” adds Darren.

Later, Christopher says: “Having had this day, there’s certain things I could do which would be really easy. I definitely will be wearing a visible top – a truck driver’s going to pick you up, they know you’re there, you’re in a much better position.”

Darren reflects: “I’ve gained from this experience that you have to have a bit of teamwork, you have to have a bit of eye contact, you have to have a bit of hand manoeuvres between the cyclist and the lorry driver. You’ve both got to look out for each other.”

That sense of working together is something picked up on by Christopher, too, who says: ““It’s a team effort and that’s really clear to me now.”

Sergeant Castle explains the thinking behind the initiative: “The number one cause of serious crashes in London involving cyclists involves HGVs, heavy goods vehicles, and we know why – the lorry driver can’t see the cyclist, and the cyclist isn’t aware of what the lorry driver can and can’t see.

“What we do is we get the cyclists to sit in the cab of the lorry and explain how these crashes tend to happen and crucially, how to avoid them.”

While riding a bike along the road with Christopher and Derek, he points out: “The more space the lorry has left you, the more likely it is he’s going to turn left. The more tempting it looks, the more dangerous it is.”

A scheme that aims to enable lorry drivers and bike riders to get an insight into the other’s experience forms can only form part of trying to make conditions safer for cyclists when sharing the road with large vehicles.

Safety equipment such as mirrors, sensors and side guards, along with improvements to infrastructure such as early start traffic lights or proper provision for cyclists at junctions and enforcement of Advanced Stop Lines, are just some of the other measures that can reduce the danger.

But given that in some instances lorry drivers have been found guilty of causing deaths of cyclists in London, and that a recent Metropolitan Police road safety operation saw 15 out of 70 lorry drivers fined for a variety of offences, it’s perhaps wishful thinking when Sergeant Castle says: “My key message is that these crashes are avoidable.”

He adds: “We’re not talking about massive changes to the way we ride our bikes, we’re talking about a few sensible precautions.”

Forthcoming Exchanging Places events are scheduled for Wednesday 11 December from 0730-1000 at Factory Road E16 at the junction with North Woolwich Road, and on Friday 20 December from 0730-1000 at Kings Mews, Holborn, WC1.

Another London cyclist who has taken part in a similar scheme is road.cc’s own Sarah Barth, who attended one last year. Here’s what she had to say:

The opportunity to sit in the cab of an HGV is one of the most significant things I've done to improve my safety on the streets of London.

The cab is filled with mirrors, so it is possible to see the sides of the lorries from most angles, but it's not always easy.

A cyclist is just about visible coming up on the left -- but the improvement once you add a high-viz jacket is astonishing. If you've any sense though, you'd ride up the right, or go nowhere near.

There clearly are blind spots, and these are different on different vehicles, so you come away with the impression that the safest place to be is well out of the way.

And the safety features only work if the driver is using them - one can only imagine the dangers posed by a tired or distracted driver.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

60 comments

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Argos74 [451 posts] 3 years ago
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Recently I started taking up a blocking position at the RNS corner of large vehicles. Blocks off the temptation to for other cyclists to try to zoom up the inside. Might get on some people's nerves, but I'm used to that anyway from taking the primary at junctions and pinch points.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Red herring, next?

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AyBee [85 posts] 3 years ago
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Fairly obvious stuff...

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adamthekiwi [149 posts] 3 years ago
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A really useful tool would be some sort of blinking light on the left-hand side that could be illuminated by the driver some time before they want to turn left. Perhaps we could name this innovation an 'indicator'? Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...

Cars and vans seem to have a matched pair of lights that are illuminated together to mean "I'll stop wherever the f**k I like", so perhaps if these could be controlled individually, they could be repurposed for this?

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jasecd [483 posts] 3 years ago
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"Fairly obvious stuff..."

Perhaps but if it leads to some mutual understanding and helps avoid another KSI then it's a worthwhile exercise.

However the main problem still remains - poor driver behaviour and poor road design. I've been hugely frustrated this week by the ignorance of the Transport Select committee on cycling. None of the MP's involved are in any way informed and seem completely unwilling to acknowledge the careless and dangerous attitudes of sizeable minority of drivers.

This scheme from the Met is great and Darren seems like a responsible and caring guy, however it's the HGV drivers who aren't like him that I'm scared of. They should make this scheme mandatory for all truck drivers.

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jasecd [483 posts] 3 years ago
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Argos74 wrote:

Recently I started taking up a blocking position at the RNS corner of large vehicles. Blocks off the temptation to for other cyclists to try to zoom up the inside. Might get on some people's nerves, but I'm used to that anyway from taking the primary at junctions and pinch points.

It's a good call - I'd take a bit of verbal for the knowledge that I may have helped avoid a KSI of a careless/inexperienced cyclist.

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rggfddne [221 posts] 3 years ago
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It's not a bad idea, certainly for those who might be interested in policy. It's very easy for debates to become "you suck/no you suck" bitchfights, when both parties are really open to solutions if treated like decent human beings.

At the same time, this is never going to happen to everyone, and the people most likely to be involved in a collision are those least likely to turn up to one of these experiences. It's a complement, not an alternative.

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mrmo [2096 posts] 3 years ago
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adamthekiwi wrote:

Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...

Not to be rude, but I have seen cyclists do some very stupid things, even if the truck is using indicators.

Mind you the most stupid is this. Truck in right lane approaching roundabout, indicating left. If you saw the junction the tractor trailer and thought, it makes sense, the truck needed the room to make the manoeuvre. Didn't stop a car go up the inside and end up half under the trailer.

I still have to say why are ASL and ASL feeder lanes in the blindspot of trucks, if you are designing roads, surely the first rule, if you follow the markings you are safe? What we are actually being told is that the feeder and ASL are in truck blindspots, that they may be safe, but they may actually get you killed!!!!

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FluffyKittenofT... [1851 posts] 3 years ago
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adamthekiwi wrote:

A really useful tool would be some sort of blinking light on the left-hand side that could be illuminated by the driver some time before they want to turn left. Perhaps we could name this innovation an 'indicator'? Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...

Cars and vans seem to have a matched pair of lights that are illuminated together to mean "I'll stop wherever the f**k I like", so perhaps if these could be controlled individually, they could be repurposed for this?

I want one of those matched light pairs to wear on my person. Because, apparently, if you turn them on you are allowed to do pretty much anything you want and its fine, as the rules no longer apply because you've got two rear lights on. Brilliant invention, surprised its not more widely used.

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usedtobefaster [206 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo wrote:
adamthekiwi wrote:

Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...

Mind you the most stupid is this. Truck in right lane approaching roundabout, indicating left. If you saw the junction the tractor trailer and thought, it makes sense, the truck needed the room to make the manoeuvre. Didn't stop a car go up the inside and end up half under the trailer.

Saw something similar with larger tractor and trailer unit position itself in the middle of 2 lanes coming up to a roundabout and indicating to make a left turn, there's me and the family in the car and I'm thinking hang back give this guy some room, next minute I hear a horn being sounded and there's this idiot in a 4x4 trying to squeeze up the inside of this trailer as it's turning left !!!

Some people just don't have any common sense or ability to be on the roads, and that goes for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders.

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teaboy [307 posts] 3 years ago
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There's a huge amount of hypocrisy in this issue. By continuing to design roads and junctions that visually suggest that cyclists go up the left-hand-side of traffic it really shouldn't be a surprise when people do. To then have to recommend that cyclists ignore the infrastructure for their own safety strongly suggests that the infrastructure in question is at best not fit for purpose, and at worst responsible for the deaths of people.

When the people in government say that there are laws to prevent cycle traffic lights for the often-proposed 'early start', yet don't do anything to change this we can see that the major issue is with political will.

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adamthekiwi [149 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

Not to be rude, but I have seen cyclists do some very stupid things, even if the truck is using indicators.

It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek - but too often trucks (and vans and cars) don't signal, or start signalling once they've already started their manoeuvre.

You are right, though, that the problem is that most of our road-design has cyclists sharing the road in an entirely optional lane on the far inside, which only works OK (and never well) when drivers are observant (particularly when travelling slower than bikes, or stopped), considerate and indicate in good time before manoeuvring. These are traits I rarely see together on our roads.

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kitkat [475 posts] 3 years ago
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The thing that struck me most is the invisibility in front of the truck. The cyclist has to be a good 6ft in front of the truck to make sure they're fully in the drivers view. Often I would roll up to a couple of feet in front on the LHS, now I know I'm still invisible!

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fignon [6 posts] 3 years ago
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Why can't lorries have the same kind of indicators what very old cars used to have. The indicators where the light pops out on the end of a stick.

If big enough could be an indicator and a way of detering cycles coming up the side of truck.

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William Black [193 posts] 3 years ago
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kitkat wrote:

The thing that struck me most is the invisibility in front of the truck. The cyclist has to be a good 6ft in front of the truck to make sure they're fully in the drivers view. Often I would roll up to a couple of feet in front on the LHS, now I know I'm still invisible!

If you can't make eye contact you can't be seen, same thing as if you can't see a lorries mirrors he can't see you.

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zanf [963 posts] 3 years ago
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adamthekiwi wrote:

A really useful tool would be some sort of blinking light on the left-hand side that could be illuminated by the driver some time before they want to turn left. Perhaps we could name this innovation an 'indicator'? Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...

Cars and vans seem to have a matched pair of lights that are illuminated together to mean "I'll stop wherever the f**k I like", so perhaps if these could be controlled individually, they could be repurposed for this?

Those solutions really work in situations like this and this.

@Beztweets writes about "Exchanging Places" or exchanging responsibility?

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oozaveared [937 posts] 3 years ago
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adamthekiwi wrote:

A really useful tool would be some sort of blinking light on the left-hand side that could be illuminated by the driver some time before they want to turn left. Perhaps we could name this innovation an 'indicator'? Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...
?

Just avoid going down the left at all. And if the lorry draws alongside you then drop straight back.

Apart from being a #bloodycyclist I'm also an #bloodyadvanceddriver. So this goes if you are driving as well. Even in a car don't get alongside a lorry on either side if you can help it (sometimes you can't). Get past it or drop back one or the other. I see motorists on motorways sitting alongside lorries in heavy traffic for ages. These things will kill you sat in your car almost as quick as they will if you are riding your bike.

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Bez [619 posts] 3 years ago
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teaboy wrote:

There's a huge amount of hypocrisy in this issue. By continuing to design roads and junctions that visually suggest that cyclists go up the left-hand-side of traffic it really shouldn't be a surprise when people do. To then have to recommend that cyclists ignore the infrastructure for their own safety strongly suggests that the infrastructure in question is at best not fit for purpose, and at worst responsible for the deaths of people.

Boom.

http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/tipping-out-the-paint/

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Ush [1004 posts] 3 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
adamthekiwi wrote:

A really useful tool would be some sort of blinking light on the left-hand side that could be illuminated by the driver some time before they want to turn left. Perhaps we could name this innovation an 'indicator'? Then cyclists could simply avoid going down the left-hand side in that circumstance...

Cars and vans seem to have a matched pair of lights that are illuminated together to mean "I'll stop wherever the f**k I like", so perhaps if these could be controlled individually, they could be repurposed for this?

I want one of those matched light pairs to wear on my person. Because, apparently, if you turn them on you are allowed to do pretty much anything you want and its fine, as the rules no longer apply because you've got two rear lights on. Brilliant invention, surprised its not more widely used.

I would like them too, but not for that. I want them so that _after_ I have started to make a change in my road position I can turn them on and then act surprised when things don't work out. I think there may be a conspiracy to restrict these devices to the illuminati.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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The driver flags up a very interesting point that, even as an hgv driver myself, I haven't heard before. "The more room a driver leaves, the more likely he will be turning left".

Also interesting is the cyclist's announcement that he will wear hi viz from now on. Indeed, road.cc reporter Sarah Barth's previous comments, where she reports the improvement a hi viz makes (in visibility for cyclists coming up the inside of an hgv) as "astonishing", are repeated.

There's a lot of comments about the use of indicators but, as an hgv driver, I would ask one simple question. Why would anyone base a potentially life threatening decision on the twin assumptions that the indicator was working, and that the driver's decision not to use the indicator is a sure fire signal that the truck was going straight ahead? Bulbs can be faulty, drivers can forget. It's not rocket science.

Even though there may be a filter lane, enticing you into danger, the golden rule is "keep back". Once this message becomes sufficiently accepted, and anyone still failing to grasp the concept risks being labelled a tw*t, deaths at junctions will become very rare.

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Mr Agreeable [183 posts] 3 years ago
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"Wear visible clothing, make sure you can see the vehicle's mirrors" - Works fine as long as the driver is looking for you, and not checking any of their other 15 or so blind spots.

"Don't go up the left hand side of heavy vehicles" - What happens when one pulls up alongside you, or overtakes you at 50 mph with inches to spare?

All these well-meaning bits of advice remind me of the 1950s public information films that made out you could survive a nuclear explosion if you put a blanket over your kitchen table, or hid beneath some sofa cushions.

And they do nothing to address the fact that for most of the population, riding a bike on the road is an unthinkably scary thing to do.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Victim blaming at it's most amazing it seems., re-design public highways - problem solved.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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This is just constantly ignoring the real issue.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1851 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd be interested to know if there's any vaguely-rigourous (if that's not an oxymoron) formal study to show how common 'going up the left of large vehicles at junctions' actually is. And, furthermore, if there are any common traits either of those who do it or the junctions they do it at. And also, how many accidents involve a cyclist doing that.

Because its something that is reiterated in every thread on almost anything in any way bike-related, but I don't do it, and I don't seem to see others do it very frequently (not that I necessarily cycle on the heavy cycle-traffic routes where it perhaps is more likely to arise).

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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@ Mr Agreeable.
The max speed for an hgv is 40mph for a single carriageway. If he's doing 50, report him. If he's doing 50 on a dual carriageway, and fails to move into lane 2 when overtaking you, report him. Camera evidence should be sufficient. Transport managers generally take a dim view of poor driving, in my experience, and no company wants their sign written truck on Youtube.

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John Stevenson [304 posts] 3 years ago
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teaboy wrote:

When the people in government say that there are laws to prevent cycle traffic lights for the often-proposed 'early start', yet don't do anything to change this we can see that the major issue is with political will.

To be fair, Robert Goodwill mentioned in his evidence to the Transport Select Committee on Wednesday that this was one of the parts of the road design regs he was looking to have changed.

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

I'd be interested to know if there's any vaguely-rigourous (if that's not an oxymoron) formal study to show how common 'going up the left of large vehicles at junctions' actually is. And, furthermore, if there are any common traits either of those who do it or the junctions they do it at. And also, how many accidents involve a cyclist doing that.

Because its something that is reiterated in every thread on almost anything in any way bike-related, but I don't do it, and I don't seem to see others do it very frequently (not that I necessarily cycle on the heavy cycle-traffic routes where it perhaps is more likely to arise).

I'm afraid it's indemic.
The two most common traits are:
1. Not realising the danger.
2. Knowing the danger but deciding to risk it anyway.

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John Stevenson [304 posts] 3 years ago
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Neil753 wrote:

Even though there may be a filter lane, enticing you into danger, the golden rule is "keep back".

Are you HGV drivers going to start doing your bit by stopping far enough behind the ASL stop line that you can see everyone in it? You know where your blind spots are, surely it's incumbent on you to compensate for them, not cyclists?

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Neil753 [447 posts] 3 years ago
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John Stevenson wrote:
Neil753 wrote:

Even though there may be a filter lane, enticing you into danger, the golden rule is "keep back".

Are you HGV drivers going to start doing your bit by stopping far enough behind the ASL stop line that you can see everyone in it? You know where your blind spots are, surely it's incumbent on you to compensate for them, not cyclists?

I do, and I strongly urge my fellow hgv drivers to hold back, leaving a gap behind the ASL, driving with care, making effective use of mirrors, and anticipating dangerous situations.

As I see it, there are two many risky drivers out there, partly because the current system encourages speed (pay per load, time restrictions, impatient transport managers, etc).

But I also see two types of dangerous cyclist. Inexperienced riders who are simply unaware of the dangers they face, and a sizeable hardcore of more experienced riders who feel confident enough to put themselves in dangerous situations in order to reduce their journey times.

The "keep back" message is easy for both groups to interpret. And frankly, it is just plain dumb to place yourself in the ASL zone unless you are specifically turning right. ASLs were never intended for cyclists who wish to go straight on or turn left.

This mustn't be seen as one lorry driver slagging off cyclists; we should all be working together on this one, and the view from the cab is just as valid as the view from the saddle.

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William Black [193 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:

Victim blaming at it's most amazing it seems., re-design public highways - problem solved.

I bet you write strongly worded emails to the local authority to have them tie your shoelaces and wipe your arse for you as well?

It's not victim blaming, it's just common fcuking sense: don't ride up the inside of a lorry, if you're in the bike box look back - if you can't see the lorry driver he can't see you, don't ride like a bellend.

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