Cyclist Safety

War on the roads?

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Bouncing Barlist    pirate
15/11/2013 at 11:28

What are the views here on cyclist safety and how it can be improved, particularly in light of the recent carnage in London.

Personally I think we need to change the whole culture on the roads, particularly amongst cyclists. 

It doesn’t seem to me that the current cycle policy is working, and im the safety measures local councils implement work either.  They are often narrow neglected cycle lanes with a line painted on the road or some mad cap scheme like the trial below:


Until a year ago I was firmly of the belief that drivers were overly negative to cyclists.  Having worked in London and seen the militant and selfish tendencies of many cyclists (its certainly not a minority), ive come to understand why drivers resent all cyclists so much.  Its not just in London, as a driver I see local bike groups, clubs riding with no consideration for motorists, in some cases bordering on the aggressive.

As a cyclist ive learnt to hold my space on the road, do what I can to be safe.  It just seems to me the problems are getting worse, particularly with the increasing numbers of cyclist.

What do you think, is it becoming a warzone out there?

15/11/2013 at 11:39

I know Boris has taken some stick for saying cyclists need to take more care, but he is right!

I see countless cyclists doing stupid, dangerous things in London every day.  

I walk two miles from the station to my office, and see so many cyclists go through red lights, both across traffic and across pedestrian crossings.  I saw two cyclists collide at one set of traffic lights - that was actually quite funny!

The number who have no lights and wear dark clothing is astounding.  Maybe they think that as THEY can see everyone else, so everyone can see THEM?

When I'm out with my bike club (in the country) plenty of them do stupid things like riding three abreast, taking no notice if you shout from the back that there's a car coming through.


Cheerful Dave    pirate
15/11/2013 at 12:01
Bouncing Barlist wrote (see)

As a cyclist ive learnt to hold my space on the road, do what I can to be safe. 

Me too, but the problem is that some other road users see that as aggressive behaviour, like I'm deliberately tring to hold them up.  And so it just escalates.

15/11/2013 at 12:10

I certainly see more crazy behaviour  from cyclists than I do from motorists.

I cross at the bottom of Constitution Hill every morning and the amount of cyclists that come tearing down down it while pedestrians are crossing is scary. I saw a collision between a moped and a cyclist there one morning. The moped was travelling in a straight line while the cyclist shot across the pavement and onto the road in front of him.

I've also seen one (quite deservedly) come off his bike trying to speed round a blind corner at the busiest crossing in Victoria as the lights changed.

That said, I think the way forward has to be a bit of everything - education on both sides and a range of measures at junctions and traffic light to make cyclists safer. Because whether or not the cyclist is a "fault" or not he/she is always going to be the one that comes off worst in any collision.

Edited: 15/11/2013 at 12:11
Cake    pirate
15/11/2013 at 12:24

Agree with dave London is a extreme through? I've cycled around there and from own perspective both the cyclist’s and the other road user's had a very high percentage of people who don't drive with due care and attention.

The correct system for a lot of places is ill thought out and a few town planner's need to be forced to actually ride a bike to see how their networks actually work. There appears to be a obsession with making cyclist’s use a shared path with pedestrian’s which to me is even more dangerous than using the road. A really good example from the top of my head is the cycle path along the A61 Peniston road that’s on my way into work every morning. It’s been so badly thought out that it’s not fit for purpose and everyone ends up using the road instead. There needs to be a change in culture for driver’s to give enough space and actually to look in their mirror’s and indicate there intention a lot of them fail to do so at the moment and had a few near miss’s once involving a police car to great comic effect to everyone except me.

At the same time as wilkie said not enough cyclist’s actually wear clothes they can be seen in and to many cyclist’s think it’s ok to go through red lights  Nottingham police recently had a PR campaign handing out free lights and reflective kit it timed in with the student’s coming back to the uni which probably helped.

At the end of the day anyone can get on a bike without a licence so there is a high percent of folks who don’t think about what they are doing and also think the highway code applies to everyone but themselves. I’d really like to see the police if they have time stopping cyclist’s at busy city centre junctions and arresting a few cyclist’s for running the lights. After a week or so and it getting on the telly ect the bad egg’s who embarrass the rest of us should get the message and it will save a few lives.

There are also a high number of car drivers who appear to think that the highway code applies to everyone except cyclist’s, It’s become socially unacceptable to drink and drive now. If there can be a campaign to make it unacceptable to drive in a cycle lane stop where junctions are reserved for bikes and also indicate regardless of it another car is there or not it will save even more life’s.

15/11/2013 at 12:47

Having got knocked off my hybrid a couple of weeks ago by a numpty who was just a twat who thought he could get into a driveway quicker than me and didnt see the point in indicating - I was wearing hi viz gear had a flshing front light front and back (and some from aldi on my bag and helmet) the guy saw me and moved anyway.  Most motorists are considerate but I would be happy in and around urban areas if there was a well defined area of cyclist only on the road that cars didnt park in or drive in.  I have stopped riding through the centre of town at rush hour it's just not worth it.

15/11/2013 at 12:47

TFL figures seem to suggest that only around 6% of incidents were the fault of the cyclist.  Even the leader of the Met is saying that large vehicles are the problem - lorries make up around 5% of the London traffic but around 50% of cyclist deaths have involved lorries.

In terms of safety, I have some sympathy with the LCC 'smart roads' plan where busy roads would have a separated (or partially separated) cycle path, not just some painted section, which is frequently ignored by drivers.

I've heard all the stuff about irresponsible cyclists (red-light jumpers, riding on pavements, etc.) and it's not that helpful.  I'm not a driver but I would guess that most of them have occasionally broken the Highway Code and way too many pedestrians cross the road without looking properly so no-one clearly has the moral high ground here.

Sadly this isn't a problem that is going to go away any time soon.

15/11/2013 at 13:15

I think that cyclists behaving badly and cyclist safety are largely different things.   Stats show most accidents are not the result of cyclists breaking the law but the argument that cyclists jump red lights etc is always brought up.    In fact one argument to explain the greater risk to women cyclists on London roads is that they cycle less aggressively than men, don't jump red lights, hold traffic behind them etc and so they end up in a more vulnerable position on the road at junctions.  

I'm not saying it's ok for cyclists to jump reds and ride like idiots but is this a thread about that or about safety and recent spate of deaths - because discussing both together Implies a causal link which is weak at best.   

15/11/2013 at 13:15

Had't read gavos post - basically what he said

Edited: 15/11/2013 at 13:18
15/11/2013 at 13:33

We don't know (well I don't) whether or not the cyclists who've been killed this year were in any way to blame for the accidents they were in.


Cake    pirate
15/11/2013 at 13:38

Pop they are different issue’s but related especially around London where these deaths have happened the improve road safety a big part of the change has to come from how roads are planned out and also driver’s actions that will involve a cultural change in perception this country which to an extent is already happening but not nearly enough. While I completely agree with you both about how many accidents occur and that most of the deaths are caused  by human error on the driver’s part it’s naive and also counterproductive to not address all the factors that are presently effecting how people are presently using the roads in the way they are which is causing the deaths. That’s not to say that most cyclists are riding badly most of us aren’t but there is a minority on all sides that needs to be addressed.

15/11/2013 at 13:43

irrespective of the reasons behind the deaths so far - there are levels off irresponsbility on both sides from cyclist and drivers and as gavo says, the problem is not going to go away soon, if ever.

the smart roads plan is a great idea - as has been shown to work in other countries - but our archaic road infrastructure isn't going to allow these in lots of towns and cities, so they just won't happen in volume.

ulimately education of both drivers and cyclists has to be a way forward so that both parties understand that they must live side by side

15/11/2013 at 13:58

I think every motorist should come to the Netherlands and see how they drive and act around cyclists. I think cyclists here are a lot more aggressive than those in London but it's also how the roads are made up. There are plenty of cycle lanes and paths to make sure that they are kept out of their way as much as possible.

15/11/2013 at 14:24

There's two issues here. The first is providing adequate, separated cycle routes - to me it's really the only sensible route to take where it's possible. That of course needs more than just talk - a lot of money, probably. The second is education: I'm mostly a pedestrian, sometimes a cyclist, sometimes a driver. I hope that that gives me a perspective from all directions - drivers need to be given more cyclist-awareness training; cyclists need better training, especially on their visibility and the need to follow the rules of the road; and pedestrians can behave badly too – and aren't they the most likely to be killed in London? My experience as a recent owner of a bike is that if I make myself visible and signal my intentions early and clearly, 99 per cent of drivers will respond in the right way. 

15/11/2013 at 14:27

Well said.

15/11/2013 at 15:26

I work in the borough where the two cyclists were killed in one day, I've attended over 20 fatal traffic incidents in the last 14 odd years, including three involving cyclists. The common factor in all these deaths was that changing one or two things would not have stopped all the other deaths. Everyone has an opinion on what would stop it but I can't see one that will prevent every death.

Segregation would not, in my view work for the following,
The roads inc pavement are not big enough to redevelop (most were first built when horse and carts were on them) and there is no cash to even start
Segregation makes people complacent and stop looking for danger.

People in London are always rushing from A to B, be it in cars, bikes or on foot. Try strolling down Oxford street taking in the view and you will be bumped and jostled by other pedestrians. So everyone is looking for that little gap or clear bit of road to make some progress

Car v Car = occasional injury
Car v Bike = major injury
Bike v Ped  = occasional injury
Ped v Ped  = rarely injury




15/11/2013 at 15:31

Whatever you say, Flat Footed, there ARE things that can be done to minimise risk. Whether the political will or the money is there is another issue. I'd be a big fan of making huge swathes of central London pedestrian/bikes only. Few people actually need to drive in central London. The superhighways, where a couple of the deaths have occurred recently, are a good idea done badly. I think they probably give cyclists a false sense of security. 

15/11/2013 at 15:45

Of course there are but what are they?

I'd love to see most of London pedestrianized but its not going to happen.

Unlikely that some form of bike license would work as there is no one to regulate it.

Boris has spent a fair bit on the bike for hire scheme and he's not going to force people to have a form of cycling proficiency test before they can hire one.


TheEngineer    pirate
15/11/2013 at 15:48
It's been trumpeted a few things by now but Paris have an HGV ban from 8am to 8pm. They have high levels of cycling and a comparable hire scheme in Velib. Total deaths in 2012: 0. Statistical anomaly notwithstanding, that's a remarkable feat to achieve.

Totally agree with pops in that the RLJ argument is mostly null. I jump redlights when I'm sure there is no danger (to me or others) in doing so - I wholly justify this on the benefits of clearing the junction before the buses, lorries and other life-enders can move off.

In happier news Met Police are prosecuting the driver who caused my RTI for diving without due care and attention.
cougie    pirate
15/11/2013 at 15:49
Wagons have beeping noises when they reverse. Would it not be wise for the big vehicles to have a 'turning left' noise ? That seems to be the most dangerous maneuver for cyclists ? If you hear that noise you know to be on your guard ?

Its very dangerous to undertake a wagon in the city. If the wagon overtakes you - then you rely on him for your safety.
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