May 15, 2006

Highway Code – written by motorists for the benefit of motorists?

Follow-up to Highway Code from Cycling to and around Warwick University

Apparently the Highway Code is entirely within the remit of the Driving Standards Agency. 67% of the staff are driving examiners.

Advice for Pedestrians, Cyclists and Horse Riders is mostly directed to getting them to do what drivers want them to do; keep out of the way so motor vehicles can have the roads to themselves.

Pedestrians and Cyclists are told to wear light coloured, fluorescent or reflective clothing – for the convenience of drivers (Rules 3 & 56). No mention that drivers should use light coloured, fluorescent or reflective cars so that they can be easily seen, nor that they should wear racing car standard helmets. Yet the latter would bring significant benefits in preventing neck and head injuries.


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  1. Cara Williams

    Like it or not, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists all use the roads. Wearing light coloured, fluorescent or reflective clothing makes cyclists a damn sight easier to spot – surely it's not for the "convenience" of drivers, it's for cyclists' safety?? So many times I've spotted idiot cyclists, who were wearing black and didn't have lights, right at the last minute. That's not an inconvenience for me, it's a bloody hazard. And it would be rather more of an inconvenience for them if their lack of visibility meant that a less observant driver than me hit them off their cycle.

    15 May 2006, 13:05

  2. Benjamin Keates

    Totally agree with that. Also, there are plenty of instances in the highway code directing motorists to give way to and show consideration for others. A good example is the rule which states motorists must stop for pedestrians waiting to cross at a pedestrian crossing (not a pelican crossing) – in other European countries, motorists have priority unless the pedestrian is actually on the road.

    The rules about high–visibility clothing for cyclists are down to pure common sense, not "for the convenience of drivers". Cycles travel slower than cars and are smaller; when the cyclist wears grey or dark clothing, it is much harder to see from a distance. I also quote the following from the Highway Code:

    "188: When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room"

    "189: Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as draincovers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room."

    "190: Animals. When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop. Do not scare animals by sounding your horn or revving your engine."

    The rule about wearing a helmet, in case you didn't realise it, is there because it's much easier to get knocked off a bike and hit your head on the floor than it is to receive a serious head injury as a result of driving a car. A car driver would expect to receive such an injury in a high speed crash, but even at low speeds a cyclist could receive a brain–damaging or even fatal injury. Use your common sense. What would be the point in car drivers wearing "racing car standard helmets"? If anything, it would impede the ability to exit a car in an emergency. The benefits wearing helmets in cars would be far outweighed by the downsides.

    A cyclist IS a more vulnerable road user than a motorist, like it or not. Those rules are provided for your personal safety, not for convenience. If you want to ignore them because you feel they're unfair, feel free to do so but don't start complaining when you get knocked off your bike and end up in hospital like a dribbling vegetable for the rest of your life.

    15 May 2006, 14:11

  3. Reply to comment 1:

    I'm not suggesting that cyclists shouldn't wear clothing that makes them easier to see, but should motorists adorn their cars with decorations liable to injure pedestrians (bull bars) and should they drive cars which are much the same colour as roads?

    Pedestrians should be able to walk on the pavement without fear from cars and not be asked to wear special clothing. Yet about about 40 pedestrians get killed a year by motor vehicles on UK pavements.

    ====================================================
    Reply to comment 2:

    What would be the point in car drivers wearing "racing car standard helmets"? If anything, it would impede the ability to exit a car in an emergency.

    Why do racing/rally car drivers wear them?

    ====================================================

    The Highway Code advises horse riders to avoid roundabouts. What are they supposed to do when there is a roundabout on their route? Fly?

    There is little recognition of the rights of children to be children, and to play, visit friends or go to the park. Of 67 references to child or children the vast majority were related to restraining them or controlling them.

    15 May 2006, 14:42

  4. Benjamin Keates

    Why do racing/rally car drivers wear them?

    Because their driving is generally at much higher speed and the idea is to finish as fast as possible, meaning driving to the absolute limit in terms of keeping the vehicle safely on the road/track. Normal road–going cars and normal roads aren't designed for that, and consequently the risk of a high speed collision is much lower. Sure, you could argue that in cases where road cars have flipped over or been involved in a crash, a helmet would have lessened the consequences. The fact remains that car passengers are FAR less vulnerable than cyclists, and it would be totally impractical to force every passenger in every car to wear a helmet.

    There is little recognition of the rights of children to be children, and to play, visit friends or go to the park.

    True, but that's because the road is a dangerous place. It's a ROAD. It's not meant to be designed for little kids to play on. It's not up to the highway code to address this issue. If councils want to bring in speed control measures, parking restrictions and 20mph zones to make the area safer for children, it is up to them. What exactly are you suggesting you'd like to see? What rule could be inserted into the Highway Code to enable "children to be children"? What do you mean by this sentence? Are you saying that all cars should instantly stop and cause a 3 mile tailback to let kids have a game of football in the middle of the road? It's all very well to complain about it but how would you change it?

    The Highway Code is written and based on common sense. There are certain instances in life where this must prevail against this daft "equal rights for all" attitude. The roads are dangerous places for young children, and instead of trying to amend what is a very sensible guide and rule book, the time and energy would be better spent on educating kids of the dangers.

    15 May 2006, 15:10

  5. What Ben said.

    Besides, to quote Churchill, if you create 10,000 regulations then you destroy all respect for the law.

    15 May 2006, 15:16

  6. Benjamin Keates wrote:

    The fact remains that car passengers are FAR less vulnerable than cyclists, and it would be totally impractical to force every passenger in every car to wear a helmet.

    Cycles travel far more slowly than cars and cyclists avoid roads where cars are travelling in excess of 40 mph. Thus cyclists are far less likely to be involved in a high speed crashes than car users. That's one of the reasons for cycle helmets being so flimsy. The other reason is that cyclists are performing an aerobic activity and thus need to lose a lot of heat from their bodies, their heads are good radiators.

    Thus, due to the severity of the likely crash and the fact that head over–heating is not an issue, crash helmets are more suitable for motor vehicle users than pedal cyclists. Not that I'm supporting campaigns to advise car users (or anyone else) to wear helmets, it's more that I like to highlight the rather unpleasant fact that the nanny brigade gets away with impositions on minorities it wouldn't dare take up with more powerful groups of people.

    One might ponder the case for revelling helmets. 60% of people appearing with head injuries at hospital A&E departments are drunk.

    =============================
    Benjamin Keates also wrote:

    the road is a dangerous place. It's a ROAD. It's not meant to be designed for little kids to play on.

    Can you really expect children to be responsible? That's not what being a child is all about. It's the adults who should be responsible. They should put up with the minor inconvenience of driving at no more than 10/15 m.p.h. in side streets. And not speeding or using a phone whilst driving.

    15 May 2006, 17:18

  7. Yes, you can expect children to be responsible, and they should be taught that playing near roads is dangerous. I won't get started on a rant I frequently indulge in, but to summarise, many of the problems with children nowadays (particularly relating, in my experience, to discipline in schools and elsewhere) is to do with their inability to accept responsibility for their actions. Should we allow children to play in refuse tips or next to cliffs or near railway lines just because it's fun? No, because these are dangerous situations and they should be taught to avoid danger and to assess the risks involved in situations. Children must be allowed to be children, yes, but an important part of childhood is learning how to act as an adult. A car will still do a fair amount of damage if it drives into a child at 15 MPH.

    Speeding and driving when on the phone are seperate issues.

    Are you seriously suggesting that not wearing a helmet is more dangerous for a driver than a cyclist?

    Thus, due to the severity of the likely crash and the fact that head over–heating is not an issue, crash helmets are more suitable for motor vehicle users than pedal cyclists.

    Hmmm, slight temporary discomfort versus potentially lethal head injury. I know which one I'd choose!

    15 May 2006, 18:05

  8. Hmmm, slight temporary discomfort versus potentially lethal head injury. I know which one I'd choose!

    A cycle helmet will not protect you from a potentially lethal head injury. It's too flimsy. It will protect against minor cuts and brusing, whether it does more harm than good in the case of more serious knocks is disputed.

    The key safety issue about cycling is that it improves the cyclist's cardio–vascular ability. link
    Not cycling is dangerous!

    15 May 2006, 18:45

  9. Re Children's behaviour.

    Aren't a lot of problems with children nowadays due to junk food and lack of exercise? Coped up all day in house or car, frightened of going out?

    15 May 2006, 18:50

  10. Benjamin Keates

    A cycle helmet will not protect you from a potentially lethal head injury. It's too flimsy.

    Wrong. I've seen more than one example of this in local newspapers and even on a local news bulletin a few years back. In the case that springs to mind, a teenager was riding along the side of a road when he hit a grid, fell off and his head hit the angle of the kerb at full force. His bog–standard helmet didn't break apart fully but it was severely damaged. Are you telling me if that had happened without a helmet, it would have only caused him "cuts and bruises"? He could have been brain damaged for life. Helmets can and do provide protection. Maybe there is evidence to suggest they do more harm than good, I don't deny that, but if you want to risk it and take your chances against a kerb edge, that's your funeral. When I ride a bike, I wear a helmet and it doesn't bother me.

    Aren't a lot of problems with children nowadays due to junk food and lack of exercise? Coped up all day in house or car, frightened of going out?

    What does that have to do with the debate? And how is that in any way relevant to their behaviour round roads? That statement doesn't make any sense in the context being discussed. It's also an enormous generalisation. Also, if they were frightened of going out, then they're not going to be misbehaving around roads, are they?

    15 May 2006, 19:00

  11. Should cars rule the roads and pedestrians scurry out of the way or should streets be for people?
    Should children be allowed to play in the street? link

    15 May 2006, 19:45

  12. Impartial observer

    This seems like a pretty one–sided debate – Keates and co are winning it hands down against some rather odd arguments and comments by this George bloke.

    15 May 2006, 19:46

  13. I would like to give my sixpence–worth on the wearing of helmets in a road car. Firstly, in George's favour:

    1) If the car you're in suffers an impact (eg rolls and the roof collapses, or you hit a tree–side on) where the occupant's head will come into contact with any part of the car, then wearing a helmet will help prevent your head being broken. No argument. However the rest of you will probably be very broken in the event of a roll or tree–strike, so that doesn't matter.

    2) It is harder to get out of a road car with a helmet on; but since you're wearing a helmet, if did you bang your head against the doorframe on the way out, obviously you won't care anyway.

    Not in George's favour:

    1) Wearing a helmet (full or open face) in a road car restricts visibility, and your ability to hear what's going on around you; needless to say both of which are vital in preventing an accident in the first place.

    2) Road cars are not designed to allow the occupants to wear a helmet (full or open face) in comfort; it moves your head and neck forward from the natural seating position, which is uncomfortable and probably unhealthy in the long term. Uncomfortable drivers do not respond to emergency situations as well as comfortable drivers. The seats in a racing car, on the other hand, are designed for helmet–wearing. If you've ever sat in a racing car without a helmet, then your head and necks falls backwards into the place where the helmet would normally go…the opposite of wearing a helmet in a road car.

    3) Wearing a helmet increases the weight (and therefore energy) that your head and neck needs to support in an accident. Anyone who knows anything about motorsport and automotive injuries will tell you that that is a good way to give yourself some proper spinal injuries; or at least undo the work of airbags and whiplash–prevention systems in a road car application.

    4) As Ben pointed out, racing drivers wear helmets primarily because they are more likely to suffer a high–energy impact. It's clear why a helmet is necessary in a single–seater, F1–style car; but it's also applicable to closed–roof cars due to the increased risk of rolling. Also, the loss of visibility is much less important, since it's a racing driver's perogative to always be looking forwards along the track. And there are no cyclists, children or cars coming the other way on a racetrack to look out for.

    Most of what I've said I know from practical experience…especially (3) :'(. In short, wearing a helmet in a road car is not wise.

    15 May 2006, 19:52

  14. Oh, and on the point of "fluorescent or reflective cars", ever seen how a headlamp works ;–)

    15 May 2006, 20:34

  15. no–reply@warwick.ac.uk wrote

    Impartial observer

    spot the contradiction with what no–reply@warwick.ac.uk continued with

    This seems like a pretty one–sided debate – Keates and co are winning it hands down against some rather odd arguments and comments by this George bloke.

    Background to the debate is the attempt to add text to the highway code which would tell cyclists to "use cycle facilities…..where provided". See link

    This has lead a number of people to look at the current code more closely. A number of points have been raised:

    1. Cyclists are told to never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends. But if the road is too narrow for motorists to overtake a single cyclist safely, is it responsible to encourage motorists to do so?
    2. Pedestrians are told to wear light coloured, fluorescent or reflective clothing . No mention about drivers driving cars which are the same colour as roads. Pedestrians should be able to walk on the pavement without fear from cars and not be asked to wear special clothing. Yet about about 40 pedestrians get killed a year by motor vehicles on UK pavements.
    3. Horse riders are advised to avoid roundabouts. What are they supposed to do when there is a roundabout on their route? Fly?
    4. Of 67 references to child or children the vast majority were related to restraining them or controlling them.
    5. No mention of bull bars
    6. Perhaps helmets for car users are as useless as those for cyclists

    15 May 2006, 20:57

  16. Christopher Sigournay

    I was going to make an argument against this post, but Jj has made pretty much all of them in point 13. In low speed automotive crashes (by this I mean not race speed), you don't have a great deal of energy to dissipate. You have restraint systems (seat belts, often now with systems that tighten on impact) to avoid your body and head being thrown around too much. In a car, there are masses of airbags these days in front of you to absorb energy from people moving forward, and often now curtain airbags as well to deal with side impact. Cars are large and surround the ocupant, and are made very stiff with safety cells and crumple zones to absorb energy on impact and provide a safe structure for occupants to be in (this is also the case with race vehicles and FIA–spec roll cages; however you also tend to get an awful lot more flying debris in a motorsport crash, particularly in a roll–over). Furthermore, you're likely to have an accident about once every 78,000 miles in a car I think; in racing accidents are altogether more frequent (especially if your name is Sato or R. Schumacher). With regards to reflectivity, cars have lights to be used where conditions are less than ideal (note this includes gloomy days especially if you drive a dark car; this is at the driver's discretion). Cars are also pretty big obvious objects, and certainly much easier to spot than cyclists.

    I've had the helmet argument with you before, but motorcycle helmets most certainly aid the protection of motorcyclists… So perhaps not useless.

    15 May 2006, 21:42

  17. (another) Impartial Observer

    Looks like the car–helmet wearing brigade has been thouroughly trounced by reasoned and imformed argument. Hurrah!

    As for the highway code, some people need to grow up. It already stresses that care is needed around cyclists and horses. What would you like, permenant right of way? Cyclists have a right to use roads, but not to make life difficult for car drivers.

    Helmets do save lives in a variety of situations (say, head–kerb, if not head–artic). They shouldnt be compulsary, but that doesnt make them useless. And for the record: bull–bars are illegal on new cars, and have been for some time.

    15 May 2006, 22:30

  18. I understand that there has been a legal ban since January 2006 on supply with new cars. But there's nothing stopping motorists adding them as extras.

    SCHOOLGIRL Katie–Leigh Fox is at the centre of a road safety campaign after she was run over by a 4×4.
    Katie, aged 11, and her mum want big vehicles with bull bars banned from roads near schools.
    Katie was seriously injured when she was hit outside Cardinal Newman School in Sandpits Lane, Keresley, at home time on Monday February 6 2006…..

    more

    try putting "Bull bars" into google. E.g. link

    15 May 2006, 22:50

  19. Christopher Sigournay

    You should see the front of tractors – most of the time we just hang a tonne or so of steel in front of the front axle to get extra traction when in draft work… Puts bull bars to shame! Yet strangely legal… As is driving with things like muck forks on the front of loadalls, which are properly vicious pronged things. Again, legal. I don't see an argument for banning these from the road…

    15 May 2006, 22:57

  20. David Kelly

    "40 pedestrians get killed a year on UK pavements."

    This may sound slightly callous, but given the number of people and cars in Britain, 40 is extremely low.

    15 May 2006, 23:01

  21. Benjamin Keates

    The flip side of this whole argument, of course, is that there are many rules which apply to cyclists which cyclists frequently ignore. It drives me mad when I see cyclists thinking they're above the Highway Code and it doesn't apply to them, then you get others coming on here complaining that it's too biased in favour of car drivers! Examples of this include:

    "50: You MUST obey all traffic signs and traffic light signals."
    I've been nearly knocked over at least three times by cyclists going straight through the Hurst/Redfern pelican crossing when the traffic signals are red and pedestrians are crossing. I wish sometimes that I'd stuck my foot out at them as they'd gone past. And it's not just here, it happens all the time. When will cyclists realise that red lights apply to them too? If a car driver did that, they'd be up in arms about it.

    "51: You should [some bullet points omitted here to help clarify my point]

    * ride in single file on narrow or busy roads

    * not ride close behind another vehicle"

    The number of times I've been held up on busy roads by cyclists riding in big packs 2– or 3–abreast, as if they own the road… then they look at you as if YOU'RE in the wrong when you complain at them for it.

    "54: You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement. Do not leave your cycle where it would endanger or obstruct road users or pedestrians, for example, lying on the pavement. Use cycle parking facilities where provided."

    If I had a quid for every time I've seen a cyclist on the pavement just at this university, never mind anywhere else, I'd be a very rich man by now. Just yesterday morning a guy on a bike came down the path from University House towards University Road, and instead of getting on to the empty road where the two meet, carried on down the narrow pavement and actually knocked into a crowd of 4 people walking along, before cycling off without even so much as an acknowledgement. There's no excuse for that. The guy was foreign, but that's not an excuse – you should know the rules of the road in this country if you're going to be using them. Aside from which, it's just downright rude.

    "64: Do not ride across a pelican, puffin or zebra crossing. Dismount and wheel your cycle across."

    Another one frequently ignored. Cyclists treat these like cycle crossings, not pedestrian crossings. And I'm not just talking about kids – I mean adults, fully dressed up in fluorescent cycle gear and leggings. Again, no excuse.

    It just winds me up when you have the cycling fraternity complaining about how hard done by they are on the roads and how car drivers are their worst enemy, etc etc, when they themselves flount so many basic rules. Obviously I'm making a big generalisation here, I know there are plenty of responsible cyclists who do stick to the Highway Code (I include myself in that) but the trend does certainly seem to be that many cyclists consider themselves above basic rules of the road.

    16 May 2006, 00:23

  22. Regardless of the debate at hand, it is very distasteful to have these "impartial observers" smug their way across proceedings. Doesn't add anything really.

    16 May 2006, 02:03

  23. David Kelly wrote:

    "40 pedestrians get killed a year on UK pavements." This may sound slightly callous, but given the number of people and cars in Britain, 40 is extremely low.

    Yes it is callous. Non–smokers are establishing rights to be protected from passive smoking – the ill–effects from other people's behaviour. Why can't non–drivers be protected from the ill–effects of driving?

    16 May 2006, 10:25

  24. Re comment 21:

    Part of the problem is that people think cyclists are pedestrians on wheels and shouldn't behave and be treated like other vehicle drivers. Part of the reason for that is too many people are too frightened by cars to cycle on the road.

    This is connected with police reluctance to enforce traffic law. Including speeding & mobile phone use.

    16 May 2006, 10:31

  25. motor mouth

    The highway code isnt written by motorists for motorists. The new highway code is about to be published, and there as a public consultation period during which anyone – be they a motorist, cyclist or lollypop lady could write in (see link).

    16 May 2006, 10:37

  26. Christopher Sigournay

    Ok so that's roughly 1 in 700,000 motorists that kill a pedestrian on the pavement. Extremely low. A couple of other points about this statistic – I may be watching too many cop dramas, but how many of these a year are attibuted to deliberate use of a car as a weapon (i.e. purposefully running someone over), which is therefore murder and not a traffic accident (we can probably assume that these crimes would be committed by other means if they did not happen with cars running the pedestrians over on the pavement). And what exactly do you propose to do about this statistic – it's illegal to drive on a pavement, we have roads to drive on for cars; pavements are very very rarely wide enough for cars anyway. I find it very hard to visualise how people can be mown down on a pavement by a car unless it's deliberate or as a result of a car having lost control and crashing off the road, and someone happens to have the misfortune to be in the way at the time. Short of erecting safety barriers along pavements or moving pavements away from the roadside there's not an awful lot you can do to stop that, given that we already have low and enforced speed limits in urban areas.

    16 May 2006, 10:40

  27. Christopher Sigournay

    "This is connected with police reluctance to enforce traffic law."

    You really haven't owned a car since 1989 have you! In 2003–04, speeding fines generated £112m, which has been a rapidly increasing trend. I think we now have something like 5,000 fixed and 3,500 mobile cameras across Britain. So are the police unwilling to enforce speed limits? Somehow I don't think so. Mobile phones I can't answer for as I haven't researched, but certainly speeding is seen by police as an easy way of demonstrating to the public (falsely) that they are enforcing traffic laws in the name of road safety.

    16 May 2006, 10:48

  28. Most of the examples of cycling that have been given have been of unsafe cyclers.

    There are cyclists who are perfectly safe and obey traffic signals and wear the visible clothing, etc. This is who the new hghway code will annoy the most.

    See a previous entry on this blog: link

    16 May 2006, 11:02

  29. Christopher Sigournay

    The vast majority of motorists (myself include) take no issue with good cyclists (just like I suspect most cyclists have little issue with bad drivers). The problem is that there are plenty of bad cyclists as well, and to a motorist at least they appear to provide more aggravation. From my own perspective, I find bad cycling annoying because I view cyclists as being a lot less accountable than motorists (it is usually motorists who are blamed more for incidents, cyclists are actually hard to spot being much smaller than cars and compounded by many cyclists refusing to wear high visibility clothing, there is no legal requirement for any form of test or licence to ride a bike on the road nor is there any requirement for any form of insurance policy, nor is there any charge for a cyclist to use a road). I support the principle of cycling, but there's only so much bad cycling you can take (refusal to use provided cycle paths, unpredictable movement wavering around in front, riding abreast, disobeying traffic signals) from unlegislated cyclists who are a danger to themselves and a hazard to traffic around them whilst not paying to be there, whilst motorists have to endure a very litigious and expensive system in order to use their cars, before some form of resentment takes hold.

    16 May 2006, 11:12

  30. Chris May

    @Chris S. I agree with the substance of your rant; there's only so much bad cycling (or driving) that you can take before you start to resent cyclists (or drivers) generally. However, I'd just like to correct two points:

    whilst not paying to be there

    I pay a good deal more to cycle on the roads than you do to drive. Specifically, I pay the same amount of car tax (for my car which is sat on the drive all week), and considerably more council tax (from which the majority of local road spend comes). I might pay marginally less in fuel duty (probably not much as I tend to use the car quite a bit at weekends), but then again I cause massively less road wear. The assertion that cyclists are somehow benefitting from the generosity of drivers simply doesn't stand up to any kind of analysis.

    Describing cyclists as 'unlegislated' is also technically incorrect, there are laws controlling cyclists just the same as there are for cars. I think you perhaps meant 'unregistered' or something like that – though if that was your main complaint then fixing the problem with unlicenced(taxed/MOT–ed/insured) cars would be a better place to start since they cause more problems.

    I also think that compaints about cyclists being a danger to themselves are misplaced. Motorists eating cakes are a bigger danger to themselves (from obesity, heart attacks and the like) than cyclists wearing grey jumpers. I think that the highway code should focus on the ways in which road users are a danger to others, and leave me to make my own choices about my personal safety. But that's just MHO.

    16 May 2006, 11:40

  31. Christopher Sigournay wrote:

    nor is there any charge for a cyclist to use a road

    And some people think that argument was never use seriously (see link). Band A petrol–driven cars no long pay Vehicle Excise Duty either.

    only so much bad cycling you can take … refusal to use provided cycle paths,

    That's not bad cycling, many cycle paths are dangerous (see link). Many are there just for the benefit of motorists. Should cars be restricted to motorways only?

    I agree that there should be more cycle training – then people whether cycling or driving would have more idea about cycle properly. Perhaps then not so many bad cycle "facilities" would be built.

    16 May 2006, 11:46

  32. Christopher Sigournay

    Chris May – Fair point about the council tax; however the costs relating to cycling are only those involved in buying and running a bike (which are almost universally negligible compared to car running costs). You personally might pay more than I do since you also have a car against my not paying council tax due to student status; however the majority of motorists pay council tax too. I take your point on road wear and I'm not suggesting that cyclists necessarily should pay any money to use the roads (the only argument for charging for bikes goes along the lines of they are using up a small amount of road space and as such should pay for the fact that they are adding to traffic volumes, which I accept is pretty negligible and not really worth implementing).

    There are indeed laws controlling cyclists, however have you ever seen them implemented? For example if a motorist runs a red light then his/her registration is noted by a police officer (if one is present) or a signal camera will photograph the number plate (if present at the junction) and then the motorist will face a £60 fine and three penalty points on his/her licence. Have you ever heard of a cyclist being penalised financially and gaining a criminal record (which is what points on your licence equate to) for running a light? I again take your point about unlicensed cars and drivers; they aggravate me more than cyclists (they're breaking the law by not being registered, whereas cyclists aren't, and furthermore they add to the insurance premiums and such that honest motorists have to pay) and although we're getting tougher on these, continued crackdown on no tax/MOT/insurance is welcomed by the majority of motorists including myself.

    Cyclists being a danger to themselves is perhaps a tenuous point; however by cycling dangerously they also pose a hazard to other road users (for example erratic cycling might well have the knock–on effect of vehicles having to take risky avoidance action, or collision between motorist and cyclist. Whilst the cyclist will come off worse, unless the motorist has fully comprehensive insurance which he will then have to claim on it will often cost the motorist a significant amount of money to fix, and furthermore the finger of blame is usually levelled more at motorists than cyclists I think, and not always with justification). That's more my issue with bad cycling; as you point out it's up to the cyclist to decide what risks they want to personally take on.

    16 May 2006, 11:53

  33. Christopher Sigournay

    In the linked diagram, you'd only expect the cyclist to be involved in the illustrated accidents if they failed to observe properly before cycling across the junction. I would assume, since the cyclist has to cross a junction there, that he also must give way to vehicles at that junction just as the car at the bottom has to give way to cars on the road he wishes to join. If the cyclist observed properly before crossing there would be no danger.

    The exclusion of Band A cars (none of which are actually available in the UK…) makes you question what VED is there for. Given that some cars are now also excluded from paying for it (which I don't understand), I no longer know. My only conclusion is that it's some additional environmental tax on top of the direct proportional taxation of environmental impact with fuel duty. Quite frankly, that stinks in my opinion.

    16 May 2006, 11:58

  34. In the linked diagram, you'd only expect the cyclist to be involved in the illustrated accidents if they failed to observe properly before cycling across the junction.

    But the cyclist is on the main road. If he/she were on the carriageway there would no doubt that he/she has priority. And would be in a position where the motorists would see them. So why should the cyclist inconvenience themselves by stopping at every side road (looking behind to the side and to the front) before proceeding?

    If people switched from car to cycle for at least some journeys, congestion would be relieved and pollution reduced. Forcing people on cycles to use slower routes discourages cycling.

    16 May 2006, 12:27

  35. Christopher Sigournay

    "But the cyclist is on the main road."

    The cyclist is on a cycle path, not the main road (if the cyclist were on the main road, they'd be following the road right at the top of the diagram). Therefore the cyclist does not have right of way. The cyclist could of course choose not to stop and look, but if they are then hit by a motorist I don't see why it's anybody but the cyclist's fault for not observing properly. We can argue for a long time about whether it is right to design cycle ways like this, but as far as I'm concerned there's no position from which you can argue the cyclist's right of way over the cars illustrated, and as such it is the cyclist's responsibility to observe and give way where necessary.

    16 May 2006, 12:57

  36. Therefore the cyclist does not have right of way.

    I'm not sure how this applies, but normally when turning into a side road, you have the lowest priority; below pedestrians crossing and traffic already in that side road. By this logic, cycles crossing that side road have priority.

    However, most cycle lanes that cross roads like that have (in this country anyway) give way signs for the cyclists, making it clear.

    16 May 2006, 14:00

  37. From a legal view point, whether the cyclist or turning traffic has priority may vary from country to country. Note all the vehicles and pedestrians have right of way – it's priority that's the issue.

    I suspect that in this country, unless clearly marked otherwise, both pedestrians and cyclists on the main highway do have priority in law. Both the pavement and cycle track are part of the highway.

    Consider highway code rule 146 "watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority". If a car hits a pedestrian when turning into a side road, the pedestrian must have been on the carriageway at the moment of impact, so they must have had priority. However few motorists respect that part of the highway code.

    Thus to help prevent crashes, the priority of the parties must be clearly shown. In my earlier post I gave a reason why cyclists shouldn't be forced to use a track when they haven't got priority (there are other reasons for non–compulsion as well).

    Note a new cycle track is being constructed along Kenilworth Road. At its junction with Cryfield Grange Road, the legal situation will be clearly shown – road markings and signage will be arranged in the hope that motorists will yield to pedestrians and cyclists. The cycle track will bend away from the carriageway to allow space for a car, just turned in from Kenilworth Road, to wait.

    16 May 2006, 14:25

  38. Christopher Sigournay

    Max:

    For pedestrians: Highway code, P7 (rule 8): "When crossing the road, look out for traffic turning into the road, especially from behind you" Rule 7b "Stop, just before you get to the kerb" Rule 7d "If traffic is coming, let it pass"

    For motorists, rule 146 P38 "Taxe extra care at junctions. Watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority, so give way"

    Pedestrians and bikes only have priority if they have already started to cross; otherwise it is the vehicle's right of way.

    16 May 2006, 14:33

  39. Christopher Sigournay

    George – your scenario is not necessarily accurate. Pedestrians can step out onto the road into the path of an oncoming car that was clearly turning and they failed to spot, it's not always a clearcut case of the pedestrian being obviously in the road before the car turns up on the scene. And for a pedestrian to be in the middle of the road and obstructing a car, you'd have to have failed to have observed the car turning in the first place, which contradicts the green cross code rules in rule 7 anyway.

    16 May 2006, 14:38

  40. There are no words in the Highway Code about priority where a cycle track alongside a carriageway crosses a side road. I think you will find that everywhere where this does happen in this country, the cycle track is considered as just another piece of carriageway. There's signage indicating which carriageway has priority.

    Cycling on footways. As that's against the law, there's no carriageway markings. What people don't realise is how dangerous it is for anyone cycling on the footway when they cross side roads. Cyclists need to be on the carriageway, tyres at least 70–100 cm from the kerb so that they can easily be seen by motorists as proceeding straight–on. Something too many people on cycles don't know – hence the need for training.

    16 May 2006, 14:59

  41. Just one thing that no–one's pointed out, harking back to an earlier section of the argument, one reason why cyclists should wear something visible while cars don't need to be covered in flourescent paint etc is because you can hear a car coming. They do not depend on visibility only to alert people to their presence, whereas unless a cyclist is constantly ringing their bell they are practically silent, and even a bell can't always be heard over a car engine.

    16 May 2006, 19:53

  42. As a pedestrian do you obey rule 3 of the Higway code:

    3: Help other road users to see you. Wear or carry something light coloured, bright or fluorescent in poor daylight conditions. When it is dark, use reflective materials (e.g. armbands, sashes, waistcoats and jackets), which can be seen, by drivers using headlights, up to three times as far away as non–reflective materials.

    link

    16 May 2006, 21:12

  43. Colin Paterson

    As a pedestrian do you obey rule 3 of the Higway code

    No but if I was walking along a road wearing all black then it would be my fault if I got knocked down.

    Pedestrians and Cyclists are told to wear light coloured, fluorescent or reflective clothing – for the convenience of drivers

    I find it quite convienient if it helps me stay alive, but maybe that's just me.

    I find it quite amusing that you attacking the highway code instead of the infrastructure?! Surely if it's hazardous for horses to use roundabouts then it's the roundabouts problem not the advice warning against it. If the cycleways aren't up to scratch then it's the cycleways fault not the rule telling you to use it.
    You don't seem to be coming up with any alternatives, should we just tear up the highway code so that cars can skip red lights and drive on pavements if they feel like it just like some cyclists do?!

    16 May 2006, 22:38

  44. David

    No 38
    "Pedestrians and bikes only have priority if they have already started to cross; otherwise it is the vehicle's right of way."

    If the car strikes the cyclist then the cyclist must have already started to cross. If the cyclist strikes the car then the car must have been there first.

    Consequently if a motorist strikes a pedestrian or cyclist who is crossing at a junction the motorist has failed to give way.

    The very fact you argue it is the cyclists fault for not looking means, purely from a point of view of self–preservation, a cyclist and indeed a pedestrian shhould look for inbound traffic and give way if necessary. If you think like this then there are clearly others who misunderstand rights of way at a junction.

    The motorist is still at fault if he hits the cyclist on a junction.

    "it's not always a clearcut case of the pedestrian being obviously in the road before the car turns up on the scene"

    You misunderstand the legal concept of right of way.

    The pedestrian/cyclist/hedgehog needn't be on the junction when the motorist begins his turn into the junction. He need only be on the junction when the motorist enters it. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure he can stop in time. (not always possible when you pull across approaching traffic but nonetheless still necessary).

    It is not technically necessary for a pedestrian to stop at a zebra crossing and wait for the traffic to stop before crossing. The HC advises this, again out of self–preservation but the pedestrian has right of way. It is the responsibility of the driver to approach at a speed at which he can safely pull up.

    I guess the difference between pedestrians and cyclists is that cyclists they may well approach a junction at relatively high speed and so it is more difficult for motorists to anticipate.

    16 May 2006, 23:18

  45. Colin Paterson wrote:

    You don't seem to be coming up with any alternatives

    I spend hours writing to councils criticising road proposals. See Coventry Cycling Campaign for a taster.

    In general I'd say in built up areas the speed of cars needs to be brought down to allow cycles to share the same space as cars. In between built up areas, segregation of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders from high speed cars is generally a practical solution. The trickiest issues arise at junctions.

    All over the world cyclists complain about crap cycle "facilities" see Warrington Cycling Campaign

    Colin Paterson also wrote:

    If the cycleways aren't up to scratch then it's the cycleways fault not the rule telling you to use it.

    I believe the cyclist should be given the choice. If most cyclists choose not to use a cycleway it indicates that it's not much use, so it puts the onus on the authorities to come up with something better. If they can pin the blame on cyclists, they can evade their responsibilities.

    17 May 2006, 09:30

  46. Christopher Sigournay

    "In general I'd say in built up areas the speed of cars needs to be brought down"

    Errr to what exactly? It's already 30 and increasingly 20 in very built up areas, which feels quite painfully slow tbh and by no means is particularly taxing for a good driver to maintain sharp awareness and be vigilant of hazards. You argue for segregation of high speed vehicles from slow moving traffic in extra–urban areas (I support this), yet argue that cyclists should still be allowed to use high speed roads if they so wish. Agreed that cycleways that aren't much use shouldn't be built in the first place; however I know of plenty country roads where it must be quite frankly terrifying for a cyclist to be riding with traffic passing at 60mph and oncoming traffic also at 60mph. If you're that desperate to get run over then go for it, but don't try and blame motorists for accidents when they inevitably happen – I'd almost consider putting yourself in such a situation as suicidal.

    17 May 2006, 11:55

  47. It's not just a case of speed differences, direction differences are also important. Thus cycle traffic can coexist with cars and lorries with quite a speed differential where all the traffic is going in the same direction and the high speed traffic is able to pass the cycles with sufficient room. E.g. the A46 is better to cycle on than the A452 between Kenilworth & Leamington. The worst bits of the A46 are the junctions – where the paths of cycle traffic at 15/20 mph and motor traffic at 50/60 mph cross.

    The issue of junctions is the Achilles heel of the notion of segregating cycles from motor vehicles. At junctions in built up areas I argue that integration is usually the most practical approach, with motors forced down to cycle speeds. Not a big deal for the motorist, as getting down to 0 m.p.h. at junctions in towns is commonplace. Between built–up areas, motorists expect higher speeds through junctions so some sort of segregation in usually appropriate, but dropped kerbs without traffic signals are not acceptable.

    Cyclists should be given the choice over which route to take. If a cycleway isn't used much it means it's not much use, so it puts the onus on the authorities to come up with something better. If they can pin the blame on cyclists for not obeying the Highway Code, they can evade their responsibilities. And get away with appalling crap like this

    17 May 2006, 12:51

  48. Cara Williams

    George, re comment 42, I must admit that I don't don a fluorescent jacket on my journey down the parade to whatever pub I am frequenting that evening. And the diagram you've displayed there is pretty ridiculous, what a sight that would be! However, it would be nice if certain inhabitants of Barford would purchase something reflective. That way, when I'm driving home from football training in the winter, I don't have to swerve around them at 60 mph when I spot them about ten feet in front of my car wearing all black and walking with the traffic rather than against it. You see, rule 3 of the Highway Code becomes rather more pertinent when there isn't a pavement. Maybe the illustrator would have been better off drawing pedestrians somewhere rather than in what appears to be a suburb of London.

    17 May 2006, 12:54

  49. Many people in rural communities want to see lower speed limits in their villages link
    Why can't the Highway code only suggest high visibility clothing for people actually walking on the carriageway?

    17 May 2006, 13:07

  50. Again, something no–one has yet commented on, take a look at rules 180–193 of the Highway code, especially:

    181 – In urban areas there is a risk of pedestrians, especially children, stepping unexpectedly into the road. You should drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the conditions.

    187 – it is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions and at roundabouts. Always look out for them when you are emerging from a junction.

    191 – Be particularly careful of horses and riders, especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slow. Horse riders are often children so take extra care, and remeber riders may ride in double file when escorting young or inexperienced riders. Look out for horse riders' signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Treat all horses asa potential hazzard and take care.

    The highway code is there to protect Everyone. There are reasons for restrictions placed on cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians, just as there are reasons for restrictions placed on motorists.

    Complain about provision for cyclists all you want, that's a separate issue, but if you don't use the facilities provided, same as if you don't follow the rules provided, from a legal standpoint, as well as from a moral one, it's your own fault if you get hurt. If you opt out of using a cycle route provided, then, yes you're making a statement, but it's one that might get you or other people hurt or killed.

    17 May 2006, 13:14

  51. Cara Williams

    Why can't the Highway code only suggest high visibility clothing for people actually walking on the carriageway?

    Or in badly–lit areas – pedestrians still have to cross the carriageway and it would be useful to be able to see them sooner.

    For the record, the 60 mph limit is before you get into Barford (from the Charlecote side) – that's where I encountered the invisible pedestrians. Barford itself has a 30 mph limit.

    17 May 2006, 13:14

  52. Oh, and also, with regards to pedestrians wearing reflective clothing, that doesn't apply so much in areas like the parade because there is adequate street lighting, wheras there isn't always on country roads, or roads sans pavement. Cars and cyclists are required (not reccomended, actually legally required) to have lights on when driving at night, pedestrians aren't, but it's sensible to wear something that makes use of the available light to aid visability.

    17 May 2006, 13:19

  53. Alexandra Campbell wrote

    If you opt out of using a cycle route provided, then, yes you're making a statement, but it's one that might get you or other people hurt or killed.

    So you think it's safer for cyclists to use "facilities" like these
    instead of the carriageway?

    17 May 2006, 14:17

  54. Christopher Sigournay

    "Many people in rural communities want to see lower speed limits in their villages"

    Yes, and many people want to see an end to this, that, the other and everything until life grinds to a halt and humans do nothing. By far the majority (we're in a democratic society remember?) of people I know in my local area are infuriated with the government's current attitude towards lowering and varying speed limits frequently throughout country routes, in fact I have no recollection of speaking to a single person local to my area in Somerset who's in favour of such a move with the exception of lower speed limits around schools.

    As for cyclists on country roads; they're absolutely lethal at night. Even when lit, with oncoming traffic as well blinding your view a cyclist can be comparatively impossible to spot. I've had to make some very severe evasive manouevers before due to this. Especially at night, cyclists just aren't visible enough to ride in unlit areas where there is fast moving traffic.

    17 May 2006, 14:22

  55. From Perceptions and experiences of anti-social behaviour

    17 May 2006, 14:48

  56. Even when lit, with oncoming traffic as well blinding your view a cyclist can be comparatively impossible to spot. I've had to make some very severe evasive manouevers before due to this.

    Then you're driving too fast. Easy as that. A fundamental principle of safe driving is to drive at a speed where you can stop in the area that you can see to be clear. If you are having to make evasive manouvers upon seeing an obstruction, then you're going too fast to manage this. What if it was a fallen tree in the road instead? Would you then claim that the tree shouldn't have been there and that it's not your fault that you couldn't stop in time?

    17 May 2006, 14:54

  57. Christopher Sigournay

    60mph on an open derestricted country road… Yes, far too fast. And to that statistic well fair enough George; all I have to go on is my own personal experience of people I know and in my area it's not perceived at all a problem.

    17 May 2006, 15:16

  58. Christopher Sigournay

    The IAM has a factsheet on advice for driving in harmony with cyclists here for those who arer interested.

    17 May 2006, 15:27

  59. 60mph on an open derestricted country road… Yes, far too fast.

    You've missed the point again. A fundamental principle of safe driving is to drive at a speed where you can stop in the area that you can see to be clear.

    If you can't manage that, then it's too fast. It might be legal, but it's not safe.

    17 May 2006, 15:48

  60. Christopher Sigournay

    Actually it's you that's missed the point. I'm perfectly capable of stopping within the range of my headlights when driving – I do know how to cadence brake thanks. My point was that cyclists are damned near invisible at night until you're almost on top of them when they have poorly lit bikes and not wearing reflective gear. Trust me, if it had been a tree in the road I'd have managed to stop just fine.

    17 May 2006, 16:23

  61. Actually it's you that's missed the point. I'm perfectly capable of stopping within the range of my headlights when driving – I do know how to cadence brake thanks. My point was that cyclists are damned near invisible at night until you're almost on top of them when they have poorly lit bikes and not wearing reflective gear. Trust me, if it had been a tree in the road I'd have managed to stop just fine.

    As I'm sure you're aware, cadence braking does not shorten your stopping distance.

    Anyhow. Your argument is self–contradictory; "I can stop in the range I can see clearly, but not if what I'm looking for is a cyclist". Either you can see the area in your lights properly (in which case you would see the cyclist), or you can't (in which case you can't stop in time). You can't have it both ways. Being able to see lit or retroreflective objects is not the same as seeing that an area is clear.

    17 May 2006, 16:32

  62. Christopher Sigournay

    Ok well if we're going to argue technicalities the way to have the shortest stopping distance is threshold braking; however you're more liable to lose control of the vehicle when trying to do this, hence I try and avoid threshold braking when I have to and stick with cadence instead. Cadence braking, as I'm sure you're aware, shortens your stopping distance significantly over the standard panic–reaction of most drivers which is to plant their foot on the brakes and rest their foot there on their way to an accident, as locked wheels don't provide an awful lot of deceleration (and contrary to what the ads might tell you, you can brake in shorter distances manually than you can with ABS, or at least in my experience with a car with switchable ABS on and off you can) and very easily induce spins, especially when you try and apply steering angle.

    My point with regards to the cyclist is that a small dimly lit object is hard to spot and react to in the split second you have when driving at night. Trees being large objects are rather easier to spot and react to.

    17 May 2006, 16:45

  63. a small dimly lit object is hard to spot and react to in the split second you have when driving at night. Trees being large objects are rather easier to spot and react to.

    And logs? Or other things which have fallen off lorries or been blown onto the road. What about hazzard triangles (Highway Code rule 248)? What about broken down vehicles?

    17 May 2006, 17:28

  64. Christopher Sigournay

    Ok so not everything is spottable easily. But the fact is you can run over small objects without any real risk. You can spot big objects. Running over cyclists, which are small and hard to spot, is somewhat less acceptable than running over a small branch in the road. My point dammit is that poorly lit and ill-geared up cyclists are difficult to spot at night on dark country roads, and I don't consider putting people's lives at risk by putting them in a position where they're hard to see, in front of two tonnes of car moving at 60 mph, a particularly satisfactory state of affairs. Pardon my cheek, but if you do then perhaps it goes some way to explaining why so many cyclists are killed on the roads every year!

    17 May 2006, 18:04

  65. Colin Paterson

    Surely cyclists aren't comparable to logs (are we meant to infer something about the average cyclist from your comparison?!).
    You don't expect to see a log/broken down car across/blocking the road but a safe speed is one with which you can come to a stop without hitting it if one is there. However a cyclist is another road user and you don't expect to pull an emergency stop every time you come across another road user!

    17 May 2006, 18:46

  66. Chris Sigournay:

    My point dammit is that poorly lit and ill–geared up cyclists are difficult to spot at night on dark country roads, and I don't consider putting people's lives at risk by putting them in a position where they're hard to see, in front of two tonnes of car moving at 60 mph, a particularly satisfactory state of affairs.

    I agree. Two things need to change here; i) cyclists should make things easier on other road users by lighting up and wearing high–vis stuff, and ii) car drivers should drive at a speed where they are in control of their vehicle, and that is a speed where you can stop in the space that you can see to be clear. And if you couldn't see a poorly–lit cyclist, then you can't see that that space is clear.

    My point is that if you're driving in a way where you couldn't stop without hitting a poorly–lit cyclist, then you are driving too fast and you are putting that cyclist at risk.

    This is the big, important step to take if you really want to be a good driver: moving beyond "how fast can this car go?" to "how fast can this car go, safely?" You linked to an IAM document earlier, have you considered taking their advanced driving test? It might be an eye–opener for you.

    Colin Paterson:

    However a cyclist is another road user and you don't expect to pull an emergency stop every time you come across another road user!

    No, of course you don't. In many circumstances you can pass a cyclist immediately, but what's important is that you must be able to stop in time if you come to an obstruction that you can't pass; be it a cyclist or a JCB or a tree trunk.

    17 May 2006, 20:55

  67. Benjamin Keates

    You linked to an IAM document earlier, have you considered taking their advanced driving test?

    Having done that test and being an IAM member myself, I can fully concur with that statement. It made me realise how totally inadequate the standard L–test is. It doesn't make you a geek or anything – I found it improved my control and awareness far beyond the normal L–test could have done. I'd certainly recommend it. You don't pay for lessons, although you take your own car and use your own petrol. All you pay for apart from that is the test fee and the annual IAM membership.

    And Max is right – if you're driving along a road and you do suddenly come across a poorly–lit cyclist and need to take emergency evasive action, then you are driving too fast. The stopping distance at 60mph on a dry road is given in the Highway Code as being 73m. Do your headlights really shine that far down the road? Of course, I'm not advocating driving 30mph everywhere in derestricted areas just because it's a bit dark and there might be a suicidal cyclist about, but you have to take the conditions into consideration. Dropping your speed by 10mph from 60 to 50 decreases your stopping distance by 20m. That can make a hell of a lot of difference when considering whether you'd still hit that cyclist (or oncoming traffic when avoiding the cyclist). Although the IAM teach you to drive to the speed limit when conditions are good and it's safe to do so, it doesn't mean you have to do the limit all the time. Speed should be matched to the conditions – this includes darkness.

    17 May 2006, 22:15

  68. Christopher Sigournay

    "You linked to an IAM document earlier, have you considered taking their advanced driving test? It might be an eye–opener for you."

    Interesting you say that. I recently completed their skills for life program and I'm currently in the process of booking my test. Anyone who cares about their driving standard should go do it, I thoroughly recommend it as Ben does. Next car definitely needs bi–xenons after such incidents though.

    18 May 2006, 14:08

  69. Lots of talk here about cyclists but what about horses? Bikes don't get scared when you drive right up behind them (and honk) but horses – even well behaved ones – get upset sometimes if you insist on driving right up behind one. They're herd animals so are genetically pre–disposed to think someone's trying to kill them so they get a bit jumpy if they're surprised. However, most drivers just reckon that if you can't control a horse then you shouldn't be on it. It's not a robot! It has feelings! There are riding techniques to try to get most of the horse out of the road if it spooks but can't drivers just take a moment and chill? Most can't as a couple of my friends with broken backs, necks and pelvises will testify to. What would ten or fifteen seconds cost them?

    Then there's the second category of driver who think they're being helpful and slow down as soon as they see a horse in the road ahead coming towards them, but… rev up and smoke their tyres the instant the animal is out of sight of the driver, i.e. just when the car is about 5 feet behind the horse…. gee, thanks for all that thoughtfulness: you're slow when the horse can see you and then scare it when it can't…

    I'm sure there's something in the Highways Code about that as well. But I bet no one remembers what it is.

    And, yes, motorists really do speed at 60mph down country lanes where they can't see what's round the next corner… good game, good game.

    18 May 2006, 15:25

  70. I think the speed limit for unclassified roads should be reduced to 30 mph. It's not often that motorists do go over 30 down such lanes – but they might try when rat–running.

    18 May 2006, 18:20

  71. The solution to 69, like almost all highway problems, is better driver education, methinks.

    18 May 2006, 18:56

  72. David

    "The problem is that there are plenty of bad cyclists as well, and to a motorist at least they appear to provide more aggravation."

    "The cyclist could of course choose not to stop and look, but if they are then hit by a motorist I don't see why it's anybody but the cyclist's fault for not observing properly."

    "As for cyclists on country roads; they're absolutely lethal at night. Even when lit, with oncoming traffic as well blinding your view a cyclist can be comparatively impossible to spot. I've had to make some very severe evasive manouevers before due to this"

    "I recently completed their skills for life program and I'm currently in the process of booking my test. Anyone who cares about their driving standard should go do it, I thoroughly recommend it"

    The first three paragraphs of Chris' don't sit very well with the last.
    Not the mentality I would expect of an Advanced Motorist.

    19 May 2006, 01:21

  73. David

    "It drives me mad when I see cyclists thinking they're above the Highway Code and it doesn't apply to them,"

    I thought the essence of being an Advanced Motorist was driving safely which I suggest includes not getting mad at those who don't adhere to the Highway Code. An Advanced Motorist isn't a bad tempered one.

    19 May 2006, 01:27

  74. Colin Paterson

    That's some lovely cheap shots you try to score there David, well done! But the comments you make are similar to some of the things which wind up drivers about cyclists. You have two motorists who have paid for extra education in driving and discuss some of the problems they see with bad cyclists in that at night they are badly lit and some think they're above the Highway code etc. Yet these problems are still their fault because they have big bad cars?

    I think the speed limit for unclassified roads should be reduced to 30 mph. It's not often that motorists do go over 30 down such lanes – but they might try when rat–running.

    A traffic network shouldn't just be run to the lowest common denominator and I think a 30mph speed limit on those roads would just be impractical. I have one such road outside my house yet it only has one bend in a stretch over a mile long and is quiet. How on earth would a dramatic speed limit help anyone in that case.

    19 May 2006, 04:01

  75. Benjamin Keates

    An Advanced Motorist isn't a bad tempered one.

    Very cheap shot. Who said anything about being "bad tempered"? "Drives me mad" was a figure of speech. Just because I see something that annoys me, it doesn't mean to say that I break into a full–on rage and start foaming at the mouth and blasting my horn at people. It's possible to see something that makes one angry without adversely reacting to it.

    19 May 2006, 09:32

  76. Re comments 70 & 74 – Unclassified country roads

    Perhaps the real issue for unclassified country roads is occasional heavy traffic flows due to rat running. What outside rush hours are fine roads to cycle on become very poor – just at the time when people could use them to cycle to work.

    Maybe the answer lies with road pricing – very high charges at peak time for such roads. Perhaps free off–peak.

    19 May 2006, 09:52

  77. Christopher Sigournay

    "Perhaps the real issue for unclassified country roads is occasional heavy traffic flows due to rat running. What outside rush hours are fine roads to cycle on become very poor – just at the time when people could use them to cycle to work."

    Perhaps the real issue for traffic flow is that they consider rat–running in the first place because the major routes they would otherwise have used are woefully inadequate for traffic volumes, and that the road network needs upgrading in this instance? Just a thought. Although again coming back to the IAM stuff, improved driver techniques especially on multi–carriageway roads would do wonders to improve traffic flow as well – there's the famous AA report last year that over 700 miles of our motorway network are wasted by poor lane discipline.

    And yes David – discussing how others could improve their road safety and the knock–on effects of their bad habits on the safety of others, how unlike an avdanced motorist. And there's a difference between becoming irritated and losing your temper.

    19 May 2006, 10:15

  78. "And yes David – discussing how others could improve their road safety and the knock–on effects of their bad habits on the safety of others, how unlike an avdanced motorist. And there's a difference between becoming irritated and losing your temper."

    Point is Chris that your posts reflect your attitude. I am dissapointed that you observer hasn't imbued you with a driving mentality more more suited to that of an Advanced Motorist.

    "Very cheap shot. Who said anything about being "bad tempered"? "Drives me mad" was a figure of speech. Just because I see something that annoys me, it doesn't mean to say that I break into a full–on rage and start foaming at the mouth and blasting my horn at people."

    A false choice here Ben. 'Drives me mad' is a figure of speech that implies something has a significant effect on your temperament. Certainly more significant than 'annoying'. That is not to say you 'break into a full–un rage' and I haven't suggested that.

    Advanced Motorists are even tempered and although they will be affected by the actions of others, being 'driven mad' is not a response I would expect of one.

    These are not cheap shots. I am merely pointing out that being an Advanced Motorist isn't just about developing your own skills but also about having the right temperament and attitude.

    19 May 2006, 12:59

  79. "That's some lovely cheap shots you try to score there David, well done! But the comments you make are similar to some of the things which wind up drivers about cyclists. You have two motorists who have paid for extra education in driving and discuss some of the problems they see with bad cyclists in that at night they are badly lit and some think they're above the Highway code etc. Yet these problems are still their fault because they have big bad cars?"

    Well Colin if you read my post my point is clear. But I will reiterate it for the slow learners. Advanced Motorists shouldn't get wound up when they are driving.

    What does this have to do with prejudice against cars? That is a non–sequitor Colin.

    Advanced Motorists are trained that others are incompetant and as you say 'think they're above the Highway Code'. Advanced Motorsits deal with these challenges without getting wound up because getting wound up when you are driving is not safe.

    PS, I am a motorist (since 1985), a cyclist (more recently) and have had advanced driving training.

    My comments regarding attitude and temperament are perfectly valid, considered and based on my experience.

    19 May 2006, 13:08

  80. Benjamin Keates

    Maybe it was the wrong choice of words then. I can be guilty of that that, I accept.I refuse, however, to have my driving temperament called into question on a public blog by someone who has never set foot in a car with me and has twisted my words. I'd be happy to take you out and give you a demonstration if you so wished.

    Advanced Motorists are not "trained that others are incompetent" – at least I wasn't. I was trained to be more aware, and had some of my bad habits picked up during my normal learner–driving corrected. I was trained to be aware of mistakes that other drivers might make, but never that everyone else on the road bar me is incompetent. 1985 is quite a long time ago – conditions on the roads have changed a great deal since then. Perhaps you might consider taking a refresher course.

    I reiterate for people who can't be arsed to read comments properly (or form their own convoluted interpretiations of them) . It IS possible to observe something which is incorrect and be annoyed by it considerably without letting it affect one's driving. I resent your condescending, arrogant and patronising comments. For your information, my Advanced Driving instructor was very quick to compliment my attitude as a driver, and that attitude has remained with me since I passed my Advanced Driving test nearly three years ago.

    19 May 2006, 23:22

  81. David

    "Maybe it was the wrong choice of words then. I can be guilty of that that, I accept.I refuse, however, to have my driving temperament called into question on a public blog by someone who has never set foot in a car with me and has twisted my words."

    Well your first two sentences contradict the last. If you used the wrong words then how can I have 'twisted' them? And if I haven't twisted them it was wholly appropriate to question your temperament on the basis you claimed you were 'driven mad' by cyclists.

    "I was trained to be more aware"

    Aware of, among others, the incompetant.

    "1985 is quite a long time ago – conditions on the roads have changed a great deal since then. Perhaps you might consider taking a refresher course"

    And I have been driving on the roads since, so have experineced the changes. I suggest the roads haven't changed a 'great deal' either.

    "I reiterate for people who can't be arsed to read comments properly (or form their own convoluted interpretiations of them)"

    I read your comment properly. You admitted to using the wrong choice of words. I can only comment on what you say, not what you might have said. Had you used a different choice of words I wouldn't have commented.
    As for convoluted interpretations didn't you suggest I had accused you of road rage?

    "It IS possible to observe something which is incorrect and be annoyed by it considerably without letting it affect one's driving. I resent your condescending, arrogant and patronising comments."

    Yes but not to be 'driven mad' by it which is what you said.

    As for resenting my comments life's too short to be worrying about what I think of you.

    "For your information, my Advanced Driving instructor was very quick to compliment my attitude as a driver"

    Ben, we both know he/she wouldn't have been impressed with you being 'driven mad' by cyclists 'who think they are above the Highway Code'.

    In any event, now you have clarified what you meant by 'drive me mad' this is a somewhat sterile argument.

    20 May 2006, 02:11

  82. Naomi Howell

    David – 'drives me mad' really is just a well–recognised figure of speech. To me the use of it in the comment just came across as annoyance; I didn't actually get the impression that Ben would be fuming whilst driving and getting road rage.

    20 May 2006, 11:17

  83. Colin Paterson

    You know blogs are going down hill when someone starts arguing over what was exactly meant by three words written by someone else over 50 comments ago!

    20 May 2006, 11:48

  84. Benjamin Keates

    I can't be bothered to argue any more. If you want to believe I'm a discredit to the IAM by driving round actually getting "driven mad", that's your problem, not mine. I'm really not that interested.

    20 May 2006, 12:31

  85. Once the subject of the recklessness of road users is raised, it doesn't take long for classic examples of what Sigmund Freud described as projection to emerge:

    "According to Freud, projection is when someone is threatened by or afraid of their own impulses so they attribute these impulses to someone else."

    Quote from link

    20 May 2006, 19:00

  86. David

    "You know blogs are going down hill when someone starts arguing over what was exactly meant by three words written by someone else over 50 comments ago!"

    Takes two to argue Colin and I have merely stated what I understood by Ben's comment; hence my comment and my justification for it.

    "I can't be bothered to argue any more. If you want to believe I'm a discredit to the IAM by driving round actually getting "driven mad", that's your problem, not mine. I'm really not that interested."

    I haven't said you are a discredit to the IAM. I haven't even implied it. Indeed it is clear from your other posts that the opposite is true. All I said was Advanced Motorists shouldn't get mad at other road users.

    I fail to see the problem with this statement.

    You have said many times now that you don't get mad at cyslists, rather 'considerably annoyed'. I don't entirely agree that being 'considerably annoyed' doesn't affect your driving but as I have said; now you have clarified what you meant this is a stale argument so I was kind of thinking my last comment might have been the end of it.

    Naomi, I didn't think Ben was getting road rage either. However being very annoyed when driving, in my view does affect ones temperament. This in turn can have a detrimental affect on road safety despite the improvement in safety attributed to good driving skills

    I didn't think it would be so controversial to advance this point of view.

    20 May 2006, 22:09

  87. James Miles

    I haven't read the 86 comments above and am aware that this point has probably already been made but cars are big and have lots of lights on them.

    I'm an enthusiastic cyclist but I think it's fair enough not to expect cars to be made out of reflective or fluorescent material. That said, I don't wear such material and sometimes am reckless enough not to even have my lights on. Because I'm a maverick*.

    *stupid person who will be run over one day probably.

    22 May 2006, 06:56

  88. Some people think its jealousy that makes some motorists hostile to cyclists. If you're cycling you can get away with carelessness without putting anyone else at much risk, while at the wheel of a 2 tonne lump of steel moving at up to 80 mph its very easy to do a lot of harm to other people.

    22 May 2006, 10:17

  89. Cara Williams

    One last thing and then I really must stop reading this post :)

    George – with regard to your last comment, if you are careless whilst cycling and this results in you getting hit by a car, have a little think about how the driver would feel. I'd be mortified if I hit someone, even if it wasn't my fault.

    Enough now :)

    26 May 2006, 16:32

  90. And how would the cyclist feel?
    It doesn't seem to matter to Jeremy Clarkson (who encourages motorists to run down cyclists for fun) and I suppose he speaks for many link

    26 May 2006, 18:23

  91. Which leads to incidents like this:
    link

    26 May 2006, 18:46

  92. Christopher Sigournay

    That link looks like a racist attack rather than a case of motorists vs cyclists George…

    26 May 2006, 19:21

  93. In the words of the victim:

    "I was travelling along Sharrow Street in Sheffield towards Sharrow Lane when a car came up behind me, sounded the horn and squeezed by at speed nearly knocking me off my bike. When I got to the end of the road the car was at the junction as up and down Sharrow Lane was gridlocked. As I passed I tapped on the window and said "Be Careful"; I wasn't angry or aggressive and didn't raise my voice. In fact I was in a good mood and enjoying a fresh ride to work. What happened next is beyond belief…..."

    Ok the subsequent intervention of the gang was on a racist basis. But racism is usually about racialising conflicts which have started off about something else. In this case my reading is a narrow road, a driver in a bad mood and the opinion that motorists are superior to cyclists. Ok social life is always complex – age might have played a part and things would have been quite different if the people involved had both been female…. but I don't want to start a sociology lecture.

    26 May 2006, 20:00

  94. Christopher Sigournay

    So a group of Asian people chasing and physically assaulting a white Englishman with cries of "Kill the white bastard", which started with an attack on a non–racial issue (as you point out, many racist conflicts start out with something else) doesn't make this a predominantly racial attack? I think you'd be hard pressed to find many motorists who would get so worked up as to actually intend to cause harm to cyclists in their actions. And those that do the issue is not with car/cyclist psychology but the self–control and psychology of the individual.

    26 May 2006, 20:16

  95. Christopher Sigournay

    As an aside, your comment about Jeremy Clarkson inciting motorists to run cyclists over… He's a hugely popular figure amongst my community, but outside of it he is a cause of real irritation amongst the anti–car and green brigades. Call me naieve, but by my reasoning if there was actually any dirt on him he's got enough people eager to nail him to the wall that he'd be brought down for it in the blink of an eye. To date the only serious instances I can think of where he's had repercussions come back on him are when he punched Piers Morgan and when the BBC had to compensate the local parish council in Bristol after he ran a Toyota Hilux into a tree; apart from those instances I know of no successful legal proceedings related to him. And he holds a clean driving licence. Surely if he was really all that bad he'd have been hung, drawn and quartered by the Lynne Faulds Wood camp a long time ago?

    26 May 2006, 20:28

  96. Benjamin Keates

    when he punched Piers Morgan

    Good. I'm sure there are many more people who want to punch Piers Morgan than do Jeremy Clarkson…

    And how would the cyclist feel?

    In pain, probably, but if he had any sense of responsibility about him he'd probably realise that he had to share part of the blame for what happened, rather than it being all the nasty motorist's fault. Just why do you have such a massive chip on your shoulder, George? Not all us motorists are the inconsiderate, careless, arrogant shits you make us out to be, you know.

    26 May 2006, 20:45

  97. Benjamin Keates

    Oh, can I just reiterate for those people above who may misunderstand me here, I in no way condone punching anybody while simultaneously being behind the wheel of a car.

    26 May 2006, 20:49

  98. Benjamin Keates

    Or at all for that matter… again, just a figure of speech. I'm too soft to punch anyone really :–)

    26 May 2006, 20:51

  99. Jeremy Clarkson. The Sun. London (UK): Jul 16, 2005. pg. 33

    IN the wake of the London bombs we're told that many commuters are now switching to bicycles. This is great of course. On a bicycle, you don't have to sit next to a lunatic, you won't be glued to your seat by a piece of chewing gum, and you will not be stopped by leaves on the line or industrial action.
    However, can I offer five handy hints to those setting out on a bike for the first time.
    Do not cruise through red lights. Because if I'm coming the other way, I will run you down, for fun.
    Do not pull up at junctions in front of a line of traffic. Because if I'm behind you, I will set off at normal speed and you will be crushed under my wheels.
    Do not wear lycra shorts unless you are Kate Moss. I do not wish to cruise down the road looking at your meat and two veg.
    Do not, ever, swear at or curse people in cars or trucks. You are a guest on roads that are paid for by motorists so if we cut you up, shut up…

    While cruising through red lights is illegal and dangerous, it hardly warrants the death penalty. As for pulling up at junctions in front of a line of traffic, see highway code rule 154

    Although personally I find the idea of cyclists approaching a junction on the left and then waiting more than a metre away from the kerb quite bizarre (possible exception when there are so many cyclists that there is no room to wait further to the left).

    27 May 2006, 10:29

  100. David Kelly

    It's not bizarre if the cyclist wants to turn right.

    27 May 2006, 10:58

  101. Naomi Howell

    Jeremy Clarkson is one person and he is far from representative of the vast majority of the driving population. It's unfair to cast all drivers with the same personality just because of something that one person said. I'm sure cyclists wouldn't like to be all deemed irresponsible just because one cyclist jumps a red light or something else dangerous.

    Besides – I expect that what Jeremy Clarkson is saying is just for comic effect. Hence the exaggeration. I doubt very much that that is his actual reaction when driving on the roads.

    27 May 2006, 11:45

  102. Re comment 100:

    Surely any cyclist wishing to turn right should try to move over to the right well before the junction and place themselves behind any other traffic waiting to turn right?
    I accept that where traffic is heavy, no gap will occur and as a last resort the cyclist will have to use the space in the ASL. However I do fear that some people will get into the habit of staying in the kerbside cycle lane and then darting to the right at the junction whether or not the lights are about to turn green.

    Re comment 101:

    Jeremy Clarkson might not actually do what he suggests, but is he not encouraging others to do so? Is he not trivilising the lives of cyclists? When he writes (in the same piece quoted above) "Do not, ever, swear at or curse people in cars or trucks. You are a guest on roads that are paid for by motorists so if we cut you up, shut up." Is he not try to intimidate cyclists into accepting any bad behaviour from individual motorists? Or more ominously into accepting any rubbish, tokenistic cycle "facility" produced by a local authority?

    27 May 2006, 12:01

  103. Naomi Howell

    I was in no way condoning what he said – of course I think it's completely wrong. My point was that you can't say that all motorists obviously have the same personality and reaction as him. I'm saying that he represents very very few motorists reactions and that the vast majority are completely rational behind the wheel, so you can't use one person's feelings as an argument that all drivers are like that.

    27 May 2006, 15:10

  104. David Kelly

    George 102: Yes, I normally would move out earlier if I wanted to turn right on a bike. But if the cycle lanes look like that and there's too much traffic to let me do that I might go up the cycle lane on the left and pull to the right in that bit in front of the cars. Personally, I'd be more likely to get off my bike and cross the road as a pedestrian if the traffic's that bad.

    27 May 2006, 15:47

  105. Benjamin Keates

    Surely any cyclist wishing to turn right should try to move over to the right well before the junction and place themselves behind any other traffic waiting to turn right?

    Yes… unless one of these advanced stop lines exists. That's the whole point of them – to remove the need for cyclists to have to dive across busy roads get to the right hand side to turn right. If they can continue on the left and then get safely across in advanced stop zone, they should – it's far safer.

    However I do fear that some people will get into the habit of staying in the kerbside cycle lane and then darting to the right at the junction whether or not the lights are about to turn green.

    Well quite frankly, that's the cyclist's problem. Just as it's a driver's responsibility to not pick up bad habits and drive sensibly, so it is a cyclist's responsibility not to dive across the front of a line of traffic when lights are changing. It's not the junction's fault if cyclists start getting into bad habits. If the road really is that busy, the safest thing to do is get off your bike, walk it across the road as a pedestrian and then get back on when you've crossed the junction and got where you need to be. I really think, however, that these advanced stop lines should be made standard at all busy junctions.

    Or more ominously into accepting any rubbish, tokenistic cycle "facility" produced by a local authority?
    I fail to see any connection, ominous or otherwise in what he said which relates to any kind of cycle facility.
    While cruising through red lights is illegal and dangerous, it hardly warrants the death penalty.

    I, like many others, find Clarkson a very funny man but if you take his views on everything literally you seriously need to wake up to reality.

    27 May 2006, 16:32

  106. Benjamin Keates

    Sorry, formatting error above. "I fail to see any connection…" should not be included in the quote.

    27 May 2006, 16:32

  107. Re comment 105

    some people will get into the habit of staying in the kerbside cycle lane and then darting to the right at the junction whether or not the lights are about to turn green. Well quite frankly, that's the cyclist's problem.

    The point is that the authorities shouldn't put in cycle "facilities" which encourage bad habits. Also, on a crossroads, there might not be very much time for traffic (that includes cycles) to turn right. So people in vehicles waiting to turn right might be upset about cyclists queue jumping by coming up on the left and then darting over to the right. Perhaps that the reason behind Clarkson's stuff about crushing cyclists under his wheels.

    ASL's are useful for protecting cyclists who are proceeding straight on from left turning cars. But I can't think of any junction I've ever seen where a ASL covering the whole width of the carriageway would be much use. If all else fails the cyclist can move over to the right to place themselves front of the rest of the traffic stopped at the lights, but they should take any opportunity to move across earlier (looking first!).

    Kerb–hugging is one of the most widespread bad habits by cyclists – it leads to crashes when people open car doors and to cyclists being cut up (as left turning motorists don't notice the cyclist or assumes he/she is turning left). Cyclists are recommended to cycle with their wheels 80–100 cm from the kerb.

    27 May 2006, 18:32

  108. 0llie Mills

    Your an idiot!
    Cyclists are told to wear flouresent for their own safety! Cars have lights, and are more visible than cylclists, and i would be impressed if a cyclist did much harm to a driver if they did collide!
    As the vast majority of road users are drivers surely the high way code should be written taking this into consideration!

    ps get horses off the road!

    21 Jul 2006, 11:56

  109. So might is right eh?

    If people switched from car to cycle, eminently practical for journeys under five miles, there would be a lot less pollution and congestion. Health standards would also increase.

    Attempting to force cyclists onto dangerous and inconvenient cycle "facilities" does nothing to encourage a switch.

    21 Jul 2006, 15:44

  110. Whether or not fluorescent clothing is a good idea (I often wear a fluorescent jacket myself), a recommendation to do so does not belong in the Highway Code.

    If there were a crash involving a cyclist who wasn't doing something recommended in the Code, the other parties involved would claim that the cyclist was partially to blame in an attempt to reduce the damages awarded. While I may concede that a cyclist without lights should be in some circumstances considered negligent enough to have contributed to a crash occurring, the courts should not take that view with fluorescent clothing. A requirement to wear fluorescent clothing on every cycle journey would put people off cycling.

    21 Jul 2006, 16:11

  111. What do you think of this?

    Number plates for cyclists.

    link

    29 Jul 2006, 11:22

  112. Jon

    It's just Ken telling a caller what they wanted to hear. Probably best to ignore him, or to mock him, in case he thinks we took him seriously:
    link

    31 Jul 2006, 20:13

  113. An improvement in the standard of cycling would be desirable – to reduce casualties among cyclists (and so reduce the perception that cycling is dangerous), to improve conditions for walking and to improve the public perception of cyclists.

    But I’m skeptical about licencing working – the only cyclists which would display them would be the ones who don’t behave recklessly. More police time would be spent on attempting to enforce the law on licence plates than on catching anti-social cyclists.

    What about cycling visitors to London?

    Cars have had licence plates for years, but plenty of motorists speed, jump red-lights, use hand-held phones whilst driving, park illegally….

    See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2298597,00.html

    06 Aug 2006, 18:15

  114. Latest is that Livingstone has shelved the idea. He agreed with concerns over the prohibitive cost of such a scheme and now wants to launch a ‘Share the road’ campaign which will encourage all road users to obey traffic regulations and advise them of the penalties for not doing so.

    So all in all a piece typical for the Summer Silly Season.

    11 Aug 2006, 16:25


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    I make no apologies for copying this from here Road safety minister Stephen Ladyman has laid the new Highway Code before Parliament. If not contested by MPs or Lords, it will be approved within 40 days. The new Code will require cyclists to use cycle facilit…

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