Looking round first

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Regarding Paul Hepworth’s reply to blocking following traffic at road narrowing (Letters, January 22), I am sure the Cyclecraft guide he mentions does not, when advising a “primary riding position”, advocate deliberately blocking following traffic which, as Mr Benson points out, could be a juggernaut.

Would it be too much too ask that in extremely dangerous situations the cyclist could wait a few seconds just to be on the safe side? I think not, as most cyclists stop for nothing.

I have no doubt that Mr Hepworth, given his position, is a safe and conscientious rider, but how often do we see cyclists look over their shoulder to appraise any situation?

D McTernan, Fossway, York.

Comments (11)

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12:02pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Stevie D says...

Cyclists are advised to take up the primary position at such a point that following traffic has plenty of time to see them doing so before getting to the pinch point. So, for example, on the approach to a traffic island where there isn't space for anyone to overtake the cyclist, they shouldn't swerve out into the middle of the lane at the last moment but should gradually move out in good time that any following traffic can safely react and slow down behind them if necessary. It helps cyclists to have a mirror so that they can be more easily aware of what's behind them, and just to be sure that there isn't anyone tearing up behind them recklessly fast or blithely unaware of their presence. It doesn't matter if the following traffic is a Ford Fiesta or a 44-tonner, as long as the cyclist gives it enough time and space to slow down.

If taking up the primary position would put you in danger then obviously you shouldn't do that ... but it is rare for that to be the case, particularly in urban areas where traffic is typically moving at less than 30mph. Equally, if the 'narrow' bit of road where it wouldn't be safe for following traffic to overtake goes on for any great distance (rather than just past a traffic island or parked car, for example), cyclists shouldn't hold up following traffic unduly and should make the effort to pull in and let them past where possible.
Cyclists are advised to take up the primary position at such a point that following traffic has plenty of time to see them doing so before getting to the pinch point. So, for example, on the approach to a traffic island where there isn't space for anyone to overtake the cyclist, they shouldn't swerve out into the middle of the lane at the last moment but should gradually move out in good time that any following traffic can safely react and slow down behind them if necessary. It helps cyclists to have a mirror so that they can be more easily aware of what's behind them, and just to be sure that there isn't anyone tearing up behind them recklessly fast or blithely unaware of their presence. It doesn't matter if the following traffic is a Ford Fiesta or a 44-tonner, as long as the cyclist gives it enough time and space to slow down. If taking up the primary position would put you in danger then obviously you shouldn't do that ... but it is rare for that to be the case, particularly in urban areas where traffic is typically moving at less than 30mph. Equally, if the 'narrow' bit of road where it wouldn't be safe for following traffic to overtake goes on for any great distance (rather than just past a traffic island or parked car, for example), cyclists shouldn't hold up following traffic unduly and should make the effort to pull in and let them past where possible. Stevie D
  • Score: 0

12:06pm Tue 29 Jan 13

greenmonkey says...

Looking over your shoulder (if you dont have a mirror) is a good idea but can be risky given the potholed state of some of our roads. If you are being followed by a 'juggernaut' it is far safer to move out from the edge of the kerb in good time rather than wait for the driver to try to squeeze past you at the obstacle (by which time the only option if any is to stop sharply or leap off onto the pavement). Cycles are means of transport for getting from A to B, and riders do not expect to have to keep stopping to let a large vehicle past them!
Looking over your shoulder (if you dont have a mirror) is a good idea but can be risky given the potholed state of some of our roads. If you are being followed by a 'juggernaut' it is far safer to move out from the edge of the kerb in good time rather than wait for the driver to try to squeeze past you at the obstacle (by which time the only option if any is to stop sharply or leap off onto the pavement). Cycles are means of transport for getting from A to B, and riders do not expect to have to keep stopping to let a large vehicle past them! greenmonkey
  • Score: 0

1:16pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Buzz Light-year says...

How long ago did some of these letter writers pass their test, if at all?

I honestly can't believe this bit "Would it be too much too ask that in extremely dangerous situations the cyclist could wait a few seconds just to be on the safe side?"
The onus is on the driver behind.
Ask a traffic policeman or a driving instructor.

You won't pass a driving test with the attitude above.
When driving you're supposed to look forward and anticipate events ahead of you and take the safest course of action.

Anyone who can't see far enough ahead and understand the pinch point situation, perhaps shouldn't be driving.

Remember - if an accident occurs and you hit something or someone from behind you will be held as responsible.
How long ago did some of these letter writers pass their test, if at all? I honestly can't believe this bit "Would it be too much too ask that in extremely dangerous situations the cyclist could wait a few seconds just to be on the safe side?" The onus is on the driver behind. Ask a traffic policeman or a driving instructor. You won't pass a driving test with the attitude above. When driving you're supposed to look forward and anticipate events ahead of you and take the safest course of action. Anyone who can't see far enough ahead and understand the pinch point situation, perhaps shouldn't be driving. Remember - if an accident occurs and you hit something or someone from behind you will be held as responsible. Buzz Light-year
  • Score: 0

1:45pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Sp4ng0 says...

I always think that cars should remember the old naval saying Sail Before Steam, it's one of those laws denoting that priority should be given to sailing vessels over powered craft

The same should be for bikes and cars. If you stand a chance of killing me then please give me the space I need. 2 seconds off your journey is it worth a cyclists life?
I always think that cars should remember the old naval saying Sail Before Steam, it's one of those laws denoting that priority should be given to sailing vessels over powered craft The same should be for bikes and cars. If you stand a chance of killing me then please give me the space I need. 2 seconds off your journey is it worth a cyclists life? Sp4ng0
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Tue 29 Jan 13

YSTClinguist says...

I'm absolutely flabbergasted that the author believes that cyclists should pull over and let traffic by. This has got to be one of the most ludicrous letters yet. It takes me back to It's Only a Theory s01e02 when Andy Hamilton puts his view on emails and text messages allowing people to far too easily send in nonsense that is published.

Cyclists are not tractors or pulled caravans in the countryside on single lane roads for miles at a time. Drivers can get past as long as they don't have the attention span of a goldfish in the city, and if there is no place to pass then you're probably approaching the next light controlled junction anyhow. What are you going to do when you, as a car driver, stop at the white stop line and the cyclist just passes you and occupies the green box in front of you, yet again?
I'm absolutely flabbergasted that the author believes that cyclists should pull over and let traffic by. This has got to be one of the most ludicrous letters yet. It takes me back to It's Only a Theory s01e02 when Andy Hamilton puts his view on emails and text messages allowing people to far too easily send in nonsense that is published. Cyclists are not tractors or pulled caravans in the countryside on single lane roads for miles at a time. Drivers can get past as long as they don't have the attention span of a goldfish in the city, and if there is no place to pass then you're probably approaching the next light controlled junction anyhow. What are you going to do when you, as a car driver, stop at the white stop line and the cyclist just passes you and occupies the green box in front of you, yet again? YSTClinguist
  • Score: 0

4:40pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Paul Hepworth says...

When I am cycling on road, I am part of the traffic, and a fellow road user, not a separate entity. As others have correctly stated, my repositioning to deter a dangerously close overtake, is not a sudden and unexpected movement by me. Rather it is a gradual one, and is always preceded by a warning look over the right shoulder. Accompanying hand signals are not appropriate, as they could be misunderstood if near a junction.
When cycling along a road that is narrowed by parked vehicles, roadworks or permanant features such as islands, I will not repeatedly pull into gaps to let following vehicles pass, otherwise my own journey time will be extended, and I will be at increaed risk whenever I rejoin the main traffic flow. It's also not wise for me to ride close to parked vehicles, in case someone unexpectedly opens a door just in front of me.
I usually encounter considerate behaviour by following vehicle drivers at the approach to "pinch points" and give a thankyou wave when they eventually overtake me safely.
When I am cycling on road, I am part of the traffic, and a fellow road user, not a separate entity. As others have correctly stated, my repositioning to deter a dangerously close overtake, is not a sudden and unexpected movement by me. Rather it is a gradual one, and is always preceded by a warning look over the right shoulder. Accompanying hand signals are not appropriate, as they could be misunderstood if near a junction. When cycling along a road that is narrowed by parked vehicles, roadworks or permanant features such as islands, I will not repeatedly pull into gaps to let following vehicles pass, otherwise my own journey time will be extended, and I will be at increaed risk whenever I rejoin the main traffic flow. It's also not wise for me to ride close to parked vehicles, in case someone unexpectedly opens a door just in front of me. I usually encounter considerate behaviour by following vehicle drivers at the approach to "pinch points" and give a thankyou wave when they eventually overtake me safely. Paul Hepworth
  • Score: 0

5:33pm Tue 29 Jan 13

strangebuttrue? says...

Oh Paul you were doing quite well until you reached your second paragraph and then decided to show your true colours. It seems that you think you own the road and your journey time is the only thing that matters so you will deliberately block all other road users at every given opportunity just so that you are not inconvenienced by a few seconds. As one of the previous posts said is 2 seconds worth your life?
I for one would never tell children - when riding a bike if you think you are going to have to slow down to let a 1.5 ton car past just pull out in front of it that will do the trick. I guess most of you would not tell your own kids to do that now would you?
Oh Paul you were doing quite well until you reached your second paragraph and then decided to show your true colours. It seems that you think you own the road and your journey time is the only thing that matters so you will deliberately block all other road users at every given opportunity just so that you are not inconvenienced by a few seconds. As one of the previous posts said is 2 seconds worth your life? I for one would never tell children - when riding a bike if you think you are going to have to slow down to let a 1.5 ton car past just pull out in front of it that will do the trick. I guess most of you would not tell your own kids to do that now would you? strangebuttrue?
  • Score: 0

10:06pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Stevie D says...

strangebuttrue? wrote:
I for one would never tell children - when riding a bike if you think you are going to have to slow down to let a 1.5 ton car past just pull out in front of it that will do the trick.
That isn't what any of us have said, if you bothered to read it properly. The point is that if you position yourself in the right place at the right time then you are not putting yourself in danger.

If you want to stop and then wait for a safe gap in the traffic every time you approach a traffic island then that's up to you, but it may go some way to explaining why you dislike cycling so much.
[quote][bold]strangebuttrue?[/bold] wrote: I for one would never tell children - when riding a bike if you think you are going to have to slow down to let a 1.5 ton car past just pull out in front of it that will do the trick.[/quote]That isn't what any of us have said, if you bothered to read it properly. The point is that if you position yourself in the right place at the right time then you are not putting yourself in danger. If you want to stop and then wait for a safe gap in the traffic every time you approach a traffic island then that's up to you, but it may go some way to explaining why you dislike cycling so much. Stevie D
  • Score: 0

12:59am Wed 30 Jan 13

strangebuttrue? says...

Stevie D

You made several good points in your initial post and I have no disagreement with what you said. Where I disagree is with PH (PP) who suggests he will use all obstacles in the road as an opportunity to block other road users and will not pull into gaps to let following vehicles pass.
I have no dislike of cycling or cyclist and would use my bike more if it were not for the fact that the council is trying to bully me into using a bike.
I would rather still tell kids to be aware and not to “position” themselves in front of cars but to slow down or wait if they think they could be putting themselves in danger as you said all should do. That is exactly what I used to do when cycling. It never bothered me if it cost me a few seconds. It kept me safe and it showed courtesy to other road users.
I have said before I would rather slow than get into conflict with something which is always going to win the argument if it comes to it. Let’s face it - you don’t know if that vehicle is occupied by someone running from the police or just some idiot who will stop at nothing to get past. Arguing from your hospital bed that some manual said that you should take up the primary (blocking) position in front of a vehicle trying to get past is not going to make your situation any better.
Stevie D You made several good points in your initial post and I have no disagreement with what you said. Where I disagree is with PH (PP) who suggests he will use all obstacles in the road as an opportunity to block other road users and will not pull into gaps to let following vehicles pass. I have no dislike of cycling or cyclist and would use my bike more if it were not for the fact that the council is trying to bully me into using a bike. I would rather still tell kids to be aware and not to “position” themselves in front of cars but to slow down or wait if they think they could be putting themselves in danger as you said all should do. That is exactly what I used to do when cycling. It never bothered me if it cost me a few seconds. It kept me safe and it showed courtesy to other road users. I have said before I would rather slow than get into conflict with something which is always going to win the argument if it comes to it. Let’s face it - you don’t know if that vehicle is occupied by someone running from the police or just some idiot who will stop at nothing to get past. Arguing from your hospital bed that some manual said that you should take up the primary (blocking) position in front of a vehicle trying to get past is not going to make your situation any better. strangebuttrue?
  • Score: 0

3:22am Thu 31 Jan 13

Magicman! says...

Question to the letter writer: if they are on the A64 to Malton and have a powerful BMW or Audi right up near their bumper trying to overtake, do you pull in to allow them to do so to then risk being stuck there for ages whilst other vehicles do not allow you to pull out? or do you continue your journey because you are on a single carriageway road and if they don't have enough patience to wait for there to be no opposing traffic so they can overtake safely then they should not be attempting an illegal movement?

When I'm on the bike I always check behind me if I can see an obstruction of some sort coming up - and if it's a parked car or traffic island on my side whereby I can get past without crossing the white line then I will begin to move out gradually about a bus length away from the obstruction, or if the risk of becoming marooned behind the obstruction is greater (ie, in Acomb) I will extend this to the length of a bendy bus. In all honesty I shouldn't have to do this, as drivers should be able to have enough brain cells to see an upcoming obstruction and work out the position of their vehicle in the environment compared to me and the obstruction and realise they cannot overtake safely and thus hold back for a couple of seconds. But sadly a lot of drivers don't have a powerful enough brain to do this and just get controlled by the bit of the brain that goes "Me First, I'm more important, I deserve to be in front so I shall be". Better car driving would result in movements by cyclists that could be seen as 'blocking' having to be done less and less.
The ball's in your court.
Question to the letter writer: if they are on the A64 to Malton and have a powerful BMW or Audi right up near their bumper trying to overtake, do you pull in to allow them to do so to then risk being stuck there for ages whilst other vehicles do not allow you to pull out? or do you continue your journey because you are on a single carriageway road and if they don't have enough patience to wait for there to be no opposing traffic so they can overtake safely then they should not be attempting an illegal movement? When I'm on the bike I always check behind me if I can see an obstruction of some sort coming up - and if it's a parked car or traffic island on my side whereby I can get past without crossing the white line then I will begin to move out gradually about a bus length away from the obstruction, or if the risk of becoming marooned behind the obstruction is greater (ie, in Acomb) I will extend this to the length of a bendy bus. In all honesty I shouldn't have to do this, as drivers should be able to have enough brain cells to see an upcoming obstruction and work out the position of their vehicle in the environment compared to me and the obstruction and realise they cannot overtake safely and thus hold back for a couple of seconds. But sadly a lot of drivers don't have a powerful enough brain to do this and just get controlled by the bit of the brain that goes "Me First, I'm more important, I deserve to be in front so I shall be". Better car driving would result in movements by cyclists that could be seen as 'blocking' having to be done less and less. The ball's in your court. Magicman!
  • Score: 0

1:27pm Thu 31 Jan 13

Stevie D says...

strangebuttrue? wrote:
Let’s face it - you don’t know if that vehicle is occupied by someone running from the police or just some idiot who will stop at nothing to get past.

That's true, you don't – but the same could be said any time your path crosses another driver's, such as when passing a side road where other cars are turning. This is where a mirror is immensely helpful, you can see as cars are coming up behind you whether they are slowing down, moving out to overtake or carrying on blissfully unaware (or not bothered) that you are in their way.
[quote][bold]strangebuttrue?[/bold] wrote: Let’s face it - you don’t know if that vehicle is occupied by someone running from the police or just some idiot who will stop at nothing to get past.[/quote] That's true, you don't – but the same could be said any time your path crosses another driver's, such as when passing a side road where other cars are turning. This is where a mirror is immensely helpful, you can see as cars are coming up behind you whether they are slowing down, moving out to overtake or carrying on blissfully unaware (or not bothered) that you are in their way. Stevie D
  • Score: 0

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