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I wonder whether anyone else has noticed any changes recently in motorists' attitude towards cyclists. I may well be just being pararoid, and I'd be interested for people's thoughts.

Cycling in London, particularly in the West End, there seems to be a lot more impatience and lack of understanding when I'm cycling. Lots of close passes, and a couple of occasions where I've had abuse for taking primary on the approach to a junction. I'm wondering whether that ridiculous Tory party tweet recently has emboldened those with prejudices and has given them licence to be openly hostile.

Grateful for any thoughts.

41 comments

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peted76 [1181 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Cycling in the midlands, I'm noticing more and more people out riding bikes generally.. with more people riding it could naturally mean more frustration for some motorists (as well as more acceptance).

I have no stats to back this up it's purely anecdotal.

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hawkinspeter [2663 posts] 3 months ago
7 likes

I'm plumping for confirmation bias as you only tend to remember the poor drivers and don't remember the majority of well-behaved cars.

However, I have noticed that certain areas seem to foster pro-car/anti-cycling mentality. I often cycle through Weston-super-Mud and there seems to be a higher percentage of car drivers there that shout abuse. I can almost guarantee that if someone shouts abuse ("use the *bleeping* cycle path", "stop wearing that f*cking squirrel suit", "pay squirrel tax" etc ) then 9 times out of 10 they're a local driver i.e. not heading towards the motorway.

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HowardR [231 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Re: "I'm plumping for confirmation bias as you only tend to remember the poor drivers and don't remember the majority of well-behaved cars."

Sadly crap & 'just good enough' are so common that it's the ones that do what one would hope that I remember. 

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I think it’s bad and has been bad for some time. I had some berk in a bimmer trying to block me from filtering this morning, driving very close to the roadside, then slowing when I dropped behind him. Loser.

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srchar [1074 posts] 3 months ago
23 likes

I don't think it's an anti-cyclist thing. Drivers who have poor attitudes behave like that towards all road users.  We currently have temporary 4-way traffic lights outside our flat, due to some roadworks on the mini roundabout.  Some of the driving is a sight to behold. Overtaking the queue and trying to force their car in near the front, stupid overtakes when the lights change, RLJ followed by forcing traffic on green to stop and even reverse.  Horns leaned on every minute.  Shouting matches.

I think what you're picking up is that selfishness, impatience and aggression is prevalent in modern society.  Many people seem to live their entire lives on a hair trigger, just waiting to explode at the least significant provocation.  Such people's fragile egos can't cope with being "beaten" by a bicycle making more progress than them, someone being in front of them in a queue, even someone just looking like they're having a nicer time than they are.

It's certainly nothing to do with a single tweet, but I do think it's due to technological advances.  Amazon deliver your purchases within hours.  Deliveroo brings lunch round fifteen minutes after you tapped a button in an app.  Your hifi plays whatever music you like and your TV plays any show or movie you can think of, instantly.  Emails, texts, iMessages - all instant.  So, when people find themselves stuck in traffic, they can't cope.  They have no patience for even the smallest delay.

Meanwhile, social media and has given people a lot more stuff to be jealous of.  Not just bloody cyclists who don't pay any tax, who always seem to be slim, who always seem to be smiling.  But also other road users.  Audi drivers, because they're richer than you.  Convertible drivers, because they're having more fun than you.  Any road user who's in front of you.  Social media also allows you to find thousands, or millions of people, who agree with your extreme view of, say, cyclists, justifying your shitty behaviour towards them.

All of that, plus a government that's more interested in "dangerous cycling" than dangerous driving, a police force that's more interested in fining cyclists than drivers, and a justice system that lets off murdering drivers with a slap on the wrists.  Is it any wonder that the losers we encounter on a daily basis behave so badly towards us?

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Applecart [86 posts] 3 months ago
6 likes

Yes. I've lived away from the UK in Scandinavia for 11 years now and notice a difference when I go back. I've had people drive at me aggressively and try to kick up stones on a newly-surfaced gravel road - never happened before.
I think there are two factors:

1. More cyclists, more cars, less space, increased tensions.
2. The internet and particularly social media has warped people into rage-addicts and this spills over into real life.

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fergie2209 [2 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

Strikes me that the above srchar quote just about somes it up.  We only hold people up for at best a few minutes, are these people always in such a hurry to get where they need to be!

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 3 months ago
7 likes
fergie2209 wrote:

Strikes me that the above srchar quote just about somes it up.  We only hold people up for at best a few minutes, are these people always in such a hurry to get where they need to be!

I once had a lengthy row online with someone who insisted that their commute to and from work took forever because they were stuck behind cyclists for the entire ten miles each way. Needless to say I found that hard to believe. Even if it were true, how stupid do you have to be to not look for another route? People somehow spin out a thirty second delay into an hour’s catastrophe.

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srchar [1074 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
vonhelmet wrote:

how stupid do you have to be to not look for another route

Given the number of prats who lean out of the window to hurl abuse at cyclists on Pitfield Street (the only road I can think of where cycle traffic genuinely does slow down motor vehicles at peak times - by dint of being a Cycle Superhighway - clue's in the name), the stupidity required is relatively common.

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cyclesteffer [351 posts] 3 months ago
8 likes

I think we've become the new minority that it's "ok to hate".

You can't be racist or sexist anymore as there are very strict laws against That Kind Of Thing, but it's ok to hate cyclists because the papers, social media, the law, and governments seem to let you get away with it.

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Duncann [1428 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

Can't say I've noticed any tangible difference on London roads but there is more traffic (bikes, white vans, private hires), so people may be more wound-up. Intolerant coverage of cycling/cyclists does seem to be more widespread too. 

Conversely, there's also more cyclists and headcam footage about too - it may be that we're just seeing more of others' bad experiences and assuming its more widespread than it is.

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fukawitribe [2600 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
cyclesteffer wrote:

I think we've become the new minority that it's "ok to hate". You can't be racist or sexist anymore as there are very strict laws against That Kind Of Thing, but it's ok to hate cyclists because the papers, social media, the law, and governments seem to let you get away with it.

I think srchar had it nailed - it's not that cyclists have become a new minority "to hate", just one of many but generally easier to bully than the others on the roads. As a motorcyclist from a few decades ago, it's all very familiar and we weren't the only ones then either.

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OldRidgeback [3019 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I don't remember London drivers being quite so aggressive to cyclists back in the late 80s and early 90s as they are now.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Mind you the casualty statistics were far worse then. And the traffic gridlock London suffered was bad as well.

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kil0ran [1173 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Not sure it's intolerance but there seems around here to be an increasing inability to navigate right turns. Road signs, walls, grass verges, kerbs, all showing damage from where drivers have failed to make the corner (i.e. turned in too fast). A lot of it may well be confirmation bias but on one stretch of road (A338 from Ringwood to Fordingbridge) three of the junctions have damaged infrastructure.

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Jimmy Ray Will [974 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

My opinion is that its to do with a societal switch towards 'selective ignorance' and being easily offended.

The two work hand in hand on the roads to polarise behaviour. 

The selective ignorance is a big one for me. The internet provides us all with information at our fingertips. We can find out anything we want with the click of a few buttons. However, all this information, all this opportunity to learn is both daunting and demoralising - suddenly you know just how little you know. So, as a natural counter to this, you deliberately avoid educating yourself and choose ignorance, claiming its OK to be ignorant and / or you can't trust any information source and its better to go on gut. 

A classic line during the brexit campaign (think it came from Gove) was that 'the british people are fed up with listening to experts'. What a sad state of affairs.

Anyway, this spills into how people drive. They claim ignorance of the rules (although they all had to pass a test to prove they were aware of them) and prefer to drive in a way their gut believes to be right, even if that is well below legal requirements... but its OK, because, experts...

Then the age of being offended... this relates to the above in my opinion. We are all more aware than ever that other people may know more about something than we might. Allowing yourself to conduct in debate and discussion potentially exposes your unselected ignorance. Therefore, to save embarrassment and/or feeling stupid, you avoid considering a situation by instead becoming instantly angered and offended by it... so you fuck up driving, or someone's actions cause you to question your driving competence, you naturally attack first, ask questions... well never. 

Society tells us its OK to be angry, its OK to be stupid... how do you think that makes people behave? 

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Shades [434 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I think all road users are getting more aggressive to each other; cyclists are more vulnerable so feel it the most.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2501 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

IME in Hertfordshire  car drivers have been giving a better amount of space more often but still there are the frequent knobjockey's who simply have no idea. 

Monday, old fart in a big BMW, overtakes me with about 12" to my elbow whilst the whole of the other lane is clear, slows and he shouts something whilst I'm next to him and then he has to stop at the red light less than 75m away from the first incident so I'm sat right behind him.

Just why?

As above it's the wrong uns that stick in your mind but I have noticed that there are more better overtakes than in previous years, it's just that the bad ones are bad and large vehicles such as HGV/PSV are actually getting worse, those are the ones that are going to and actually do the most damage.

it'd be useful to see the stats comparing years to see if those larger vehicles are increasing, decreasing or remained static in deaths/serious injuries of vulnerable road users as well as other motorists.

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Jimnm [300 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

You get dickheads in vehicles, on bikes and on foot. We just have to live with it. It’s a tough one to expect everyone to share the roads in perfect harmony. It’s not going to happen. The only way to achieve this is segregation, I can’t see that happening either, not everywhere anyway. 

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Martyn_K [276 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I have the highway code section applicable to bicycles saved as a bookmark on my phone web browser. It's handy to have as a reference if someone challenges you and you somehow manage to engage in conflict/ debate/ conversation [at traffic lights or junction maybe].

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mattsccm [384 posts] 3 months ago
6 likes

Tolerant of cyclists? The drivers  are way better than they were. Even with the increase in traffic in the last, say, 40 years I reckon that most drivers are better in their attitude towards cyclists.  However the amount of traffic has considerably increased so there are way more on the roads. Driving standards are dire. Most people don't indicate, don't use the Highway Code and are impatient.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2501 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
Jimnm wrote:

You get dickheads in vehicles, on bikes and on foot. We just have to live with it. It’s a tough one to expect everyone to share the roads in perfect harmony. It’s not going to happen. The only way to achieve this is segregation, I can’t see that happening either, not everywhere anyway. 

I couldn't disagree with you more.

Firstly segregation is not and even in Netherlands is not the panacea you think it is, over 60 people die at the intersection between segregated lanes and roads in NL. Also when there is no segregation Dutch motorists are just as bad if not worse than their UK counterparts (you should check the death rates on non urban roads) they firstly aren't used to dealing with people on bikes on 'their' bit of road so are clueless as to how much space and what to do, they will also as like in France and other places get aggrieved that you aren't using the cycle lane, even if there isn't one or is actually going where you want to go.

Many cycle lanes in NL are narrow (they aren't all like the pretty ones you see in videos), are too close to parked cars and circuitous, it's not all peaches and cream.

Segregated lanes in towns and cities take longer than going by road, it's the road INFRASTRUCTURE that we need to take back as they are doing in Denmark. Segregation has proven in the UK to be a load of crap, even the network in London is pony, not wide enough, winds its way everywhere and is dangerous too often.

We do NOT have to live with it, we should be making sure we batter MPs and police to force motorists either off the roads completely, timed restrictions or be educated and policed to drive to a far higher standard., segregating people on bikes off the road is a sign of a failed system.

As a former car commuter into London and most of the South East region (over a 10 year period) I never had a single issue ever getting around people on bikes. Attitude is everything and in lieu of that using a carrot and then a crowbar to ensure people are safe and we increase safe and clean modes of travel.

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JonSP [73 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

I mostly ride in Lancashire and my impression is (allowing for more traffic on the roads) drivers in general are better than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. I definitely feel there are more who understand cycling and are genuinely (sometimes even excessively) considerate. But maybe the very few really bad ones are getting worse.

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Chez_worldwide [34 posts] 3 months ago
6 likes

150 miles a week in and around Manchester... commute every day...

In my opinion there's just more c*nts about in general- whether they are driving, riding bikes, jogging, walking dogs, whatever. Some people are just arseholes who think the world revolves around them.

 

 

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sugoi [1 post] 3 months ago
3 likes
cyclesteffer wrote:

I think we've become the new minority that it's "ok to hate". You can't be racist or sexist anymore as there are very strict laws against That Kind Of Thing, but it's ok to hate cyclists because the papers, social media, the law, and governments seem to let you get away with it.

 

As a cyclist, I understand the mistreatment we receive. But having said that, you can NEVER compare the suffering that runs through racism and sexism that scales historically and globally. As a woman of colour, I can tell you racism and sexism have never ended. If it has, there would be no such thing as women being paid lower salaries, no such thing as "representation" to describe any diverse element, no such thing as "Black Lives Matter" cos we'd be living a world of justice - as you may be aware, that is yet to happen. There are no strict laws against racism and sexism, or else it would have stopped by now. "The papers, social media, the law, and governments" get away with or even nurture racism and sexism, so please NEVER dismiss the seriousness of and the existence of racism and sexism. Thank you.

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vonhelmet [1329 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

This morning I was waiting at the lights st a crossroads. The driver opposite wanted to turn right, so across my path. The lights turned green so I moved off. She drove forward and made to turn them had to wait for me, and sat there shaking her head at me. Like, what?

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ktache [990 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

You are just creating conflict vonhelmet.

Lie prostrate before our motorist overlords.

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hawkinspeter [2663 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
vonhelmet wrote:

This morning I was waiting at the lights st a crossroads. The driver opposite wanted to turn right, so across my path. The lights turned green so I moved off. She drove and made to turn them had to wait for me, and sat there shaking her head at me. Like, what?

Can't you just 'share the road' with her? It'd only hold you up for a few seconds to let her go first.

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fenix [1108 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

If you read the comments on this proposal on the safe passing law you'll despair.

 

https://www.petrolprices.com/news/driving-close-cyclist-leads-fine/#respond

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fenix [1108 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

This morning I was waiting at the lights st a crossroads. The driver opposite wanted to turn right, so across my path. The lights turned green so I moved off. She drove and made to turn them had to wait for me, and sat there shaking her head at me. Like, what?

Can't you just 'share the road' with her? It'd only hold you up for a few seconds to let her go first.

Are you being serious ?  Dude going straight ahead has right of way. If we start giving way then nobody will know what to do.  You'd not expect a car to let you turn across if the roles were reversed.  And as you said yourself Peter - she'd only be held up for a few seconds. 

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hawkinspeter [2663 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
fenix wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:

This morning I was waiting at the lights st a crossroads. The driver opposite wanted to turn right, so across my path. The lights turned green so I moved off. She drove and made to turn them had to wait for me, and sat there shaking her head at me. Like, what?

Can't you just 'share the road' with her? It'd only hold you up for a few seconds to let her go first.

Are you being serious ?  Dude going straight ahead has right of way. If we start giving way then nobody will know what to do.  You'd not expect a car to let you turn across if the roles were reversed.  And as you said yourself Peter - she'd only be held up for a few seconds. 

Might need a net to land this one.

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