More on the ‘primary position’

(This is a follow-up to this post.)

UK cyclists are a curiously self-flagellating species.

The cyclist in this recent video is subject to not one, not two, but three ‘left hooks’ in succession, from a series of motorists who cut dangerously across his path instead of pausing, for what would only be a brief moment, behind him.

In the description below the video, the cyclist muses that he

Probably should take primary position here.

I think that would, on balance, have been a good strategy. Positioning yourself further out in the road would mean that any driver planning on cutting it fine across your bows when they take an exit would have to take even more of a chance to swerve out around you. I think it would – maybe – have discouraged the last of the three overtakes in the video, although probably not the motorcyclist.

What I find interesting, however, is the strong whiff of self-criticism that appears in these videos. You often find the poster writing comments like, ‘my positioning was not good enough’, ‘I left the door open’, or ‘I wasn’t fully aware that the driver was about to do something completely stupid.’

The reckless driving itself seems to take a back seat in the analysis.

To repeat the point that I made in the earlier post, the attitude being reflected by these cyclists is that the onus is on them to prevent other people’s stupidity. But we don’t expect this kind of behaviour from other road users. To give a parallel example to that in the video, I don’t think there is going to be any official advice appearing any time soon that suggests motorway drivers should start straddling lanes to prevent dangerous late overtakes/exits onto slip roads, for instance. A ‘primary position’ for motorists, if you will.

So why should it be different for cyclists, especially when they are one of the most vulnerable road users?

What is compounding the problem is the total lack of awareness of the reasoning behind ‘assertive’ road positioning. Take a look at this video.

Again, we see a cyclist taking a strong position, to prevent what would be a stupidly close overtake into oncoming traffic. This ‘provokes’ the driver behind into honking, squeezing through anyway, then swerving, braking, and blocking the cyclist.

The cyclist quickly reported this driver to the Met Police’s Roadsafe scheme.

The outcome? A letter was sent to the cyclist which, as well as – slightly astonishingly – reprimanding him for his ‘aggressive behaviour’, also advised him that he should have been further over to the left.

I’m one of those who once got warned via letter for overly aggressive behaviour, and I thought that was a little over the top as the woman concerned had just nearly wiped me out. I thought I’d been incredibly restrained, to be honest, and didn’t even swear…. Of course this particular letter rather cut themselves, as its main point advised wrongly that I should be riding to the left instead of taking the lane up Leaves Green hill.

So it’s not just your everyday driver who doesn’t have a clue about why cyclists might be cycling ‘in the middle of the road.’

Apparently the Met Police also know nothing at all about the ‘primary position’, and in fact write letters to cyclists informing them that they are cycling too far over into the road.

It’s enough to make you weep with despair.

This entry was posted in Dangerous driving, Road safety, Transport policy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to More on the ‘primary position’

  1. Donk says:

    That first video is on my commute home and it is like that all the time, loads of people cut you up, oncoming traffic turning right without looking can add to the mix too. Primary helps, not 100% effective but most of the time it works.

    2nd video is shocking as it the mets response.

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