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Driver apparently misinterpreted signal to hold back - and told CyclingMikey he should be on shared-use path

A driver in South London has spoken of the “upset” he felt after footage of him exchanging words with a cyclist after trying to pass him at a pinch point on the road was posted to YouTube. The driver seemed to have interpreted a signal from to hold back from the rider, who also told road.cc why he takes helmet camera footage and uploads it to the video-sharing site.

Robert Lewis, aged 56, was seeking to overtake a recumbent bike ridden by YouTube user CyclingMikey as the pair headed along Bromley Common on Thursday 20 March.

As the video shows, with a pedestrian island ahead on the road creating a pinch point, the cyclist gestured to the motorist to hold back until it was safe to overtake.

But the motorist seems to have misinterpreted it as a signal to overtake, and afterwards there was an exchange in which he told CyclingMikey that he should be on the cycle path on the adjacent footway.

The driver, 56-year-old Robert Lewis, told This Is Local London: "I didn't sleep very well over the weekend because it really upset me.

"I didn't sleep very well over the weekend because it really upset me.

"I don't really get into confrontations with people on the road. I don't speed, I've never had a parking fine since I started driving in 1975.

"I'm annoyed he's put this thing about me on YouTube.”

Referring to the incident, Mr Lewis said: "He's given me this hand signal and I am thinking he's wanting me to pass.

"He says 'stay away from me' and he says he's going to put the video on YouTube which I think is an infringement of my privacy.

"I think he does normal cyclists a disservice by not using the cycle lanes for safety reasons, but happily using them if traffic impedes his progress," he added.

That final point perhaps reinforces a misconception held by many motorists who believe that cyclists are obliged to use on-road cycle lanes or shared use paths on the footway.

In fact there is no legal requirement to do so, and due to the presence of pedestrians on the footway plus the presence of driveways and side road junctions, it is safer for faster moving cyclists to be on the main carriageway.

CyclingMikey, who in the description to the video points out that besides being a cyclist, he's also an experiencd driver, told road.cc: “I feel bad that he's upset about this incident, but then how does a little embarrassment compare with the fear and danger he caused me?

“It's very dangerous to cyclists for a driver to attempt to overtake at a pinch point, and I have been knocked off by a driver doing something very similar in the past,” as shown in this video.

Since posting that footage in October 2011, he’s since been overtaken by the same taxi on at least two occasions – six months later in April 2012, and again in January 2013 – and was given much more space each time.

Regarding Thursday’s incident, he said: “This section of road is a difficult one for cyclists as most of us are simply travelling too fast for the pavement cycle path, and the lane itself is narrow and has the pedestrian islands.

“I first became aware of the driver whilst watching traffic coming up for an overtake in my mirrors, and I judged that he would attempt to overtake me through the upcoming pedestrian refuge.

“I signalled right, and let there be no mistake, this is a very obvious right signal, not a waving through. I like to think I make super obvious signals, and I find it hard to believe that anyone could mistake a right arm out as waving them through. This was enough to get him to brake and back off.

“I then made a look signal and pointed to the traffic island as we went through it, and then after the traffic island waved him through, essentially doing his overtake planning for him.

“This is when he chose to come alongside and too close to me and offer advice about riding in the cycle lane. Had he instead chosen to overtake as all the other cars did, I doubt I'd have bothered to upload the video.

“I didn't report him to Roadsafe as this is fairly minor, but had I done so I'm reasonably sure they would have written him an educational letter.”

We asked CyclingMikey why he uses cameras to record footage of examples of bad driving – and, it should be said, cycling – he said: “I'm one of thousands of cyclists who use cameras to educate and improve driver and cyclist behaviour.

“As more and more drivers realise that so many of us are filming, they begin to take more care around cyclists generally. It's no different to all the Russian drivers using dashcams, a natural reaction to bad driving and bad justice.

“I have a playlist of repeat ‘customers’ who generally considerably improve their behaviour on the second encounter,” as happened with those taxi videos linked above.

He added: “I can't imagine ever needing to or wanting to use a camera in the Netherlands.”

Last week, we reported how helmet camera footage from cyclist Dave Brennan had led to a Glasgow driver pleading guilty to four charges including dangerous driving.

In its article, This Is Local London has asked motorists who have had what it describes as an “altercation” with CyclingMikey to get in touch with it.

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.

85 comments

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David Portland [83 posts] 1 year ago
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Impressed that the driver is so keen to safeguard his privacy that he allowed his full name, age and the road he lives on to be published in the local rag.

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sfichele [140 posts] 1 year ago
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"My driving is so poor, that I thought it'd be best to contact the local paper and get it published as I wasnt sleeping from the stress"  10 24

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sfichele [140 posts] 1 year ago
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"My driving is so poor, that I thought it'd be best to contact the local paper and get it published as I wasnt sleeping from the stress"  10 24

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shay cycles [315 posts] 1 year ago
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“I then made a look signal and pointed to the traffic island as we went through it, and then after the traffic island waved him through, essentially doing his overtake planning for him."

CyclingMikey ought to be aware that, although he is completely correct with regard to the cycle paths and the misconceptions held by motorists, using non standard signals is never a good idea as they lack the clarity which he usually ensures and that waving a driver through is never a good idea.

Use road positioning and signals to alert drivers to what you are doing but the choice to overtake or make other manoeuvres should be left to the motorist.

Whether driving or cycling we should neither make signals to tell others that they can proceed with a manoeuvre nor act on such signals without having checked and decided for ourselves that the move is appropriate.

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YorkshireMike [90 posts] 1 year ago
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So many road users don't understand that a cycle lane is an OPTION and not compulsory. There are so many around Manchester that are full of crud, potholes and glass that render them pointless, and those that run alongside roads on the pavement just take you into signposts, lamp posts, pedestrians and on topsy-turvy tangents, making the road a much quicker and safer option.

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Wolfshade [162 posts] 1 year ago
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A couple of things:
"...he's going to put the video on YouTube which I think is an infringement of my privacy..."
The road is a public space and so there is no privacy issue at all.
"...I think he does normal cyclists a disservice by not using the cycle lanes for safety reasons..."
Most of the reasons for not using shared cycle lanes is for safety reasons, pedestirans, street furniture, lack of right or way, etc....
But even if you did think that he was signaling for you to overtake, it was at a pinch point, when I am driving my car if a cyclist signals for me to overtake it is up to me as the driver to decide whether or not I will. Afterall, a cyclist doesn't know how quickly I will pass or how risk adverse I am and therefore how much time/space I require to pass.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 1 year ago
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Wolfshade wrote:

Most of the reasons for not using shared cycle lanes is for safety reasons

I'm playing devil's advocate here and therefore I'm sure I'm going to get some abuse, but here goes.

Love the quote above, I would imagine that cycle lanes are much safer than a road, I know there has been some horrible accidents on cycle lanes but a vast majority of accidents happen on a road.

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brooksby [736 posts] 1 year ago
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Quote:

he says he's going to put the video on YouTube which I think is an infringement of my privacy.

What privacy? He's on a public road. There is no expectation of privacy whilst out in a public space (unless you are a celebrity or otherwise very wealthy, which becomes a whole different ball game...).

Anyway, it's not like someone put up posters of him on his road - seriously, what are the chances of someone he knows or ever comes into contact with, finding a random youtube clip of him driving like an a**e?

And, if he was so concerned about his privacy he wouldn't have gone and talked to his local newspaper to complain about it - all that has achieved, I would imagine, is to increase the number of hits on said youtube clip.

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AyBee [85 posts] 1 year ago
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shay cycles wrote:

“I then made a look signal and pointed to the traffic island as we went through it, and then after the traffic island waved him through, essentially doing his overtake planning for him."

CyclingMikey ought to be aware that, although he is completely correct with regard to the cycle paths and the misconceptions held by motorists, using non standard signals is never a good idea as they lack the clarity which he usually ensures and that waving a driver through is never a good idea.

Use road positioning and signals to alert drivers to what you are doing but the choice to overtake or make other manoeuvres should be left to the motorist.

Whether driving or cycling we should neither make signals to tell others that they can proceed with a manoeuvre nor act on such signals without having checked and decided for ourselves that the move is appropriate.

The voice of sense, well said. Cyclingmikey has far too many videos on his youtube channel, it's almost like he wants the confrontation (I ride in London daily and don't have half as many confrontations as him). Keep yourself to yourself, signal what you're doing and get on with it. Why did he not just move out slightly if he didn't want the guy overtaking - by pointing, the driver has to spot the gesture, understand the gesture, identify what he's pointing at, understand why he's pointing at it and then take action, hardly an easy process at speed and easily misinterpreted.

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brooksby [736 posts] 1 year ago
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AyBee wrote:

Cyclingmikey has far too many videos on his youtube channel, it's almost like he wants the confrontation (I ride in London daily and don't have half as many confrontations as him). Keep yourself to yourself, signal what you're doing and get on with it.

If he wears a headcam all the time, then maybe its not that he has any more confrontations but that he publishes every little confrontation, the ones we all just shake our heads, swear a little, and carry on with our journeys.

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MKultra [394 posts] 1 year ago
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Cycling Mikey also known as "Bent Mikey" has form for being all over the forums self promoting - trying to sell him self as an expert. I am not sure if he ever managed to get picked up as a paid consultant by a local council, government body or whatever cycling charity but he keeps on trying. It makes a change that he isn't recycling (yet again) the footage of the cyclist he saw get killed. It was incidental that he witnessed that, it doesn't make him the Frank Lloyd wright of the cycling world. I would just ignore him. He also does rollerblading lessons if you are interested.

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bikebot [1634 posts] 1 year ago
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There's some quality journalism there. This morning that had about a thousand views which is apparently a YouTube hit.

The paper doesn't seem to have bothered asking London's well known and easily contactable recumbent rider for a response. But they are inviting anyone who has had an "altercation" with him to give their news desk a call.

For some reason, they don't seem to be interested in anyone who has had an altercation with the driver.

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Yennings [237 posts] 1 year ago
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I had a really unpleasant exchange with that CyclingMikey on Twitter recently. In my opinion, he is not a force for good - by being so aggressive and dogmatic, I actually find he ends up being more obnoxious than many of the motorists he targets. He was completely unwilling to enter into sensible and constructive debate - I say this as a passionate cycle commuter and campaigner for cycling safety, hardly his mortal enemy one would have thought? Still, he comes across as so hysterical - I suspect he probably has issues far and above his concerns about aggressive drivers but there we are...

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Wolfshade [162 posts] 1 year ago
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mikeprytherch wrote:
Wolfshade wrote:

Most of the reasons for not using shared cycle lanes is for safety reasons

I'm playing devil's advocate here and therefore I'm sure I'm going to get some abuse, but here goes.

Love the quote above, I would imagine that cycle lanes are much safer than a road, I know there has been some horrible accidents on cycle lanes but a vast majority of accidents happen on a road.

You are quite right that most of the collisions (not accident there is always someone to blame  3 ) do occur on road. This is even the case where there are pedestrian vs motorist collisions.

It is known that junctions are the highest location for accidents, and frequently the pavement cycle routes do not have priority, instead the minor road making a junction does so this gives the cyclist a vast number of extra junctions and exposing yourself to extra risk. As an aside this lack of ability to maintain my momentum is irksome. Then there is the risk of "straying" pedestrian, this observationally biased phenomenon where if a pedestrian has a choice between walking on the pedestrian side or the cycle side they always* pick the cycle side. (*not always). Then there are the issues with the road surface and huge number of street furniture to dodge around, including the bus stop with gangs of people in the cycle lane.

It all comes down to how you best judge the risk which is a decision that everyone needs to make for themselves.
I would love for a shared cycle lane to be the best option, but frequently they are ill conceived and poorly executed.

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bikebot [1634 posts] 1 year ago
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Yennings wrote:

I had a really unpleasant exchange with that CyclingMikey on Twitter recently. In my opinion, he is not a force for good - by being so aggressive and dogmatic.

Was it the mayo on chips thing? Honestly, never go there with a Dutchman, I've made that mistake only once...

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Quince [382 posts] 1 year ago
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The main problem with not using the road, is that you lose your rights as.. well, a 'road user'. Which means having to stop and give way at every turning, and is generally slow, demeaning and unpleasant.

Not that using the roads can't also be unpleasant (as demonstrated here), but at least it's not self-inflicted or guaranteed.

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mrmo [2016 posts] 1 year ago
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driver screwed up by trying to overtake, as it really is his decision at the end of the day and he shouldn't pay a blind bit of notice to anyone elses signals and gestures.

However works both ways, as a cyclist I am very very wary of how I signal and how it can be interpreted. REally is a case of if in doubt don't. If you don't want to be overtaken at a pinch point look and move over. Make it so you can't be overtaken, it really isn't that hard.

As for the cycle path issue, there really does need to be some government information campaigns on this.

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Quince [382 posts] 1 year ago
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Also, there seem to only really be two types of 'anti-cycling' articles; motorists saying, "they should get off the road, as it is for cars", and pedestrians saying, "they should get off the pavement, as it is for pedestrians".

If these two groups got together, perhaps it would be clearer that urban spaces fundamentally require somewhere that unarguably "is for cyclists", without depriving them of their rights as road users (as the cycle path in this video would do).

Until that happens, I think we'll keep seeing inferences to cyclists infringing on the space of 'others', no matter how legally off the mark the claims are.

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Big Softy [23 posts] 1 year ago
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Yes, the driver was at fault for not forward planning.
But the cyclist was equally at fault for exactly the same reason.
If the cyclist had read the road and taken the primary position on the approach to the pinch-point, he would have prevented a potentially dangerous overtake and there would have been no problem.
Leaving space to be overtaken dangerously almost seems like a wish to be overtaken dangerously for the sake of some footage for Youtube.
Perhaps Mikey should think about educating himself before he talks about educating other road users.

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Singletrack [17 posts] 1 year ago
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Yennings wrote:

I had a really unpleasant exchange with that CyclingMikey on Twitter recently. In my opinion, he is not a force for good - by being so aggressive and dogmatic, I actually find he ends up being more obnoxious than many of the motorists he targets. He was completely unwilling to enter into sensible and constructive debate - I say this as a passionate cycle commuter and campaigner for cycling safety, hardly his mortal enemy one would have thought? Still, he comes across as so hysterical - I suspect he probably has issues far and above his concerns about aggressive drivers but there we are...

He certainly comes across as you describe in this video. It seems unfortunate that so much publicity has come out of this, I don't think it will do us much good.

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farrell [1950 posts] 1 year ago
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Anybody else noticed that a lot of drivers see a completely straight, stretched out right arm not as an indicator of a cyclist turning right but as an invitation to accelerate past the cyclist?

I encounter this almost every day, it's getting quite annoying.

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adamtaylor [61 posts] 1 year ago
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Just the other day I had a driver trying to "nudge" me into an optional cycling lane at a pinch point. Joy.

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adventureandy [9 posts] 1 year ago
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YorkshireMike wrote:

So many road users don't understand that a cycle lane is an OPTION and not compulsory. There are so many around Manchester that are full of crud, potholes and glass that render them pointless, and those that run alongside roads on the pavement just take you into signposts, lamp posts, pedestrians and on topsy-turvy tangents, making the road a much quicker and safer option.

Very much the same in Middlesbrough so many junctions, pedestrians, lamp posts and other objects that using the road is a far better option, most of the time you are moving faster than the traffic anyway.

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benb [77 posts] 1 year ago
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Man complaining about invasion of privacy runs whining to the press and has his name, age and road published.

Also:

Have you had an altercation with cyclingmikey? Call the news desk

Ha!

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alexb [111 posts] 1 year ago
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I've ridden with mike a few times. He's a lovely bloke. He is dogmatic on fora though, I'll give you that, but I've met a few people, who on fora are really difficult to deal with, but just lovely people in real life. He definitely falls into the latter category.

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rogermerriman [69 posts] 1 year ago
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that may or may not be so, but even more so overtaking shouldn't of been hard the road has good visibility, niether the traffic islands or bike where altering their speed.

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workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
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I've debated with the man a few times in fora and on twitter. He has strongly held opinions. Opinions I don't entirely agree with. But I'd rather he did his stuff the way he does it, and represents his view forcefully, than have many of the other mealy-mouthed motor-centric cyclists that I encounter 'stand up' for my place on the roads.

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dafyddp [322 posts] 1 year ago
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As Confucius said, be careful what you wish for...
As cyclists, we want more people on bikes. We also want proper segregated cycling infrastructures to accommodate them. of course, we want to reserve our right to travel on the road if that's preferable and we want motorists to drive slower and with way more consideration.

Well, earlier this week, a cycle scheme was predicting 2 million extra cyclists commuting this summer (an exaggeration, granted) and councils and local authorities are building cycle infrastructures. If we're not careful, we run the risk of sounding like we want to have our cake, and eat it...

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briano 55 [18 posts] 1 year ago
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Ride road most days, and to be honest the lane is quite narrow, the road would probably be safer widened and remove the shared path, further along the same road is a very narrow cycle lane.

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bashthebox [751 posts] 1 year ago
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An aside - assuming Mike is able bodied and whatnot - why ride a recumbent in London? It's hell, surely? You're low down, can't see nearly so much of the road ahead, drivers can't see you so easily, you're slower, more vulnerable... why do that to yourself?

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