Cyclists are extremely vulnerable users of any road. Due to the weight, materials and speed of motorbikes, cars, vans, lorries and buses when there is an accident the cyclist will always be the worst off.
I believe that the characteristic of car drivers that are annoying to riders can all be summed up into one general category – intimidatory driving. Whether this is intimidatory driving from the rear or overtaking both could have the same consequences.
I have been subject to intimidatory driving on numerous occasions from drivers and each occasion it was because they were unable to overtake; not that I was riding in a manner to prevent them overtaking; but that the road and traffic prevented them from doing so.
The 2 most dangerous incidents I will describe below:
On one occasion I was riding through Farley Mount, towards Crabb Wood, where the road is only just wide enough for a single vehicle. While I was cycling along the road a Land Rover drove up behind me. While I was to the left-hand side of the road there was still insufficient space for the car to overtake, due to the width of the road and there were no lay-bys for me to pull into. Although this did not prevent the driver from making 3 or 4 attempts to overtake me. Each attempt only just avoided running me off the road.
In the end, for my own safety, I made the decision to ride in the middle of the road preventing the driver from attempting another dangerous manoeuvre.
I will admit that this was a selfish and road hogging position to take. But, the choice was to either block the very narrow road, annoy the driver and to not have them undertaking a dangerous overtake. Or, have them risk running me off the road on a very narrow country lane.
The second occasion was along Hocombe Road on my commute to work.
Many larger vehicles use this winding road as a rat-run and thereby avoiding the traffic lights and congestion along Bournemouth/Winchester Road, through Chandler’s Ford.
While the road has two lanes and cars can overtake with ease between pinch points and bends in the road. Lorries find this a lot more difficult as they accelerate slower and need a long stretch of road that is completely clear to complete to overtake safely.
On this occasion there was a Pantechnicon sized horse transporter behind me that I could sense was becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to overtake. I could hear the driver revving their engine and feel them getting closer to my rear wheel.
At one pinch point we all had to stop at a set of temporary traffic lights. At the green light I wasn’t slow in pulling away but that didn’t prevent the driver in trying to overtake and if I hadn’t have banged on their cab I would have been run off the road.
Why do some drivers believe that they must be allowed to get to their destination, at the safety of cyclists and other road users?
Would the vehicle drivers have attempted such dangerous manoeuvres had they been overtaking another vehicle?
STYLES OF OVERTAKING A CYCLIST
1 – The most dangerous over takers are those that appear to try their best to get as close as possible (does not respect cyclists).
2 – Those drivers that move out slightly and give you a bit of room, but to quote a school report “there is room for improvement” (they respect cyclists).
3 – The give more room than those that respect cyclists, but not quite as much as moving into the opposite/2nd lane (they are a friend to cyclists).
4 – The drivers who pull completely into the other lane (they are a cyclist).
5 – The weirdest ones are the drivers who overtake very close to the cyclist, but pull out further into the road once they have overtaken.
Again, I must ask myself why some car drivers think that passing within a few inches of an unprotected cyclist, to get to their destination a few seconds quicker, is acceptable?
From my own experience the number of vehicles overtaking, very closely, increases dramatically at night; why is this?
What makes overtaking a cyclist less dangerous in the dark?
From my own experience there is also an increase in close overtaking when on a specific section of Otterbourne Road. The section from Tilden Lane and Shepherds Lane, when travelling north, and from Compton to Shepherds Lane, when travelling south, has a white line to the left-hand side I have come to name the ‘Magic White Line’.
This line is not marking out a specific cycle lane and would appear to just be s slightly wider edge to the road/gutter area. However, cycle within this white line, or even on it, and it would appear to bestow magical powers to every cyclist.
Before this white line the vast majority of vehicle drivers will pull out and give you either half a lane or a full lanes width when overtaking.
Cycle in this area and suddenly the vast majority of vehicle drivers are passing without moving away from the white line at all.
Why does the appearance of a white line provide a reason to overtake a cyclist closer than without?
From my own experience many drivers do get annoyed when cyclists aren’t permanently using the cycle lanes.
The Highway Code states:
Cycle Routes and Other Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.
Should a very experienced cyclist, who may quite easily cycle at 15-18mph on a normal road, ride on the shared surface pavement/cycle lane where they could be a danger to pedestrians. Many people may make the point that cyclists should then slow down so that they do not pose a danger to the pedestrians.
But again, an inconvenience to the dedicated cycling commuter/cyclist solely to remove the cyclist from the road.
While cycle paths have been provided to separate cyclists from vehicles they are not always in the most practical locations. Often shared surfaces with pedestrians; crossing junctions; up and down kerbs, etc. It appears that they have been installed at to reduce any possible delay to vehicles rather than at the safety and convenience of cyclists
Does a cyclist on a road, where there is an adjacent cycle path, justify the abuse from some vehicle drivers?
Within an article published on the BBC News website on Thursday 22nd November 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46294511, the government has appointed a Cycling and Walking ‘Champion’ to ensure that the Department of Transports policies meet the needs of all road users.
The government also suggests that Motorists should be offered cheaper car insurance if they attend a course making them more aware of cyclists on the road.
Other proposals include encouraging all Local Authorities to spend 15% local infrastructure funding on cycling and walking.
Plus, a dedicated Police Unit to look at the dash cam/Go Pro footage, from cyclists, of dangerous behaviour from drivers.