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'Novertake = a following driver wants to be immediately behind the car you're following and take the space you're in without overtaking - driving right up behind you or casually driving too close alongside so you have to brake to get out of the conflict'

I'd be grateful for thoughts on how to discourage it.

This happened twice today. Thanks to a tailwind, I was rolling with the traffic at 30-35mph in a 30mph limit, daylight, good viz and dry.

I was riding in primary, as sensibly close to the car in front as I dared - within a car length, and sprinting out of the saddle as speeds picked up to maintain position, wearing fluorescents, flashy tail light, 100+rpm cadence, so I was definitely seen.

First one kept surging behind me, getting too close.

Second one drew alongside casually at a wide point, then lent on me as we approached a central island.

Both times, I had to pull left and brake to avoid conflict.

I followed both cars for a couple of miles. I didn't feel any punishment or agression.

Aside from carrying rear or side facing weapons, how would you deter such amoeba?

Many thanks J

 

19 comments

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jaysa [98 posts] 1 week ago
6 likes

I should add I'm female, which of course means I'm not allowed to be in front of some men /groan !

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hawkinspeter [2666 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

Sounds like you're doing it right. I try to judge how determined the driver is and take primary position (or let them pass if I don't feel comfortable doing so). Being male, I then usually get annoyed and try to over-take the vehicle to make a point of how unnecessary their overtake was (never mind my unnecessary overtake) but that's probably not a good thing to do.

Personally, I'm not at all bothered if I'm overtaken by a woman - if they're faster than me then I'll happily hang off their wheel to get some free speed.

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John Smith [154 posts] 1 week ago
11 likes

Gender has nothing to do with it IMO. It’s because your a cyclist. The problem is people just think “cyclist. Must pass” and no more. The answer, there is not much you can do to stop it. The only option would be to get some cameras and pass the footage to the police.

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hirsute [494 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

Not sure a car's length at 30nph is your best position for any escape route.

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srchar [1075 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

Happens to me almost daily on a long shallow downhill section on my way home from work, on which I take primary. The road widens as it approaches a roundabout and it's very common for a driver to misjudge my speed, attempt an overtake, floor it to try and get past, then try to pull in at the island. I always take primary and when they get close enough I give a sharp rap on the window, or smash my hand down on the roof. Frankly, I'm sick of selfish muppets with zero driving skills and I'll take the risk in order to educate them one by one.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2512 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

Ride wider, primary when you're going into wider sections of roads is often not enough.

We had a discussion some while back about a bus coming too close to a cyclist through a junction with lights. The rider had propped himself up on the kerb and was nowhere near enough to the right throughout as the bus driver coming from a merge into the left straight on lane saw the space and thought fuck it, I'm in here.and screw the cyclist.  

Read the road ahead, if it's on a route you know then you'll have a good idea when the road widens, before these points if you are keeping up with the flow of traffic then you'll be dead centre of the lane anyway but take a subtly right of centre position, one that is not enough for a driver to undertake but would really push the driver far wider to try and come along side. A good old fashioned 'wobble' in front of a driver can also induce doubt into their minds as well. 

It's not the easiest thing to do becaue it's even more un-natural than primary but actually giving yourself an out to the right should a motor in front slam on can often work out better than trying to squeeze to the left because you've not enough braking distance to avoid rear ending if you're a bit on the close side, (note Hirsute's comment above)

If you get honked, screw 'em, you're entitled to position yourself wherever you like, I won't cede position personally because they just think they can do it all the time, then again some overtakes are less subtle so you're already too late to do anything, like the time I had a skip wagon flash past me at over 50mph cutting into an open turn off a dual carriageway and his rear wheels missing me by inches. That tested the sphincter muscles a bit!

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SpikeBike [127 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes
hirsute wrote:

Not sure a car's length at 30nph is your best position for any escape route.

This! You can't do anything about a twat behind but you can lower your risk from the person in front

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Awavey [451 posts] 1 week ago
5 likes
SpikeBike wrote:
hirsute wrote:

Not sure a car's length at 30nph is your best position for any escape route.

This! You can't do anything about a twat behind but you can lower your risk from the person in front

True but you get in a situation like that because you feel if you left a bigger gap you'd guarantee even more cars would be forcing their way past you because they see the gap not the context of it.

Happens with me approaching red light stops if I ease off to roll to a nice controlled stop it leaves a big gap forming,which experience has taught me simply encourages the car behind to want to fill the gap regardless of the context of actually theyve got to immediately stop. the only way to discourage them it seems is to not increase the gap, and infact decrease it rapidly by braking to stop only at the last second,which I'd accept is a higher risk strategy on the bike if it goes wrong,but it's the only way I can stop people ending up 'novertaking' and ending up with some part of a car nudging my thigh,with the inevitable GP style start when the lights change

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HoarseMann [114 posts] 1 week ago
5 likes

Sometimes I deploy 'wobbly cyclist' mode in this situation. Weave about a bit in the lane from primary to the offside edge of the lane looking like I’m thinking about overtaking the car in front. Puts off driver behind as I look so unpredictable.

Indicating to turn right can also work (then sort of edge out a bit rather than make a right turn and eye contact & a wave back to thank the vehicle behind for waiting).

But like any of these sort of hacks, there’s a time and a place. If it’s a busy city centre with lots of filtering traffic you don’t want your weaving about to cause a collision. Plus you need to know what's approaching in advance, so works better if you ride with a mirror.

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antigee [508 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

used the wobbly thing and works, some swear by it  - more often than not i use my dreaded "finger of doom" - I just point (very big time) to where I expect the vehicle to stay....approaching roundabouts, approaching junctions with right turners, ped crossings that narrow down ... many drivers  just follow the vehicle in front with no plan other than to clear the immediate concern - think the interaction shocks a bit ... still need to be vigilant - lost count number of times reckon been in primary position and a driver still attempts a pass and ends up in a place that is dangerous for me - ok brake and back off ... enjoy the day  and the days to come

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dottigirl [836 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

Thirded on the judicious wobbling. Definitely seems to make some drivers think twice, especially coupled with getting out of the saddle shortly after or when the weather is dodgy - the wind around here can easily move you about a fair bit.

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crazy-legs [1023 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

Drivers cannot assimilate cyclists as "fast moving". Everyone knows that cyclists are slow and get in the way and can only do 12mph and therefore, despite all the evidence literally right in front of them that you're actually no different from a motorbike, they will make every attempt to still be in front.

For related reasons, it's why drivers pull out in front of you - they've quite often seen you but assumed you're doing 10mph (cos that's what cyclists do...) and completely failed to actually work out the speed.

In those circumstances (slight downhill / tailwind / heavy-ish traffic that you can easily keep pace with etc), I ride to the right rear quarter of the car in front (ie, slightly wider than primary). It gives me the option of going to the right to pass the car in front if/when they slow and it means that to actually try and pass me, any other driver behind would have to be literally right over the other side of the road; they're far less likely to try and squeeze you out.

If traffic speeds up, I can simply drift left and resume primary or secondary depending on the situation.

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ktache [991 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

10 or 12mph, they generally assume we cannot manage more than walking pace as that was the speed they managed when they last rode a bicycle, when they were a child.

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cyclisto [409 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

Another happy wobbler here, especially at parts where bicycle-motor vehicle speed difference is great, such as uphills. The more you look like you bought your bike yesterday, the bigger the clearance you gain. At 30+ mph I have never tried it to be ownest but I wouldn't let just a car length in front of me. Having been rear-ended by a road bike with caliper brakes fortunately without any serious consequences apart from some minor bike damage, and twice other times while driving a motor vehicle, I wish other people kept distances as long as I do.

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jaysa [98 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
hirsute wrote:

Not sure a car's length at 30nph is your best position for any escape route.

I agree. Ideally I'd leave more, but that just causes more novertakes. It's a balance of risks. I mitigate the chance of running into the car ahead by looking several cars ahead, assessing if they will turn off and having plans B/C mapped - diving left or right.

Sometimes I am followed by someone considerate, who doesn't bully me. It's so nice that I turn round and give them a big smile and wave when safe to do so !

I'd favour mandatory 5-year retesting of all drivers, no assumed 'right to drive' in court, and some sort of graded driving tests with a financial incentive to improve. I drive and would be first in line ...

Wobbling and weaving sounds worth a try!

Many thanks everyone  1

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kil0ran [1184 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

I ride roughly in line with the offside rear light cluster in these situations.

If you're obscuring one of the brake lights on the car in front it makes the following driver start paying attention to the nearside light cluster, which stops them from planning an overtake (usually).

Occassionally get abuse for doing this but not often - being a large hairy bloke probably helps.

Being a large hairy bloke I then tend to do my utmost to get back in front at the next inevitable queue of traffic, probably not particularly sensible but it makes a point. 

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mattsccm [384 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Leaving that sorts of gap to the car in front is just plain idiotic. Stuff anyone else. If a car slots in in front of you then just back off again.  So what, its not a race. To stop the passing block them. No fixed rules, just be dominant.

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Mungecrundle [1137 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes

If you are easily keeping up with the traffic, then adopt a position and ride as though you were on a (small and horribly underpowered in my case) motorcycle, which is to roughly cover the same patch of tarmac that the drivers seat of a car would pass over.

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Daveyraveygravey [630 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
kil0ran wrote:

I ride roughly in line with the offside rear light cluster in these situations.

If you're obscuring one of the brake lights on the car in front it makes the following driver start paying attention to the nearside light cluster, which stops them from planning an overtake (usually).

Occassionally get abuse for doing this but not often - being a large hairy bloke probably helps.

Being a large hairy bloke I then tend to do my utmost to get back in front at the next inevitable queue of traffic, probably not particularly sensible but it makes a point. 

 

+1.  I used to en joy keeping up with traffic much like the OP originally described, but I would be on the right of the lane, nearer the white line than the nearside verge.  I would also do a lot of looking around, get eye contact repeatedly with the car behind, and let them know they are too close.  You could try slowing down in the middle of the road, but that rarely ends well.

 

In my experience, most car drivers have such total lack of anticipation and crap reactions they are not going to outbrake you.