Category - Cyclists

What Has Gone Wrong?

I woke up this morning to the news that a road in Bingham is closed because there was a hit-and-run last night on a cyclist – and the cyclist died.Scene of the accident in Bingham

The motorist, a 28-year old male, is now in custody. If he is the one who was driving, he deserves to have the book thrown at him – and there is little doubt that he will have it thrown at him.

Just a couple of additional details. The incident occurred at 10.15pm (i.e. in the dark, since sunset was slightly after 9pm). From the photograph, the section of road where it happened is shrouded with trees (it is mid-summer, so the trees are in full leaf), and appears to be unlit. The cyclist was a 13-year old child (the bulletins have been updated to say he was 14).

When I was 13 (or 14), I most likely wouldn’t have been allowed out that late, and I know I would have been forced to have lights on my bike. If I had been out that late – especially without lights – the odds of being stopped by a passing police patrol (on foot or in a car) and given a talking to were miles better than 50:50. At 13 (or 14), I would have been classed as a child – not a “boy” or a “young male” in an attempt at political correctness. Even the term “teenager” was mainly reserved for 16-year olds and above. And back then, there wasn’t a culture of “cyclists rule”, which was likely to affect children and other people with attitude or maturity problems. Mind you, neither was there a culture of riding cars around as if they were bikes, either.

I’m just saying.

TV reports suggest the car involved may have been travelling “in convoy” with a 2nd car the police are eager to trace.

Is The Backlash Against Cyclists Finally Starting?

Regular readers will know how I feel about cyclists. This year looks like it is going to be the worst yet – there’s already a plague of the damned things which is rivalling even the most alarmist newspaper predictions about other plagues we can expect this summer.Plague of wasps

There was an incident this week where a cyclist was hit by a bus, and the video of passers by lifting the 12 tonne vehicle off him went viral. Whilst news reports concentrate on the “amazing” actions of the public, much less (almost nothing, actually) is being made of the fact that the “cyclist” was riding a unicycle, that he:

…looked like he was wobbling a bit…

Or that:

…a dreadlocked man on a unicycle – circus performer Anthony Shields – crossing from the semi-pedestrianised street to his left. “Then he went behind the bus and came round so he was on the right of it, on the inside behind the driver’s window.”

It would appear that in London alone, five cyclists died up until 9 April this year – all of them involving collisions with HGVs. Even half way through January, the country-wide tally stood at 13 fatalities. Year on year, deaths and injuries are on the rise – but the problem no one seems to want to identify, other than by giving it a brief mention now and then, is that the numbers of people cycling on the roads are also increasing at an alarming rate – a rise of 240% over the last five years.

It’s no wonder more people are dying.

Politicians seem blind to the risks, and continue to push cycling as some sort of panacea, encouraging more and more people to take it up. Local councils are opening more and more rental hubs so that people in suits and poorly-fitting crash hats (they’re always crooked, aren’t they?) can get a piece of the action.Boris Johnson - crooked cycle helmet

Anyway, I noticed in todays Sun that columnist Rod Liddle was having a right go at them. Mind you, he’s been having a go in different places for a couple of years – it’s just that his column in The Sun is mainstream, and maybe represents some sort of sea change. I certainly hope so.

He starts by referring to a current viral video, where a motorist is seen threatening to punch a cyclist’s teeth down his throat. The cyclist in question had been riding in the road causing a hold up when there was apparently a cycle path right alongside. He finishes by listing five rules he believes should be introduced/ enforced:

  • If there’s a cycle lane available, cyclists should be compelled to use it. Otherwise they get fined. Simples
  • Cyclists who ignore red traffic lights should be dealt with in exactly the same way as car drivers who ignore red traffic lights
  • The police should enforce the law about cycling on pavements. It’s illegal and carries a £500 fine. I wonder how many cyclists have actually been charged?
  • Cycling two abreast on a two-lane [single carriageway] road should be made illegal
  • Single cyclists on narrow roads should pull in to let cars overtake.

Of course, Mr Liddle probably now has a warrant out for his arrest as you are not allowed to say anything bad about cyclists. Nonetheless, his five rules make absolute sense. And one day they will have to be introduced.

Cyclist Killed on Nottingham Ring Road

This BBC story is quite vague, but Nottingham’s ring road was closed for several hours after a cyclist was in collision with a motorcycle on 21 April. The cyclist died. It was chaos on the roads (yet again). In this update, where the cyclist is named, the BBC has a caption which says:

The ring road has some of the heaviest rush hour traffic in Nottingham.

It also has cycle paths either side, to keep cyclists and traffic away from each other for precisely this reason.Middleton Boulevard

There are no details about what actually happened in this case. However, it is worth noting that a lot of cyclists choose to ignore the cycle paths (except at red lights), many opting instead to purposely cause hold ups just to show that they “have a right to use the roads” (and they DO do that – I used to ride with a group of them). The number doing this has increased dramatically this year, and many of the guilty parties appear to be older people, predominantly male, who have just acquired their bikes.

As is typical, in the old monkey-see-monkey-do manner, they will have witnessed those “cool” Spandex Boys with their testosterone issues doing it and – without realising their own lack of skills – have decided they’ll have some of that as well.

The simple fact is that if you stay on a cycle path that was built especially for you to keep you out of traffic, and use crossings properly like other soft-bodied specimens (i.e. pedestrians), your chances of being involved in a collision with a motor vehicle on a major road during rush hour are virtually nil. Of course, pigs might fly, and if you therefore choose to ignore the cycle paths and attempt to ride amongst the traffic during said rush hour, your chances of getting hit rise astronomically.

I really do hope that there’s some sort of afterlife, because I cannot otherwise see how “being right” about cycling on busy roads instead of the adjacent cycle paths is of any use to you at all if you’re lying on a cold slab in a morgue.

These comments are general, by the way, and are in no way intended to address whatever happened in that original tragic incident on the ring road. Judging by the location of the white bicycle that’s been placed there, the cyclist was using the crossing.

ASA Ruling Against Cycling Scotland Reversed

Back in January, I reported on an ASA ruling against Cycling Scotland. It concerned a promotional ad about giving cyclists room on the roads, and someone (five people, in fact) had complained that it was irresponsible because the rider in question wasn’t wearing a helmet and was effectively blocking the road.You can't view this Scottish advert in England!

I ought to point out that my only beef with cyclists is how they get in the way, and I’m increasingly of the opinion that the vast majority are stupid and do it on purpose, while the rest of them are simply stupid. Personally, I don’t give two hoots about the content of these kinds of ads beyond the fact that cycling on roads shouldn’t be encouraged any further because it’s too dangerous for everyone concerned – cyclist and motorist – and there are too many cyclists venturing out on to busy roads as it is.

As I was writing this, I learned that a woman had been killed cycling in Nottingham after being in collision with a truck.

Anyway, actually getting to view the Cycling Scotland video isn’t as straightforward as you’d expect, though I’m pretty sure I could view it earlier this year. Oh yes, it’s on YouTube, but certainly when I follow the link I get the message shown here that I’m not allowed to view it in my country! Strange, when you consider that it’s actually been posted by Cycling Scotland (or the agency acting on their behalf), and Scotland isn’t independent just yet. Clearly, someone somewhere has ideas well above their station. However, as I said in the earlier article, Cycling Scotland was appealing against the original ASA ruling. I also said that it was clear that politics was involved, and this ban on anyone in England seeing the ad is precisely the type of thing I meant.

I also predicted that ASA would kowtow to Cycling Scotland, and so it has transpired in this new ruling. The original ASA page is no longer online – which is, in itself, highly suspect, as it should have been left so that the history involved was transparent.

As a result of these shady goings on, I have no doubt that there are some out there who would happily attempt to sue me if I posted the full video on the blog. However, my legal adviser has indicated that a snippet of the video is completely acceptable, so here’s the offending part.

My first observation was that cyclists round my way definitely don’t look like that! Most would look more at home swinging through the trees instead of gracing a catwalk. But I digress. The woman riding the bike isn’t wearing a helmet and – more importantly – she is riding right in the middle of the road. The ASA originally agreed this was irresponsible advertising when they ruled against it back in January, and I guess this is one reason why they have removed that original ruling so that no one can compare it side-by-side with the new 180-degree one (i.e. one that is the exact opposite of the former). Even so, they say:

We acknowledged Cycling Scotland’s explanation regarding why the cyclist featured in the final scene of the ad was placed in the primary position and that this was an appropriate position to depict the cyclist in given the specific road conditions.

I see. And young children will be fully aware of this and not think it’s OK to ride in the middle of the road. Nice one, ASA.

But this comment from Cycling Scotland really made me laugh:

Cycling Scotland further commented that cycling had a high benefit:disbenefit ratio, even when factoring in injuries and referred to the national cycling charity (CTC) report.

I would counter that this statement has a high stupid:disstupid ratio, even when factoring in the obvious politics involved. The Highway Code says:


You should:

  • be considerate of other road users…

Riding in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, putting yourself in danger, and forcing others into danger as they overtake wide (especially on country lanes, as depicted here) has been “overlooked” by the ASA. I wonder how much pressure was put on them to do so?

Vigilante York Cyclist Shoots Self In Foot

This story came through on the newsfeeds. It’s totally mislabelled as it does not – in any way, shape, or form – show “Britain’s Worst Drivers”. That label is merely a demonstration of the crass ignorance of the Yahoo! hacks who wrote it.

It concerns a video montage created by an anonymous cyclist with a helmet camera, titled “York Drivers”. The cyclist in question seems to be one of those people for whom a little knowledge is clearly a dangerous thing, because in his attempts to discredit drivers he has inadvertently shown quite clearly how recklessly cyclists – including himself – behave on the roads.

I’ve linked to the video below – click the image and YouTube will open in a new window – and it will be interesting to see if it remains on view when he realises how vividly it highlights his own shortcomings.

[EDIT: The video is no longer available – there’s a surprise. However, the comedian who took it hasn’t managed to get it wiped from the news story in the link above.]Link no longer works - the idiot has obviously removed it

Let’s be clear about this – many of the drivers in the video could hardly be regarded as particularly adept behind the wheel. Even so, very few of them could be said to be demonstrating anything other than normal behaviour. The problem is that all of the cyclists involved are behaving exactly the same, if not worse!

The very first example in the montage shows a cyclist attempting to undertake a car at a left-turn junction. The car doesn’t indicate – but anyone, be they cyclist or motorist – should know that you do not overtake near a junction, and that undertaking is especially dangerous.

The second clip shows an oncoming van turning right – and he’s signalling. The dipstick with the headcam hasn’t considered the fact that he was riding at speed whilst hidden from the oncoming driver’s sight behind another van. The van driver couldn’t possibly have seen him, and he – the cyclist – should have been much more careful.

Numerous other clips are focused on cars parked on double yellow lines, but none of this slows down our cameraman very much, and he does not stop for a second. He’d much rather squeeze through tiny gaps when the safest thing to do would be not to. Bearing in mind he has a camera on his head, there doesn’t appear to be much (i.e. any) shoulder-checking before passing any of these obstacles. He also sounds like one of those riders who has a little too much testosterone in his veins, and you can hear him muttering and grunting at everything.

In another clip, he rides on to a roundabout without any consideration for his own safety, and then grunts again when a car turns in front of him without signalling. Perhaps he hasn’t heard of the Highway Code (what am I saying, he’s a cyclist – the Highway Code doesn’t apply to him), and the part where it says you should never rely on peoples signals (and, by implication, lack thereof).

Just after that, he appears to ride off a cycle path and on to a pedestrian-only pavement, and has an issue with a car that has U-turned back into a road, preventing him from shooting straight across the junction (and over double yellow lines, because there is no cycle junction there).

Later in the video, he homes in on people using mobile phones behind the wheel. In doing this, his camera shows other cyclists riding at speed in heavy traffic out of the designated cycle lane. In one example, a female is riding much faster than the traffic, which is virtually at a standstill in a queue. This is suicidal if a car tries to cut across and doesn’t see you – which is more likely if the cyclist is flying up on the inside, hidden behind other cars. It’s even more questionable when you’ve got a camera on your head, are craning your neck specifically to get footage of the drivers breaking the Law as you whizz by, and have already identified that said drivers might not be paying attention because they’re farting about with their phones.

Near the end, the cameraman is screaming at drivers who are actually nowhere near as close to him as he seems to think they are. One clip suggests that there is a cycle path off the road, which he isn’t using, and he wonders why he is almost flattened by a lorry. He even appears to have moved over into the mouth of the junction to give a lorry space before it goes past.

As I said, the standard of driving depicted in the video is no worse than you’d find anywhere in the country. That doesn’t mean that is is particularly good or right, but it is part of the norm – and anyone on a bike who had any sense would try to avoid it rather than go pelting in as if they had special privileges, and then wondering why they almost got killed. In many of the clips, the anonymous cyclist in question is at least as much in the wrong as the drivers he has filmed. In most of the others he (or other cyclists) can certainly be seen to be less than lily white.

Maybe I should put up my own video of the routine behaviour I experience with cyclists. If I wanted to put them in a poor light, I wouldn’t have to edit much out.

I originally embedded the video in this article using YouTube’s embed code. The anonymous cyclist has been in contact with me threatening litigation, even though I pointed out that embedding the video was within YouYube’s terms of service. Said anonymous cyclist has also been demanding my name so he can “report me to ORDIT” because of my “dangerous attitude”.

I had to draw his attention to the use of various words and phrases in the above text which clearly identify that the motorists in many of the clips were in the wrong (at least in part). However, he seems to take exception to the fact that I also pointed out that virtually all the cyclists were also at fault, and that such behaviour – from both cyclists AND motorists – is relatively normal and is something that has to be dealt with when it happens. After all, martyrs cannot pursue matters using more sensible means.

I have spoken to my legal advisers and it has been pointed out that although the article as it stood was not in breach of any copyright, if the owner of the YouTube page removed the embed code feature without warning, then it might become so. I reasoned that in order for someone to try and save face over this article they might resort to such actions in order to create an issue where there was none before. The anonymous cyclist has been openly sharing his video with anyone who holds the same views as him, but he appears to be prepared to adopt different methods for those who hold a different opinion. For that reason, I have now provided a direct link to the YouTube page where the video resides. If you click the image, above, it will take you there – or click this link to get the same page [EDIT: The video is no longer available – there’s a surprise. However, the comedian who took it hasn’t managed to get it wiped from the news story in the link at the start of this article]. Alternatively, go to YouTube and search for “York Drivers”. This is DEFINITELY not litigatious in any way – either now, or in future.

It’s funny that the Vigilante Cyclist has removed the video from YouTube. I bet he wishes he’d kept his mouth shut before submitting it to the media, because he can’t get it wiped from their archives quite so easily.