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Research from CTC's solicitors Slater & Gordon highlight that 'two tribes' mentaility still prevails on the roads...

In a week when Scotland’s Nice Way Code cycle safety campaign has come under much criticism for, among other things, encouraging drivers to treat people on bikes in the same way they do horses, new research highlights cyclists’ own concerns when it comes to their safety, with almost eight in ten respondents stating they feel unsafe while riding on Great Britain’s roads.

The survey, conducted by national cycling charity CTC’s legal advisors, Slater & Gordon, also found that of the 500 regular cyclists who took part, 85 per cent believe that conflict exists between cyclists and other road users, while one in four said they had been subjected to road rage within the past year.

More often than not, car drivers and cyclists are one and the same person – research consistently shows that regular adult cyclists are in fact more likely to own a car than average – and last year, AA president Edmund King called for an end to the “two tribes” mentality that all too often prevails in the media and beyond.

The evidence from Slater & Gordon’s survey, however, is that there’s little sign of conditions changing on the streets, with car drivers perceived as presenting the greatest threat to cyclists’ safety, and more than three in four – 77 per cent – saying that when riding a bike, they believed they didn’t get respect from other road users.

King’s words were echoed by Paul Kitson of Slater & Gordon, who said: “These worrying statistics illustrate the two tribes mentally of motorists verses cyclists.

“There is a need for much greater respect and tolerance. Cyclists do not harm the environment and alleviate our over crowded public transport and road network.

“In Britain less than 2% of journeys are made by bike contrasting starkly with our neighbours in Holland where 27% of journeys are by bike.”  

“The report highlights the urgent need for the Government to increase expenditure on safety campaigns to increase cycle awareness.

“Worryingly many motorists are not alert to cyclists and fail to keep a proper look out for them”.

Almost half of the respondents to the survey claimed to have experienced verbal abuse, and in excess of a quarter reported drivers having shouted profanities at them while passing.

In more extreme instances, around one in fifteen bike riders – 7 per cent – said they had been deliberately targeted by having objects thrown at them, and a frightening one in 20 – 5 per cent – had been pushed off their bikes by a vehicle occupant.

According to Slater & Gordon, causes of concern highlighted by riders included that “drivers failed to check their blind spots, couldn’t accurately judge the speed of cyclists and had a tendency to drive too close to them.

Failure to indicate was a common concern, and 84 per cent of respondents said that they didn’t think motorists noticed them – an issue that was the subject of CTC’s own ‘Stop SMIDSY’ campaign, launched in 2009.

The majority of respondents welcomed specific training for drivers to raise their awareness of bike riders, with 60 per cent agreeing that government campaigns encouraged drivers to take more consideration of them – although an even higher proportion called for police to enforce existing laws as the best way of ensuring cyclists’ safety.

Two other chief issues of concern went beyond the actions (or inactions) of other road users, however, with a quarter of those replying to the survey saying that potholes represented a threat to their safety, and four in ten singling out poorly designed infrastructure.

Gordon Seabright, Chief executive of CTC said: “Cycling is great for individuals and the whole country. It’s good for you and it’s fun. But far too many people are put off cycling because they feel it isn’t safe.

“All of us benefit when more people take up cycling so CTC, national cycling charity, calls on motorist to respect their fellow road users and governments around the UK to support properly funded and effective road safety campaigns.”

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.

30 comments

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mrmo [2090 posts] 3 years ago
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and?

More and more reports come out, they all say the same thing.

Drivers are the problem.

So what is being done?

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scar78 [3 posts] 3 years ago
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'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

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swelbo [33 posts] 3 years ago
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2/10 feel safe!! Who the hell are they?

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TeamCC [146 posts] 3 years ago
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Didn't you see the Nice Way Code videos?  1

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zanf [898 posts] 3 years ago
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scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

New account, first post and you didnt even read the article. Just another shit talking troll.

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usedtobefaster [193 posts] 3 years ago
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scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

+1

Some individuals on both sides are the problem - you get idiot drivers and idiot cyclists.

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notfastenough [3718 posts] 3 years ago
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scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

+1, idiots are the problem, regardless of their mode of transport.

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mrmo [2090 posts] 3 years ago
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scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

I would disagree to a point, most drivers break the law everyday and don't consider it a crime, how often do people speed, park on double yellows etc. How many drivers do NOT break some law each time they drive? This is before we move on to the substantial proportion of car drivers who don't realise the impact there driving has on those around them. Most people act on the basis of what happens around them, despite protestations, people do stereotype, usually for understanable reasons. People do follow others actions, and will drive and cycle like those they see around them.

But if what you mean is that we are people who drive and people who ride and that people is what should be focused on rather than the mode of transport then i do agree. Afterall most cyclists are drivers...

Quote:

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

There are far too many people on the roads who are "too important", "in a rush", etc.

And whilst there are dangerous, agreesive road users of all types, the vast majority are just unaware of the impact of their actions on others.

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notfastenough [3718 posts] 3 years ago
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zanf wrote:
scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

New account, first post and you didnt even read the article. Just another shit talking troll.

Think you're out of order here zanf. Cyclists are up in arms about being seen as collectively responsible for the fools that run red lights (nicewaycode nonsense) and 'give us all a bad name', but when someone points out that drivers aren't a single homogenous group either, that makes them a 'sh*t talking troll'?

He/she made a fair comment. If you disagree then fine, but we'll probably be lucky if they bother coming back here if that's kind of response they get to their first post. Either that, or they'll just assume that everyone here is blindly anti-car and pro-bike (perhaps because you gave the rest of us a bad name, oh the irony), and not take us seriously.

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scar78 [3 posts] 3 years ago
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In response to zanf

Well you are a pleasant chap aren't you! My response was to the first comment not the article, but I apologise and I've realised the error of my ways, and to make you feel better i'd like to offer the following comment instead: -

'All drivers are maniacs hell bent on killing cyclists. All drivers run red lights, speed, take drugs, drink, sleep at the wheel whilst texting and cooking dinner on a portable gas stove. All cyclists are saints, never in the wrong. Cycling drivers do not exist as this is impossible, you cannot be in both camps, this is a war'

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scar78 [3 posts] 3 years ago
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notfastenough wrote:
zanf wrote:
scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

New account, first post and you didnt even read the article. Just another shit talking troll.

Think you're out of order here zanf. Cyclists are up in arms about being seen as collectively responsible for the fools that run red lights (nicewaycode nonsense) and 'give us all a bad name', but when someone points out that drivers aren't a single homogenous group either, that makes them a 'sh*t talking troll'?

He/she made a fair comment. If you disagree then fine, but we'll probably be lucky if they bother coming back here if that's kind of response they get to their first post. Either that, or they'll just assume that everyone here is blindly anti-car and pro-bike (perhaps because you gave the rest of us a bad name, oh the irony), and not take us seriously.

Thanks notfastenough. I completely understand the distress the issues cause but the war mongering and sabre rattling just makes people think cyclist = loon and as you say then we never get taken seriously. Confrontation and aggression is a quick way to get no where fast!

I have my run ins with bad drivers as does everybody but if I sit and think about it you soon realise that most are pretty reasonable, some even friendly if you show them respect and let them pass easily when safe (lets face it we are slower and will impede them).

zanf I apologise for my flippant response earlier, I meant it lighthearted and I hope no offence is taken.

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo wrote:

and?

More and more reports come out, they all say the same thing.

Drivers are the problem.

So what is being done?

Nothing it seems.

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Harvey Wang [10 posts] 3 years ago
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There are two distinct types of driver that cause problems. The first is the type that don't see bikes, are not looking for anything else on the road but cars, and will cut you up at a left turn without even noticing. The second is the sort of driver who for whatever reason hates bikes, doesn't think cyclists should enjoy the same sort of road privileges as car drivers, and will act provocatively or aggressively given any sort of excuse, or maybe without any excuse at all. This is what makes cycling dangerous, and I am surprised that anyone in your survey considered it a safe activity, because on practically any road in the country risk exists.
I refuse to believe, however, that cyclists who drive fall into either of the two groups above. Drivers who cycle see bikes and act accordingly, and have no reason to be antagonistic towards fellow riders. Cyclists behind the wheel of a car are unlikely to be part of the problem.

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Argos74 [433 posts] 3 years ago
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Personally I'm not in fear about my personal safety. Concerned and aware, yes, fearful, no. I ride legally and defensively, and try to interact with other road users in a friendly and considerate manner. Feel scared and I'll just get confrontational or ride in the gutter, which gets me nowhere fast.

Strangely enough, I see a lot of considerate, aware driving out there. This morning, a BMW X5 driver who did a brilliant pass and came to a smooth stop at the ASL. A artic driver on the approach to a major roundabout gave me the whole lane to play with and didn't get narked about my taking the primary. And lots more I can't even remember. Friendly wave or a thumbs up works wonders sometimes.

There's a small percentage of drivers not being fully aware of what they're doing, and being a potential danger which I can deal with, and an even smaller percentage of full on bampots who shouldn't be left alone in charge of Tonka toys. But I'm in proximity to hundreds of drivers every day, so it doesn't take many to potentially give me the sort of problem that could leave me on a steel tray with my internal organs in buckets.

Solutions going forward? Better road layouts and surfacing, enforce existing laws a lot harder and consistently, more dedicated traffic police units, and more awareness within the CPS. And more awareness and consideration from all road users. Petrol powered or otherwise.

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SteppenHerring [331 posts] 3 years ago
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Argos74 wrote:

Strangely enough, I see a lot of considerate, aware driving out there. This morning, a BMW X5 driver who did a brilliant pass and came to a smooth stop at the ASL. A artic driver on the approach to a major roundabout gave me the whole lane to play with and didn't get narked about my taking the primary. And lots more I can't even remember. Friendly wave or a thumbs up works wonders sometimes.

Most people aren't clueless and aren't evil. The problem is that the "nice" people don't stick in the mind. The same applies to Londoners who believe that "all cyclists jump red lights". Provably not true, but they don't remember the majority that follow the rules, they remember the idiots that don't.

Similarly, when you get back from the club run do you remember the 100 cars that passed you safely or the 1 car that tried to pass you on a blind bend, had to stop and then called you a "bunch of arrogant cunts"?

It's about perception. And idiots.

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kie7077 [900 posts] 3 years ago
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usedtobefaster wrote:
scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

+1

Some individuals on both sides are the problem - you get idiot drivers and idiot cyclists.

Difference being the cyclists annoy people and the drivers kill people, not the same is it.

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a.jumper [848 posts] 3 years ago
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We need the police to enforce the traffic laws. Elect cycle friendly commissioners next time!

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mybrainthinksim... [24 posts] 3 years ago
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I got purposely sideswiped by a van today if the police don't deal with it i am going to go apeshit

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gazza_d [469 posts] 3 years ago
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This whole "two tribes" language really really really winds me up. It deliberately sets up the scene for confrontation and gives casual onlookers the idea that people riding bikes provoke a lot of the problems and that we are at war.

I don't and I am not at war with anybody. I ride courtesly, but I am not shy in taking space or the lane at junctions etc. As a rule I don't jump lights, although there are some near me that I occasionally have to as they do not detect cyclists, and if it's quiet I would sit there all day. I try to avoid them.

I still occasionally am on the receiving end of abuse and bad driving that puts my life at risk for no other reason than the person driving the vehicle cannot be arsed to see me, or hasn't the skill, sense and compassion to drive near me with care.

Over the last few years I have slowly moved my riding to more and more quiet roads and off-road routes to avoid contact with drivers as despite my experience and confidence I do often fear for the complete moron/
psychopath who may encounter me next and write me off

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ronin [279 posts] 3 years ago
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What I don't understand is how a mode of transport can define someone. I cycle and have a car, but as cyclist I tend to be more aware and drive correctly around other cyclists, but then I learned to treat others how I would like to be treated very early on in life (thank you Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by).

I think the problem is that many drivers see cyclists as some sort of annoyance. It's really up to the government to sort out this situation. That takes vision and money. A vision of how we want to evolve this country.
Perhaps nothing will be done until cyclist start killing drivers in acts of road rage and then they will ban cycling  1 But I can't really see that happening...cycling tends to take the rage out of you.

The reality for a cyclist is that most likely any incident will result in a woeful punishment for a driver. That in itself can dictate behavior. Who could feel safe cycling with that in the back of your mind?

Actually I do feel safe, usually very early in the morning when there are no cars around.

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Colin Peyresourde [1794 posts] 3 years ago
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scar78 wrote:

In response to zanf

Well you are a pleasant chap aren't you! My response was to the first comment not the article, but I apologise and I've realised the error of my ways, and to make you feel better i'd like to offer the following comment instead: -

'All drivers are maniacs hell bent on killing cyclists. All drivers run red lights, speed, take drugs, drink, sleep at the wheel whilst texting and cooking dinner on a portable gas stove. All cyclists are saints, never in the wrong. Cycling drivers do not exist as this is impossible, you cannot be in both camps, this is a war'

I would ignore a response like zanf. It's not reasoned and fair, and highly judgemental. I think you've kind of got that from your response, but he is not a moderator.

I largely agree with your original statement. As a road user, either in a car or on a bike, I don't feel 'safe'. But equally I am looking out for trouble and keep my wits about me. The term safe is a subjective one and in some ways it is unhelpful and alarmist.

You have to remind yourself that people will cycle their whole lives and not be killed on their bikes. It's not like the rate of attrition was at Ypres or Passchendale. Feeling safe? Well, £2m in the bank, no mortgage, electric fences and security cameras might do that, but life is all about dealing with the risk and keeping your wits about you.

People complain about the 'nice way' campaign, but how much did this useless survey cost?

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Colin Peyresourde [1794 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:
mrmo wrote:

and?

More and more reports come out, they all say the same thing.

Drivers are the problem.

So what is being done?

Nothing it seems.

Sca78 makes a good point about the poor 'us and them' attitude. If you act like it is all their fault and get militant you won't illicit sympathy from people making genuine errors on the road. I don't really agree with MrMo's conclusion. There are idiots on bikes, motorcycles, in cars, buses and trucks. You won't stop that. And road rage exists for each road user category, but you'll minimise that if people (in all forms of transport) respect other road users and realise their responsibility on the road. You may still have the bad luck of meeting Mr Angry in his BMW, but equally you may do nothing to warrant having your house robbed, but it still happens.

All you can do is minimise and not antagonise the situation. Hopefully in the meantime, by joining a political movement, or lobbying your MP, or writing to your council they begin to change the roads so that they are safer to ride on.

Note that I have not written about pedestrians here, but in London cyclists are becoming a pest here because they break lights more than any other traffic - especially pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians, like cyclists, can be car users or cyclists themselves, but either way the streets have to be safe for everyone. We all have our part to play in that.

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Colin Peyresourde [1794 posts] 3 years ago
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kie7077 wrote:
usedtobefaster wrote:
scar78 wrote:

'drivers' are not the problem, its this inclusive provocative language that causes half the trouble!

The problem is people both in cars and on bikes who believe they are more important than anyone else and tend towards aggressive confrontation as a first reaction.

+1

Some individuals on both sides are the problem - you get idiot drivers and idiot cyclists.

Difference being the cyclists annoy people and the drivers kill people, not the same is it.

Hmmm, how many stories do you read where the driver is persistent trying to knock off and hurt the cyclists? You may read that into the stories, but actually most cyclist deaths are rather a case of wrong place at the wrong time with a motorist not being aware of what is around them, or patently driving dangerously - not drivers trying to mow down and kill the cyclists. I know that driver aggression is scary and often unwarranted, but you need to distinguish the root causes of these events. Lumping it all together doesn't help you or anyone else, as it doesn't help identify the problem (infrastructure, driver education, cyclist education). Cars and trucks are not offensive weapons and most if the time they are not used as such (very rarely).

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GerardR [133 posts] 3 years ago
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Eight in ten? So two of ten are delusional and out of touch with reality.

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Matt eaton [741 posts] 3 years ago
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Not to fuel the 'two tribes' mentality, we do need some balance of responsibility. Cyclists can pose a risk to pedestrians (and vice versa) and to motorcyclists but pose very little danger to drivers. Cars pose a very significant danger to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and the dangers increase with vehicle size.

An RLJing cyclist is less dangerous to others than an RLJing car. Both are in the wrong but the car driver has a greater responsibility. This is why they have to take a test wheras cyclists don't and why drivers of large vehicles undergo further testing.

I hate to say it but the 'two tribes' thing seems to be perpetuated more by drivers who don't cycle than cyclists who don't drive.

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big mick [184 posts] 3 years ago
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The answer is so easy.Make the law the same as Spain.

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hood [118 posts] 3 years ago
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mrmo][quote=scar78 wrote:

There are far too many people on the roads who are "too important", "in a rush", etc.

you hit the naiol on the head there.
there are so many people on the road (cars, taxis, bus drivers, CYCLISTS), who think they are more equal than the rest.
they are allowed to red light jump, u turn, turn without indicating, break the 20mph spead limit, pull out on people, changing lanes without indicating or checking mirrors.....

sooooo many people think the rules dont apply to them, or its ok, they are professional so they can break the rules as they have riden/driven so long they are very good at their mode of transport so they wont cause a collision....

when everyone obeys the highway code we will have virtually NO problems!!!! (oh and the constant battle between cyclists and vehicles would come to an end because drivers wouldnt hate cyclists for RLJ and cyclists wouldnt hate drivers for cutting them up because they would check mirrors and use indicators!!!)

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Auriane [5 posts] 3 years ago
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I can hardly believe that any cyclist would go 'to war' on the roads anyway given that they will inevitably come worse off.

Not everyone is an idiot obviously. However, some situations really do bring the idiot out in more than 1 out of 100 cases. Where I cycle (quiet country roads with not enough space for two cars to pass each other without slowing down and one pulling over) I often don't meet any cars at all but when it happens I often get bullied. If a driver approaches me from behind I will pull over and let them pass as I do understand how hard it is to pass someone from behind on a narrow road. So that is generally fine and everyone is happy.

But if someone comes the other way I don't pull over. After all the car coming the other way is occupying part of my side of the road and I only take up 2ft of space. Many car drivers find that completely unreasonable. If I was sitting in a car myself instead of on a bike both sides would slow down without any second thought. Then one or both would pull over and pass each other slowly. On a bike I am less of an obstacle to the other side, so if they slow down a bit and leave me my 2 feet I'll just pass and everybody could be happy and we'd be done with it faster than had we both driven cars. But no, in half of the cases there is no slowing down but swearing at me for not getting out of the way and blocking the road. I am blocking the road? On a bike? Seriously?

And that is always where the problem is. I never feel threatened where there is enough space but as soon as for example traffic calming brings me into conflict with a car driver I notice how little patience and respect there is and also a lack of experience on how to deal with the situation. What particularly galls me is how friendly and polite people generally seem when I am driving a car myself. Very sad!

I am dreaming of mandatory cycling experience in order to get a driving license. I do have empathy for car drivers being one myself sometimes and give way where reasonable and wave at people if it is safe to pass but there is not a lot of empathy from many drivers.

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700c [1041 posts] 3 years ago
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ronin wrote:

I think the problem is that many drivers see cyclists as some sort of annoyance. It's really up to the government to sort out this situation. That takes vision and money. A vision of how we want to evolve this country .

You've hit the nail on the head there Ronin. In fact, government is perpetuating the problem by allowing such lenient sentences / fines for cyclists who are killed by drivers..

Just about to commute back home on the bike, this makes sobering reading. If you start thinking about it too much you'd never cycle on the road!

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hood [118 posts] 3 years ago
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well im going to enjoy my ride home as i do after a day in the office, put on some tunes (safely, not to loud, in only one ear) and enjoy your ride i say! not many people can say they enjoy their commute....

(maybe thats why everyone hates us, they see us having fun, while they are stuck on busses, trains and underground ha ha)