Another key part of the brand new cycling strategy is better training and information for potential cyclists. What do you think are the main things all novice cyclists should know? Any top tips?
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They should know Highway Code!
On every cycling thread there will always be someone who raises the usual complaints about cyclists, even where they are not pertinent to the thread title. To counter those multiple misguided (in my view) positions, I post here three links.
The first takes each of the standard complaints apart in a logical, fact driven manner.http://cyclingfallacies.com/en/
The second amplifies one of the points touched on in that first link, that of the misconception that 'cyclists don't pay road tax", and shows that motorists don't pay anywhere near enough to cover the true cost of roads and motorised transport, and that, in any case, we all pay for the roads.http://ipayroadtax.com/no-such-thing-as-road-tax/when-will-drivers-start...
The third is a blog from the West Midlands Police who have worked out what the real problem on our roads is, and how to tackle it. (Clue: It's not cyclists.)https://trafficwmp.wordpress.com/2016/09/09/junction-malfunction-and-a-n...
None of these links is a quick read, but I ask please that you read them all. I hope it will help you think hard about the issues involved and perhaps realise that the standard round of pre-conceived views about cycling and cyclists are maybe not as you think.
I make no apology for posting this identical post on any cycling thread here in Talk London where these spurious points have been raised in the hope that it will reach the full set of anti-cycling posters.
Why do cyclists ride in the middle of the road? Because they’re allowed to: a poster from the Department for Transport advises “Cyclists. Ride central on narrow roads.” think.direct.gov.uk/cycling.html
See those potholes? Not good for your suspension, are they? To cyclists, they’re not just inconvenient they’re lethal. The cyclist up ahead might be in the middle of the road for a few seconds in order to avoid a big gash in the ground. Cyclists are expert pothole-spotters. Use this inside knowledge to prevent costly damage to your car’s suspension.
But, I hear you cry, cyclists block me even when the tarmac is butter-smooth. Take a look ahead. See any “islands”, those refuges placed smack bang in the middle of the road, and placed there to protect pedestrians? Every keen cyclist knows that these islands can be death traps. Some motorists get a spurt on to overtake cyclists before these refuges, cutting in at the last second. Some cyclists, therefore, take what’s called the “primary position”. (Yes, there’s an official Stationery Office name for the middle-of-the-road manoeuvre www.cyclecraft.co.uk/book.html). This is cyclists’ semaphore for “don’t pass me just yet there’s an obstacle ahead.” Watch what cyclists do when they’ve passed the island: ninety-nine times out of a hundred they tuck back into the side of the road, and the motorist can then safely overtake. When a cyclist takes the “primary position” before such an upcoming obstacle it’s not a mark of arrogance, it’s a (risky) tactic to keep everyone safe.
Cyclists will also assume the primary position to avoid “dooring” by motorists opening their car doors without looking, or when about to turn right. Again, once safe to do so, cyclists return to the side of the road.
Not that a cyclist has to be a “gutter bunny,” hugging the kerb. Cyclists, in law, operate “carriages”, and have done since a court case in 1879. And, as operators of vehicles they have as much right to the whole lane as a motorist. Most of the time cyclists, quite sensibly, allow motorists to pass because that’s the safest and nicest thing to do. But it’s not a legal requirement. There’s no such thing on the road as a “car lane.” The only roads that motorists can call their own are motorways – the clue is in the name.
OK, so how about those cyclists who block the road by “riding two abreast”. That’s also perfectly legal. It’s in the Highway Code. https://www.gov.uk/rules-for-cyclists-59-to-82/overview-59-to-71 Remember, motorists – unless their cars concertina like Autobots from the Transformers movie www.imdb.com/title/tt0418279/ – ride two abreast all the time, even when driving solo.
The Highway Code states that cyclists must not ride more than two abreast and should ride in single file on “narrow or busy roads and riding round bends.” However, the Highway Code doesn’t define what it means by “narrow” or “busy” or quite how rounded the curve has to be before it’s considered a “bend.” Club cyclists, who often ride in packs, will ride two abreast to chat, and will thin out when necessary, but two riders will often “take primary position” before bends. It should be reasonably obvious why. Far too many motorists take bends, even blind ones, fast, and cyclists do not want to be squished when an overtaking driver realises they’ve overcooked the corner and has to dive back in to avoid a head-on smash.
Cyclists often “block the road” in order to save their lives, and possibly yours, too.
Carlton Reid is the executive editor of BikeBiz.com. He drives a Nissan Note “but not very often.” He’s writing a history book on motoring’s cycling beginnings, Roads Were Not Built For Cars. www.roadswerenotbuiltforcars.com
The one thing that I can recommend to people on bikes is to not, under any circumstances, look like you know what you are doing.
I've been watching how drivers respond to people on bikes. Those who are given the most space and courtesy on the roads, seem to have the following characteristics:
1. No helmet
2. Normal clothes – absolutely no hi-vis
3. A non-speedy bike – something clunky-looking like a BoJo bike or a nice big old dutch bike.
4. Precarious shopping – for best effect carrot tops or some other wobbly item should be waving wildly out of the shopping basket.
I think all of the above send signals to drivers, that this is a vulnerable and potentially incompetent human being on the road. Get too near that, even at low speeds, and you'll be responsible for a great big human/shopping mess all over your car and it'll be entirely your fault as that was obviously going to happen. Heck! You should probably stop even looking at them as they might get distracted and fall off.
Hi-vis, helmets and speedy bikes send different messages. They say to a driver "I'm a cyclist who know's what I'm doing. You can get nice and close to me. I'm not going to fall off or do anything unpredictable.". This is unfortunate as drivers don't seem to realise that some reflective polyester and a bit of polystyrene on your noggin doesn't make you invulnerable. This cyclist can still result in a great big human mess all over a car, but I think drivers have a harder time picturing it.
Here are my top tips for new cyclists. 1) Always look behind you. There's a reason that motorcyclists use the so-called 'lifesaver' (the clue is in the name). 2) Trust nobody - treat each and every motorised vehicle as a loaded gun pointed at your head capable of killing you at any moment. Always remember cars are lethal weapons in the wrong hands. 3) Signal your intentions before you make a manoeuvre and make eye contact with any drivers nearby 4) Always ride outside of the 'door zone' - almost 600 UK cyclists were injured by car occupants opening doors in their path in 2011 5) Claim your space on the road - make yourself big at junctions and don't put yourself in danger by riding up the side of left turning vehicles, particularly HGVs that have huge blind spots.
And a couple of others, no 6) always have working lights 7) just because you're wearing a hi-vis jacket don't assume a motorist has seen you. Drivers are often blind to a cyclist's presence, regardless of what he or she is wearing 8) If you're hit by a car a plastic hat won't help. Much better to avoid being hit in the first place
Agree with Tony's remark regarding Licencing cyclists..having said that with increasing numbers of cyclist , there is bound to be a propotionate increase in 'bad behaviour' from cyclist which at times to pedestrians and other Road users will seem like a 'menace' if not checked. There has to be something to contain this bad behaviour , awareness, training and perhaps a bit of an enforcement.
Many (but admittedly by no means all) road junctions have cameras to detect and convict motorists jumping red lights. Perhaps we need more, but you can't say there is one law for cyclists and another for motorists in this respect.
It is really strange that you are able to explain away the apparently irresponsible behaviour of pedestrians as due to "the air pollution" yet attribute other examples of irresponsible behaviour to other causes! Would you like to offer an explanation?
Personally, I notice just as many drivers going through red lights as cyclists. The difference being the point at which they go through is usually at the end of a light sequence, not the start. I have also been hit by a driver jumping a red light, a good 5 seconds after the lights had changed. I didn't even get an apology. You'll also see in today's news, a story about a young cyclist who was killed in London last year by a driver who went through a red light while illegally using a bus lane. As for enforcement, the Met regularly set up 'stings' to catch red light jumping cyclists. It's a good little earner for them.
Well you must be living in a strange part of London, as I have seen police stopping red light jumping cyclists all across the centre and east of London, but have never once seen police stop a motorist for the same 'crime' - despite me seeing many examples of this behaviour on a daily basis. Neither have I ever seen police in London pull over a driver for using their mobile phone, despite this being at epidemic levels in parts of the city. On my commute, I notice about one in five drivers are on the phone. The reason I notice is because of their erratic driving. Agree with you about banning motor vehicles, or at least banning unnecessary trips by drivers, it would make London (and the world) a better place for all of us.
Just as they step out in front of buses! I have been on a bus when this has happened, twice. Really irresponsible, you might think, but apparently on my local shopping street the air pollution is so bad that it can make people kind of out of it or even dizzy. So that might be a part explanation for the bizarre behaviour. Met police in my locality have never been seen by residents to issue an FRN to cyclists, but then they are also walking and breathing in that pollution fug. I would rather see much of the centre of London without motorised vehicles for much of the day. There could be a deliveries period during the day. When a vehicle jumps the red lights, a Met officer can take the license plate number and nab them that way. Not so with cyclists, who where I live move at least as fast as the cars but can dodge around between them and make a getaway. What I mean about the accidents is that while being knocked over by a cycle does not result in serious injuries in most cases, for the elderly and otherwise infirm, a minor fall can be very serious, especially in knock-on effects. And in my neighbourhood, in the residential side streets likely to be turned into 'cutaways' by Boris Johnsons, there are more elderly and infirm than on the main streets. Cars can more easily be heard by people. Some of my older neighbours really dislike electric cars because they are so silent - if your eyesight is not good and you are slow getting over the road, you have to be able to also hear approaching things on wheels. If we could ban motor vehicles, it would all be much more simple, of course.
Actually livehere you are quite wrong about enforcement. Statistics show that the Met and City of London Police issue thousands of FPNs (fixed penalty notices) to cyclists who go through red lights. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the many motorists I see jumping red lights on a daily basis in London. Red light jumping by drivers is for some reason condoned by the authorities. The cynic in me says that it is far, far easier to stop a cyclist than a driver... I also think you are vastly overstating the dangers that cyclists pose to pedestrians. Almost all of the accidents and subsequent injuries that occur to pedestrians both on the roads and on pavements (!) are caused by motorised vehicles. Finally, while cycling in London, I have been knocked off several times by pedestrians stepping out into the road without looking straight into the cycle lane in front of me. In my opinion, pedestrians pose just as much a threat to cyclists' safety as vice versa - but both are dwarfed by the threat of motor vehicles which are the real source of danger to both groups.
The enforcement, absolutely needed, as it seems not to happen at all. I have watched batches of cyclists jump the red lights at a local road junction while two Met officers stand and watch, doing nothing about it. Some of my neighbours are elderly, some with hearing and/or visual problems, and they walk slowly. The nearest essentials, food etc shops are on the other side of a busy shopping street. If they are knocked over by a cyclist, the injuries could put them in hospital for quite a while, and they could end up with their mobility seriously affected. This in turn leads to further deterioration of health. So although at the moment most serious road injuries where I live are caused by people walking in front of buses, if there was a large increase in cyclist numbers, there could be a rise in cyclist/pedestrian accidents, and the local resident elderly and others who are less nimble could be most at risk at more badly affected when there is an accident.
All novice cyclists need to learn basic bike handling skills; how to control the bike and maintain an awareness of the immediate environment. Then they need to be able to integrate their activity with others. When that involves riding on public highways, cyclepaths, bridleways etc. there is a certain amount of regulatory knowledge required to do it safely, and a certain amount of etiquette required to do it amicably.
The reason cyclists are not required to be licensed dates back to the Magna Carta and the rights of individuals to travel on public highways. It was quite easy in those days, there where only pedestrians and horses. Once mechanically powered vehicles where invented the ruling government at the time decided that this new class of travel did not have the same rights as pedestrians or horses. They needed to demonstrate a competence to manage the vehicle, which would grant them a privilege under licence (not a right) to use the highways. Cycles where invented before motor vehicles and where treated the same as pedestrian transport. A part of me agrees with the post from "livehere" except that to me it seems fairly obvious all the pedestrians, in keeping with the Magna Carta classification, would also have to be licensed to use the public highways. The issue, if we accept "livehere" is licensing to use public highways. That would be a massive burden on any government, so my opinion is that neither pedestrians nor cyclists should be licenced. They both already have rights on the highways. Regarding behaviour of minorities, think about this; cycling is on the increase and looks certain to continue increasing. Many of the appallingly behaved cyclists would have been appallingly behaved drivers had they not converted to cycling. The Mayors Vision report alludes to accident statistics that show very clearly we are better off being menaced by bad cyclists than bad drivers. So while I am not condoning bad cycling, far from it, I am pointing out that the negative impact to society is actually rarely very serious.
I disagree. I think there are examples of appalling behaviour from all groups - pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The difference being it is the latter group that have the ability to main and kill. That's why I am far, far more concerned about dangerous driving than I am by jaywalking pedestrians or anti-social cycling.
About the appallingly behaved cyclists who would otherwise be appallingly behaved vehicle drivers - but would they? Most of the people I know who cycle regularly are doing it instead of using public transport. Not instead of using a car. This includes someone commuting in from out near Wembley, for example, as well as central Londoners using them to get around London. Has anyone researched how many cyclists would otherwise use public transport vs how many would drive?
I don't agree about licensing pedestrians. Being on your two feet and nothing else is, you might say, the natural condition of the human, whereas a cycle is a machine, with wheels.
Cyclists should be fully trained and thus licensed, and have number plates too so they can be reported to the police when necessary. A minority of cyclists behave appallingly, often putting residents at risk. The more cyclists, the greater in numbers that minority will be. In our quiet residential side street we have seen cyclists on the wrong side of the road, going the wrong way down one-ways streets, riding on narrow pavements. One even knocked down a pedestrian and then yelled at the guy for being in the way - on the one-person width pavement. Cyclists should be trained to understand that:
At night their lights are almost invisible against the glare of vehicle headlights, so pedestrians may not see them at all.
Pedestrians have to cope with vehicles moving at more or less the same speed, and cyclists moving at various speeds. This can be difficult. A pedestrian might be having to focus on cars and vans, and it is easy to miss the cyclist filtering between them.
Many pedestrians are hard of hearing or have visual problems, or both. It is not unusual to find such people using the quiet residential side streets, for safety.
At traffic light junctions and cross roads, the cyclist should dismount and walk across, or wait for the lights to change, rather than just jump the lights.
All cyclists should be completely banned from using sound systems, whether on the move or stationary. (this is aimed at pedicabs, who blast music out day and night, even at 3am, to residents in quiet residential side streets).
If bikes were more readily identifiable perhaps fewer would be stolen?
Having something to lose, a licence, is the only deterrent to bad behaviour society has ever come up with, apart from loss of liberty through imprisonment. The risk of injury or even loss of life doesn't seem obvious to some, or to deter them, which is where training and education in order to obtain the right to use the roads has it's part to play. Drivers/cyclists, no difference. Except that one group currently has to and the other does not.
There is no simple, undiscovered, magic solution. Training, licensing, and penalties are the only measures that can be introduced to reduce poor, dangerous behaviour and casualties. It may put some off, but probably only the ones who would add to the problem.
Never gonna happen as it would be far too costly to implement and impossible to manage, especially with the number of bikes that get stolen!
It is the license plate that I am after, so a badly behaved cyclist can be identified. Which would require registering bike owners.
Bang on, implementing licensing for cyclists is a ludicrous idea and correct it would only act as a deterrent to cycling. Licensing is not and will never be the answer. Motorists have been licensed for years. Doesn't seem to stop them from breaking the law and driving dangerous does it?
Yes, because perhaps cyclists don't realise how invisible they are in the context of a busy, traffic-full road, and how it can be difficult to simultaneously calculate the speeds of cyclists and cars that are all coming at you. Not every road has pedestrian crossings in easy reach - it can be a long hard trek to the nearest crossing for someone who is elderly. And there are so many cyclists who jump the lights, at junctions and at the pedestrian crossings with traffic lights. My son was on his way home from school, crossing correctly at the 'green man' showing on the pedestrian traffic light when he was hit and sent flying into the gutter by a speedy cyclist. The cyclist also ended up in the gutter, and instead of checking to see if my son was hurt, just went over to him and started shouting, swearing, berating him for being in the way. This was really traumatising for my son. He had hit his head on the kerb, and was a bit dazed. Luckily pedestrians nearby helped him. One problem in the centre of London is the foreign visitors on the Boris bikes. They often ride in little clusters, play around going to and fro across the road or in circles, forget to keep to the left side of the road, go fast round blind corners on the wrong side at speed, ignore one way signs, and are too busy talking to each other to notice what they are doing. Quite often they ride as if they are not all that accustomed to being on a bike. You cannot give them training before they are let loose on the streets so not much can be done about it.
I don't know how to implement licensing without putting people off cycling. It doesn't put drivers off driving though. It would definitely have to be very low cost. Ideally it would go with a cycling proficiency test. Through schools and any youth groups that remain after the cuts running cycling proficiency courses as well as the local police ones would be a good start. And why shouldn't places of work be encouraged to offer proficiency training as well? A gradual introduction of a licensing and testing system.
Thanks for your post, it's good to hear about some of the concerns from a pedestrian's point of view, especially as the Vision is about improving London for everyone, not just cyclists.
The vision mentions more widely available training for drivers so they are more aware of cyclists, equally perhaps training for cyclists should focus on being aware of pedestrian safety. Do you think this could go some way towards reducing the incidents you have described?
Given that a big part of the cycling vision is to encourage more and more people to cycle how do you think we could implement a licencing system in a way that didn’t put people off cycling?
It'd be great to hear more of your thoughts.
Talk London Community Manager