The ‘primary position’ – putting UK cyclists between a rock and a hard place

Don’t worry if a driver is beeping at you. In fact, it’s good. It means the driver is aware of your presence, and has seen you.

I may not have the wording exactly right, but the above is the essence of what my Bikeability instructor told my group about the importance of riding in the ‘primary position’ – that is, in the path of cars behind you – during our first lesson last week.

A bit of history. The original RoSPA ‘Cycle Proficiency Test’ used to teach that you should cycle at the edge of the road, ensuring the maximum amount of distance between you and a passing car. (I think it is this advice that has led countless drivers to believe that there is a rule that cyclists should be ‘over to the left’ at all times, despite there being no such instruction in the Highway Code.) The ‘Bikeability’ course, which has superseded this ‘Proficiency’ test, has radically changed this advice, largely because, I suspect, motorists were increasingly choosing to pass closer and closer to cyclists. Cycling ‘over to the left’ was fine when the roads were less busy, when there was less street furniture, and when drivers were generally far better behaved towards cyclists (perhaps because roads were less busy, and it was easier to behave better). But unfortunately, that kind of positioning meant that there would always be a nice car-sized gap for a driver to squeeze through, regardless of the situation. And as drivers became more impatient and less aware of how dangerous it is to pass close to cyclists, and as traffic became heavier and street furniture increased, so that ‘keep to the left’ advice came to be seen as something of a liability.

And so arrived ‘assertive cycling’, which grew out of John Forrester’s book Effective Cycling, published perhaps not coincidentally in 1976, a time when traffic volumes were rapidly increasing, along with motorists’ impatience. John Franklin’s Cyclecraft is pretty much a direct adaptation of this advice for the U.K., and has become canonized, official government advice for how children and adults should cycle on the roads.

The argument for more assertive ‘primary’ positioning that lies at the heart of much Cyclecraft advice is that it removes the temptation to overtake a cyclist in places where it would be unsafe – in the face of oncoming traffic, for instance, or at pinch points, or junctions.  The cyclist simply prevents the overtake by putting themselves in a position where they would have to be driven over for the motorist to get past.

Now, I think this approach generally works. Most drivers are not going to drive over me. Some of them may beep at me, or get impatient, but they are not homicidal. As my Bikeability instructor so cogently put it, they are now aware of me, and by the act of beeping, have made it clear that they are not going to pass me – they are simply taking out their frustration at being ‘held up.’ But possibly one of the most serious faults with the primary position is that a minority of motorists will still be willing to squeeze past, at all costs. To this hardcore of lunatics, a cyclist’s positioning is no deterrence at all, and taking an assertive road position with these drivers actually ends up increases the cyclist’s vulnerability. Take a look at these two videos -

In the first, a strong position approaching a pinch point does nothing to stop the overtake, and actually results in the car nearly striking the cyclist. In the second, a strong position simply has to be abandoned as it becomes clear that an approaching vehicle is simply not going to slow down, and would have passed with inches to spare, at speed, if the cyclist had remained assertive.

To repeat, I think that as things currently stand, taking the ‘primary position’ will probably decrease the overall risk a cyclist faces, because it encourages more consideration from the majority of drivers. But in a minority of instances, it actively increases the danger. Obviously it is hard to weigh up the relative advantages and disadvantages of the primary position, vis-à-vis the old ‘keep to the left’ advice – but if the number of impatient and outright dangerous motorists increases, I think it is almost certain that the primary position becomes less and less safe. This becomes clear if you look at a country like New Zealand, where driving standards are very much lower than in the UK. As an expat UK cyclist observes, in reply to a question about why his positioning on New Zealand’s roads is not the more assertive ‘primary’ positioning,

You have to understand New Zealanders’ hate of cyclists and experience their attitude to really understand my road position. I am from the UK so totally understand where you are coming from, I have read Cyclecraft and think it is great for a Country with reasonable driving standards and tests and where you need a full licence to drive a car, not so good for New Zealand. I have even been told by the Police that I should be “in the gutter, because that’s where you belong.” There are so many cyclist haters and drunks on the road that you really must be carefully about riding further right.

In other words, you are likely to simply be run over if you position yourself in the path of passing cars. ‘Cyclecraft’ becomes increasingly redundant with decreasing driving standards. And this hints at a deeper truth about assertive cycling – it is a form of gambling that relies on an assessment of the proportion of safe and patient drivers that you will encounter on a day-to-day basis. If the odds change, like they do in New Zealand, then perhaps it’s not a wise bet. I am not the only cyclist who has noticed this.

Vehicular cycling and taking the primary. Great for cycling on hypothetical roads with drivers who aren’t idiots. Not so great in the real world. And as for the elderly, very young, or those less willing to be assertive and fight for space on the roads whilst taking abuse? Well they simply have to succumb to the law of the jungle and accept that cycling just isn’t for them.

And this brings me to the other problem I have with the ‘primary position’. No-one seems to have told U.K. drivers about it. Putting yourself out in the middle of the road can, in my experience, appear to some drivers as an act of deliberate provocation. They don’t have a clue what you are doing.

Like the driver of the silver Volkswagen Passat, A6 FLP, that I encountered on St Leonards Road in Horsham, just after I took this picture.

DSCN8444

The cars on the left are parked. I am stationary behind the car ahead, while we wait for oncoming traffic to clear. As we move off, and I remain in an ‘assertive’ position in the road, away from the parked cars to my left, I hear some angry revving behind me, before my Passat driver roars past with inches to spare.

As is so often the case with impatient drivers, this gentleman was merely pulling in a few yards further down the road. I stopped alongside him, informing him that his driving was needlessly hostile, only to be met with a barrage of nonsense about my ‘cycling in the middle of the road.’ All the responses I had, about staying out of the ‘door zone’, the importance of ‘primary position’, fell on deaf ears. It was like I was speaking a foreign language.

The U.K.’s official safe cycling strategy can appear perverse and unreasonable to the average motorist – because they haven’t been told about it. The only people who know about ‘Cyclecraft’ are a tiny minority of the already tiny minority of people who cycle, those cyclists who have chosen to adopt the professional advice contained within it.

In the past, we used to see excellent safety campaigns like this -

‘Steer clear of bikes.’  The emphasis is on making sure that the driver gives cyclists (who appear to be cycling over to the left) sufficient consideration.

Today the emphasis has changed. Now motorists aren’t expected to look out for cyclists, as a matter of course, or to consistently give them room. That is, apparently, too hard. So the onus has shifted to the cyclists to force motorists to steer clear of them, by putting themselves in their path. It is now up to cyclists to ‘make themselves visible’, by adopting a road position that, at first glance, appears insane. And if that wasn’t bad enough, nobody seems to have told motorists about this new official policy – a recipe for hostility.

As I cycled off from my encounter with Mr. Passat, I found myself wondering whether it is worth it, cycling in the way of motorists. Perhaps it would be better to accept the risk of a ‘dooring’ from a parked car, rather than have to put up with the honking, yelling and belligerence of ignorant drivers.

U.K. cyclists – between a rock and a hard place.

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42 Responses to The ‘primary position’ – putting UK cyclists between a rock and a hard place

  1. Donk says:

    Dunno if you’ve noticed this yourself but assuming primary position I get a lot fewer people pulling out on me from side roads and less people left hooking me (overtaking then immediatley turning left) more reasons to stick with primary I reckon the odds are still in it’s favour at the moment. But I accept your point. Just got to try not to get intimidated by the idiots and give them a wide berth when you encounter one.
    Oh and nutters endanger all road users (as I was reminded whilst out driving last night) so they need stamping out for the good of everyone not just cyclists.

  2. mikey2gorgeous says:

    Hi Stabiliser, have you come across the work of Prof John Adams (http://www.john-adams.co.uk/) and Dr Robert Davis (http://rdrf.org.uk/)? Both have written excellent books on the subject of risk and how it’s managed particularly with respect to traffic.
    Also of mention is Prof Frank Furedi (book Culture of Fear).

  3. Kim says:

    There is a very real problem that drivers feel that they own the road and they have priority over all other road users. This isn’t just an issue for cyclists, it is a considerable problem for pedestrians as well and even other drivers. Research carried for by the insurance company AXA has shown that there are about 800 deaths a year in the UK due to “disrespectful driving”. This come from sort of behaviour shown in the videos you have in this post.

    We really need the police and the courts to remind people that driving is not a right, but a privilege granted under trust by licence. Too few people seem to understand that the way you drive to pass your driving test, is the way you are supposed to drive for the rest of you life.

    It is pointless trying to explain vehicular cycling to the likes of Mr. Passat, but you can ask if he would have driven like that on his driving test and ask why he thinks he can do it now. There should be no excuses for bad driving, and we should have zero tolerance for it. Bad driving is a threat to ALL of us, now matter which way we choose to travel.

  4. Fortunately the increase in UK cycling also means that more car owners are also cyclists. Now when I drive I give a wider berth when passing and patiently follow behind at pinch points or if I know the lights ahead are red.

    Strangely I never knew what a “pinch point” was until I got back on a bike.

  5. Alternatively, wobble all over the road occasionally waving your arms and shouting profanities and everyone gives me a wide berth.

    • stabiliser says:

      Funnily enough, cycling like Forrest Gump is one of my strategies if I sense an impatient and/or dangerous driver approaching from behind.

      It seems to work.

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  7. Londonneur says:

    “Perhaps it would be better to accept the risk of a ‘dooring’ from a parked car, rather than have to put up with the honking, yelling and belligerence of ignorant drivers.”

    No it wouldn’t.

    Lunkheads sometimes get impatient when I “take the lane” but the truth is that they need to chill out a bit. They’ll get to the next delay allong with all the others in a trice!. I can only speak for London but it is fair to say that if you are in a hurry, the last place you want to be is in a car ;-}

    “Putting yourself out in the middle road can, in my experience, appear to some drivers as an act of deliberate provocation. They don’t have a clue what you are doing.”

    Using the primary position requires some other stuff to happen. Mainly “negotiation”. This way drivers do, “have a clue”. Bikeability is a set of skills that improve your experience on road NOT a set of rigid rules. My question to you would be, “What would you have us do?”. Surley not back to the gutter?

    -L

    • stabiliser says:

      Londonneur, my gripe is mainly about the fact that cyclists have been told to cycle in a certain way (which – to repeat the point I made in my post – I do believe to be the best way of ensuring my safety), but that no-one in authority seems to have concurrently told drivers that’s what cyclists should be doing.

      A recent example of this, which I may blog about, concerns a cyclist who reported a driver to Roadsafe. I’ve watched the video, and it seems the driver was upset about being ‘held up’ by the cyclist, who was in primary position, and proceeded to honk, swerve past the cyclist, brake test him, and then swear at him.

      The Met police sent out a letter of reprimand to the driver, but also told the cyclist he should have been further over to the left. Even the police don’t seem to know about ‘primary’!

      That is why cyclists have been put in a difficult position. There is no awareness out there.

      Now, to reassure you, I am not going to be cycling in the ‘door zone’ any time soon. Nevertheless, I genuinely felt very dispirited after the encounter I described, enough to think dark thoughts about whether the abuse and hostility is worth the reduced risk involved.

  8. ShannonBall says:

    Could I just say that primary position is not the be all and end all. In fact, focussing on it here is something of a red herring IMO. The video this blogger took of getting pinched at a pinch point looks to have been taken from a helmet-mounted camera. So, I have to ask, why is he not looking behind when approaching a pinch point? That would surely help warn road users behind to slow down and give him a greater awareness of any hazard from the rear. There is not one backward glance in that video.

    • stabiliser says:

      ShannonBall – none of these videos are mine. Sorry if I implied otherwise.

      In the video (I think) you are referring to, the cyclist does take a look backwards at around the 1 sec mark.

      But you kind of make my point for me.

      The list of thing cyclists have to do to stay safe is just getting a little longer. It’s not just taking primary at pinch points. Now it’s looking backwards as you approach pinch points as well.

      Why aren’t there any road safety campaigns out there, urging drivers not to overtake at pinch points? Or to not left hook cyclists? Or to tell them about why cyclists might be cycling outside the ‘door zone’?

      Instead the onus seems to be entirely on the cyclist, who must lay their body on the line, quite literally, to prevent the completely avoidable stupidity of some drivers.

      It’s ridiculous.

      • Londonneur says:

        ALL road users need to take rearward observations. That is nothing new. It’s in the highway code, it’s in Bikeability and it’s common sense. We want drivers to behave properly and so must we all. It’s not burdensome.

        There should be info campagins though…. for sure!

      • stabiliser says:

        @Londonneur – absolutely.

        However, Shannonball seemed – to me – dangerously close to suggesting that the cyclist was at fault for not giving a rearward glance.

        To my mind, it should be perfectly possible to cycle through a pinch point without looking behind, without being endangered.

        The onus should be on the driver not to overtake, rearward glance or not.

    • Multi Grooves says:

      Shannon is spot on. You’d be better off adopting the shrinking violet approach (and ride in the gutter) if you’re are going to do what the first cyclist did which was to move to the middle of the road without looking at all. You’d have thought when the first car passed, he would have taken that as a cue to have a check at what might be following behind but no. He should take some responsibility for putting himself in a position blindly.

      Something to remember: Looking back isn’t just to know what is there; it’s to also humanise yourself. You go from being an object potentially “In my f**king way” to “ok there’s someone on that bike and they’ve just made eye contact. What’s this idiot cyclist wanting to do next?” (<-the mindset of an ultra cantankerous driver.) Surely most can see the difference in potential outcomes?
      Given the uninformed, gormless and lazy "I pay road tax" argument that we've all heard ad nauseum, you could see how said driver(s) would take offence to a 'scummy' cyclist taking the lane without any signal or acknowledgement. When was the last time you saw any smiles, thumbs up, a wave or the words "thank you" from a cyclist to a driver (or even to a fellow cyclist) last week, month or year?! I rarely do. It's human psychology that we like being thanked and recognised for the little things we do. I firmly believe better manners would ease many of these potential situations. Next time you find yourself going through a pinch point get into position on time and try looking said driver in the eye with a thumb up in advance.

      • Are we watching the same video? The cyclist most certainly does look behind, as the first car is passing him. At this stage he’s clearly clocked that there’s another car behind him, because he then moves into a stronger position on the road (if I were to criticize, I would say it is not strong enough), and seems to hold it consistently through both pinch points.

        When it comes to ‘looking’, I’ve often found myself making near continuous eye contact with a driver as they basically run me sideways off the road, be it a pinch point, or due to oncoming traffic. Some drivers just don’t give a fuck. I’m not sure, either, that signals or gestures would have prevented this particular overtake. Listen to the excuses from the guy at the end. He’s a complete cretin.

        But this is all rather missing the point, which is that the onus of avoiding collisions is increasingly, and unfairly, being placed on cyclists, by encouraging them to adopt defensive strategies that drivers are completely clueless about.

        Cycling shouldn’t have to be this hard.

      • Milan says:

        “It’s human psychology that we like being thanked and recognised” this is not always easy. Giving a thank you hand gesture can be tricky when that is the same tool you need to stabilise the bike, brake, steer, ring the bell etc. Sometimes tipping the head can suffice when the driver is in the opposite direction but this doesn’t work in other locations. As much as I want to thank a considerate driver, sometimes it’s just too risk to take your both hands off the handle bar. Some of the routes on my way to work are so bad (e.g. cobbled streets) that it would be almost suicide to even take either hand off the handle bar just to turn signal. Just have to go slow, use the head to gesture the turn if appropriate and anticipate any pedestrians/cars that look like they may not have noticed.

  9. ShannonBall says:

    You know, even among considerate drivers, look back a lot.

    • stabiliser says:

      Yep. Communication is good.

      However, I don’t think rearward glances would have helped in the two video examples I’ve linked to here. Those drivers were coming through regardless.

      And it’s that kind of driving that is the problem.

  10. Pingback: More on the ‘primary position’ | As Easy As Riding A Bike

  11. Matt Polaine says:

    I think it is worse than you describe. Not only am I an ultra long distance Audax cyclist, I am also a National Escort Group (NEG) motorcyclist. I decided to take up this role to help turn around the shocking decline in road cycle events in the UK due to local authorities wanting greater H&S ‘risk reduction’ and the police costing more and more. Indeed the police in many counties don’t like cyclists on the road at all. Civilian NEG work with retired/off-duty police riders to escort/marshal cycling events like the Tour of Britain.

    As a motorcyclist in full NEG gear and glaring high intensity hazard lights I still get drivers looking right through me – SMIDSY – frankly these idiots need their licence revoked.

    In cycle races I can only ‘ask’ drivers to stop at a junction (only the police can hold traffic with few caveats for others/countries/counties) while the peloton hurtles by, yet I still get “….I pay ‘Road Tax’, you lot don’t, so get out of my f….ing way….”. Indeed some of the police motorcyclists I work with have had drivers pass two police marshalling riders and crash into the front of the peloton. It would seem that unless one can block the road with a tonne or more of metal, a certain number of drivers will do ANYTHING to just keep going.

    There is little law enforcement to resolve this conflict, although police motorcyclists (and the rare bobby on a bike) will be far more sympathetic towards two wheelers for obvious reasons – they’ve experienced it themselves, and this is the main issue. So many police, barristers and judges only walk or drive. They have no idea…

  12. Leif says:

    My interpretation of the first incident is that the error was not in taking the primary position, but in not taking it hard enough. Yes, staying closer to the left would have minimised the impact of the car overtaking where it shouldn’t. However, what I tend to do at such pinch points is that a fair bit before I get to it, I start slowly moving across even further to the right, being _at least_ at the centre of the lane. If the lane is wide, I go to the right of the centre. In my experience, drivers are much more reluctant to undertake at all than to overtake unsafely.
    This way, there is no room for the car to go through without going over – as in your description in the introduction.

    I started taking this approach after a couple of incidents like the one above, and have had no such problems since (although I have at least once heard a car break hard behind me at the last moment).

    But, yes, it is somewhat disconcerting that it is not a prerequisite for a driving licence to be aware that the correct position for any road user is the centre of their lane, and staying left of that position is a courtesy extended to drivers by cyclists.

  13. wornsaddle says:

    Riding assertively between traffic is completely different depending on the speed you’re going, and the amount you communicate with drivers. I see snail slow riders attempting the so called primary position without acknowledging drivers and it’s painful to witness. Even the most ethical and bike loving driver will be tested. You are dead right though – most drivers are dead confused by riders moving out into the centre. As one old lady shouted to me ‘you’re all over the road’. Little did she know im an ex pro. Point, eye contact, acknowledgment, be pleasant and cool.. someday they’ll learn

    • wornsaddle says:

      Oh yeh I’m in nz. The situation is similar to london where I rode for 8 yrs ie manageable. Sydney is hands down most awful place to ride in world I left the city because if it sad and sick

  14. Leif, taking the primary position “hard” in this kind of situation may always have worked for you so far, and it may always go on doing so, but my opinion is there are a certain number of drivers on the road with whom it does not work. As Stabiliser says, they are going to go through regardless. The cyclists who have these encounters and react in the way you are advocating don’t survive to post their experiences on blogs like this one.

    I have seen the (London Metropolitan) police figures where they break down, by type, the type of collisions that result in death or serious injury to cyclists. While most of these involve the cyclists going straight on and the motorist turning (right or left hook), a significant number, around 10%, and comparable to the number of “doorings”, are categorised as “cyclists hit by motor vehicle from behind”.

    Adopting primary position reduces the risks of some kinds of collisions but increases the risk of others. The risk of being hit from behind is not negligible compared to that of other types of crashes, as often claimed in the rationale for “vehicular cycling”. Primary position is, as the original post says, always a gamble.

    • Londonneur says:

      “Primary position is, as the original post says, always a gamble”

      So is leaving the house.

      Remember, there are some things you can do that are much more risky then cycling. One of them is not cycling. On average cyclists live longer.

      The Bikability syllabus improves the odds even more if you do it right, which involves a much broader approach then just simply “taking the lane”. Dynamic risk assesment…. There are no fixed rules.

      -L

    • Leif says:

      But what you are describing here is a driver running over a rider going in a straight line, unless you have misread my original post to say “just before a pinch point, wildly swerve out”, which it did not.

      Your statistics of number of cyclists hit by motor vehicle from behind lacks the vital detail as to whether taking a hard primary position or not in any way affects this. You also do not present it with enough detail to describe whether variants “cyclist slips, gets hit from behind” is included. Or indeed, dark conditions, no lights, no reflectors.

      10% of bicycle deaths/serious injuries being caused by a visible bicycle moving in a straight line being hit from behind by car moving in the same straight line sounds somewhat implausible.

      To me, a car actually hitting a moving, visible, non-swerving bicycle from behind can have two possible causes:
      1: The driver is actively trying to hit the bicycle.
      2: The driver is not paying any attention whatsoever to the road in front of him/her.

      I just don’t see either of the above being highly affected by the cyclist taking the primary position or not.
      For (1), the only potential increase in risk I see is the cyclist annoying the driver by using the primary position, causing a homicidal rage.
      For (2), you would probably end up more at risk in some situations (driver turning right), less in others (driver turning left) and about the same in others (driver going straight).

      • Pete says:

        I know I’m replying a year late, but what the hell!

        Your reference to ‘homicidal rage’ is not far from the truth. I remember a friend who got into an argument with an impatient motorist over exactly this issue, leading to the said motorist pursuing him (van chasing bike) down the street while shouting furiously that he was going to ‘run him down’ – my friend only escaped by nipping up a narrow allyway where the guy couldn’t follow.

        The point, for me, is that taking primary position means being assertive and hard-nosed, and being prepared to cope with a shouting match with an angry motorist. Taking the primary position is fine if you enjoy confrontation, but its really not going to encourage anyone who isn’t particularly tough about such things to start cycling.

      • Leif says:

        Replying “to myself”, as apparently replying to responses is not possible (?).

        Pete:
        In fact, my experience is exactly the opposite. Since last year I have had incidents in exactly three spots in my daily commute. And more than one in each. After all such incidents, having replayed the situation in my mind from the point of view of the driver, the only mistake I could find on my behalf was in not taking the primary position hard enough. After adjusting my positioning at these particular points to a new extreme (just left of the central line), I have had no further issues.

        The biggest problem I have found with traffic planning in the UK is that it without any exemption treats the car as the important element, and everything else as obstructions to get out of the way of the car. At any point where a driver actually needs to give priority to anyone else, there are signs put up to this effect, or there are traffic lights. Furthermore, in the case of toucan crossings, the priority is always on the side of the driver. This means that the average UK driver does not tend to consider the option of having to give priority to anyone, so anywhere there’s enough space to squeeze through, (s)he will go for it. Hence the only way to not be treated like some rubbish in the gutter which they will try to avoid lest it scratches their paint, is to force them to think of you as a car (or at least a motorcycle).

        The point of the primary position is to place yourself where an approaching driver is left with exactly two options:
        1) Actively try to kill you.
        2) Obey the highway code, and treat you like (s)he would any combustion-propelled road user.

        If you end up being in the path of a genuine homicidal maniac, being on the road at all is probably going to be an unsafe option, regardless of where on it you were.

  15. I realise all that, nevertheless, my point stands, which was aimed at correcting the myth that the risk of being hit from behind is negligible. It is actually similar to the risk from dooring. This knowledge is useful for informing the dynamic risk assessment as to when to take the primary position and when not to.

    I repeat what I wrote in another post. I have known riders thoroughly versed in Bikeability seriously injured and killed on UK roads. While I can’t scientifically deduce anything from this, it suggests to me that Bikeability doesn’t improve the odds that much. The thing that does seem to improve the odds is experience: years spent cycling, encountering every possible situation.

    • Londonneur says:

      “I can’t scientifically deduce anything from this, it suggests to me that Bikeability doesn’t improve the odds that much. The thing that does seem to improve the odds is experience: years spent cycling, encountering every possible situation.”

      You are quite right. You can’t deduce anything from that.

      I rode in London for decades before ever I clapped eyes on Bikeability. It seemed to me to be a rather excellent condensation of what I had come to myself through experience. The syllubus was developed by many experienced cyclists. To a newbie, it represents a great blob of ready made “experience” that they can draw on. Not a substitute for years in the saddle but a great help none the less. I have never told a trainee that it is a “myth” that cycists get rear ended. They need to look back often enough to know what is going on back there.

      I’m all for critique…. it’s good. But I will reapeat myself and ask again. What would you have us do differently? On the road, there is a time for assertion and a time for accomodation. I deliver Bikability day on day and it helps people to ride which, on average, is a great thing for them.

  16. To answer Leif, there are no more details about this 10%. This is just the police categorisation. It must include many slightly different scenarios, but it is basically just those crashes that involve a cyclist and motorist when both are travelling in the same direction and neither is turning. As such, the figure sounds plausible to me.

    The possible causes of such generic “cyclist hit from behind” crashes are more varied than your two options. Many must be overtaking manoeuvres which go wrong. Another thing that I guess happens is that stupid, but not actually homicidal, motorists think they can punish the cyclist in their path by clipping or bumping them, not realising that this will cause them to come off.

    To answer Londonneur, I don’t think there is much we can do differently in terms of training. I do question whether the concentration of the UK cycling organisations and UK cycling resources on Bikeability is delivering worthwhile results long-term. As “Freewheeler” pointed out on his Waltham Forest blog, we have a 50+ year history of emphasising training for cyclists in the UK, corresponding to a 50-year downward trajectory in cycle use. I don’t think the promotion of training for vehicular cycling is ever going to give us the critical mass to make us any safer. I view it as just reinforcing the car-dominated status quo, making cyclists pretend to be motor vehicles in order to survive.

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  18. jessicabullock1essica says:

    its a shame people don’t cycle more, I’ve recently started and it is quite difficult to cycle on the roads! i got my bike from http://www.cyclexpress.co.uk which was a very useful website.

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  20. EricD says:

    “Why aren’t there any road safety campaigns out there, urging drivers not to overtake at pinch points?”

    Motorists Please do not overtake cyclists through pedestrian refuge

    You would think a council would re-think dangerous features, instead of erecting 9-word signs.
    I’ve met a white van that decided to overtake on the wrong side of the refuge, but this is not to be recommended !

    • paulc says:

      why on earth would “ProfusionCustoms” have put in a copyright claim? Was it because their logo was on the van?

  21. Pete says:

    I wonder about the purpose of these deliberatly-created choke points.

    If you constrict part of a hose-pipe, or narrow a stream, the water flows faster, not slower, through the narrowing. And that appears to be what happens with motorists approaching these supposed ‘traffic-calming’ measures. They try to overtake any cyclist to ensure they get to the choke-point first, or they try to get through it before that vehicle coming the other way reaches it.

    I’m curious as to whether these things were ever really tested for how they worked in practice before being installed in roads.

    Another point is that I often think road traffic engineers need to think a bit more about moral philosophy! And to pay more attention to Kant’s catagorical imperative. That is, to treat people as ends-in-themselves rather than as a means-to-an-end.

    Becuase all too frequently they seem to treat cyclists and pedestrians as merely human speed-bumps, a means to the end of persuading drivers to slow down. This appears to be the logic behind choke points and the whole ‘shared space’ concept.

  22. You need some new videos. Neither of them show a cyclist taking the primary position.
    Bicycling in traffic is a dance you lead: http://vimeo.com/9827254

  23. paulc says:

    the “Stay Clear Of Bikes” video is now private :(

  24. paulc says:

    Unfortunately, infrastructure like this:

    http://goo.gl/maps/7m56z

    Merely encourages them to drive through you and blame you for not being in the lane…

    note, the cycle lanes only exist for the refuges… but I’ll bet they got counted towards the total distance for the city and county… :(

  25. Pingback: Hand me my gun, I’m cycling to the shops | The Alternative Department for Transport

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