Moving around cyclists

I saw this and I thought this was great.

It is (funny) how drivers will calmly go around a car that is parked in the road making sure to avoid conflicts with on coming traffic but when asked to do the same thing for a real live person on a bike they get all worked up and mad at the cyclist. I believe there is a deeply rooted fear of the cyclist and the liability involved. After all the cyclist is a moving object and can change direction. The parked car is not going to jump in front

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Road Safety Week

It’s been and gone but nothing has changed. It was the same old same old for me on the roads. Silly Cyclists, motorists imitating motorcyclist’s, mobile phone use and general lack of concern for other road users.

Confused.com hit the cycling media in a bad way in the past week, dropping the road tax bomb in a poll. I had someone from confused.com contact me last week with regards to road safer week and what they had done. For some reason they didn’t get back to me when I asked them about that road tax comment.

The Mayor of London announced a review of all the superhighways. They haven’t appeared to be so super after two cyclists had been killed using them in the space of only a few weeks. RIP. I’ve always been quite clinical of the superhighways, I raised concerns I had about them to TFL before they were built and got no where. If you are going to call something super and describe it as a safer journey, then they better be super and they better be safe. Unfortunately I feel that none of them are currently in a safe state as they are just a bit of blue paint on the side of the road.

Lots of other things happened over the whole country. Most I fear where for little gain, ‘a thought today, forgotten tomorrow’ springs to mind. This is the first Road Safety Week in the Decade of Action. Again something which looks like it hasn’t really taken off.

I had several encounters in the past week that shows the attitude of some of the drives on our road rather well.

This driver attempts to cut across my path, he states that he saw me and that I was too far out from the pavement. He then shows just why you should cycle that far out from the pavement as he does a close pass on another cyclist and then stops straight away.

This driver actually drove relatively well but sounds her horn as she comes past. I ask her later on what the problem was, apparently I was too far out from the pavement again and it is dangerous for her to change lanes to move around me. I should therefore be closer to the pavement so she could overtake me without changing lanes. No thanks!

They say cyclists don’t stop at red lights, clearly this guy left his bike at home.

And a small shunt I witnessed on Friday evening. No damage done but shows just how aware some drivers are of what is in front of them and the size of their vehicle.

Teaching people to cycle

We are mostly taught to ride our bikes in a park by our farther. He pushes us along and we learn to ride in a straight line. As we cycle more we get more confidence.

How do we learn to ride on the road? We can go to bikeability courses or other cycle training run by local councils or qualified individuals. But will adults go to these course, will people actively seek out education on how to use the roads safely?

I suspect most won’t, why do they need to be told how to cycle. It’s a fairly easy task to ride a bicycle but doing so in an environment full of faster moving, harder and sometimes recklessly driving vehicles is much harder.
Understanding traffic flow, the mindset of most drivers and common dangers can give you the vital foresight to position your self in a safe and sometimes controlling position.

Getting lessons can provide people with the confidence and knowledge to cycle on the roads safely but are there other ways we can teach people to cycle safely?

I’ve tried giving the odd tip to people on the roads, “Cars indicating left will often turn at the turning, so don’t undertake them” but people don’t take well to being told what to do. Even if it is with the best intentions. So it often results in being sworn at.

The Mayor of London and his team boast about how much cycle training they have provided, don’t get me wrong, I think it is great! But something needs to be done to educate the cyclists that don’t think they need training. I see people cycling in the gutter and lane splitting on multilane roads daily. These are the Silly Cyclists we need to educate, as one day their style of riding may result in them getting injured.

You’re causing traffic

Something I’ve had shouted at me as vehicles pass me or been told on other occasions. Statements like this show the stupidity and naivety of people who shout them.

For starters, the definition of traffic is not vehicles being held up or stationary but in fact just describes any vehicle on the road. So I am traffic, as are you and that is without other vehicles behind you.

Traffic: Vehicles moving on a public highway: “a stream of heavy traffic”.

Even if the word traffic meant a queue of stationary or slow-moving vehicles. Are cyclists the ones causing these queues? Or is it the hordes of other vehicles using the road?

I Love Taxi Drivers

Ok I don’t really, the majority of my worst incidences have been with taxi drivers and they seem to be invincible! From my experience the police pass any reports to the PCO and the PCO hold their hands up and say it’s up to the police to sort it out.

The public carriage office in its current state is a bit of a shambles, I have been provided a small amount of inside knowledge from someone who was involved with the PCO from a day-to-day basis on a professional level. I won’t go into detail at present, it would be a very long post but the end result is taxi drivers in London are basically untouchable and a few of them act as if they know that.

I’ve reported various incidences of varying degrees to the PCO, in every case I’ve not had a positive response, most of them result in a ‘It’s not our job to the police the roads’ and a few result in ‘we can’t view youtube videos so it’s your word against theirs’. It normally ends there, they are very understaffed and just don’t have time to look into these cases in enough detail.

I’ve tried reporting it to the Police but the MET handed over regulation and licensing of hackney carriages to TFL in 2000 and they seem to try to push the reports on TFL/PCO.

So far I’ve gotten not a single result from anything that has happened with a black cab. If you follow what I’ve published on youtube then you will know there are some real shockers.
I have had a few incidences which I’ve been told will be put on the driver’s record, but note these where not confirmed and the information did not come from someone who worked at the PCO. So I have no way to be certain.

Transport for London have provided a handy document that outlines the laws which govern hackney carriages and it states

In this Abstract, ‘The Licensing Authority’ means Transport for London (TfL) which will exercise the duties imposed by the London Cab Order 1934 as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to apply the laws in that document. In the document is the Standard Scale, which is the different fines that TFL/PCO are to apply to drivers when the break various laws, unfortunately the fines are maximum and do not have to be that exact amount.

  • Level 1 = £200
  • Level 2 = £500
  • Level 3 = £1,000
  • Level 4 = £2,500
  • Level 5 = £5,000

Lets highlight a few of the laws and what fines should be applied to the drivers that break them.

39. Various acts of misbehaviour by taxi driver (Act of 1843 s28; Act of 1831 s 56)

(1) The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1) or two months imprisonment:

(a) Wanton or furious driving.

(b)  Causing hurt or damage to any person by carelessness or wilful misbehaviour.

(c)  Drunkenness during employment.

(d)  Use of insulting or abusive language during employment.

(e)  Use of insulting gestures during employment.

(f)  Any misbehaviour during employment.

(2)  The following offences are punishable by penalty (Level 1 )

(a)  Injuring or endangering the life, limbs or property of any persons by intoxication, wanton or furious driving or any other wilful misconduct.

(b)  Using abusive or insulting language or rude behaviour towards any person.

(c)  Assaulting or obstructing any police officer in the execution of his duty.

(3)  This type of behaviour is also contrary to laws of general application, for example the Public Order Act 1986, carrying where appropriate heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

So it is up to TFL/PCO to deal with drivers who; drive dangerously, injury someone, damage someones property, swear at someone, use insulting gestures.

In several case I have been sworn at, threatened and had people driving dangerously around me. So that would mean that several drivers should have gotten fines but instead they may have a mark on their record or they got away with it.

I guess I will have to push the PCO next time I have an incident with a taxi and get them to properly deal with the driver. At present it’s a joke and I get the feeling that taxi drivers are currently untouchable which is a problem when some of them think you shouldn’t be on the road and they are king.

Standard Response

Complaining about anything these days just ends up with a standard response taken straight from the clipboard. Nothing personal in the response or anything relating back to the initial complaint.

I complained via TFL about a dangerous bus overtake which ended up with me being forced to slow down to avoid being clipped by the rear of the bus. The bus was managed by Arriva and as such it was forwarded to them by TFL.

It took Arriva just over 2 weeks to respond to my complaint and of course, a standard response was all that I got.

The manager of Croydon garage has identified the driver concerned with this incident and he will be interviewed at length.  He will be reminded of the standards of service and performance which we expect from all of our employees and a copy of this report will remain with his file.  Should any similar incident occur in the future, this information may be used again.

When I read these sorts of responses the first thing I think is rubbish. I don’t believe a word of it. Perhaps they really will do what they say, I have no way of telling. I hope they have a way of showing the driver the video I have of the incident. It highlights how reading the road ahead of you is important. Without reading the road then I wouldn’t have been able to predict the bus cutting across my path.

Cyclist down in Croydon

A female cyclist and a car collided with each other on Croydon Road vs Nicholas road yesterday morning. The cyclist sustained leg and arm injuries and was taken to Croydon University Hospital.

This stretch of road was changed several years ago. A two-way semi segregated, not maintained, cycle path was put next to the west bound carriageway. The road was narrowed by a series of pedestrian islands put between the two lanes. It could have comfortably stayed as a normal road and had a cycle lane on each side of the road.

As a result bicycle traffic travels in two directions and goes across several junctions. Drivers pull out of these junctions but are often not used to looking both ways when crossing the cycle lane and as such if you travel east on this section of cycle lane then you need to be very careful as drivers will not look in your direction and will pull out straight in front of you.

The route as a whole makes little sense as there seems to be no reason to have the east bound cycle traffic on that side, there are no shared used pavement areas at either end. This makes joining or leaving the east bound section very tricky.

Due to its use only by cyclists (this route is not one of the popular routes for cyclists) and it’s cleaning by the council at the bare minimum. It is full of stones, glass, shredded tyre and various other rubbish that is thrown from the road by the tyres of motorised vehicles. It really is an unpleasant and an avoided cycle path. I suspect just another section of cycle path that Croydon Council can mark as installed for the year.

I wish the cyclist in question a full recovery from the RTC. I may just have to contact Croydon Council and see what went into this cycle lane and if anything is planned, as it really is a nightmare.

Story originally reported by Croydon Guardian and brought to my attention by 4ChordsNoNet

Make London’s streets safer

TFL and the Mayor have set out a plan to make London’s streets safer for cyclists.

  • Huge range of initiatives to improve conditions for cyclists across London
  • All highway maintenance firms working on London’s major roads agree to fit blind spot mirrors and detection equipment by the end of the year
  • Transport Commissioner tells haulage industry that more needs to be done and Mayor urges cyclists ‘stay safe, don’t stay next to a HGV’

Those are just the key points which appeared in a recent press release from TFL. But why haven’t TFL and the Mayor of London got off their backsides and done something about Blackfriars bridge? Something which thousands of cyclists have protested about over several months and one where no action has been taken to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to use.

Why don’t TFL and the Mayor ban HGV’s from London during certain times, to try to prevent the majority of deaths!

Why did TFL and the Mayor decrease the congestion charge zone in the West of London? It needs to be increased to put people off driving into London each day when there are better options.

Whilst the Superhighways have seen a massive increase in cycling, the cycle lanes themselves are nothing new, a bit of blue paint and nothing else. Cyclists get no sort of priority, they are still bullied by other road users and KSI’s still happen.

Whilst the idea of making the streets safer in London is one that I will always back, TFL and the Mayor of recent have not shown a side of them which is positive.

All bicycles should be properly stored on a rack

I’m lucky to work for a good company who provides great facilities for cyclists including showers, towels and storage space for sweaty clothes. Oh I forgot, nearly 400 bicycle racks in the basement!

Bicycle Racks

The bicycle racks turn out to be not that great, unfortunately they are managed by the building management, whose main aim appears to ‘Fit as many bicycles in the space we have.’
This means we have bicycle racks which store the bikes vertically and in some cases with the racks backing on to each other in a very tight fashion that makes moving a bicycle around rather difficult.

I didn’t have a problem with the racks at first, I was using bikes with out mudguards but as I grew to dislike the dirt coloured stain in my arse area every time the ground was wet I quickly fitted mudguards on any bicycle I was regularly commuting on.

This however causes a massive problem with using the bicycle racks provided, the contact points are on the rear wheel as the bike is vertical and a loop over the front wheel. This causes obvious problems with any bicycle that has near full length mudguards as the bicycle rests most of its weight on the mudguard. I’ve so far broken/damaged 3 mudguards when trying to put my bicycle into the racks, a few months ago I decided enough is enough, I’m going to stop using them and lock my bicycle in a normal fashion to the back of the stands.

How my bicycle is locked

Locking it in such a fashion has a major advantage, no not that my mudguards no longer break but I can actually lock my bicycle securely by locking both wheels and the frame in two locations. This is not something that is possible if you use the racks as your frame is nowhere near the frame of the stand, even with a 1m chain I was unable to lock my frame to the stand.

I didn’t have any trouble locking my bike in such a fashion for a few months, then it all got heated when people started leaving their bikes in an untidy fashion for weeks on end. It causes issues with people who move around the basement, it looks untidy and it blocks people from getting in and out of their motor vehicles.
Recently e-mails have been sent to the facilities manager in the company I work for about such and that we shouldn’t be parking our bicycles in such a fashion. Obviously I quickly fired an e-mail back to him explaining the issues I have specifically about my bicycles getting damaged if I use the racks and he replied ‘I’ll raise it in the next building management meeting’. I’ve spoken to him several times since but nothing has happened yet.

A few weeks ago there was an increase in security in the basement just before 9am (when most cyclists turn up) and I’ve been questioned several times as to why I lock my bicycle where I do, obviously I mention the mudguards, mudflap and previous broken mudguards. Most don’t have an issue with me as my bike is securely parked and out-of-the-way (I park it next to a parking bay that is not used and there is plenty of space to open a car door) but one security guard recently said “Why didn’t you buy a bike which fitted in our racks?”

Last night I went to get my bike and I noticed a sign on it, from the building management.

I guess I’ll have to apply more pressure to my facilities manager.