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Friday, 20 February 2015

A classic cyclist's handbags at dawn.

This story about a head cam cyclist's altercation with a driver See the video here. Is a classic of why these altercations and bad reactions are occurring.

To use any instrument to remonstrate with other road users, is a misuse of the instrument. In this case a loud electronic buzzer. 

Horns are meant to simply warn of presence but all too often, especially in this country, they are used only as a form of rebuke. That's why you can drive around the UK and never hear a warning instrument unless someone does what someone else perceives to be wrong. This cyclist kicks off by shouting expletives, deemed so bad they have been muted by the publishers, and then followed by a loud buzz of rebuke. This is wrong. I implore cyclists not to start an altercation.

But studying the video let's actually see what went on. Here we have an average urban main road with frequent oncoming traffic but very little passing room. This is where, as I have already addressed the issue of safe passing, Here In short rule 163 Highway Code is totally subjective & unworkable whilst the 3 foot rule being demanded simply cannot be applied.  All this does is convince cyclists that they can demand what they think is a safe passing distance. That is what's happened here. This cyclist is now trying to be a driver. He has decided the pass was too close. His whole idea is that he should impose his speed on other road users and in effect, dare them to pass him. Then when they do, he remonstrates forcefully.

Having looked at this video, the passing speed is very low and this is something I have already raised in the earlier Blog. Had this pass been fast then yes, it would be too close. So clearly, at such a low speed difference, as in this case, there would be no damage or injury caused by impact speed of about one or two MPH. The injury, damage or even death would be caused by the speed of the cyclist if he were nudged off his bike and not the passing speed of the driver.  

One could argue then that the cyclist's speed not only contributed to the scenario but would most certainly be a factor in the outcome had their been a collision of the two.

His reaction, to what was a predictable occurrence on that road at the time, eventually caused the outraged driver to stop to find out what all the rebuke was about. Quite correctly he left it at: 'Take my number' and nothing more than that. Whether the pass was too close is a matter of subjective opinion and since nothing happened at all, it tends to vindicate the driver and not the cyclist.

Cycling speed is always going to be a factor in these altercations as is who started the abuse of another road user.   


  1. If you watch the video on YouTube you will be able to clearly hear that it was the driver that first swore and that the only time the cyclist swore was when he simply repeated what the driver had said.

    The driver didn't simply say take my number, he said "Take the f***ing registration number".

    I suggest that you watch the original version and then comment on the incident.

  2. You are being selective. The cyclist instigated the confrontation first with his Klaxon of rebuke, then continually accosting the driver and to say he would be reported to police. After all that, the driver who didn't think he'd done anything wrong got out to more aggression, including 'you going to strike me?' You drove dangerously, I am reporting you to police. And his reply wasn't to hit him, grab his camera but to correctly tell him to 'take his f---ing number'

    Don't let's be silly about his mild language after threats and accusations. So you still say the cyclist didn't start the altercation? Oh get honest please.

    But what about the other points about the cyclist's own speed being a major factor in his risk?

    These head cams are causing words and behavior likely to cause a breach of the peace as I have already predicted. Mainly because they cause the wearer to threaten others with them. The stupid thing is that if this man had been punched his camera would not have protected him.

    I take it you support my appeal for cyclists not to provoke drivers with any form of rebuke for their own safety?

  3. If a cyclist is hit by a car at any speed the cyclist will likely fall off. The cyclist's injuries may be affected by their speed, however the driver's speed will also play some part. But the root cause of the crash would be the car hitting the cyclist, or indeed the cyclist hitting the car.

  4. Well it is right that we must acknowledge the cyclist's speed as an effect on the outcome. As I have pointed out there is a big difference with a car passing at 50 MPH that closely, but creeping past? The effect on the cyclist would be greatly increased by his own fast speed.

    But the car didn't hit the cyclist. His perception has been encouraged by the contradictory and totally subjective rule 163 and the 3ft rule. So it's OK for a cyclist at speed to pass near to stationary cars, and if a door opens and he's knocked off that's not his fault either? Cyclists want it all ways.

    As I said in a previous Blog, the outcome proved the driver correct in his judgement. Of course cyclists are unnerved. That's their brain trying to tell them that it doesn't like what they're doing and alerting them. It's no good shouting at a driver who thinks he's done nothing wrong.

  5. I agree cyclists shouldn't go too far in rebuking other road users or at least accept that they are instigating a confrontation with all the risks that come along with that. I cycle and drive, and the close passing is a major problem for cyclists, I'm happy if I can't reach out and touch the car at low speeds but it needs to be doubled once the speed goes up. There are factors beyond the cyclists control that may cause them to swerve, road condition, parked cars opening doors, pedestrians stepping off the kerb, dogs cats etc..

    All of these factors are more likely near the edge of the road, as a driver I find no difficulty in giving ample room to a cyclist or any other road user and have never been shouted at by a cyclist, my journeys are also no longer than expected as a result. As a cyclist I have found the need to shout at motorists, I'm learning to keep a lid on it but sometimes it's difficult when people around you show a murderous contempt for your safety. With no empathy you really won't understand until you cycle the roads. We have a real problem in this country, cycling is going nowhere and neither are people like you who think they can reimagine the highway code to suit themselves. I did 700 miles in Germany the other year without incident, it was 15 minutes in London before I'd been driven off the road and had a water bomb thrown at me. What is our problem? Sorry I mean what is your problem?

  6. Hi James, so why doesn't the same argument apply to fast cyclist's? One passed me the other day much faster than this pass and just as close. Had I wobbled and he struck me I would've been off. Same for passing close to stationary cars fast too. One could say don't pass stationary vehicles without at least a door's width. So it's one rule for cyclists it seems.

    But your unease is more about your brain telling you 'I don't like this much' and its owner ignoring it. The fact is what a cyclist perceives as too close in practice isn't. This cyclist, having singled this driver out, was ready to accept the following driver who was equally close too.. The fact that the pass was successful, tends to corroborate the driver's judgement.

    But then we come down to the reality that we can manage very well without cyclists but not drivers. By attacking drivers, cyclists really draw attention to that reality and it is a very fair position. Best to cycle or not cycle but don't moan and pick fights.