Cyclists should ride in the car Door zone – Says driver Y11 JGS

Now I’m quite an experienced rider and often get “close-ish” passes. Close enough that other cyclists would post them on Youtube. I don’t complain about these types of passes, the ones that are maybe just about an arm’s width away. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like them and would prefer the drivers had given more room. But I feel in control at that distance and so put up with them. It’s the ones even closer than that I have a real problem with.

Luckily there are a lot rarer, maybe one or two a week on my commute. This morning I got one. And as tends to happen I shouted some (rather mild) expletives at the driver of the Range Rover that had passed within half an arm’s length of me. Something along the lines of “Bloody hell, idiot, too close”. No worse than that.

What followed is why I decided to write about this particular incident.

The driver slowed, wound down his window to tell me off for “riding in the middle of the road”. He then told me to stop because he wanted to talk to me some more about it. So we stopped.

I was quite angry and to the drivers credit he was quite calm, well mannered, well-spoken and clearly quite intelligent. But, firstly, he claimed to not have driven that close to me. Secondly he claimed that he had never in his 20 odd years of driving seen another cyclist so far out in the middle of the road as much as I was and that he was “stuck” behind me for 200 yards unable to get past. And finally, he wanted to tell me that I shouldn’t be riding in the middle of the road but at the edge by the parked cars.

Let’s look at the road in question. We were going North on the Earlsfield Road. This road is part of route 29 of the London Cycling Network.  It’s quite narrow due to parked parks either side of the road and a number of raised island crossings to calm traffic and aid pedestrians crossing.

Taking into consideration the parked cars, traffic islands and cars coming in the opposite direction there often isn’t a safe place to pass a cyclist. But, every day the overwhelmingly number of drivers seem to manage to do it. Not this guy. Clearly he was frustrated at not being able to pass me for 200 yards, I’m doing around 18/19 mph along here, so he decided to overtake between traffic islands when there was an oncoming car.

Back to the conversation:

Me: I’m riding in the middle of the road for safety, I have to avoid the car door zone.

Him: No you don’t it’s easy to see a driver about to open a door. There isn’t enough room on the road for you to ride in the middle.

Me: Where am I meant to ride then?

Him: In the cycle lane.

Me: What cycle lane.

(He walks into the road and looks around)

Him: Oh I thought there was a cycle lane.

Me: Look down the street. Look at the parked cars, traffic islands. Do you still think there was enough room to pass me?

The conversation continued in this vain, with him including the mandatory “ I’ve driven in London for over 20 years and never had an accident. I’ve passed my advanced driving test; I ride a bike and a motorbike”.

So I asked for his details, mainly to try and continue the conversation online and show him some articles about safe cycling and giving cyclists room.  But unfortunately he couldn’t find his card, and while searching for it he said:

 “I’m sick of cyclists in the middle of the road”.

And there you have it. The real issue. I guess I wasn’t the only cyclists he had ever seen riding in the middle of the road after all.

So Mr Range Rover Y11 JGS. I hope you do take my advice and visit  The Times – Cities fit for Cycling website and read some of the articles. Because if an intelligent, well manned adult like yourself believes that cyclists should ride in the gutter or in the door zone to not delay drivers for a few seconds, then what hope is there?

Response to Transport Committee asking for cyclists views on cycling in London.

Response to Transport Committee asking for cyclists views on cycling in London.

Following the London Assembly Transport committee’s request for views of what it’s like to cycle in London (, here are my personal views.

As a regular cycle commuter for the last 8 years and weekend fun ride cyclists I have had enough experience to form my opinions on what it is like to cycle in London.

Before I start, I want to make it clear that what I have covered is the negative side of cycling in London. I love cycling to work and at weekends, it’s freeing, healthy, quicker, more reliable and generally cheaper (although once you are hooked the amount you actually spend on cycling accessories puts the cheaper element into some doubt!) and I wouldn’t stop doing it for anything.

So, here are my the top problems/dangers faced by cyclists on London’s roads.

1. The generally accepted (bad) attitude towards cyclists.


The current attitude of the majority of motorists towards cyclists leads to careless/dangerous driving around cyclists and lack of real commitment from Government to improve cycle facilities.


For me this is the main reason why our roads aren’t as safe as they could be.

A 2012 study carried out for the Department of Transport back in 2002 which concludes that cyclists are seen as an out-group:

This is significant and you see it every day on the roads, on blogs, article comments, social media and even in Government (cc Boris Johnson unfounded claim that two thirds of cyclist deaths are due to them breaking the laws of the road.

Not only does this stall any serious consideration for creation of decent cycle infrastructure but also leads to aggressive driving near cyclists as “they don’t belong on the road” or other road users feeling that they can completely ignore them and step off the pavement, pull out in front of them or over take them when there isn’t room. And this is often followed up by shouting abuse at the cyclists.

I see it everyday on my commute from drivers of all vehicles and even pedestrians. Other road users, in large numbers simply see us as third rate citizens. They don’t want us on the road and they don’t want us on the pavements. All too often you here the calls of, “you don’t belong on the roads”, “you don’t pay road tax”. It’s almost as if drivers are taught these standard cyclist put down’s. There is no respect on our roads.


We need campaigns to change this attitude; I don’t believe we can rely solely on critical mass for this, it will take too long and in the meantime cyclists will continue to suffer.

2. Drivers simply don’t know how to act around cyclists.


Drivers often put cyclists in danger without even realising they are doing it.


Do I have right of way over that cyclist?

Is there room to over take the cyclists?

Do I have time to overtake the cyclists before turning left?

Can I get past the cyclists before the pinch point?

Is the traffic slowing anyway so there’s no need to over take the cyclists?

How fast is that cyclist going?

Which direction is that cyclist going?

These are questions that I wish motorists would naturally ask themselves with out having to think. They should be instinctive, unfortunately they aren’t. Motorists seem to revert to a simple dictum of “Must get past the cyclists as soon as possible”.

Thanks to this I have been side swiped, pushed into kerbs, hedges and stationary cars, all because a driver couldn’t wait to get past or badly judged the space available.


Introduce cycle awareness as part of the driving test. Similar to the “Give cyclists space” campaign in Plymouth(

3. SMIDSY – Sorry mate I didn’t see you.


The law allows motorists to get away with killing/seriously injuring cyclists by simply saying that they didn’t see the cyclists.


The number one excuse, that appears to be an acceptable defence when colliding or nearly colliding with a cyclist. Every time I’m on my bike I fear the SMIDSY. Make eye-contact we are told, in my experience this makes little difference; drivers just seem to see right through you and carry on regardless.

There is a particular roundabout that I traverse every day where I can guarantee twice a week a motorist, including bus drivers, will pull out in front off me, eye contact or not.

Take a look at the SMIDSY case studies:

In European countries they have strict liability laws that in civil cases assume the larger vehicle is at fault unless proven otherwise. It is believed that this leads to drivers taking more care around more vulnerable road users.

Strict liability is misunderstood in this country being seen as “cyclists never at fault”. This isn’t the case and the laws are hierarchical, i.e. in a collision with a pedestrian then the cyclists would be assumed to be at fault unless proven otherwise. And the law doesn’t affect criminal charges it’s only relevant in criminal cases.

If you didn’t see me – then you weren’t paying enough attention.


Strict liability laws similar to those in other European countries.

4. Cycle infrastructure


A serious lack of fit for purpose cycle infrastructure, what exists is more often than not unusable or even dangerous.


Let’s be clear about one thing straight away. The London Cycle Super highways are nothing of the sort. I challenge any one of you to ride down the length of CS8 from Wandsworth to Westminister and tell me that this is a good facility that is up to Dutch standards of cycle design.

I love the simplicity of the TFL maps for Cycle Super highways (, if only. The “Blue paint” appears and disappears along the full length of the route, motor vehicles have to cross over it, parked cars and bus stops block the way forcing cyclists into the middle of busy traffic creating literally hundreds of collision points along it’s route – the primary thing that the Dutch design out of their road infrastructure. None of this is shown on the map – why’s that?

They are a complete joke, unfortunately a dangerous one. And what is the point of having a cycle lane that is only in use during busy hours? After 7pm it isn’t evidently a cycle lane anymore, and any idiot in a van can legally drive in it. Cycle Super Highway? Really?

The other problem with cycle lanes, ASL’s and other cycle facilities is that they are constantly used by non-cyclists (not just out of hours). Once again it’s accepted that ASL’s aren’t really for the exclusive use of bikes – are they? Despite being backed by law (Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10, 36(1) & 43(2)).

Motorcyclists in particular see a cycle lane as a legitimate route to get passed queued traffic. Don’t believe me? Just sit and watch CS8 (again) during rush hour between Lombard Road and Plough Road.


Road planning must consider the needs of cyclists and pedestrians and implement Dutch style solutions. Enforcement of the use of these facilities.

5. Smoothing Traffic Flow


The Transport for London’s smoothing traffic flow policy is not compatible with safety.


The Transport for London’s policy of smoothing traffic flow is the single reason given for NOT implementing fit for purpose cycle infrastructure on London’s roads. We are constantly told that there isn’t room for facilities as it will reduce the capacity of the roads. So instead more space is allocated to squeeze as much motor traffic through each and every junction, making them even more dangerous, not just cyclists but pedestrians and motorists as well.

All this despite the policy being flawed as a) Cyclists and pedestrians ARE traffic but not being considered, b) TFL’s motor traffic predictions constantly prove to be over estimating, c) Safety is not part of the traffic modelling, d) Studies show that if you increase capacity it will simply be filled until you have the same levels of congestion as you started with. It isn’t a long term solution.


Drop the policy and adapt a modern 21st century solution for moving people around London.

6. All cyclists are law breakers.


Law breaking cyclists ruin it for everyone.


This again comes down to attitude towards cyclists and the fact we are seen as an “out group” and is often used as a reason for not improving cycle infrastructure “cyclists don’t deserve it”.

Yes some cyclists run red lights, ride on the pavements, do stupid things on their bikes BUT not all cyclists do, it DOESN’T happen as often as people make out and it DOESN’T cause that much damage to others – (this doesn’t make it ok if you are wondering about my views).

Let’s not forget that cyclists aren’t the only ones that break the law.

Pedestrians are the worst at obeying the rules of the road, not looking before crossing, crossing in dangerous restricted visibility locations, walking across crossings on red, running across roads to get to the bus, not looking when stepping off the kerb while plugged into their iPods.

Motorists often speed, also jump red lights, especially “just red”, encroach into ASL’s or across box junctions when their way isn’t clear, drive while distracted (using mobile phones, eating, smoking, changing radio stations), illegally park on pavements, in cycle lanes. Not to mentions the hundreds of drivers without licenses, insurance, MOT certificates.

But it’s cyclists that are meant to be white than white right? They are the biggest “pest” on our roads and if they want to be taken seriously then they need to stop all transgressions of the Highway Code.


Change attitudes, campaigns that show how ALL road users break the law not just cyclists. Campaigns that highlight the real statistics behind road collisions and not those made up on the spot by our colourful Mayor.


London could be a great city to live, work and play in. Right now it isn’t, it is dominated by the motor vehicle. Our streets are clogged up with polluting vehicles stuck in traffic increasingly causing drivers to become more angry and aggressive.

I urge the London Assembly Transport Committee to look to other European cities and move transport policy away from trying to increase road capacity for the sole use of motorised vehicles and improve public transport, pedestrian access, cycling infrastructure. At the same time as discouraging the use of motor vehicles.

The argument that our roads are not wide enough to accommodate cycling infrastructure falls flat when you consider that our roads were NEVER suited to the motor vehicle and never will be. Let’s claim them back for everyone.

Angry with Pedestrians.

Would you believe it, this morning, a lovely clear crisp sunrise of a morning, I left home a little bit earlier than normal. Happy as Larry I was. Less traffic, lights going for me, not that it would have mattered if they hadn’t, I was in such a good mood.

It didn’t last. there’s one particular road on my cycle in that takes me down a side street along a contraflow cycle lane. Now the set up is pavement, cycle lane, parked cars, road in opposite direction. Not ideal with the parked cars enclosing the cycle lane in but better than having to go round on the main road.

People walk across the cycle lane, fine I look out for them stepping out from behind the parked cars. People walk in the cycle lane, usually get round around slower walkers blocking the pavement, fine, I slow down and ensure they know I’m there and wait until they get out of the way. I’ve even come across a father and young son riding the wrong way up the cycle lane (As it’s clearly one way as well), fine, the fathers doing it for the safety of his son, so I got out of their way!

But this morning, I was unfortunate enough to come head to head with the most despicable jumped up mid-to late forties twat that I have come across for sometime. This guy was walking in the cycle lane towards me, initially to overtake slower pedestrians, but once he got past them he continued in the lane. Now he saw me and I saw him with plenty of distance between us.

I slowed down waiting for him to step out of the cycle lane, he didn’t, I did the old two tings on the bell just to make sure he had seen me, maybe he was day dreaming? He carried on. Now the only place I can go to get out of his way is onto the pavement or on top of a parked car.

I had to stop, he gave me the must dirty look you could imagine, stepped round me and carried on. I commented “f**k’s sake”. He took complete offence and started having a go at me.

Needless to say a slagging match occurred with him walking right up to me in a very confrontation manner. I tried to point out that this was a cycle lane put there for the safety of cyclists, he replied “what about my safety”. Hello! that’s what the f**king pavement is for!!

I really wanted to hit him, he just had an attitude of arrogance and one of those faces you really want to hit. Eventually he walked off. My morning spoiled. I assume he walks that way to work regularly, and I cycle it every day, so no doubt we’ll meet again. I’ll keep you posted.

Next blog entry will be about why, despite all the problems and dangers, I love cycling.

Until then,


Got to get past the Cyclist

Every cyclist must notice the same thing day in and day out. Motorists just HAVE to get past the cyclist at any cost. Now, this is one of those things that you expect right? I mean, bikes are slower aren’t they? They cause delays to the motorists’ journey.

Wrong wrong wrong. When cycling in a city during rush hour, the cyclist is the second faster vehicle on the road (behind organ donors). We don’t get as delayed in traffic jams (they do slow us down as well) and we can move LEGALLY to the front at red lights.

So, why do motorist just have to get past the cyclist? Because they are idiots! The number of times that I could count where a car or van speeds up to try and pass me only to then slam on their brakes as they nearly pile into the traffic queue ahead. I would laugh if it wasn’t so dangerous to me and my fellow cyclists.

You see, the problem is that the motorist won’t take the road conditions into account when speeding past. The usual bad driving is over taking when there is a traffic island just ahead. The motorist will speed up to overtake, and some of them even pull out and give the bike room, but then the traffic island will loom suddenly in front of them and they pull hard in again and slam the brakes on, great! What you get is a cyclist suddenly with no room and has the choice of mounting the kerb or going into the back of the car.

To be fair, most times a sharp pull on the brakes and feet down will suffice, but not always, and certainly not in wet weather.

Let’s take this further, who are the worst offenders of this practise? Worst in terms of could cause the most damage? Easy, bus drivers. All too often I either myself or other cyclists are literally forced onto the pavement, if there are no railings, due to a bus driver just having to get past the cyclists and then finding either a traffic island, or queue or more often than not that surprising bus stop that suddenly jumps up in front of them. Now this is truly dangerous, put a railing in the way and you are talking serious injury or even death for the cyclist. And this isn;t a cyclist riding up the inside of a bus, this is dangerous driving and an offence.

Do they care? Do their bosses care? No is the answer. I think currently there is one borough in the city that gives bus divers a couple of hours cycling training. I have noted down times, route numbers and bus numbers of a few of the more serious incidents and reported them. I never hear anything back, even after following it up.

When I drive (yes I do, often and even pay my road tax) I look out for the situations mentioned above. It’s not hard, and against popular believe it doesn’t delay my journey to wait for a safe place to overtake a cyclist, safe for the cyclist that is! What slows down a car journey is the sheer volume of traffic, the queues to the badly phased traffic lights, the buses stopping every couple of hundred yards.

So, next time you’re driving to work or even driving for work. Before speeding past that cyclist in front of you, have a look, is it safe to do it? Is it worth it? Should you just hold back and wait? It’s not hard to do.


Vigilante cycling in the City.

I felt compelled to start writing a blog for one reason and one reason only. But before I divulge that reason, let me tell you a bit about myself;

I’m male, in my thirties, family man, good job, great friends, very mild and happy with my life. I enjoy cycling for fun, exercise and commuting to work.

Now, there is the reason for starting a blog. The cycle commute to work. I live in a city which is currently seeing an explosion in the number of cyclists, which is great. I myself have been commuting by bike to work for over 5 years now. You would think that it should get easier and safer with more cyclists on the road. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.

Over the past 5 years, I have always had a few problems with over road users (cars, buses, lorries, motorcyclists, and hairdryers with wheels), but now it appears that these fellow commuters are starting a backlash against the boom in cycling.

Last night, I had three occasions where I had to break hard to avoid drivers (cars on this occasion) that, had clearly seen me (eye contact made) but proceeded to try and run me off the road instead of giving me the correct right of way. The third driver fully expected me to mount the kerb to get out of their way as they drove around parked cars on their side of the road.

I am a courteous rider and driver; yes I do drive as well and pay my road taxes like everyone else.  I’m not saying that I never make a mistake, of course I do, but when I do I will apologise.  I obey the laws of the road and know my highway code pretty well.

Back to last night, on the third occasion of being run off the road, my temper got the better of me for an instance and I shouted abuse at the driver. Now, this wasn’t bad abuse but something like “if you can’t drive it, don’t buy it” (the driver was tucked comfortably inside a too large for our roads MPV).

Of course I got a reaction of the kind “what are you doing on the road, I pay my road tax”. So, I chased the person in question, and chased and chased, and caught up with them at the next set of lights. Let’s face it, in the city it’s quicker to cycle than to drive.

And then shouted more abuse at the driver, who turned out to be a middle aged lady and her husband. They were looking a little frightened by this point. Still, I was in the right and after three attempts at my safety I felt pretty annoyed and ready for a fight. Anyway, they apologised and I went off feeling a little better.

My decision to start a blog is simple. I will use this blog to vent my anger at other road users, and this will include fellow cyclists when the need arises, and hopefully after an incident I will be able to concentrate about what I will write in this blog instead of thinking of ways to damage the guilty parties vehicle (keys down the side, break the wing mirror and for the worst offenders the D-lock through the windscreen!).

So, come back and read about the everyday dangers of the road to cyclists, post your own experiences, frustrations and even methods of revenge! I’ll be listening, even if no one else is.