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Why isn't that cyclist in the cycle lane? Angry drivers of the internet fume about NMoTD 815

Take a deep breath, brace yourselves and proceed with caution as we take a look at how motorists reacted to Near Miss of the Day 815

On Thursday we uploaded Near Miss of the Day 815 featuring a clip submitted by a reader which shows the moment an HGV driver close passed him during a bike ride, even with double white lines in the middle of the road and an oncoming driver.

Since then the inbox has been under siege from furious emails outraged by the disgraceful, dangerous, and downright despicable use of the road on show. No, not the lorry driver putting a vulnerable road user in danger. No, something far worse — in their opinion — the cyclist not using the bike lane...

> Near Miss of the Day 815: "Again and again, drivers don't seem to get the message"

All spelling, grammar and general incoherence has been edited (don't shout at us too loudly if anything slips through the net, unless it's my own, of course!)...

Our most recent thought, sent this morning, claims the cyclist "left the driver with little option but to cross the lines to pass safely, thus breaking the law. There would have been no need for this had the cyclist shown a bit of road sense and used the available road width in a manner conducive to other road users, with a little more wisdom rather than assuming that all must grant his designs on how much of the available space is his to do as he chooses.

"All it takes is two entitled minds to cause a disaster so he is just as guilty as the truck driver of causing this near miss and should be equally held to account."

Another, claiming to be a professional HGV driver, wrote in: "One question: why is the cyclist not using the designated cycle lane to protect himself from a close pass? If cars and trucks used the cycle lane instead of the road, imagine the carnage! The cycle lanes put in are to protect the cyclist so why do they insist on putting their life in danger by cycling on the road instead of the cycle lane?

"I cycle and also drive HGVs for a living. If a cycle lane is provided then the cyclist should use it. If I drive my truck on the pavement then I can be fined and possibly lose my licence. If a cyclist doesn't use the cycle lane expect to get a close pass!" Charming...

Next up, not a driver (apparently), but a self-titled "conscientious cyclist"...

"If there is a cycle lane there, use it. Then you would have a right to moan."

Time to get the expletive alarm out for this next one: "Great video of a daft prick on a bike ignoring the bike lane on the left and then complaining about passing traffic! Total selfish two-wheeled twat!!" Good afternoon to you too...(we'll delete the part which says whose iPhone it was sent from)...

Near Miss of the Day 815

Right, we've got plenty more to get through, time for the quick-fire round...

"Why do you show this without mentioning that the cyclist is deliberately cycling outside of the very wide cycle lane?"

"Yet again we see a cyclist not using a cycle lane on a very dangerous piece of road with double white lines and then moaning when he gets overtaken. Why do cyclists feel they have the right to inconvenience others when making their journeys?"

"If a cycle lane is provided and a cyclist refuses to use it, do you agree they should be subject to legal sanctions — in much the same way as the converse applies to other road users contravening cycle lanes?" In

"Why put out Near Miss of the Day with a photo of the cyclist on a road when there is a cycle path to the left-hand side of him with no-one on it? So why have I paid my council tax to have these put in if they are not going use them? If they are stupid enough not to use them, then that's their fault."

"Mate, he was riding in the carriageway when a cycle lane was clearly marked to his left, you really need to assess the shit you post, honestly. Riding a bike to work is one thing, trying to persecute road users when you have a dedicated cycle lane is another matter, this is ridiculously embarrassing."

And finally... "Why is this cyclist not in the cycle lane provided?"

Let us answer that one...

> Why don't cyclists use cycle lanes?

Let's see what The Highway Code has to say (remember that not all of the rules in the Highway Code are legal requirements).

As per Rule 61:

Cycle Routes and Other Facilities: Cycle lanes are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). Use facilities such as cycle lanes and tracks, advanced stop lines and toucan crossings (see Rules 62 and 73) where they make your journey safer and easier. This will depend on your experience and skills and the situation at the time. While such facilities are provided for reasons of safety, cyclists may exercise their judgement and are not obliged to use them.

The simple answer is that, as anyone with even a cursory experience of UK cycling infrastructure will know, many cycle lanes are a bit rubbish. They can be dangerous, run through car door zones, offer zero protection from passing traffic, become blocked by drivers parking where they shouldn't, have cracked or loose surfaces, collect puncture-risking debris such as broken glass, cross driveways, stop at junctions, end abruptly, and generally make your journey on two wheels miserable.

Worcester cycle lane (Image: Twitter/@MTBfreedom)

In many situations, the safest place to be is on the road where you can control how close you ride to the kerb, and avoid the danger and inconvenience of a bad cycle lane. What's more, the safer and more convenient option is also perfectly legal, and advised in the Highway Code...

Leith Walk cycle lane (Allasan Seòras Buc, Twitter)

"Use facilities such as cycle lanes and tracks, advanced stop lines and toucan crossings where they make your journey safer and easier [...] cyclists may exercise their judgement and are not obliged to use them."

Cycle lane parked car (Image credit: Rob Ainsley sent to us)

'But what about the cycle lane in the video?' I hear you ask... 'What was wrong with that one?' Clearly the video is just 27 seconds so there might be convenience and safety factors other than what we can see, but while the surface generally looks pretty good (by the low bar of UK cycling infra), this route still crosses driveways where the rider would be more visible on the road and looks like it is the only option for pedestrians walking along the route.

In cases where the cycle lane is, in fact, a shared-use path and also used by dog walkers, families, children, disabled people and the elderly, the safer place for a confident bike rider is often the road. By the end of the video we see the path narrow to a section wide enough for a single pedestrian, lined with a wall and dotted with lampposts. 

Furthermore, at the point where the close pass is made, the cycle lane ends. Often the safest place for everyone — for pedestrians potentially using the shared-use path, the rider himself, and drivers — is for the cyclist to ride on the road. That requires asking for a bit of patience when overtaking, but if it prevents a cyclist — a father, daughter, sister, friend, colleague — being injured or worse, is that really too much to ask?

EDIT: The reader who submitted the footage got in touch with a bit more info about the specifics of the shared-use path...

Bloody hell. That one got a response! 

If you go on Google Maps 88 A3100, this is where the incident occurred. 
The pass wasn't particularly close, as the police officer implies, but the manner of driving is downright dangerous.

The shared cycle path (it’s NOT a cycle lane) is not very well marked, and this was my first time on the road having just dropped my van off for a service. Ooer... A van driver. I know…

The entry point to the shared cycle path is badly marked, and there is one sprayed on bike for the whole of its 300m length. Plus once you've gone past the dropped kerb to get onto the pavement, you can't get on it. Not that you would, as it's narrow and on a blind bend. If there was another bike or pushchair coming the other way, I'd have had to get back on the road to get past.

It's terrible cycling infrastructure, but either way it's still a 30mph limit with double whites and SLOW signs for a reason, that the HGV driver chose to ignore.

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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