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On 2 close passes I recently experienced I noticed that the driver coming the other way moved over to the kerb in anticipation of the car behind me moving into the opposite carriageway.

This prompts the question should the driver coming the other way move closer to the central line to discourage a close pass?

Would this reduce the risk to the cyclist or increase it if the overtaker decides they couldn't give a toss anyway?

16 comments

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hawkinspeter [2652 posts] 1 month ago
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It sounds to me like an overly aggressive move to reduce the space for an oncoming car even if it is well intentioned. If I was riding and I saw an oncoming car doing that, I wouldn't be happy and would feel more threatened by the lack of space ahead of me. It's tricky to figure out whether the actual danger had been increased or decreased, but my gut feeling out on a road would be that more space ahead of me is better than reduced space.

As a general rule, I'd be happiest if motorists just focussed on their own driving - be aware of what other traffic is doing and try to anticipate possible hazards (and avoid them). There's too much disagreement about what is the best way to drive/cycle so I think it's best to avoid potential conflict unless it's a blatantly dangerous situation.

When there are vehicles vying for road positions, I'd consider the drivers that cede position to be the more competent. Anticipating where other vehicles are wanting to go and slowing/positioning yourself to allow them to do that is a better attitude for sharing the road (and usually doesn't significantly change journey time). It's the more aggressive attitude that tends to cause problems.

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Grahamd [988 posts] 1 month ago
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Was thinking much the same myself a few days ago, so glad you raised the topic.

When driving I approach such situations in a passive attitude, just keeping my lane position, but if I see a car looking to squeeze past I invariably move towards the kerb, to provide more leeway. Just can’t make my mind up about whether this encourages more inappropriate overtaking.

 

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Bishop0151 [3 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Talking purely about just this scenario, I think that neither is a great idea.

Moving to the kerb may encourage overtakes that are close passes. If that results in an accident with the cyclist, is the driver who moved over to allow the overtake partly responsible? Probably not legally, but still.

On the other hand moving to the centre line to discourage an overtake by oncoming traffic is a form of policing other people’s behaviour. If they go for the overtake then you have forced them into what is almost certainly a close/closer pass, that is more likely to result in an accident.

I'd rather drive my own journey and leave other people’s overtaking decisions to themselves. Rather than encouraging dodgy overtakes or attempting to police reckless people who won’t be policed.

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Mungecrundle [1125 posts] 4 weeks ago
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If you do move to "block" an oncoming vehicle from what you would consider an unsafe marginal overtake on a cyclist, then you had better be prepared with a bailout option immediately it does not look like working. Otherwise you are just playing chicken with the cyclist's life potentially at stake.

On another strand, I often see motorists stopping for people with young children to cross the road when the motorist would usually have priority. This might seem nice and polite but it teaches the child that cars will stop for them with little understanding of the transactional niceties of eye contact and signalling between driver and pedestrian.

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Pushing50 [145 posts] 4 weeks ago
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I agree with the Bishop.

 

 

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brooksby [3740 posts] 4 weeks ago
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When I’m driving I pay attention to what’s going on around me, but I’m obeying the speed limits so if you want to overtake then that’s on you; if I wait to overtake then that’s my decision; if I decide I can safely let a bus out of a stop then that’s my decision. I really don’t think, though, that I’d move over so someone didn’t have to wait to overtake.

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hirsute [487 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Some useful observations from posters.

As cyclists though, we do try and police other people's behaviour by taking the lane and trying to stop them hitting us at a pinch point.

I thought about it a bit when reviewing a close pass where a framae by frame view showed that it was very good that it was a van coming the other way and not a car, otherwise they would have lost  their mirrors.

I think I'll probably keep position and be prepared to brake rather than encouraging an overtake by moving to the kerb.

 

 

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PRSboy [344 posts] 4 weeks ago
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I would not move to block an oncoming driver from overtaking... I would worry that the self preservation (selfishness) of the driver would mean the cyclist would get taken out rather than the driver hit an oncoming car.

I would move over to give more room if I was approaching a driver doing a stupid overtake (along with appropriate hand gestures!), but only to protect the rider.

 

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BehindTheBikesheds [2487 posts] 4 weeks ago
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Personally I would narrow the gap, from a psychological POV this is in the same realms as a cyclist taking primary, you ARE policing what someone else does by your position being in primary so it's no different. The last thing I want as a motorist coming the other way is for another motorist to overtake thinking they've got enough space so have no reason to slow down, also that they have more space than they had before, this all leads to relaxation and complacency, if they are looking at the cyclist they aren't looking at you, what if you have to take an avoiding move so cannot stay closer to the kerb but are still in your lane, what then?

Anyone moving toward the kerb is encouraging others to think that's what will always happen when they come to overtake and indeed same when you 'single out' or move to the kerb as a cyclist to allow them to squeeze past. They will just expect this all the time and then get pissed off when you don't, the more you cede to them the more they will take and this never ends well for the vulnerable as we see all the time. The old pony about no good being right/legal if you're dead is exactly that, it's a myth, you're no more likely to be killed or injured by not ceding than if you do, and by setting the stall out you train those that harm you won't be bullied out of the way, so they get accustomed to not being able to make the move and have to wait because others aren't going to get out the way.

Giving them the okay.invite to come through and without let up is stupid and dangerous IMHO, it's wrong from a psychology POV and you're putting more risk not just for two parties at that time but for others in the future when they assume that's what people will do when they are driving. So no, I will never move over to encourage these fuckatrds and I will move closer to the dividing line to police for my safety and for a cyclists safety.

 

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antigee [507 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Grahamd wrote:

Was thinking much the same myself a few days ago, so glad you raised the topic.

When driving I approach such situations in a passive attitude, just keeping my lane position, but if I see a car looking to squeeze past I invariably move towards the kerb, to provide more leeway. Just can’t make my mind up about whether this encourages more inappropriate overtaking.

 

don't think creating space encourages bad passes - think usually can tell from vehicle position and no attempt to reduce speed - going to pass cyclist irrespective either close or slightly less close (possibly) given some extra room

moving towards the oncoming driver is a no no - dangerous and they aren't going to understand the "message"

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Crippledbiker [67 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Tricky; Generally, if I see somebody trying to creep over the line to nudge past a cyclist, I will stand my ground to force them to wait if it is safe for me (or rather, safe for the cyclist) to do so; Otherwise, if it looks like they're going to force a close pass anyway - I will make room.
This, of course, depends hugely on the cyclists position in the road, which would hopefully be well away from the edges to help prevent close passing.
I wouldn't intentionally move towards the other driver, and I wouldn't flash - that's an ambiguous signal, and moving towards them would be just...fucking stupid.

Yes, it's policing others driving - but so is taking the lane as a cyclist to deter unsafe passes, which I'm particularly aggressive about doing since, as a handcyclist, I've got a huge arse, can't swerve and can't bail if it all goes wrong. My safety is far more important that your punctuality.
Having said that, I'm also the sort to pull over to the side to allow traffic to pass, if it's safe for me to do so (into a layby, for example).

Bluntly - I'm very much aware of how much of a pain in the arse becoming a wheelchair user is, or for that matter any major physical disability - and I'm in no rush to put anybody into that position. If I'm behind the wheel, it's my responsibility to not harm anybody more vulnerable than myself.
To that end, when I'm driving - if my options are to either collide with a cyclist or pedestrian, or collide with another vehicle? Even if it's a head-on, even if by doing so I risk injuring myself?
I'll take the path of least probable harm, which in this context would be to not collide with the squishy fleshy thing on the tiny carriage made of tubing, and instead potentially hit the thing made of safety features and crumple zones.
This, of course, presumes a rather rapid reaction time, and I'd hope that my brakes were good enough to avoid hitting anything whatsoever...

I suppose that, ultimately, that that's a form of The Trolley Problem. Also, a tangent from the actual question. I appear to have rambled somewhat, whoops.

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Dicklexic [97 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Hmmmm yes this is a situation where a well-meaning person with genuine intentions could actually make a bad situation worse, and speaking from experience I'm not sure what the right option is. As a cyclist and driver I like to think that I can appreciate the needs of both parties, provided that is that both parties have a similar opinion to me on what is right/wrong good/bad behaviour (which of course is debatable in its own right!). In recent times I have often found myself when driving along local roads/lanes and seeing a cyclist travelling in the opposite direction, with a car following closely behind, I've made sure that the oncoming driver can see that I am NOT intending to move over to allow them to make a close pass on the cyclist. I've done this by holding my position close to the white line, the intention being to make it clear that there isn't room to pass safely. Almost all of the time this has been fine and the other driver has waited.

However this approach runs the risk of making matters worse if the other driver either doesn't care or misjudges the space available, as occurred on one occasion recently. The other driver decided they were coming through regardless and literally forced through the gap. By the time I realised this and made evasive manoeuvres towards the grass verge the other car was already alongside the cyclist with maybe centimetres to spare. Thankfully relative speeds were not particularly high, and importantly there was no contact made but no doubt the cyclist didn't enjoy the incident one bit, and I left feeling that I was partially to blame for putting the cyclist in this horrid position!

Would me moving left earlier to allow the other driver room to pass have made things better? Probably yes, but the pass would have still been way to close for comfort. Maybe just maybe this particular driver drove on thinking "ooops that was too close, next time I'll wait a few seconds". Sadly I assume that wasn't the case.

So my attitude now is to simply hold a 'normal' line in the centre of the carriageway, not deliberately impeding anyone and not 'making room' for the other driver to pass, but being ready to move left if the other driver turns out to be a selfsih ignorant twat!

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kil0ran [1165 posts] 3 weeks ago
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I tend to drive positioned towards the centre line anyway, I think I've been conditioned by years of riding primary.

I was taught by my driving instructor to "make it yours" - to drive positively and not yield space unless it helps with traffic flow. 

There's been a few comments on here recently about mixed signals and I tend to agree. Almost had an accident last week when I flashed an oncoming vehicle through on a residential road with a long line of parked cars - there was also a driver attempting to join from a minor road and she clearly thought I was flashing her to pull out. Nearly ended up in a three car accident.

When it comes to cyclists I certainly wouldn't close the gap - it's the cyclist's job to get into primary and prevent the pass, not me. But as I say I'm already positioned towards the centre line - it makes sense with free-roaming livestock and random deer around so if the cyclist does take primary there's no space for a driver to overtake them. If they do still attempt a pass on a gutter-rider I'm usually aware and prepared enough to bail out to the edge of the road to give enough space. Not my job to actively influence the driver's behaviour and try and protect the cyclist.

Because I'm cycling on rural roads primarily, as a cyclist I usually shoulder check and move in to primary if there's an oncoming vehicle. It sends a clear message to the driver behind that there's no room to overtake, and I'm fortunate to have such quiet roads I'm not permanently in primary. 

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kil0ran [1165 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Going off-topic slightly if I'm riding primary I will actively signal drivers to pass me if it's safe for them to do so - this usually results in a flash of hazards or a thankyou wave. Equally if I've got someone on my arse and I can see oncoming traffic round a bend I give a clear palm-facing them signal that it's not safe to pass. Assuming they've remembered the HC section on police signals they should interpret this correctly.

Perhaps unsurprisingly a wave through is seen as a positive happy exchange whereas me daring to tell them it's not safe to pass has often yielded a close pass and a load of abuse. 

With the single track roads around here I'd rather slow a little and wave people past than have them sat on my wheel getting impatient. Means I take control of the situation, particularly on climbs where I can ease off more to let them through at low speed. The problem with queues is that the first driver has clearly been courteous and each successive driver in the queue becomes less so. Passes also tend to get closer and closer as the queue clears as inevitably someone squeezes past at the last minute.

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jollygoodvelo [1743 posts] 3 weeks ago
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Interesting that there's a bit of a split here.  I've debated this myself and on wide roads, where an oncoming car could safelyish overtake a cyclist while hardly crossing into the other lane, I've eased left to widen that space (checking first that I haven't got anything in my blind spot!)  On narrower roads where there's simply not room for a safe pass I've eased right to discourage them passing - but bearing in mind that I might need to shift left again if they do the stupid thing.

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hirsute [487 posts] 3 weeks ago
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antigee wrote:

moving towards the oncoming driver is a no no - dangerous and they aren't going to understand the "message"

Not sure that moving within your lane is necessarily dangerous.

I think drivers would understand the message, as I put in the OP, they move over to the kerb when they see what will happen with the likely overtake. They would get the message not to overtake but they may do anyhow making it worse for the cyclist.