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to think cyclists and roads are a really bad mix

(48 Posts)
FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 14:22:05

Please don't jump on me - I come from a militant cycling family, was brought up on secret cycle campaign meetings, rode to and from school every day (6 mile round trip) and hate cars/pollution etc etc...apart from a fascination and love for old landrovers, 1960s Rovers and British bikes.

BUT over the last few years I have been driving almost daily due to where we live and the school run and so on, and it is getting more and more obvious to me how dangerous it is sharing the road with cyclists.

Don't get me wrong - there's nothing I'd like more than to see hardly any cars and loads of bikes, but the facts seem to be that millions of people want or need to use their cars, and there are more cars than bicycles on most routes.

The things I hate are, as a cyclist, being followed up a road by a legion of impatient (or even patient) cars which are belting out fumes and wasting time/petrol while they wait for me, as it's too narrow to pass. The danger aspect or course. And a lot of pissed off drivers taking out their frustrations on cyclists as a genre.

As a motorist I hate following a line of cars up a hill while said cyclist (it could be me) tries to go as fast as they can but obviously is not as fast as a car, therefore causes probably more pollution than they are saving - not sure about that, but ti seems ridiculous to me.
And particularly, I hate having to overtake cyclists which means going across the central line in order to give the cyclist safe room, and being caught up and overtaken by cyclists on each and evry side of the car, very fast, giving me little if ANY chance to see them in time to react and therefore having my heart in my mouth frequently as I have yet another near miss with someone who assumes I have 360 degree vision and can predict what they are about to do.
i hate seeing cyclists putting themselves in danger on busy roundabouts.

I would like to see the following:

Millions of proper cycle lanes, and cyclists allowed to ride slowly on pavements if and where necessary - dismounting for pedestrians/children etc probably, as a pedestrian I don't aprticularly like pavements being used but prefer it to seeing riders in danger on roads.

And a part of the driving test being to ride a bicycle out on the roads, so you get a perspective from both sides. I can see that if you drive and have never biked, you would assume they were idiots - and if you've ridden but never driven, you'd hate all car drivers!

So people ought to try both.

Any thoughts?

belgo Sat 17-Oct-09 14:26:54

haven't read your OP, but totally agree with the thread title.

Ban all cars I saysmile

beaniesinthebucketagain Sat 17-Oct-09 14:27:57


im not a driver yet, started lessons a few weeks back, DP passed his test 3wks ago having not been in a car more than once a week to almost daily and in that time ive been scared for many a cyclist!

We have to use a long narrow road to get to the supermarket, many many lorry's also use this road, at all times of the day it appears! If a lorry can make our car (albeit a little 106) sway and make me gasp, what on earth would happen to a cyclist???

And roundabouts im desperate to get out of the car and ask them to please just walk and use the pedestrian crossing instead of that manic mash of vehicles!

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 14:29:27

Belgo grin that would have been my answer aged 13! I would give up the one I use happily if everyone else did and we didn't have to walk down a nasty smelly traffic ridden road to school every day. Saying that I think it's be nicer to move tot he country and home educate, just am too scared of the dark.

belgo Sat 17-Oct-09 14:32:25

I will read your OP nowsmile

belgo Sat 17-Oct-09 14:37:56

Interesting idea about drivers being made to ride a bike on the roads as well.

I live in a small town, with thousands of cyclists and lots of cars as well, and the combination is lethal. An 11 year old boy was killed as the bottom of my road this time last year, by a lorry turning into my road, he just didn't see the boy on his bike and the boy didn't stop coming down the hill. There was no fault on either side, it was just an accident. The boy was using a cycle path, so even they don't stop these sorts of accidents.

Meglet Sat 17-Oct-09 14:48:06

YANBU. More cycle paths are desperately needed. I will not cycle these days as there are too many crap drivers and tiny roads.

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 15:29:19

Oh gosh Belgo, poor lad sad how awful.

It is interesting to hear the perspective of someone on the continent as I always imagined the huge numbers of bikes in the Netherlands etc made it somehow safer. I may be wrong there then.

Nancy66 Sat 17-Oct-09 16:33:00

Don't agree with either of your proposals I'm afraid.

There are already far too many reckless cyclicsts using pavements - make it legal and it will get a hundred times worse.

I can't see any logic behind making drivers use a bike - it's like saying they should spend a day digging the road, so they know how that feels too.

sarah293 Sat 17-Oct-09 16:52:22

Message withdrawn

lljkk Sat 17-Oct-09 17:04:45

Oh great, yeah, let's just ban cyclists on roads, HEY, let's make cycle paths Compulsory for cyclists to use. hmm
Then cyclists will go even slower, making cycling and even less attractive option for commuting or getting anywhere at all. Not least because the cycling paths are so frequently covered with broken glass and thorny hedge cuttings.

So we'd have even fewer people thinking that cycling on the roads is a reasonable option -- especially because some motorists would feel even more self-righteously that the road is for THEM alone. So their attitude to cyclists who did use the road would only deteriorate even further.

Sorry, FlightAttendent, but your emphasis on cycle-paths idea isn't workable unless cyclists are given rights of way at most junctions (which is never gonna happen). The solution is not to herd cyclists off the road; the solution is to get every vehicle user to proceed more sensibly and considerately.

Urban speed limits of 20mph on most roads would be a good start, 20mph is above the current average car speed in most cities, anyway.

ps: anyone else got a copy of Crap Cycle Lanes? It rather informs this discussion.

sarah293 Sat 17-Oct-09 17:09:21

Message withdrawn

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 17:29:03

No it's not, Nancy. Not at all the same. I think having ridden a bike makes me a more careful driver. I know to go round them properly, give a wide berth etc, some drivers don't as they've never been cut up while on a bike. Mind you it might not alter the mindset of those who already think cyclists need running over.

Lljkk and Riven - yes of course cycle paths are crappy, and too few, etc etc but I would expect that to change in line with the rest of it. I don't expect cyclists to use crappy cycle lanes. I also think it is a good point about it making car drivers treat cyclists even worse - but what if we didn't ban cycling on roads, just encourgaed it elsewhere with better paths?

I think you are looking at it as in a ban NOW on road cycling which of course would be utterly stupid, because there's nowhere else for them to go.

I stand by my thoughts that cycling on the road (if there are cars present in any quantity) is not a good thing, and it's certainly something I HATE doing and won't be letting my children do. I'm competent, used to ride across big roundabouts etc etc even as a young teen but I find it appalling now as I did then - very basic consideration is lacking from many drivers but as a driver now I can see that there are sometimes situations where even a good driver will fuck up because they just can't see you coming.

I also think there are some really poor cyclists on the roads - was cut up by a v fast one in full gear the other day, rode right in front of me and kept going in the middle of the road, no signals, no idea what he was about to do next.

You can't say it's just the cars - it really isn't.

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 17:31:45

Speaking as a driver who is far from perfect, but tries hard to be careful - I just almost ran over a 3yo girl in a supermarket carpark - I looked both ways before reversing, she suddenly ran right behind the car, ahead of her grandad who wasn't holding her hand or anything. I couldn't see and just managed to slam the brake on, I was about to reverse at normal speed but thank God I was quick enough to use the brake instead.

Things like that, make me wonder just how safe driving is full stop. It really freaked me out.

5Foot5 Sat 17-Oct-09 17:39:58

Riven: I have a lot of sympathy for cyclists (used to cycle everywhere as a student) but I don't necessarily agree that it is always inconsiderate car drivers that are the problem.

Recently we were driving on a road near us in the Peak District (Cat and Fiddle road between Macclesfield and Buxton for anyone who knows that part of the world) This road goes quite high over the hills and has many bends. It also carries a fair bit of traffic including more than its fair share of motorbikes (but that is another story)

Anyway there was a cycling club having a road race of some sort along this road. This didn't appear to be particularly "official", i.e. there were no traffic controls or police involved so sometimes large groups of cyclists were mixing with cars for several miles.

This on its own is not uncommon on that road. However, on this particular day the cloud was extremely low so for most of the time visibility was very poor indeed. Of course, none of these cyclists had lights as they don't seem to fit on that style of bike. Nor were the cyclists wearing anything flourescent to make them more visible to other drivers.

It seemed to me like an accident just waiting to happen - lots of blind corners and the possibility of one or a group of barely visible cyclists around each bend. Believe me it made the driving very difficult and stressful. Frankly I thought it was highly irrespoinsible of the organisers not to call it off given the conditions.

For sure motorists have a duty to be considerate to other road users but surely the cyclists also have to take some responsibility for their own safety.

sarah293 Sat 17-Oct-09 17:42:41

Message withdrawn

lljkk Sat 17-Oct-09 17:47:58

Do you also hate being part of a line of cars polluting extra because they're stuck behind...

a tractor?
a caravan?
a big bus?
an enormous lorry?
a moped with tiny whiny engine?
Flat-cap wearing old-codger in Robin Reliant?

Shall we insist that every would-be car driver try those methods of transport, too; heck, maybe I'd even support that, if it gets motorists to realise they aren't the only ones entitled to be on the road.

neume Sat 17-Oct-09 17:50:34

Sorry but I really HATE cyclists. I worry about them when I'm driving, but it's as a pedestrian that I get really angry

Near me they routinely drive on pavements, across pedestrian crossings, jump red lights etc. When using a zebra crossing with DS1 a cyclist came speeding by and shouted that I should "watch where the f*ck I'm going". On a zebra crossing FFS. Near DS2's nursery they ride on pavements and over crossings to avoid going round a roundabout.

Cyclists are not taxed or insured so do not have the same "right" to the roads as motor vehicles. Cyclists do not have to pass a test and often are either ignorant of the Highway Code or think it doesn't apply to them.

Also I would not be surprised if many were not speeding in 20mph areas.

Too many cyclists have a sense of smug entitlement (more green than cars etc)....well I'm sorry, but they are not more green than pedestrians and often treat pedestrians with the same callous disregard that they object to from motorists. OK, I know the consequenses for cyclists are worse than for pedestrians, but does this really excuse dangerous cycling?

Phew, rant over....that feels better grin

sarah293 Sat 17-Oct-09 17:55:53

Message withdrawn

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 18:03:28

Well I'll let someopne else respond to Neume's rant as I'm not sure where to start!! wink

Llj, yes, I certainly do resent it. I'm not saying that vehicles like that shouldn't be used at all but I do have a kind of 'manifesto' if you like that is to stream traffic, ie slow stuff goes together, fast stuff goes together. It doesn't make any more sense for bikes to be on the roads than it does for them to share pavements, if you are talking about conflicting speeds.

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 18:07:45

Riven of course car drivers ought to take more care, because they have the potential to kill (moreso than a bicycle)

BUT that is a bit like saying amd forgive this analogy, because it only applies in the case of a really terribly unsafe cyclist, that someone crossing the tracks in front of a train in a reckless manner is less liable for their risk than the train driver because his train is so much more dangerous than they are.

My point isn't that cyclists are responsible for all evil on the roads, but that when you have heavy machinery in conjunction with slow, fragile unprotected machinery you have a potential disaster. And therefore avoiding that disaster stresses everyone out unnecessarily. If cyclists had their own routes everywhere, that were clean, well maintained and useful, it would take a lot of dangerous situations off the roads.

Pixel Sat 17-Oct-09 18:17:56

Sorry Riven but only last night I saw a cyclist dressed head to foot in black, no lights on his bike, riding in the pitch dark. Even in a built up area you could hardly see him, in the rain he would have been completely invisible. Not only that but he was weaving to and fro across the road, sometimes on the wrong side and the last I saw of him he shot across to the wrong side of the road and round a blind corner on a mini-roundabout. If a car had been coming round there (it would have been turning left) it wouldn't have stood a chance in avoiding him, being suddenly confronted with him head on.
Last week I saw a lad on a bike come up between a lorry and the kerb, then suddenly cut across in front of the lorry's bonnet to make a right turn into another road. I was facing them, waiting patiently to make my own right turn (it was a crossroads) and actually gave a little scream because I was so sure he was going under the lorry and he appeared so suddenly. It was only the fact that the lorry was going really slowly up a steep hill that saved him I think.
How can the drivers be blamed in any way for these incidents? And believe me, I see behaviour like this all the time.
BTW, I do have a bike, but I wear suitable clothing, have lights and follow the highway code!

FlightAttendant Sat 17-Oct-09 18:22:07

In my ideal world, there would nopt be lorries or cars or buses. Everyone would cycle and live in small communities where we grew our own organic seasonal veg and all that kind of thing. But it isn't really looking likely atm. sad

I would LOVE a network of proper cycle paths all the way from my house to school - in fact proper pavements would be a decent start, that didn't have huge vehicles rushing past every 2 minutes. Everyone just wants to feel safe and get there without having to interact with differently powered vehicles.

sarah293 Sat 17-Oct-09 18:34:09

Message withdrawn

lljkk Sat 17-Oct-09 18:40:53

Most adult cyclists ARE also car-owners -- so we DO PAY ROAD TAX.

By using bikes for so many journeys rather than the car, should I get a money rebate on my car tax by not taking up my full "entitlement" to use of the road? hmm

While back... 10 years? There was a study which reckoned that the price of petrol needed to be about 10 quid a litre to cover the environmental damage done by motorised road traffic. See, it works out that the rest of society is subsidising motor vehicles, not that drivers have somehow paid their way and cyclists/riders haven't.

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