Ding Ding Ding Get Out of My Way

I’m sure we have all been in a situation where a driver behind us has blasted their horn because we are ‘in their way’.

I tried to do the similar whilst on my bicycle, I got up really close behind another vehicle, dinged on my bell really loudly to show my frustration, unfortunately they couldn’t hear it due to them singing along to a dodgy song from Heart Radio. When they finally pulled over and stopped, I cycle passed shouting my frustration, telling them they can’t drive here and they should be on the motorway. The driver was clearly startled by this as they quickly got out of their car and ran into the post office with a letter. A letter which I’m presuming was a written apology to me for being in me way.

Sounds crazy eh?! But that is pretty much what happens to cyclists. Drivers expect us (cyclists) to bow down and pump their tyres up with our mouths as they pass. They drive close behind us and blast their horns if we are stopping them from progressing to the back of the next queue. As they pass they shout out of the window that we don’t pay ‘road tax’ and that we should be on the pavement.

It’s bullying behaviour and shouldn’t be accepted on our roads. Look after the more vulnerable road user.

Note: Some things said in this post are not strictly true.

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1,000,000 Views

My cycling related youtube channels recently hit 1 million video views. That makes me the most watched video camera cyclist to date on youtube. My main channel currently has 1,700 subscribers and Silly Cyclists has over 800.

It’s strange to me how I got so popular, I’ve not had the media appearances that others have had, the high-profile incident or been around as long as others. Silly Cyclists makes up less than 20% of the total video views.

I don’t really advertise my channel. At least not any more, I posted the odd video on the various cycling forums I visit but I found this to be a waste of time, too many people didn’t like what I was doing and gave me a lot of ‘hate’ for it.

I guess a big part has been my involvement in reporting videos to Road Safe London and making videos about the Superhighways / Barclays Cycle Hire. These were posted on the posted on some high-profile blogs. This got my channel some major views and a lot more subscribers.

I’ve obviously had my fair share of dodgy drivers, especially taxi drivers, as I said before I don’t think I’ve had any major incidences which have drawn in lots of views, just lots of videos which have more than 1,000 views.

I’d like to be able to say that I’ve achieved something on the way to getting 1,000,000 views. I’ve done what I’ve done and I’m happy with it. I know that some have said i’ve influenced them to get cameras, just as the likes of magnatom, cyclingmikey and bbborp (to name a few) influenced me to start. I’ve had people asking me if I can train them to cycle on the road and people informing me that they have re-looked at their own cycling style after watching Silly Cyclists.

Things I’ve done so far due to blogging and making videos

  • 1 driver prosecuted for careless driving
  • Met with the project manager of the superhighways to talk over design features
  • Tested a Boris Bike several months before release
  • Countless drivers contacted by the police because of their bad driving
  • Countless companies contacted about their good drivers
  • Countless companies contacted about their bad drivers
  • talked on the radio several times about cameras, silly cyclists etc..
  • Met with the officers behind Road Safe London, Cycle Task Force and Exchanging places

Why are cyclists using video cameras?

I’ve spent a few weeks off the bike due to my injury so I spent some time looking back at what I had recorded and decided to make a video that highlights some of the worst drivers I have experience.

I’ve certainly had some interesting moments with drivers in London but lets not get disillusioned about this. This is only a small percentage of drivers, I must have thousands of interactions* with drivers each week. And I may only get 1 really bad driver and maybe a handful of ‘could have done better’, the rest are fine.

* By interaction I mean me passing a vehicle or a vehicle passing me

Passing Laws

All cyclists have experienced a close pass from another vehicle. It’s an uncomfortable experience and the larger vehicles can cause major issues due to the turbulent air that they throw off. Cyclists need to be given lots of space, we need to move around road hazards such as pot holes and we aren’t surrounded by metal.

Some states in the US and a few countries have a specific passing law. Usually 3ft or 1m space that overtaking vehicles must give to cyclists. In the UK we don’t have a specific law and the highway code suggests that you should give as much space as you would a car, I have commented on that before.

I see some problems with passing laws

  • How do you measure the distance?
  • Larger differences in speed require larger passing distances.

The DFT name the space a cyclist requires the dynamic envelope. The Cycle Infrastructure Design (CID), Department for Transport Local Transport Note 2/08, October 2008. Section 2.2.2 states that the dynamic envelope of a cyclist on the road may be taken as 1 meter. As the name suggests, the dynamic envelope changes depending on the situation but the basics of it is the required space a cyclists needs to keep in motion. Corrections are made to avoid hazards and to keep balance.

When a vehicle overtakes a cyclist, the space they should leave you is in addition to the dynamic envelope. The DFT recommend that in addition to the dynamic envelope of 1m, cars passing at 30mph should add another 1.5m when passing. In total that equates to 2.5m from the cyclist (this distances is measured from the wheel of the cyclist to the edge of the car). How many drivers do we see passing cyclists at such a distance?
The DFT recommends that larger vehicles (buses, HGVs) should give a total of over 5m when passing a cyclist at 30mph.

The distances which drivers give cyclists needs to be increased in situations like hills, cyclists will be going at a much lower speed and keeping a straight line can be more strenuous. In these cases more space will be needed.
To cover one of my concerns, as the difference in speeds increases then more space is required, if a cyclist is traveling at 10mph and a car passes at 3ft at 60mph then the turbulent air will push them off their course and could well blow them over if they are not prepared for it.

How can we measure passing distances whilst on the road? This is always going to be a problem, one persons 3ft is another persons 2ft and being on a bicycle the two will feel very different, the two will probably be very similar when you are surrounded by metal. In the case of reporting it to the police or speaking to the driver about it, this will be the same old situation which we are used to, your word against theirs.
I have a ‘litmus’ test for close passes, I’m normally aware of when they will happen, I stick my arm out as if i was indicating, if i feel a vehicle brush against my arm then I know the pass is about to be too close and I can move over to the left a little bit to give me more space. My arm is a little under 3ft so if I can touch your vehicle as you pass me then you are too close. I’ve noticed so far that this gives the drivers a panic and they either stop their over take or they move further out, it has the added bonus of making you look like you are turning right.

The guidelines for passing distances that the DFT state are well over what any laws are in other countries and anything that is proposed in the UK. I can’t see a 3ft law being brought into the UK whilst a DFT recommended 30mph passing distance is over 2.5x bigger. The minimum 20mph passing distance that the DFT recommends is 2 meters. Because of this I’m mentally against any passing laws that state 3ft as the minimum.

Report You, Report Me

I’ve been a big user of the Road Safe London reporting system that is offered by the MET Police. It gives me an easy way to report dangerous road users with the potential they will get notified by them about their driving.

A few months ago I was cycling south bound on Park Lane on my way home. The traffic was quite heavy so I was filtering passed stationary and slow-moving vehicles. unfortunately I miss judged a gap and was probably going a little bit too fast, this meant that my hand came together with the wing mirror of another vehicle. I instantly stopped and looked behind at the driver and I held my hand up to say sorry. The wing mirror appeared to be undamaged and the driver raised his hand back at me and said it was alright. So I continued my journey.

I had a long time to think about what to do on the way home and my hand was hurting all the way, it turns out that when I clipped the wing mirror with my hand I cut my knuckle open. When I got home I looked at the video footage, found the registration of the car and reported my self on the Road Safe London website and asking them to pass on my contact details to the owner of the vehicle. It turned out to be owned by a dealer and there was no damage.

Would you report yourself in a similar manner or use the fact that we don’t have an identifier to hide from the consequences?

The British Cycling Economy

The London School of Economics has posted a report with details on how cycling affects the british economy. The PDF was supported by Sky and British Cycling.

The report is certainly an interesting read and the image posted to the left shows the key data in a nice way. It’s interesting to note that everything cycling related is in nice bright colours and the small section about rising fuel costs, traffic jams and pollution is in black and white.

The key points

  • £2.9 billion spent by cyclists in 2010
  • Over £853 million spent on accessories in 2010
  • 23,000 jobs in cycling generating over £500 million in wages.
  • 3.7 million bikes sold in 2010 but only £51 million where British built bicycles out of £1.62 billion total.
It’s refreshing to see an article posted about how good cycling is, not just for health benefits.

Grammar For Motorists

Came across this nice little website from a friend. Certainly an excellent twist on cycling blogging and one to follow. The story behind it? Well here is what the twitter account says..

Grammar for Motorists is an idea that came to me while cycling to work this morning. Hope it has legs. Any ideas for future lessons welcome.

Here are just a few of the lessons so far

Lesson 4: Spacing

Use of spacing between words helps to avoid unsightly collisions between words that will obscure your meaning and cause confusion.

Similarly, when driving, use of spacing when overtaking cyclists will help avoid unsightly collisions between vehicles that will increase your insurance premiums and cause death or serious injury.

Lesson 3: Imperatives

Cyclists must stop at red lights.

Motorists must stop at red lights.

Motorists must not accuse all cyclists of being “red light-jumping scofflaws”.

Motorists must not labour under the delusion that no motorist ever jumps a red light.

Lesson 1: Prepositions

The car must go around the bicycle.

The car cannot go through or over the bicycle.

If there is no space to overtake, the car must wait behind the bicycle.

Are you giving up cycling?

I returned back to the office today and saw my colleagues for the first time in 6 weeks. It was great to be back to at work, 6 weeks of day time TV will send you bonkers! Everyone was asking how I was and the usual questions but one I was asked several times and stood out the most.

Are you going to give up cycling?

My answer is certainly not. It’s my passion, I’ve been cycling since I was a child, through school, into uni and now doing most of my miles on my commute to work. I want to live everyday to the max and enjoy my self. I might have been hurt this one time but I will bounce back and do many more miles.

When people tell me that cycling is dangerous. I always reply with the following

Most of the world’s population die in bed, I would rather spend as much time as possible out of bed.

And it just so happens that when out of bed I like to ride a bicycle 🙂

An update on how I’m doing as I know some of you are interested. I’m feeling a lot better, up and about more and moving my arm a little bit more freely. My physiotherapy is going well and my movements are improving, I still have limited movements in my arm and struggle to move it by its self. My clavicle is nearly fixed, I’ve got an update with an orthopaedic doctor in 2 weeks and by that time it should be nearly done.

How long till I’m back on the bike? Who knows, as soon as I can get back on the bike I will be on the turbo. I’m not going to put my self onto the road until I know I’m fully 100% fit.

Driving With Two Mobile Phones

David Secker has been banned from driving for 12 months by Norwich Magistrates. He has been given a £150 fine and 14 penalty points. Mr Secker was witnessed by two police officers on the A47 driving at 70mph holding one phone to his ear and the other in his hand. My Secker also had no insurance!

The dangers of driving whilst using a phone are well documented, be it talking or texting. Using two phones at the same time is clearly a very dangerous thing to do and obviously he was distracted as he failed to notice the police approach from behind and pull up alongside him.

My Secker’s solicitor appears to be a twisted man, comparing driving whilst on the phone to eating an apple whilst driving and claims that it isn’t that bad as he wasn’t texting, just reading numbers off the phone, much like reading off a pad. Should you really be reading off a pad whilst driving?

You can watch a short video of what his solicitor had to say at this BBC article.
The dangers of driving whilst on the phone can be read here.

No one should be punished for SMIDSY

Quote

so much going on especially driving in a busy city centre that smidsy is unavoidable. Imagine a car driver, looking at traffic ahead, signage, pedestrians, lights, and then undertaking bikes on the left… Its alot and no one should be punished for smidsy.

That is the opinion that Pentdad posted on one of my videos. The incident in question is a fairly generic SMIDSY in the form of a lane change. It isn’t clear in the video but i was forced to brake quite a bit to avoid being side swiped by the rear of the vehicle.

Whilst I would not wish for a driver to get banned for a SMIDSY, at present people do get punished for SMIDSY’s and those people are cyclists and motorcyclists. Road users need to be aware that 2 wheelers are harder to spot but not impossible, take your time and you will see them.