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Safer Roads for cyclists? - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
void where prohibited, except by law
Safer Roads for cyclists?
While I believe the following petition fundamentally misunderstands the nature of UK legislation relating to road safety, I believe the sentiment is appropriate. You might agree, in which case I urge you to sign.


(As I understand it, most of the Highway Code itself does not have legal force, however, should an accident occur where one of the parties involved is in violation of the Code, this is likely to be taken into account when determining their culpability with respect to a charge of Careless or Dangerous Driving.* I have to admit that I'm not certain on this though. Corrections from those in the know welcome. While I think a law about giving cyclists room when overtaking is unnecessary, I would be very happy to see such a provision incorporated into the highway code.)

* We like to think of it more as guidelines.
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From: sea_cucumber Date: October 26th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're supposed to leave a 'door's width' between you and the cyclist when you pass them... or that's what my instructor says! And if you can't (because of a narrow road or whatever) you just go mega sloooowly.

The cyclists are sometimes a bit naughty themselves though... I've seen too many close calls from cyclists deciding to cycle up the dual carriageway and nearly get wiped out by buses and lorries going 70mph when there's a cycle path on the pavement right next to them!! Aieee!
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 26th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not all cycle paths are safe to cycle on. Dual use paths, and paths that cross adjoining roads in particular are sufficiently dangerous that many of us choose to use the road instead. Which is permitted by the Highway Code.

A considerate cyclist does their best to stick to the side of the road, of course. In general, I'd avoid cycling on dual carriageways, however. It is illegal to cycle on motorways to the best of my knowledge.
crazyscot From: crazyscot Date: October 26th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The A14 is a bridleway. IRMFI 8-)
undyingking From: undyingking Date: October 27th, 2009 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Mm, that's what my instructor said too: it would be marked as a fault if you passed a cyclist closer than that, when there was room to do so.

Having seen how many people seem swiftly to lose the 'good habits' that their instructors attempted to inculcate, I'm in favour of mandatory periodic retesting for motorists, which would address this problem as well as a host of others.
fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: October 26th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't actually have much sympathy for this one, unless cyclists have to get out of my way too - it infurates me when they ride up the middle of a narrow road, and I stay behind at a safe distance and speed, then they do not move to the side when it does widen, to allow me to pass safely.... As a pedestrian, I've been hit by riders on the pavement, and going the wrong way down a one way road. Don't I deserve a safe distance? And the campagners, wanting the blame to always be with the driver are just plain wrong. Kids need to understand if they run out in front of a car, they WILL get hurt. That is, ultimately, personal responsibility.

As a driver, I already have a responsibilty to pass them safely. If I stop at a set of lights, with a 3 foot cycle lane, and they ride up my inside, I would then be at fault if I pulled off.

Cyclists deserve protection, but this really doesn't work...
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 26th, 2009 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Consideration should be the watchword, whatever your preferred mode of transport. In truth, cyclists are massively more vulnerable than motorists, and the fatality statistics bear this out. It seems logical that we should proritise the protection of flesh and bone over the protection of bodywork. This does not to me seem like the same thing as "cyclists should behave like asshats", and I do not believe the two points should be confused.

As a driver, you already accept that certain things are your responsibility. If another motorist cuts you up, it's ultimately your responsibility not to drive into the back of them. This is not to say that they were right to do what they did.

Many would doubtless say that cyclists shouldn't cycle on the inside of slow moving traffic. I've tried doing it both ways. The inside is way safer than the outside for everyone concerned. Of course I try to do it responsibly, and not try and fit into some of the minuscule gaps some motorists leave, even if it does feel like sometimes they're doing it to personally piss me off.

Regardless of all this, the central point remains that motorists continue to overtake without leaving sufficient clearance for cyclists, and this is far more dangerous for the cyclist than the motorist.
fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: October 27th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree - but I don't see a "mandatory" gap as practical or enforceable, and that makes a poor law. It is a symptom of our driver enforcement, that attempts to load all blame in a simplistic fashion, ignorant of risk or behaviour.

3 foot is less than cyclists choose to take when they undertake me - and then I repass them. What is effectively being asked for is a 5' cycle lane on all roads - or not to be allowed to pass. That is not practical, especially when cyclists choose not to be limited to this strip.

It's a great guideline, though

Edited at 2009-10-27 12:26 am (UTC)
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 27th, 2009 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree, which is why I'd rather see a specific safe distance (tbh 1.5 to 2 feet would be plenty) in the highway code. I don't believe that the government will change the law on the basis of this petition, but I would like to see the issue given consideration by the government.
fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: October 27th, 2009 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)
You are talking about the goverment whose previous ideas (dropped) included to make all accidents the fault of the driver, or that all domestic violence should be assumed to be the fault of the man (despite their own statistics showing at least 10% the other way around).

They like "blame" propositions that are too simplistic to ever get through.
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fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: October 27th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not talking about the continent - I was talking about proposed policies in the UK.
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fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: October 28th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Drivers on pavements - what parking, or out of control?

The issue with cyclists on pavements, etc, is that it changes the perception of cyclists from being vulnerable road users into being threatening and therefore not deserving of protection. There's very little in the press between "smug & agressive" or "victim".
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lnr From: lnr Date: October 27th, 2009 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting seeing the reactions from drivers here, because mostly I've seen discussion of this on cycling groups, where the reason most people don't want anything to do with it is for fear that once people are told to leave 3 feet for cyclists they will do so in all conditions. 3 feet is OK at 20-30 mph, but any faster and it's nowhere near enough. 1.5 feet is almost never enough in free-flowing traffic. The equivalent rule in France is for 1.5 metres!

The current guideline in the highway code is to give cyclists as much room as you would give a car: and this is clarified by a diagram to show that they mean as much *total* room, not just the same clearance. I think if they can clarify this wording, and perhaps add "generally at least a door's width" or similar, then any legislation for a specific width is unnecessary. It's almost certain it wouldn't be enforced anyway.

FWIW I do agree that cyclists need to be considerate. But bear in mind that unless you're quite a long way back they might not feel safe enough to make a move from the middle to the edge of the road with you behind them. It's remarkable how intimidating it can be having someone 10 feet behind you, even when drivers aren't revving their engines and are keeping down to your speed.

Of course all this is why it shouldn't be legal to paint bike lanes any smaller than 1.5m wide. If there's not room for one that wide it should either be advisory (so wider vehicles can encroach on it where it is empty) or not there at all. Now *that's* a change I'd be much happier to have made, but I can't see it happening either.
fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: October 27th, 2009 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I used to cycle, and was hit or shoved by more than one vehicle (one reason I hate pedestrian fences). As a driver, I've had scratches left by cyclists forcing their way past. I give cycles MORE space than a car, in many cases. The inflexibilty is the bad part here, and it seems that the cycle community agree...
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