rules of the road

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thinkingaboutcycling
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rules of the road

Postby thinkingaboutcycling » 1 Feb 2017, 3:06pm

Hi, I just registered here after browsing for opinions on what I'm sure is an all-too common topic- the relationship between drivers and cyclists on the road. This was prompted by a close-ish shave I had with a cyclist yesterday whilst driving in Shoreditch, London. Just for background, I drive more days than not in east London, although I did buy a bike last year with the intention of cycling the towpaths to work.. which tbh is currently still more an intention than a reality, but will probably start in earnest when the daylight hours increase.

I've been driving regularly in London for over 20 years so I've witnessed the huge increase in cycling over this period, which I'm in favour of. And it has definitely caused a change in my driving habits- for instance, nowadays any left turn is done with one eye constantly on the nearside door mirror (to think this mirror wasn't even fitted as standard to many cars until the 1980s!) because two-wheeled vehicles (motorised and otherwise) can appear with alarming suddenness, particularly in slow and busy traffic.

Anyway, this not-quite-an-incident happened whilst I was in a lane clearly marked (arrows and signs etc) as a left-turn only, with only the right-most lane marked for going straight ahead. No right turn. I was sitting there indicating left, and as the lights changed glanced in the left mirror, saw nothing, then looked ahead to make sure no last-minute pedestrians were sprinting across, then pulled away, following my lane round to the left. Then suddenly noticed a cyclist at my nearside window (she must have been travelling quite quickly up the inside and caught the lights favourably as they changed,) so I braked sharply. She stopped too, then moved off straight ahead (cutting across two left-turn-only lanes) to follow the straight-ahead route, waving her arm at me. I admit it got my back up a little, and I was a little rattled for the remainder of my 10 minute journey home. She entirely ignored all road markings and signs, and then berated me for what I saw as doing nothing wrong.

As I said, I am in support of more cycling, and even though I use my vehicle regularly for work (I have a workshop-based business so I'm always running about picking up materials etc,) I sometimes feel quite annoyed with myself for adding yet another big polluting metal box to the already congested roads. So I hope I don't come across as a petrol-head cyclist-hater. But in my considered opinion, based on many thousands of hours driving the same patch of London almost daily since the 1990's, I have noticed that recently cyclists seem to be obeying the road markings less and less.

Do any of you cyclists feel this? There has undoubtedly been a fundamental shift in perceptions, especially in areas such as mine in east London where cycling is hugely popular,) to a point where the cyclist is now king (in principle if not practice.) And in some ways I think that perhaps this should be the case (I did read somewhere that in Holland it is indeed the case in law.) In fact I think the friction I do often witness (and sometimes feel myself) between the different groups of road users is that we're actually working to different sets of rules. As a car driver it is drilled into you from the moment you begin lessons that you mustn't perform a manoeuvre until it is safe to do so, mustn't change lanes unless there is plenty of space, must follow all road signs and marking etc. at all times. And if you don't follow the rules and there is an accident, you are liable in law. The system is king, because the system attempts to make actions predictable. Of course lots of car drivers are often clueless and/or idiots. But at least we know when they're being clueless and/or idiots, because they're clearly not following the rules.

I get the impression that the 'system' a lot of young cyclists in my area now work to (I have a hunch I'm talking about mostly young casual city commuter types here, not keen cyclists,) is that they are riding on some tarmac that also happens to have markings for the use of motor vehicles, and they are especially vulnerable so everyone should make way for them.

Which I'm now thinking may actually be the best policy- I certainly think that if the highway code was changed to "cyclists are free to do whatever they want on the highway and it is the motorist's legal responsibility to avoid colliding with them" then, although this would initially be quite irritating to other road users, in the long term it would at least remove any doubt or 'system incompatibility'. I think I'd vote for it, at least in town centres. And it would cause a huge paradigm shift in drivers' attitudes that could benefit all of us, especially children cycling to school etc.

What do you think?

PS I'm not being sarcastic here, in case you have me marked as a droll troll!
PPS and sorry for the endless post..

eileithyia
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Re: rules of the road

Postby eileithyia » 1 Feb 2017, 5:53pm

Phew to be honest the post is so lengthy i have not read it all, just glanced over it and read the main bit relating to the incident.
To be honest, as long as you still had your indicator showing (and as you say you were in the left turning lane) then you did nothing wrong, the cyclist was in the wrong and no one in their right mind would ride up the inside of an indicating vehicle with a green light to turn left.....

From both perspectives (and I confess i do not ride in London or other big cities at commuter time) cycling and driving standards are often poor but not everyone is bad.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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foxyrider
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Re: rules of the road

Postby foxyrider » 1 Feb 2017, 6:24pm

Got your back mate, woman is another Darwin clearly :D
Convention? what's that then?
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flat tyre
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Re: rules of the road

Postby flat tyre » 1 Feb 2017, 6:33pm

I don't cycle in London, so can't really comment in relation to London. Although it seems as if the cyclist was in the wrong in this case, it is my experience that where there are road markings specifically for cyclists, these are very often very confusing and can put one in a position where conflict with other traffic can occur, so just wondering if that was the case here?

Grandad
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Grandad » 1 Feb 2017, 6:54pm

as long as you still had your indicator showing (and as you say you were in the left turning lane)


Good practice but is it really essential to signal left when that is the only way that you can go

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Vantage
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Vantage » 1 Feb 2017, 8:04pm

Thinkingaboutcycling you're not alone in noticing increasing bad behaviour from cyclists.
I've never been a driver and my time on public transport has been limited so my only means of transport when it's been needed has indeed been the bike. I do consider myself a die hard cyclist. But I do feel that droves of complete and utter plebs are taking to cycling and making the rest of us look like equal plebs.
I'm at the point that I've long since given up saying a cheery "hello" or nod of the head to other cyclists as the special little club we were once a part of is gone.
Equally however, I feel and notice that more and more people are driving these days too.
Gentlemanly and lady like behaviour is gone imo.
Last edited by Vantage on 1 Feb 2017, 8:30pm, edited 1 time in total.
Bill


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eileithyia
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Re: rules of the road

Postby eileithyia » 1 Feb 2017, 8:05pm

Grandad wrote:
as long as you still had your indicator showing (and as you say you were in the left turning lane)


Good practice but is it really essential to signal left when that is the only way that you can go


Well not everyone has had road training or has an instinct for self-preservation and it might be one of those road lanes where the direction arrows are painted on the lane and so obscurred by the vehicles actually covering them.
We are all pretty keen to moan and point out that vehicles have indicators and that they are not optional extras, when we have discussions about vehicles. Also indicating shows intent not only to other vehicles but to pedestrians etc that might be crossing at the junction.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

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meic
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Re: rules of the road

Postby meic » 1 Feb 2017, 9:45pm

Also indicating shows intent not only to other vehicles but to pedestrians etc that might be crossing at the junction.

It is also a perfectly valid signal of intent to pull over to the left side of the road to park or pause a while.
Not actually a fail on your driving test to indicate left in a "left only" situation but not what you are supposed to do. Like many things you use the indicator best you can for the exact situation.

It is rather like flashing headlights to let somebody out, common practice doesnt match with what is formally correct usage of signals.

Back to the OP something very similar to what you ask for is frequently called for, which is presumed liability. This isnt a road law giving cyclists priority but a case of civil liability, so in an accident between car/cyclist/pedestrian the most vulnerable party is awarded compensation unless the more dangerous vehicle can prove it was unavoidable, rather than they had priority. Not an entirely correct definition but it gives the right idea.
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Paulatic
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Paulatic » 1 Feb 2017, 9:54pm

Grandad wrote:
as long as you still had your indicator showing (and as you say you were in the left turning lane)


Good practice but is it really essential to signal left when that is the only way that you can go

Yes I would say so. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre you intend to turn left.
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Bez » 1 Feb 2017, 11:07pm

I think the fundamental issue is that a lot of people are pretty careless and some of them happen to be on bikes. (Better that than in cars.)

Sometimes carelessness arises largely through complexity of the environment: I know that on rare occasions when riding in unfamiliar parts of London I've been so busy trying to rapidly figure out myriad vehicle movements, and which way I'm supposed to be going at a junction, that I've missed signs or lane markings. But of course often it arises through people not really caring much. I don't drive in London (though I drive a lot outside of it) but I do cycle there, and I do find that a lot of people on bikes in London are… hmm… not entirely thoughtful of others. The same is true of people in cars, it just manifests itself in different ways. And of course the environment breeds a certain species: you have to be fairly assertive to get by in British traffic, so people on bikes tend to be over-represented by confident men going quickly.

Sounds like you're doing the right thing, though: keep an eye out all the time, make sure you're doing your bit as well as you can, and then just accept you simply have to deal with what's going on around you. I used to drive around 30k miles a year and I would get wound up by other people's rotten driving, but I came to the conclusion that if I was spending that much time behind the wheel getting angry about things which happened constantly and over which I had zero control, I'd just start going mad. So I decided to just not be enraged by it. By and large, it's worked.

As an individual within a system there's simply no point trying to change the behaviour of other individuals in that system. By far the better strategy is to try, bit by bit, to change the system. Partly that's about changing the approach to enforcement, but when it comes to cycling behaviour, it's reasonably well documented that having good, efficient infrastructure not only leads to more people cycling and more diverse people cycling, it also leads people conforming to the rules much more.

reohn2
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Re: rules of the road

Postby reohn2 » 1 Feb 2017, 11:41pm

To ride up the inside of a left indicating motor on a bike is nothing short of stupid,I can't reconcile it with any kind of self preservation,logic or common sense.
It's that simple,and from the account of the the OP the cyclist in question is an idiot.
A simple adage is "if in doubt,do nowt" if unsure of what to do,don't carry on doing what you're doing currently hoping that it'll all work out,where motors v bicycles are concerned it won't,and is a recipe for disaster,especially with some of the equally idiotic morons* driving cars.

*no aspersions cast toward the OP in that regard.
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Pete Owens
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Pete Owens » 2 Feb 2017, 1:12am

I think this kind of behaviour is a London thing. I used to think all those stickers on trucks advising cyclists against undertaking were a bit pointless - though I couldn't understand why it caused so much anger - surely it is so obviously stupid that nobody does it - they don't up here in the sticks. Then I saw some of the silly cyclist videos and it does seem to be common.

I think there are a couple of things driving this:
One was the demise of cycling proficiency training. The current population of youngish cyclists are too young to have done cycle proficiency, but too old to have benefited from Bikeability. Also, in London there are more people who never learn to drive than in other places so who have never had any training in how to use the road.

Another is the proliferation of cycle lanes and paths that encourage gutter hugging and wrong-side overtaking rather than proper lane discipline.

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Vantage
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Vantage » 2 Feb 2017, 7:58am

Pete Owens wrote:I think this kind of behaviour is a London thing.


No it's definitely a nation wide thing. Happens in the desolate north too.
Bill


“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” ~ Eddy Merckx
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Si
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Re: rules of the road

Postby Si » 2 Feb 2017, 9:54am

Similar things will be seen in many of our towns and cities. Just like drivers there are good cyclists, average cyclists and bad cyclists. With the increases in cyclists in many urban areas there will be a lot more good, average and bad cyclists.......however it will be the bad ones that stand out and will be remembered as they annoy others. Indeed, in some cases the only cyclists who are ever noticed are the bad ones.....hence these stories about all cyclists jumping red lights or running down grannies on pavements.

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Re: rules of the road

Postby Phil Fouracre » 2 Feb 2017, 10:02am

Think Pete has a point - seen the vids as well, especially the one of the cyclist trying to go between a bus and truck and getting 'stuck' seriously scary. On a more specific note, I was surprised, going on holiday with a friend, to find that he'd only just passed his test, having lived in London all his life. Living in 'the sticks' our ambition was to learn to drive as soon as humanly possible :-)
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