Praise for car website's article showing drivers how to share the road safely with cyclists

Carbuzz article seeking to dispel 'us versus them' attitudes goes viral via social media

by Simon_MacMichael   November 12, 2011  

Car wheel at speed copyright Simon MacMichael.jpg

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."

5 user comments

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An interesting article but I disagree with this, “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."

So let me get this straight. When I was cycling along the street in N London a few years back and a Danish couple looked the wrong way and then marched straight into the street in front of me, this was somehow my fault? I was not cycling at high speed with my head down and was slowing down because I was near to my office. I had so little time to react that while I grabbed a handful of both brakes I had barely slowed and hit them both, full on. I had no choice in trying to swerve around them as I'd have gone under a bus that was overtaking, quite legally, at the time. Luckily no-one was hurt beyond a few bruises and minor cuts, but this incident was in no way my fault, which they graciously and admitted while apologising profusely.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2297 posts]
12th November 2011 - 16:37

2 Likes

Anything that highlights that fact - that people aren't just a Motorist or a Cyclist is welcome, it helps reduce the polarised opinions and the them v us mentality.

posted by moonbucket [55 posts]
12th November 2011 - 18:51

2 Likes

@oldridgeback, i may be wrong but the idea is your liable unless the other party is at fault. At the moment a cyclist hit by a car is at fault for being there regardless. The idea is to turn it around and say, the car is guilty of hitting the cyclist. Now was the cyclist doing anything wrong, ie jumping a red light.

In your case, your guilty but the fact they looked the wrong way reduces your fault.

There is no perfect system, but i would rather a system where the faster heavier party is reminded they have a duty of care to those around them, rather than what we have which seems to make everyone but the car driver guilty.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1338 posts]
12th November 2011 - 19:33

1 Like

OldRidgeback wrote:

So let me get this straight. When I was cycling along the street in N London a few years back and a Danish couple looked the wrong way and then marched straight into the street in front of me, this was somehow my fault?

I believe strict liability allows for adjustment of liability depending on circumstances. So the insurance settlement might have said they were partly at fault for stepping out in front of you and you were partly at fault for not second-guessing them. But I'm not an insurance assessor.

After all the purpose of strict liability is to shift the balance in favour of the 'weaker' inhabitants of the road space and that includes cyclists reponsibilities towards pedestrians.

posted by horizontal dropout [163 posts]
12th November 2011 - 19:50

6 Likes

@oldridgeback: That's not quite how strict liability works. Basically, it means that cyclists are assumed to be responsible in a collision with a pedestrian, unless proven otherwise. The same applies to car vs bicycle. So, in the example you gave, if any claim were to be made by either party you have the evidence to prove that you are not liable, assuming there were witnesses around.

The whole point of Strict Liability is to give vulnerable road users more rights and help to stop SMIDSY. It has been proven to work in the mecca of cycling that is Denmark.

posted by radarronan [17 posts]
13th November 2011 - 22:24

2 Likes