cyclists - the big question

So it comes as sad news that that 5 cyclists have lost there lives this month in London.

BUT as someone who rides in London every day to me it does not come as a surprise. Im glad to see the government is investing, but how many cyclists are road aware. Every day i see stupid things and jumping red lights is scratching the surface. I watched a guy today squeezing between a skip lorry and a bus and it was so close as they started to move i closed my eyes as i was sure he was going to get squashed.

Now i know “bikers” are no angels, and we often break the speed limits etc, BUT we also have outstanding breaking ability and are head to toe in protective gear. Cycles by comparison are SO SO vulnerable and seem not to notice.

While i think its terrible what happened i think education for this most vulnerable of all road users is key, building roads away from other road users is not going to help cyclists in traffic or on roads where there are other road users. Already some seem to think too ride side by side blocking a whole bus lane and holding up rush hour traffic is a smart thing to do. Riding round regents park are 3/4 abreast almost blocking the whole road a times when i leave and come home.

The volume of cyclists jumping lights is staggering, its prob a figure of around 30 or 40% if we as bikers jumped lights like this can you imagine the outrage!!

I know bikers take a lot of rap about speed, well truth be told on a sunday on good roads you might have a point BUT for the most part in town i sometimes think car driver mistake moneverability for speed and I’m far to aware of how f**ked I’m going to be if a skip lorry turns on me or a bus fails to see me, its not that he won’t stop its that he won’t even know he’s hit me and its something i think about everyday. Cyclists seem to be oblivious, they seem to have some “well you should stop as I’m a cyclist rule”

What I’m wondering is - what money is being spent to ensure cyclists understand how to ride, what traffic does and what to look for.

The only difference i feel between “us” and them is the education we constantly receive, from test level upwards. the reasons for wearing helmets, leather, back protectors etc and in town most cyclists can knock along at 25mph no problem almost keeping up with us in t-shirt, shorts and no helmet. Is it really any surprise so many people are getting hurt?

One thing i would also add is - i used to cycle in town a lot more than now, and in those days i never wore a helmet, its only since riding a motorbike i always wear a helmet and some sort of gloves to protect me hands. I wonder if most cyclists realise we don’t wear the the protection incase we come off at speed, we wear it incase some nob does not see us and takes us out in normal heavy traffic and that is when we are at our most vulnerable.

…just thinking about this. Something has to be done.

My thought was a short-term amnesty to allow cyclists to ride on pavements if they’re nervous on the road…as long as they keep the speed down and avoid pedestrians it could reduce the death-rate. :ermm:

Well said Rixxy, I completely agree, and it needs to start at a grass roots level. I am taking real care to make sure that my kids have road sense and are clear, not just about the rules of the road, but about how they must behave, to ensure they can be seen, that they have been seen before they do something etc etc.

When I was a kid I got trained by the scouts, or the cubs, you had to get your cycling proficiency and it gave me a start at least. But, really I think it should be taught at school, in some form at least.

Whilst the above may go some way to help the next generation, it’s not going to help the current lot sadly who have missed out I think. Bikesafe but for cyclists perhaps?

I will admit, as I did on Triangs thread, that some roads are clearly dangerous and need to be changed, 3 deaths on Bow roundabout this year cannot just go down to poor cycling (or driving), there must be something else, and it needs fixing very soon, but, that wont help the millions of other junctions in the UK which all have their own specific dangers, what needs to be done is some form of advanced training or assessment that provides people with the means to assess these dangers themselves.

There has been a fantastic attitude change in this country over the past few years in regard to cycling and getting more people on two wheels, but with it, amongst a few, has come some pretty poor attitude, that you alluded to in your post, that somehow, because cyclists have a right to use the road it is everyone else responsibility to look after them, and because they are the most vulnerable road user it seems some abdicate their own responsibility to themselves completely, dark clothing and no lights at night for example, and then its someone else’s fault if they get hit! this is a tragically naïve outlook which can only end in disaster.

Some of the advertising aimed in support of bikers recently may well prove to be effective, as might the ones aimed at bikers and speed for example. Perhaps a similar technique aimed toward cyclists is called for also.

who knows, All I am sure of is that the standard of road use is pretty poor by some and a little education would go a long way towards keeping some folk a lot safer than they currently are. it just isn’t feasible to segregate cyclists from traffic, they need to be trained how to mix with it safely, and there are so few opportunities for that to happen at the moment.

but if anyone is interested here is one

Another perspective - I cycle to work everyday, and although I obey the laws, I get **** on by all vehicle types. It’s scary to be honest how close drivers and bikes ride past me at speed. I don’t jump red lets, but it’s tempting if only to get away from the twats that came flying past me at 40mph a few inches from my arm.

I’d say segregate cyclists from rest of traffic, but sadly that can’t happen as we don’t have the infrastructure, so we just have to get along :smiley:

If possible I’d say cyclists should do the same (if not very similar test) to motorbikes. The lessons learnt are totally transferable.

rixxy you nailed it with one sentence “well you should stop as I’m a cyclist rule”. I wouldn’t surprised as one (if not more) of those poor souls has been killed because of that. This seems to be really some stupid believe that all vehicles will brake and give “Your majesty cyclist” a clear path to cruise along. As you said if any of us done that on the bike, or in the car we have at least write of vehicle not to mention injuries or life loss. I guess the only reason why people, the only reason why I brake is lack of insurance from the cyclist, I’m not going to teach a lesson some idiot at my expense, one day some lorry or bus will.
Cyclists, same as pedestrians, seems to lost the ability to understand the braking distance on wet surface, idea of changing lanes with any kind of indication of their intentions, and so on…

The cycle licence or at least CBT like training, have to apply, no matter how much money will be spend on road development, how many blue or green lines will be painted, how many ASL lines will be added, this not going to help. (I don’t believe cyclists know how to enter and use ASL). We can moan all day, the policy seems to be clear:

  • I **** up your roads so only cyclist will get anywhere and park anywhere, and everywhere will be 10mph or 20mph and speed cameras (Boris)
  • We **** up your life to the extent that you will use motor vehicle once a year and even then shared with 4 friends to cover costs of running (Tory)

Can we do anything with it? Yes, how easy was to gather few thousand bikes for Biggest Poppy, maybe time to do something similar with slogan “You want cycle safer, pass the tests”


Having followed this subject over the last few years the following is what I have picked up from reading news reports and commentaries:

Many off the cyclists fatalities seem to be caused by lorries - this is probably linked to the fact that the recent London construction boom has brought many more lorries than is usual onto London’s streets.

Consequently many of the fatalities are the result of cyclists getting dragged into the lorries rear wheels and crushed when the lorry driver, high up in his cab simply does not see them as they drive through the streets or take turns at junctions - and not as a result of recklessness on the cyclists part - in fact it has been suggested that the disproportionate number of female cyclists getting killed is precisely because female cyclists are more likely to obey the rules of the road than their male counterparts - by obeying the rules and not taking evasive action the female cyclists are effectively sitting ducks for large vehicles - in contrast cyclists (mostly male) who when presented with a potentially dangerous situation are more likely to break the rules of the road in the form of unorthodox evasive manoeuvers like hopping onto the pavement or going the wrong way round a traffic island in order to get out of the way of a lorry are actually increasing their chances of survival.

I think cycling is a positive and progressive transport solution - and the only way to increase cyclists safety would be to build a fully comprehensive system of bicycle superhighways along all the major roads in London separating cyclists from the traffic with kerbing - although some of these routes have appeared there are not enough of them at the moment.

Obviously there are practical/economic and political factors that will decide whether or not more of these dedicated cycling highways will be built.

I have read that before somewhere Ninja, like you say the blokes tend to shoot red lights & get out of danger, while women sit & wait for the lights to change, even if its next to a truck that’s about to turn left…

I think it comes down to danger awareness also, none sits in a dangerous situation on purpose, but no realising its dangerous is different. Skip lorrie in general have a lot to answer for, having been taken out myself and got a very lucky escape i still see them today driving recklessly with very little regard for others.

The number of people i see squeezing up the side of large vechicals on cycles is just a disaster waiting to happen. Its like they need to be taught they need to take a step back and think before doing anything - “what would happen if this lorry moves and he has not seen me”

Now I’m off out on my push bike for a bit :slight_smile:

First of all, this is terribly sad-we can all pass comment safe in the knowledge that however bad a cyclist you are, nobody set out to get killed.

I am a confident cyclist, I don’t commute but am more than happy on Oxford St in rush hour. One thing I noticed yesterday was that on a busy street, due to the traffic the cycles, buses and motorbikes do similar speeds. Now bear with me…it seems like even though they are all doing a similar speed, they still take up their default road positions is cyclist in the gutter. When I ride on the outside of large vehicles I feel in control. There are a different set of hazards to look out for, you have to sprint from traffic lights but at least you are visible.

That brings me on to the two types of cyclist: as arrogant as some think they are, I bet the accident stats aren’t with experienced cycle couriers. The person who runs a red light would probably be able to get out of a narrowing gap between truck and kerb.

So where am I going with this? Training for the less experienced cyclist is key. If you get knocked off running a red then tough titties. If you have come to cycling recently either to get fit or cut your commuting costs you need to go into London cycling with your eyes wide open. This includes no listening to music or dressing like a ninja after dark.

A lot of newer cycle commuters will have purchased bikes through cycle to work: could there be a compulsory training on this scheme?

Yeah - as bikers I think we can relate to this - I often feel safer in heavy or fast traffic when I am taking the initiative - that means using the speed and manoeuvrability of the bike to quickly get past and stay ahead of vehicles/scenarios that look dangerous - it also means being prepared to bend the rules when bending the rules is obviously safer than following them.

From my own experience if you ride around rush hour London strictly following the highway code the more aggressive traffic takes all kind of liberties with you - if you ride like a courier - fast, assertive and decisive you will have a much easier time of it - you have to have an assertive riding style in London - otherwise you will literally get overlooked by other traffic and expose yourself to more danger.

If you can’t write it in two sentences, its not worth reading. I scanned and read the word cyclist, yes, they are all useless feckers and should be banned from using the roads.

A lot of good comments here. I used to ride bicycles a lot (back in the day) 200miles a week commuting through rush hour traffic. Now, as some know, I drive a hgv around central London. So I can both sides to this argument.
A couple of (hungover induced) thoughts. I would rather cyclists jump red lights IF it means they are away from my nearside at the lights. Even with 3 nearside mirrors, it doesnt mean I can see you. Quick example - last thurs a woman on a boris bike. I was sat in traffic, I saw her approach my inside…but didnt see her pop out the front. She’d fallen off and was laying on the ground in my blind spot.
If she had been without lights on the front, I might not have seen her approach and no amount of underslung bars would have stopped my back wheels going over her.
Ive seen it all. Drunks on bikes, bikes going the wrong way up a one way, headphones on, 2 up on a single push bike! Yet what amazes me is that its always the highly intelligent ones that get killed!
There are a LOT of cyclists that have this “you need to look out for me” attitude. However, if you dont use lights, or wear high viz, how am I suppose to see them? Its all well and good sticking them in a lorry’s cab to show them but in the real world it isnt like that. When im turning left, I have to look ahead, to make sure im not going to clip the car/pizza delivery guy who’s gone into the asl zone facing me or that i wont run into the back of the vehicle in front. I have to check my rear offside, to make sure im not going to clip anything to my right and my nearside to make sure im not going hit anything there too. Throw in a few dozy pedestrians who might step off the kerb, the fact its dark and or raining and Im doing all this, ALL at the same time, every time I turn.
Personally, I think bikes should be allowed to go through red lights if they intend to turn left (at their own risk)
Yes there are badly designed junctions (Bow rab for example) Yes there are some poor hgv drivers (tipper lorry drivers get paid on the number of trips they do so tend to race around) but ultimately its the cyclist that needs to take responsibility for their own actions. Make themselves seen, to be seen.

Maybe a poster campaign along the lines of “Behind or in front but never beside” would be a start.

Extreme but to the point.

Thanks for the insight into what it’s like driving an HGV around London - I’ve always had respect for anyone who can drive one of those huge f*cking things in heavy London traffic and in streets that were laid out in the 18/19th century to take horses and carts!

Personally I wouldn’t fancy it - my blood pressure goes up just riding a motorcycle around London rush hour - don’t reckon I could cope with an HGV!

I totally get how difficult it must be to spot cyclists - as you are totally surrounded by blind spots - I reckon the only solution is proper segregation of the cycling/motorised traffic along the major routes.

Cheers Ninjajunkie. The point I was trying to get across is, there’s a dozen different hazards you have to spot, all happening at the same time. Often you will have several cyclists around you and you have to keep track of them all. You might have one on the inside, one on your offside and it only takes a second for them to move and you’ve lost track of where they are.
Wearing dark clothing and with no FRONT light and you won’t spot them coming up from behind.
As I said above, i just want them gone. I curse cyclists that sit there and DON’T go through red lights and then pull away as I do.

You know what, thanks for saying that.

I know my size when I’m getting near other vehicles, ESPECIALLY buses and lorries.

Am I some sort of genius for having worked out I need to see their face when I’m getting by to make sure they see me?

That’s all.

There’s an additional peripheral mirror (out of camera shot) just above the passengers head but unless its properly adjusted and you actively look, you can see how this cyclist could be missed?

…Now imagine its dark and you’ve rain/condensation on your window/mirrors too?

Excellent posts Niteowl. You are clearly a very responsible HGV driver and all credit to you for actively trying to keep other road users safe. Sadly, not all drivers are as careful and it is possible that some of the deaths may have been a result of poor observation by incompetent, inexperienced, or over-tired drivers.

To help remind cyclists how vunerable they are maybe trucks should all now have a sticker on their left bumper saying “CYCLISTS BEWARE- risk of DEATH if you pass on the inside!”

Back this up with a poster campaign at every junction where an accident like this has happened and we might see a reduction in the number of casualties.