What Constitutes Careless Driving?

I had a run in with a driver a few weeks ago. I was minding my own business in a cycle lane, when all of a sudden I had a car almost touching me and forcing me to take action to avoid a collision. The clip was forwarded to RoadSafe who forwarded it to my local traffic unit for the potential for prosecution.

According to the Road Traffic Act, Careless Driving is

A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.

I would say that driving is well below par of a competent or careful driver. The driver came only inches away from hitting my handle bars with her wing mirror and encroached into the cycle lane whilst I was using it.

I was informed yesterday that the police would not be taking matters any further. At this moment in time I am unsure why, I have asked them if they can let me know their choices behind not taking this further considering the evidence.

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A Good Result for Video Camera Cyclists

If you watch lots of cycling videos then you will know that lots of us have had various confrontations with drivers over the years and had varying degrees of success/failure with the police.

Our very own cycling lawyer has been working hard at getting a result on an incident which happened well over a year ago now. He was cycling down a road and up ahead was a pinch point, so as taught in national standards cycle training, he took control of the lane to prevent a motorist for passing him far too closely. Unfortunately a motorist behind him who’s valuable 5 seconds was just waisted by having to slow down, felt the need to sound his horn and shout at the cyclist. Further down the road the car driver was of course  held up by other motorists and at this point the motorist felt the need to threaten to take the cyclists life.

Well a long story short, the police fobed of our cyclist with his video footage but he didn’t give up, he fought his case and eventually got the driver punished for threatening or abusive words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. This resulted in him receiving over a £500 fine. Read more >

It is no doubt a great result and I’m applaud Martin for his hard work and determination to get a result. I just wish that it wasn’t required and that other threatening behaviour with a vehicle was taken more seriously. As I’ve said before it seems that the roads are un-policed and some people deem that cyclists deserve to be punished for daring to get in the way of such a powerful machine.

Good result for dangerous driving?

Fined £400 + £85 costs and 6 penalty points applied to their license. A good result for some pretty dangerous driving?

The fine is pretty substantial compared to some of the other cases I’ve seen about dangerous drivers bullying other road users. This fine was how ever for failing to nominate a driver.

The registered keeper of this vehicle was sent several letters by the Police and failed to respond to all of them. They were summoned to court for Failing to Nominate a driver and were fined £400 + £85 costs and given 6 penalty points.

It’s a shame the police couldn’t do more work to find out who the driver was a take them off our streets for good. But let’s be honest, this was probably a better results fine wise than if they were charged for dangerous driving. In fact they probably wouldn’t have been charged for dangerous driving, as the CPS pretty much always lowers the driving offence as a standard practise.

So whilst this is a good result, lets not get stray from the issue, the registered keeper may not be the driver in the video. The driver in the video may have gotten away free, we don’t know. The registered keeper could be trying to cover for a friend who may be banned, uninsured or be a wanted criminal, who knows.

You can watch footage of the incident below, the basics of it are as follows.
The driver came too close for comfort as we stopped at some traffic lights, I asked him if he could give me some more space.
The driver replied that it was OK because he hadn’t hit me.
As we set off there is a cement truck to my right and the driver gets closer and closer, my speed stays constant throughout and he edges towards me several times. When he is finally able to squeeze past (and leave me very little room) the driver then slams on his brakes trying to force me into the back of him. Luckily I’m more than aware of this stupid kind of move and I’m able to brake and swerve.

It has to be the worst incident I have had, the only one where I honestly thought I was going to get rammed of the road and potentially die. I feel that it’s a shame that the Police didn’t push more on this to find out who the driver was and get him removed from the streets!

A new way to tell drivers off for being on the phone!

I probably wouldn’t have uploaded this if I didn’t see the coppers as the camera doesn’t catch the driver on the phone whilst moving in the car. But the driver did admit to using his phone whilst driving for a brief moment.

Great timing by the local police officers!

Dangerous Pass – GY07 ***

I’m back on the road, unfortunately on 4 wheels and with an engine. I’ve had some camera mounts for a windshield for quite some time but I’ve not been able to use them because of my broken clavicle. Today was the day that I felt I could drive again and I went for a drive on some of the country roads around me. That’s one of the highlights of living in Croydon, It’s a big town, close to the city but also close to the country side.

Traveling down Shirely Church Road in Croydon when an approaching car flashed me as they where approaching a cyclist on their side of the road. I knew that it meant they didn’t care about the cyclists safety or mine and they just wanted to get passed. My instincts where to brake hard, move as far to the left as possible and sound the horn to A. warn the cyclist of the approaching danger B. to show my disapproval to the driver.

The driver passes only inches away from the cyclist and barely slowed, I honestly thought that we were either going to have a head on collision or the cyclist was going to get knocked over. Luckily neither happened but that won’t stop me from reporting this driver to Road Safe London. Unfortunately I was only able to get half the number plate but I’m hoping that it can still be traced and the driver spoken to about their actions on the road, they are quite clearly a danger to vulnerable road users and are putting their convince before the safety of others!

Remonstrating with drivers

Is it really worth remonstrating with drivers that put us in danger?

I’ve done my fair share of remonstrating, some would say that I go to far, it’s hard to control what you say when you have adrenaline pumping through your arteries. The adrenaline is usually a result of a near collision experience, a collision which could have resulted in death or serious injury.

Most people don’t like to be criticised by strangers and I think that is fair enough. But some people go to extreme lengths when they have been. Just watch the video below, the driver passes the cyclist far too close and is shortly stuck in traffic. The cyclist remonstrates with the driver about their actions only a few meters behind them and the driver clearly doesn’t like it as they shortly brake test the cyclist and then tailgate them.
They part ways but the driver, unknown to the cyclist, turns around and follows them as they stop at a petrol station, the driver continues past but pulls up on the other side of the road. As the cyclist approaches where the driver is parked, the driver pulls away and quite clearly drives towards the cyclist as they take a side road.

And another example below, where a video camera cyclist confronts a driver that didn’t stop at a zebra crossing, a rather minor driving error in the bigger picture but worth highlighting it, but doing so in person? Not so sure, this driver clearly doesn’t like being told how to drive by someone else and when a note about where to see the offending video is thrown in the vehicle and the driver is then cut up on the roundabout. The driver takes it back on the cyclist by cutting him up. It really isn’t worth remonstrating with drivers, even if these 2 are only 1 in a 100.

I stopped talking to drivers* about their bad driving quite some time ago, I find it’s best just to take a deep breath and get on with it. I have it on video and will report them to the police if need be.

* Well starting conversations, I can’t help it if people get out of their vehicle and confront me.

Do RLJing cyclists pose a risk to the rest of us?

I’ve often asked cyclists that don’t stop at red their reasons behind their behaviour. More often than not they say something along the lines of

I don’t hurt anyone by doing it and it saves me time

But is that true? It’s been said that drivers often think that all cyclists jump red lights. And they expect that every cyclist is going to continue through a red light which has just changed from amber. This is probably one of the most dangerous things to do and often a cause of collisions at junctions.

It affects those of us who stop at red lights because the drivers aren’t expecting us to stop and they want to get across the junction, this can mean any cyclist stopping at a red light which has just changed is at risk from being shunted from behind.

I was lucky in the video below, the driver just missed me, I presume he thought I wouldn’t stop.

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?

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.