My Thoughts on the RTC Result

I’ve been asked many times if I’m happy with the outcome of the road traffic collision that I was involved in late last year.
The simple answer is yes.

I was involved in a RTC in 2009 where a car pulled out or a minor road into my path on a major road, hitting me side on and sending me flying. It was totally the drivers fault but the police could prove nothing, my only witness left the scene without leaving any details so it was the drivers word against mine as to what happened. The case was dropped and I was left to fight the insurance company to cover my costs. The driver obviously got no punishment for the actions he took.

This case was similar, take away my video footage and it is next to impossible to prove exactly what happened. Add the video footage and it is clear to see that the driver crosses through a bus lane without first checking what was in it. That is what made the big difference in this case!

Was the ‘punishment’ enough? I certainly think so, a 6 point increase on your license is substantial if you have a clean license, add that onto other points and you are very close to losing your license. I’m not aware if the driver had any points on their license before the incident.
The fine might not have been as substantial as some might think, but a £350 fine is still enough to make a dent in the average person.

More importantly the whole experience for the driver will make him think twice about how he drives on the road.

A few have commented and said it was my fault for cycling as i was. I certainly could have read it better but the bottom line is it is the responsibility of the road user that is turning across the lanes of traffic to look for moving vehicles. As Magnatom says

Hindsight – It turns average cyclists into perfect cyclists.

FTA Cycling Code

The Freight Transport Associate recently released a Cycling Code. It’s aim is to improve the safety of cyclists on the roads and reduce collisions between commercial vehicles and cyclists.

The code is well worth reading, and can be done so here.
Here are a few interesting tips for cyclists and drivers take from the code.

Top tips for cyclists

1 Know the law and observe it
The law is clear that as road users, cyclists are bound by all the same rules as motorised vehicles.Whether this relates to alcohol, roadworthiness or traffic signals, failure to observe the law puts both cyclists and other road users in harm’s way.

2 Leave that lorry alone
Never undertake a lorry on the left, especially if you are at a junction. Don’t do this even if there is a cycle lane. Remember if you cycle on the left-hand side of a lorry you are in the driver’s blind spot and if the lorry turns, you will have no escape. It is difficult for drivers of large vehicles to see you, so don’t hide by the side of the vehicle.

3 Make eye contact
Make eye contact with other road users, particularly at a junction, coming out of side roads and at roundabouts; this may tell you if the driver has seen you or not.

4 Look behind you
Regularly look over your shoulders to see what is happening all around you. Check behind you when moving away from the kerb, before you signal to manoeuvre and at regular intervals to communicate with other road users.

5 Look ahead
Look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, potholes and parked vehicles, so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Planning ahead helps you to be pre- pared for junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights.

6 Ride on the road, not the gutter!
Your road position should not be less than one metre from the kerb and should be further out if it is not safe for a vehicle to pass. If someone does pass you inconsiderately then you have more room to get out of harm’s way. Keeping away from the gutter will enable drivers to see you and also help you miss the drain covers and debris on the side of the road too.Take extra care to hold your position near road humps and other traffic- calming features.

7 Don’t be floored by car doors
Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened into your path.

8 Make your intentions clear
Make your signal and manoeuvre well in advance, and only when it is safe to do so. Keep your position in your lane so vehicles cannot undertake closely on your left.

9 Cover your brakes
Keep your hands on your brake levers, so that you are ready to use them.Always use both brakes at the same time.Take extra care when it is wet or icy.

10 Lights
By law, when it is dark or there is bad visibility you must have lights on the front and rear of your bike.Always carry spare small lights in case your main lights are not working.

11 Cycle training
If you are a beginner or even if you are an experienced cyclist, you can benefit from an adult cycle training session. Find out more about cycling safely in today’s road conditions by contact- ing your local instructor at http://www.ctc.org.uk/instructors.

12 Be seen
Make sure you wear hi-visibility clothing, especially when the light is poor. Remember – bright, light clothes in daytime and reflec- tive material at night.

13 Stay sober
Don’t ride when you’ve had drink or drugs. Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as serious and dangerous as if you were driving a car.

14 Listen
Make sure you can hear the traffic around you – don’t listen to music. Many vehicles have warnings to tell you they’re turning left – you won’t hear them if you’re plugged in.

15 Remember that large vehicles move to the right before turning left

Top tips for drivers

1 Respect other road users
Remember that cyclists are road users too and have the same rights as motorised vehicles. Make sure you know the speed limits and observe them – remember that the correct speed may be much lower than the legal limit.

2 Always check the field of view of your mirrors as part of the daily walk around check, or if the mirrors are dislodged during the shift Vehicles now have many mirrors and it is easy for these to be dislodged. Consider using floor mats to map out the correct area that mirrors should be covering – paint them at the exit gate.

3 ‘Give a metre’ or hold back until there’s room
Many roads have too little space for cyclists and hgvs at the same time. If an hgv cannot give a cyclist at least a metre’s clearance then they should hold back. Drivers should bear in mind that cyclists are trained not to ride too close to the kerb.The Highway Code advises that you should give at least as much room as when overtaking a car.

4 Plan journeys to avoid cycle superhighways at peak times
The cycle superhighways are intended to show cyclists – both regular and occasional – how best to get from the suburbs into central London and back. Drivers should be aware that where they see the blue cycle superhighway path there are likely to be more cyclists than normal – where possible drivers should avoid these routes at peak times, ie between 07:00 and 09:00 and between 16:00 and 18:00. Operators should work with their customers to develop delivery and serving plans or construction logistics plans to minimise peak-time journeys.

5 Look over the dash
There have been fatalities that arose because the cyclist wrongly assumed that the driver had seen them. Drivers should always take a moment to look to the front of the vehicle, even if they have a class VI mirror.

6 Concentrate
Drivers – focus on driving – do not use hand-held phones and minimise use of hands-free equipment.

7 Always indicate
Always use your indicators even if you don’t think there’s anyone there and indicate early, ie when cyclists are still behind you and most able to see your indicators.

Certainly some good pointers there for all road users. But will this code affect how safe the roads are? Who knows, at present it’s only a document.

RTC 16.12.10

It’s snowing, the ground is wet and traffic is backed up. I’m cycling in the bus lane and traffic up ahead starts moving but I miss a set of cars not moving at the start of a side road. The result is a car driving through a gap and into the side road, going straight across the bus lane without checking. It ended with me landing on the bonnet of the car with my arm taking my full weight which flexed the bonnet so much that my arm hit the engine block.

The police attended the scene and the driver spoke very little english. At the time the driver claimed that he didn’t see any lights on my bicycle, despite my bicycle laying in the street with the 900 lumen magicshine light and 240 lumen hope vision 1 light blaring on to the ground, lets not also forget the helmet mounted torch that I have which was shining in his eyes. The obvious problem is the driver didn’t look, so of course he couldn’t see.

An independent witness came forward (the driver of a vehicle that was waiting to leave the side road) and his statement matched my side of the story, which was also backed up by the video footage I had.

You would think that having video footage of the event would make everything plain sailing. Oh how wrong could you be. First I was told by the case manager that video evidence could not be used.

it is not something we would be able to use in court. This is due to the fact
it would not be seen as independent evidence and an argument could be
made to the effect that the footage could have been tampered with.

My response to that..

In at least 2 cases in 2010 video evidence was used in court to secure
convictions against vehicle drivers, they where recorded using similar
video equipment by cyclists.

My video evidence matches the statements that me, the vehicle driver and
a witness gave to the Police that attended the scene. I had not seen the
video before giving my statement and neither of the witness had viewed
or know about it.
This video evidence should not be dismissed due to the fact that an
argument could be made to the effect that it could have been tampered
with. As it clearly shows that the driver crossed across a bus lane
without checking to see if anything was in it. I have been advised that
if this is to be dismissed, it should be done so by a magistrate or
jury.

That was not the end of my issues. The MET’s video evidence/surveillance rooms are not capable of playing digital videos in modern h.264 formats. So they where not able to play the video that I had sent them. That in its self is quite frustrating. It ended up with one of them playing it on a personal laptop. How they then got it into a playable format to be used in court I do not know.

The case went to court nearly 7 months after the incident and I heard about the results yesterday, the driver was charged with Careless or Inconsiderate driving, got a £350 fine, 6 points on their license and ordered to pay £100 court fees. That is certainly a good result.

All that is left now is for me to claim back the cost of the damages from his insurance company.

Time Spent at Traffic Lights

I commute from urban Greater London into central London each day, taking me roughly an hour door to door. The distance is around 16 miles each way but can be more or less depending on my route.

The biggest problem for any cyclist in a city is going to be traffic lights, it’s understandable why some choose to cycle through red ones when you face over 100 potential red ones each journey.

I’ve looked at a weeks worth of commuting, not all on the same route, but roughly the same time and distance. I know that on each route I’m facing around 100 red lights if not more. On average I’m spending 13% of my commuting time waiting at traffic lights. That is around 7 minutes per journey or 14 minutes a day.

It’s a bit of a pain to spend that much time waiting at traffic lights, I might look into a slightly different route, but I suspect it will mean a shorter and potentially slower journey.

How much time do you spend waiting at traffic lights per journey?

Video Footage is Not Evidence

With more and more road users using video equipment to record their journeys in case of an accident, it is important to have a little bit of understanding of what is involved when using it to prove what happened.

A section of video footage only shows what happened during that section of time. I’ve had many people mention that a driver would only do ‘that’ if they were provoked. I don’t leave anything out of my videos on youtube and I never sensor sound. I’m open and honest about all interactions I have.

I have had various interactions with the police over the years of recording, all are fairly good. Most of my dealings have been with Roadsafe London and I can honestly say I’m happy with the results from that. It’s simple for me as I just need to fill out a short online form and include a link to the video. The police will most often send a letter to the owner of the vehicle explaining the situation and sometimes include a link to the video. Someone has been educated and that at the end of the day is my goal.

The problem any road user will face when submitting footage to the police in a more serious case is it’s still fairly uncommon for people to record and the digital formats we use are often hard to play on the police systems. This results in a lot of time wasted time in them even being able to view it.

It doesn’t end there, if the footage is of use then it has be made into something which can be used as evidence, this is going to mean at least putting the footage on to several discs to supply to each party involved in a court case and in some cases analysing the footage to see if it has been tampered with. This is quite a lengthy process and requires specific equipment which is used to process all CCTV and video evidence for a specific area (quite a large one) and only trained people can use this. So it’s a costly and lengthy task and one which will only be taken if the Police feel that the incident is worth pursuing in the case of public interest and if they believe the CPS will push for a prosecution.

I often see many people stating that they got a camera in case of an accident, this is not only the wrong message that we are sending out (it’s not dangerous to cycle in the UK, it has its ups and downs) but it also doesn’t make the process any easier and in most cases people’s expectations of what can happen to a driver after they cut you up, left hooked you etc.. is normally out of proportion.

As a side note. I said above ‘it’s not dangerous to cycle in the UK it has its ups and downs’. Obviously my videos sometimes show that there are some real idiots on the roads. You need to take into consideration how many miles per year I do and how many vehicles I have interactions with. In reality it’s probably less than 1% of vehicle drivers that I have a problem with.

Build it and they shall come

Build a shop and people will buy things from it.
Build a train network and people will ride it.
Build a house and people will live in it.
Build a playground and kids will play in it.
Build a fast car and people will drive it fast.

I’m going to presume you get what I mean by that. To increase cycling in the UK and to decrease our dependency on motorised transport, which is bad for the environment, we need to build good quality cycling facilities.

If we build these facilities then people will start to cycle. Just look at the stats for the Barclays Superhighway. My opinion of the superhighways is not high, I would want a much better standard of cycling infrastructure, one that would be safer and more enjoyable to use.

What ever type of facility is built, it needs to at least cater for the ‘slower’ cyclist. The cyclist that is a utilitarian, for people who don’t wish to change clothes between bicycle ride and getting on with the rest of the day. Those are the people we need to attract into cycling. I feel that is where the greatest amount of potential is.

Build usable and safe cycling facilities and people will ditch the motor vehicle and cycle where practicable.

Vehicular Cyclists

I’ve been called many things over the past few years with regards to how I cycle and what  I post on youtube. Many of them I will not repeat but one I’m often called or people relate to is a vehicular cyclist.

The idea behind vehicular cycling is you put yourself in a position where you are visible, your actions are predictable and you cycle in a manner which confirms with the principles of driving in traffic. Basically similar to a motorbike but with out all the engine noise and a little less overtaking.

Why do I cycle as a vehicular cyclist?
I do so for my own safety. In some situations I’m traveling much faster than the perceived speed that cyclists can go and at similar speeds to other motorised vehicles. I take a central position in the lane to make my self more visible and stop stupid overtakes from cars behind who just can’t see past the skinny vehicle in front of them.

Taking control of your lane can also be important to force drivers to overtake or pass you properly and safely. For example the following video shows a dual carriageway. If I cycle to the left then drivers should pass me in the other lane, giving me several meters of space, due to difference in speed. But many drivers can not be trusted to do so. So the application of vehicular cycling in this situation should force drivers to pass you correctly in the other lane. Again you can’t trust drivers to do so, but with the application of vehicular cycling I have a nice buffer to my left to utilise as run off space, where as if I was cycling in the gutter, I would have the option of hitting the curb and falling off.

Vehicular cycling has some down falls. Not many cyclists do it, so people perceive that you have the attitude that you are more important and are making a point. This makes people angry for some unknown reason and I often get comments of “get in the cycle lane” even if there isn’t one.
It’s also very very hard for a cyclist which isn’t powerful or fast to take a central position in the road, it can be very daunting to do so and you often get a lot of pressure from vehicles behind you.

It’s often said that vehicular cyclists want it this way and that way and don’t want segregation. I don’t specifically think that is true. If you give me a good cycling facility, segregated or not, and I will use it. If you don’t, then for me to be safe I may have to act as a vehicular cyclist.

What ever happens to cycling in the UK, for several years cyclists will still at some point have to act as a vehicular cyclist to be safe. And we need drivers to understand that they need to share the roads with us.

Don’t let the media distract you..

Don’t let the media distract you from the real problem on our streets… dangerous and distracted driving

That’s the closing message of a video named ‘Toronto Cyclists Are Selfish And Rude?’ by James D Schwartz

His video is a response to an article that the Toronto Star published on the 6th of June, titled ‘Are cyclists alienating drivers by being selfish and rude?‘ The article allows one particular motorist to express her views and she claims some figures which can certainly be questioned!

I stop at stop lights, (but) 95 per cent of cyclists don’t.

After they come flying out of a side street unseen into the path of my car, and my heart pounds because I almost hit them, I yell at them for being on a one-way street, and 95 per cent tell me to F-off.

I’m sure we have all experienced this kind of feedback from motorists. Some of them genuinely don’t understand our needs and the situation that we are in. Some of them couldn’t care less and most of them focus on all the negatives. We can’t blame them for that, it’s part of being human.

The article does raise a point that I agree with,

It requires accommodation, which some drivers extended grudgingly, if at all. The lack of respect is why many cyclists radiate hostility when they cross paths with drivers.

But if cyclists don’t earn respect by extending courtesy and following the rules of the road, it only ratchets up the tension with drivers.

We should be respectful to others on the road, we are all trying to get somewhere. Lets do so safely! But that is a two-way street, motorists shouldn’t expect us to throw rose petals over the bonnet of their car after they have just nearly knocked us off our bicycles!

Ticket for not cycling in the bicycle lane

I was sent a link to this video yesterday morning and at that time it had less than 3,000 views. I gave it a watch and at first it was similar to something I had seen before. But after a while it turned into a classic video that just had me in stitches!

We are lucky in the UK that there is no law regarding cycling in the bicycle lane. The councils can paint all they want and you can just ignore it 🙂

Road User Hierarchy

At present the UK is very motor vehicle orientated. A large proportion of the population drives, in fact I drive in situations where cycling is not more practicable than taking the car. But because our road system is orientated around vehicles like the car, the drivers behind the wheel seem to think they own the roads. Some drivers believe that everything else should get out of their way and that we should bow down to them and kiss their feet (slight exaggeration).

For me there has always been a hierarchical system on the roads, a pecking order or food chain. The system which I believe is often thought of by the motorists is as follows (with 1 being the most important)

  1. Me (the motorist in question)
  2. Other Motor vehicles
  3. Buses
  4. Cyclists and Pedestrians

As you can see my list puts the self-centred motorist at the top. I see everyday, be it on bicycle or by car, drivers are often very impatient and won’t let people merge into their lane or they tailgate the vehicle in front of them if they don’t think they are going fast enough.
My hierarchy would be as follows (with number 1 being the most important)

  1. Mobility impaired pedestrians
  2. Pedestrians
  3. Cyclists
  4. motorcyclist
  5. Public Transport (buses, trams etc..)
  6. Cars
  7. LGV’s
  8. HGV’s

My system puts the most vulnerable road users at the top and the least vulnerable at the bottom. Things like Public Transport should have road space allocated to them specific and people should let them go as they carry many more people than other forms of transportation. The ones lower down on the list should look out for those higher up. But let us not forget that even HGV’s have requirements on the road and as cyclists, pedestrians and vehicle drivers we must look out for them and provide them the space and time they need.

Take a look at the below video of a single junction in NYC that was filmed over several hours. It shows how all road users make conflicts and issues with each other. I suspect that the US has specific issues with ‘road’ users Vs pedestrians as they have specific jaywalking laws.


Roads are often used by many types of transport, often all at the same time. But the way they have been built suits vehicles such as cars the best. From my point of view this causes conflict when you get pedestrians who want to cross the road. In an ideal world a vehicle on the road would stop for any pedestrian as they are near the top of the hierarchy but in reality this hardly happens. As a vulnerable road user we should look out for them and look after them but even our councils seem to do a poor job of managing where they cross and how long they have to wait.

Too much has been given to the motor vehicle over the past 50 years. It’s time we started claiming back our safety on the roads and making them a safer place to use!