Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
Pete Owens
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Pete Owens » 8 Aug 2020, 1:11am

jatindersangha wrote:Hi all,

Within this thread, these words were used to describe the driving of the Golf - "The car approaches slowly and cautiously giving room". "wasn't really a close pass".

I think it was me who said it wasn't really an example of a close pass (and I was doing so to to counter those who were criticising your riding position).

To explain - it is obviously an example of extraordinarily bad driving which justifies the prosecution. However, the category of bad driving is not to try to squeeze through a narrow gap between you and an oncoming car (which is what a close pass is), but rather to try to race past on the other side of the road before the oncoming car closes the gap (which is cutting you up).

Road positioning is effective at preventing the former, but not the latter (though it does give you escape room)

tim-b
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby tim-b » 8 Aug 2020, 8:02am

Primary for some drivers is waving a red flag in front of a 1500kg bull. If they don't understand the need for the tactics that you are using, and they don't know the Bikeability "rules" then some won't play the game fairly. You can "control" the space all you like but if a driver either takes umbrage or doesn't plan too well then the cyclist will lose, which leads me on to my second point, which was that I agree with PDQs sentiment to be adaptable because we won't change the behaviour of those "adults" that we all encounter on a daily basis. If I hear someone committing to an inappropriate overtake then I'll give them a bit more room, advice that might help other cyclists to stay safe
Regards
tim-b
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Vorpal
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Vorpal » 8 Aug 2020, 12:09pm

I would like to clear up a couple of misunderstandings.

There is nowhere that Bikeability insists a cyclist must *always* ride well out. For one thing, there are *recommended* road positions that vary a little depending upon the road type and width. But in general, there are two basic road positions recommended by Bikeability and Cyclecraft.

The first is 'secondary', which is the normal riding position. The recommended distance from the kerb / edge is 1 metre, but this is not strict, and 0.75 is also ok in many circumstances. I used to tell the Bikeability kids to keep at least an arm's length from the kerb because kids have a hard time judging distance without a reference, and that's an easy way to check. I usually ride approximately in the 'groove' made by the inside wheels of motor vehicles.

The other position is 'primary', which is also sometimes referred to as 'taking the lane'. This position is used to contol the lane and/or make the cyclist more visible and/or prevent silly overtakes. It is effective for this purpose, as long as the lane is roughly 3.0 metres or less. Bikeability & Cyclecraft recommend primary position for the approach to junctions and other areas where conflict is likely. There are some exceptions & notes relating to this.

I generally use primary position on the approach to junctions, pinch points, on narrow single tracks road, going fast down hills (especially if the road is winding), and other points of possible conflict, but I certainly do not use it blindly in all of these circumstances. I use my judgement and experience.

I learned my first lesson about road position when I was a teenager, and was forced off the road by a driver who did not realise I need to cross some rail tracks at a square angle (the tracks crossed the road at an angle). The police officer who attended advised me to take the lane there. While I learned increasingly over the years to use 'taking the lane' for some circumstances, it was relatively recently as such things go, around 2009(?), that I read Cyclecraft and started applying what I learned there. I also taught Bikeability between 2010 and 2012. With a little more than 10 years practicing what I learned from Cyclecraft and it's American equivalent by John Forester, I think I have pretty good judgement for myself when it is appropriate to use it and not; where it is helpful and not.

Driver don't need to understand why a cyclist may use a particular road position. They just need not to run cyclists over, drive negligently, or overtake in a dangerous manner.

As for the OP having an excessive number of incidents, my experience is that different places & times of day have very different outcomes. There were a few streets in northern Essex towns where if I rode them at peak times, I was just about guaranteed an incident. Similarly, I used to ride to the schools I taught at, and one school in Braintree was guaranteed to provide me with a couple of incidents during my commute to and from a week's worth of Bikeability. Some areas of Essex, I can't recall ever having any incidents. One road going to & from my village tended to produce incidents about once every couple of months; mostly teenagers in illegally modified cars who seemed to think it would be a bit of fun to harrass a cyclist. I learned to avoid that road as much as possible, but it was the most direct route to the next town for shopping, so I couldn't always easily do so.

I am someone who always looks at myself, for what I could have done better to prevent or reduce the severity of an incident. sometimes, I can see chances to improve; upon analysis, I realise I could have made myself more visible, or I misjudged something about the circumstances. There are few incidents where there is nothing for me to to learn. The most serious one I've had in the last couple of years, a taxi overtook me on the approach to a junction. The light was changing, so the driver (of course) pulled in as they were stopping. I realised as soon as I understood that the taxi driver was overtaking, what was going to happen, so I started braking. The driver stopped with the inside tyres about 5 cm from the kerb. I managed to stop and pull in to the kerb, but the taxi brushed my elbow and came very, very close to making me hit the kerb. It wasn't the only silly overtake I'd had on the approach to that junction. It was just the worst. My lesson from that? I now take the lane (primary position) at the top of the hill before the junction. It's only about 20 metres before I used to, and I haven't had any silly overtakes since then.

In Norway, I experience an incident about once every year or two, instead of once every week or two (as I experienced living in Essex). It took me some months of commuting every day by bike to stop bracing for a game of chicken at every pinch point, and I didn't even realise I had been doing it until my brain let me relax.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

tim-b
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby tim-b » 8 Aug 2020, 2:50pm

Hi
They just need not to run cyclists over, drive negligently, or overtake in a dangerous manner.

Good luck with that!
Regards
tim-b
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pwa
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby pwa » 8 Aug 2020, 3:06pm

I had a small incident a few days ago as we cycled up a steepish hill, nearing our B&B for the evening after a long ride. I had four panniers on but was still keeping a good, tidy line in spite of the gradient, doing maybe 4mph on the steep corner. There was an oncoming car and another trying to pass us, on a bend with insufficient room. So I stuck rigidly to my full 1 metre from the edge. That also allowed me to avoid the grid:

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.7912676 ... 6?hl=en-GB

The driver of the car wanting to pass edged alongside so that the front of the wheel arch was about 20cm from my front right pannier, and kept in that position, matching my slow speed as I crawled around the steep corner. She was unable to pass due to the oncoming car and the blind bend. All she had to do was wait 20 seconds for us to clear the corner then pass with ample space, but she couldn't wait. As it was, she still ended up waiting but everyone felt a bit more on edge due to her impatience. At least I was able to feel satisfied that I didn't yield an inch.

Jdsk
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Jdsk » 8 Aug 2020, 3:32pm

Sounds like bad dangerous driving.

pwa wrote:At least I was able to feel satisfied that I didn't yield an inch.

Did you consider the advantages and disadvantages of letting her past so that you wouldn't be put at risk if she caused an "accident"?

Jonathan

pwa
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby pwa » 8 Aug 2020, 3:39pm

Jdsk wrote:Sounds like bad dangerous driving.

pwa wrote:At least I was able to feel satisfied that I didn't yield an inch.

Did you consider the advantages and disadvantages of letting her past so that you wouldn't be put at risk if she caused an "accident"?

Jonathan

By the time I realised she was not playing by the rules she was alongside and I was staring down at her wheel arch roughly 20cm from my yellow Ortlieb front pannier. I was tired and wanting to finish the ride at the B&B about 300m up the hill so I confess that my internal conversation was along the lines of "if you want to make contact go ahead because I'm not budging off my line as I go around this corner". We were doing little more than walking speed, of course. And my wife was a few metres ahead, so holding the driver up made her safer.

Cyril Haearn
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 Aug 2020, 3:46pm

@pwa
You should have gestured with your arm: 'drop back!'
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pwa
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby pwa » 8 Aug 2020, 3:53pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:@pwa
You should have gestured with your arm: 'drop back!'

In other circumstances yes, gesturing is something I am prone to doing. But my hands were fully occupied with keeping a fully loaded tourer on line, with no hint of a wobble, on a steep climb around a corner. So I settled for holding my ground.

slowster
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby slowster » 8 Aug 2020, 4:16pm

pwa wrote:By the time I realised she was not playing by the rules she was alongside and I was staring down at her wheel arch roughly 20cm from my yellow Ortlieb front pannier. I was tired and wanting to finish the ride at the B&B about 300m up the hill so I confess that my internal conversation was along the lines of "if you want to make contact go ahead because I'm not budging off my line as I go around this corner". We were doing little more than walking speed, of course. And my wife was a few metres ahead, so holding the driver up made her safer.

Would moving over to the centre of the road have been a better option? i.e.:

- you hear/see the car approaching from behind
- you determine that it will reach you just at or before the bend and the road narrowing
- that would clearly not be a safe place for her to overtake, so you move over close enough to the middle of the road to block her, even if you then have to keep alert for an oncoming car which would require you quickly to move back in.

FWIW I would have done the same as you, but I'm just wondering if there was a better alternative.

pwa
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby pwa » 8 Aug 2020, 4:39pm

slowster wrote:
pwa wrote:By the time I realised she was not playing by the rules she was alongside and I was staring down at her wheel arch roughly 20cm from my yellow Ortlieb front pannier. I was tired and wanting to finish the ride at the B&B about 300m up the hill so I confess that my internal conversation was along the lines of "if you want to make contact go ahead because I'm not budging off my line as I go around this corner". We were doing little more than walking speed, of course. And my wife was a few metres ahead, so holding the driver up made her safer.

Would moving over to the centre of the road have been a better option? i.e.:

- you hear/see the car approaching from behind
- you determine that it will reach you just at or before the bend and the road narrowing
- that would clearly not be a safe place for her to overtake, so you move over close enough to the middle of the road to block her, even if you then have to keep alert for an oncoming car which would require you quickly to move back in.

FWIW I would have done the same as you, but I'm just wondering if there was a better alternative.

I agree that moving further out before the car drew level would have been better, but I was caught out, perhaps being a bit tired, and didn't register the car closing in from behind. On a generally fairly quiet bit of road there had just been a flurry of traffic for some reason so I missed the sound of that car nearing.

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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 Aug 2020, 5:21pm

20 cm away
Terrifying thought :?
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Cowsham
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Cowsham » 8 Aug 2020, 10:44pm

Thought the op was just someone taking the p out of us ( still a strong possibility since he put it on YouTube ) by the way he allowed the bike to wander all over the road in front of heavy traffic but today we saw another one.

Because today was unusually sunny with a blue sky ( my goodness it does exist after all ) a lot of cyclists along with all the gear but no idea types were out too but I'd say this guy was even worse than the op.

Looked to be a high spec plastic fantastic bike and the chap dressed in a stylish Lycra outfit didn't look unfit but --- he was either having an epileptic fit or the handle bars weren't on tight. It was like a trolley with a wonky wheel darting from one side of the lane to the other. ( a foot from the centre line at times )

My 13year old son ( who cycles with me sometimes ) and I travelling in the van just stayed behind him and marvelled. You wouldn't have tried an overtake cos there was no telling what he'd do next. No hand signals when he pulled out to pass cars or when he eventually turned off the road. Sadly I predict he won't survive too long riding like that.

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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby Cyril Haearn » 8 Aug 2020, 10:50pm

Could be a good strategy, in theory. Any half-intelligent morton would stay back and not risk trying to overtake
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hatless
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Re: Road position discussion from 'Witness or victim' thread

Postby hatless » 8 Aug 2020, 10:51pm

An interesting thread. When I returned to regular cycling I had many scary incidents. Over the years they have reduced in frequency, and I think the reason is mainly due to me being more prepared to ride further out. I think OP got it about right. A slightly wider road and I would ride secondary, but OPs three-quarter primary looks about right for that road to me.

But these are fine judgements. My riding position will vary with my speed, how busy the road is, and the weather, as well as the road width, junctions and refuges. It's a game we play. If our tactics are good, interactions will be minimal and everyone stays happy. And we refine our tactics day by day. Which is fun!