A motoring website, Carbuzz.co.uk, has won plaudits – as well as new followers – from cyclists after posting an article highlighting steps drivers can take to be more considerate towards bike riders.
The news marks a refreshing change from what can sometimes seem an ‘us versus them’ stance on both sides that often comes across strongly in comments to stories published in websites of national, local and specialist press that touch upon the relationship between cyclists and motorists.
Carbuzz acts as a price comparison website that aggregates reviews of cars and other articles to help produce an overall score for individual vehicles – all done without so much as a glimpse of a meerkat.
Thursday’s article, What drivers can do to be more cyclist aware, has so far been tweeted 1,250 times as well as garnering close on 700 ‘likes’ on Facebook. Judging from the many comments to the article made by cyclists, it's likely that a lot of those mentions on social media networks will have been made by bike riders themselves, many of whom of course are also motorists.
One, Cyclelyn, said: "Think this article is brilliant! It should be reposted, retweeted everywhere. Its the first thing I've read that treats both cyclists and drivers as equal road users. Bravo!"
Issues flagged up in the article include encouraging drivers to share the road and welcome the fact that by taking to their bikes, cyclists are actually reducing road congestion, to be aware of cyclists when opening car doors, appreciate their vulnerability, even if wearing a helmet, and to be patient when bike riders are around and give them plenty of room.
Other areas highlighted in the article are the right for cyclists to claim their lane, as well as advice to drivers to go slowly on roads with restricted visibility caused by bends and slopes, to look out for cyclists turning left, and to give bike riding a go themselves to experience first-hand what it is like to take to the streets on two wheels.
The site also reveals itself to be in favour of strict liability, the legal doctrine adopted in European countries such as The Netherlands, under which insurers of motor vehicles are automatically required to assume responsibility for incidents involving the vehicles they cover and more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
"You’re driving a vehicle hugely heavier and more powerful than theirs,” explains Carbuzz. “In any impact, they will be the losers. Perhaps it’s best we take after most other European countries which operate ‘strict liability’. These regulations result in the motorist’s insurance usually being deemed to be responsible in any crash involving a cyclist.
“In the same way that a cyclist would be at fault in a smash with a pedestrian,” the article continues. “With the driver always at fault in any accident, drivers become evidently more cautious around cyclists."
Accompanied by pictures of Team Sky’s Ian Stannard on his Pinarello Dogma alongside a Jaguar XF, the article was written by Carbuzz co-founder Alex Margolis and keen cyclist Chris Gidney – whose day job sees him working as a technician for SRAM.
The article also benefited from editing input from Carlton Reid, executive editor of the cycle trade website BikeBiz and founder of the website iPayRoadTax.com.
Carbuzz’s other co-founder, James Hind, told BikeBiz that the site was eager to distance itself from the divisive attitude often adopted by some motoring – and, it has to be conceded, cycling – websites.
"I know lots of car enthusiasts who are big bike fans, the two seem to go hand in hand quite often. For example there is a very popular car forum called PistonHeads which has an incredibly active cycling section," he explained.
In reality, of course, most adult cyclists are themselves car drivers, although whether for the commute or recreational purposes or both, they often prefer to take to two wheels rather than four.
Moreover, regular cyclists earn more than average, tend to have been educated to a higher level and are more likely to own more than one car, according to a report published by market research consultancy Mintel last year.
A separate article published yesterday on Carbuzz, by the way, puts motorists straight on that latter point, under the headline Road Tax – there’s no such thing.
The site itself has made changes so that Vehicle Excise Duty is no longer referred to by the misnomer ‘Road Tax,’ abolished in 1937: "From now on at Carbuzz we’ll only be referring to car tax. We’ve already changed our stats pages for each car, so it now refers to ‘Tax per year’, to avoid all confusion."
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.