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Another cyclist follows satnav on to motorway

Police rescue M3 rider before he ends up in Bracknell

Surrey police have helped another confused cyclist who’d followed a phone satnav application on to the motorway.

The latest incident happened on the M3 yesterday afternoon at about 13:50 when Surrey Roads Police tweeted that they were responding to reports of a cyclist on the M3 motorway.

It turned out that the rider was using a phone satnav app and had followed its directions on to the motorway.

Surrey Roads Police (@SurreyRoadCops - worth following if you’re a fan of deadpan cop humour) tweeted: “Last time was M25, they are like buses, haven’t had any for months + months now we have had 2 + r looking for 3rd”

The police responded quickly. It helped that there was a driver training exercise in progress at the time. “He is cycling along the M3 from Sunbury towards the M25. The driving school are training in a group and have him surrounded,” tweeted the police.

Another Twitter user, Michael Gibson (‏@junglybarry) suggested that it was possible the rider had been on the A316 and didn’t notice when it turned into motorway.

“It is [possible],” police said, “but when he did twig he didn’t do anything about it just kept going. Just getting a van to take him off.”

Mr Gibson replied: “I dread to think what he’d do at j2... Go on to j3 and the poor sod’s at Bracknell #baddaytoworse”

Police later said that the rider was using an iPhone, though at the time it was just referred to as “not Android” and “a phone with an edible fruit on it”.

Surrey police added: “We think one maps app has been updated since our last event.”

Anyone who has used satnav apps for bike navigation extensively knows to treat their instructions with caution. Even bike-specific applications can take you by silly routes, though the problem is more often being led down impassible trails rather than illegal dual carriageways.

In this case, the rider copped a fine to remind him to be more sceptical in future.

“It’s similar to the one we had on the M25,” a police spokesman told the Evening Standard's Robin De Peyer.

“The cyclist, in his late 20s, was issued a £50 fine for contravening a road sign, and he was also given some words of advice.

“He was then taken safely off in a van. It seems he was following an iPhone app.”

It's not just cyclists who get into trouble blindly following satnav instructions. In Madrid, Spain last year there were multiple incidents of drivers attempting to go down a pedestrian street that comprises a sequence of flights of steps.

In 2012, 26 drivers were fined during a two-day crackdown on driving in a pedestrian zone in Livingston, Scotland. The majority claimed they had been following their satnavs. 

"Satnavs are a useful tool but they’re not definitive," said Councillor for Livingston South, Lawrence Fitzpatrick.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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