Junction Malfunction and a New Dawn

 

 

Despite the first part of this blog being about collisions and keeping safe at the most vulnerable parts of our cycling journeys, hopefully you will come out the other side of this edition of the Safer Cycling blog with a large amount of positivity, so grab a coffee, and maybe even a slice of cake and read on. Oh this blog is a little on the large side, we tried to make it smaller but I’m sure you’ll agree everything that’s in there is necessary, there’s no padding for effect, so in hindsight might want to make it two slices of cake……

red-fiesta-2

Yet another near miss as a driver pulls across the path of the cyclist

 

Junction Malfunction

When we started the Safer Cycling concept we needed some direction, something on which we could concentrate our efforts to best see results for the work we wanted to do, our core task being to keep vulnerable road users safe on their journeys about the region. In order to make our efforts precise and properly targeted we enlisted the help of our in house analysts at the Central Motorway Police Group. They did what they do best, crunch figures, draw conclusions and give recommendations, the results were as expected, well as expected to those with experience of dealing with collisions involving cyclists, and these collisions were often the ones that did not make the headlines.

The most common complaint we receive from cyclists and now action in the way of prosecution is the close pass scenario, the classic due care and attention offence. This isn’t to be un-expected, we have even highlighted our own close pass experiences and footage/photo’s on our twitter account and previous blogs. So it’s no surprise to all that this remains the priority for most cyclists and more importantly “those considering cycling” when it comes to keeping vulnerable road users safe. However whether it’s a misconception by many or just a lack of awareness the close pass scenario is far from being the greatest threat to cyclists on our regions roads. Between 2010 and 2014 there were 530 KSI (killed or seriously injured) RTC’s (Road Traffic Collisions)involving bicycles, 517 of those KSI RTC’s (98%) involved at least one other vehicle. Of these the most common vehicle to be involved in a KSI RTC with a cyclist was a car (84% of KSI RTC’s).

But this is where the big misconception arises as 75% of KSI RTC’s involving cyclists in the West Midlands from 2010 to 2014 occurred within 20 metres of a junction, involving a cyclist and “another” vehicle. Further analysis (I won’t bore you with the figures, tables etc.) showed that the majority of KSI RTC’s in the West Midlands involving cyclists occur when a car has pulled out of a junction in front of a cyclist that is mid- junction because the car driver has failed to spot the cyclist.

dsc_0306

From the nearside…….

dsc_0305

or the offside drivers just are not looking out for cyclists at junctions

 

Birmingham city centre was the regions hotspot for such collisions, which, as this is where most daily commutes are to and from, and given the heavy traffic volumes, came as no surprise. Further analysis of all KSI RTC’s involving cyclists show that, in the majority of cases there are no environmental factors that have contributed to the collision. In most instances the weather conditions are fine with no winds nor are there any identified carriageway hazards or issues with the road surface. Further, there are regularly no identified special conditions at the collision site (e.g. roadworks, defective signage or markings). Lastly over half the cyclists involved in a KSI collision on the regions roads were commuting to or from work, so in the main we are dealing with experienced cyclists.

Anyone still awake after the number crunching? Well it’s onto the interesting bit….

Conclusions from the statistical analysis and what to do about it……

 

For those of us that cycle daily to work the results came as no surprise. Although the “close pass scenario” remains the greatest concern for the majority of cyclists or for those considering cycling the actual greatest threat we cyclists face on the roads of the West Midlands is the driver pulling out in front of or across a cyclist mid junction, either because they haven’t seen them or miss-judged the cyclists speed or path.

img_20160410_122333

Classic close pass at a pinch point, aka. driving without due care and attention.

What can be done, well we have two parties involved in this type of collision, analysis of the collisions shows that in such circumstances the blame would lie solely with the driver not the cyclist. This is not uncommon as most drivers are trained and habitually look for other vehicles when negotiating junctions and show a total disregard when it comes to looking for or being aware of vulnerable road users (analysis of KSI collisions involving motorcyclists and pedestrians would prove similar).

We could make use of social media, press releases etc. to tell motorists to “look out” for cyclists, but this has been ongoing with both cyclists and motorcyclists and although has some positive effect it doesn’t reach the target audience we need to engage, those unwilling to take on the message or dismissive of vulnerable road users altogether, which given the rise in KSI collisions involving vulnerable road users seems like the majority of motorists.

Our time and effort, we have quickly realised, is better spent enforcing the law and prosecuting, thus creating a scenario whereby should someone not give a cyclist the time and space necessary or fail to see them completely they should expect to be prosecuted. In other words the carrot goes out the window and in comes the stick. Why some might ask? Well if drivers expect to be prosecuted for committing offences they suddenly stop committing them, unsurprising correlation I know but it’s the truth. Once drivers become aware that an infringement involving a cyclist is one they should expect to be prosecuted for, they suddenly become more aware of them on the road and in turn start giving them the time and space they should lawfully have as an equal road user.  Cyclists suddenly occupy a drivers attention, they actively look out for them and so are less likely to miss them at junctions and contribute to our KSI statistics.

Any offence that would contribute to a driver failing to see a vulnerable road user needs to be enforced, and as has been considered of late, some say needs a greater penalty. Whether that be excess speed that doesn’t give the motorist time to see or react to the vulnerable road user, distraction offences such as mobile phone use, or drug and drink driving.

So drivers need to expect a zero tolerance approach for any offence involving a vulnerable road user, or an offence that could contribute to a collision involving a vulnerable road user. The only way to change driver behaviour and concentrate minds on looking out for vulnerable road users and change driving habits is through enforcement, and the resulting fear of being prosecuted. Now for those who will no doubt be spitting out their finest percolated roasted bean brew at this moment screaming “what about the cyclists !” well…….statistical analysis shows they aren’t to blame, innocent in the majority of KSI collisions it would be a waste of our time, and thus public time and money to concentrate on cyclist behaviour. The figures speak for themselves…….driver’s don’t let your prejudices get in the way of the truth…….

But for those cyclists who want a bit of advice……

Before we carry on, this next section isn’t victim blaming, having read the last several paragraphs you should all have no doubt as to where we think the responsibility lies for the majority of KSI collisions involving cyclist’s and vehicles on our regions roads. I have no doubt a few will be appalled that we offer some safety advice to cyclists on what to do and look out for on the approach to junctions but this isn’t your standard advice, it comes from our thousands of hours watching road user behaviour from an trained advanced road user perspective, even the doubters might learn something from the next section…….and if you’re prepared for the worst you can often avoid it.

Don’t look at the eyes….

Many will say “make eye contact, this ensures they have seen you”, absolute rubbish this, half the time they will be looking not at you but right through you. Ignore the eyes of the driver; watch the wheels of the vehicle instead. A vehicle won’t move without the wheels moving, and you will see the wheels move far before you realise the vehicle is moving thus giving you that split second extra that to react and hopefully avoid a collision.

A red light never stopped anything….

Goes for all road users this one, red lights don’t stop vehicles, they instruct road users to stop their vehicle, if the driver (or cyclist) misses the red light or chooses to ignore it, a miss-placed faith in the power of the red light might be your undoing. Always check the opposing traffic is slowing and intends to stop at a red light, the glance only takes a second, it could be a very valuable second well spent

Hi viz doesn’t mean highly visible and the positive “wobble”

Don’t think hi viz clothing will keep you seen, although hi viz has a place in some circumstances such as low light conditions, it is contrast that catches the attention of the driver who might pull out on you, that, and movements the human eye and brain are wired to detect. White and black all have their place in being seen, white is a particularly visible colour not often naturally occurring so stands out, ever wondered why traffic officers hats are white ? It’s not because we want to look like ice cream salesmen! Lateral movement on the road on the approach to a junction triggers all the receptors visually that drivers need to see, recognise and subsequently react to the cyclist on the road. In low light a flashing front light doesn’t hurt either. So moving out an extra 6 or 12 inches on the approach to a junction can go a long way to making you the centre of the waiting or approaching driver’s attention, as an object moving steadily towards you in a straight line can be missed, the object that is coming towards you with some sideways movement is more easily seen by the drivers whose attention we wish to occupy.

A New Dawn

Cycling is a fantastic thing, it’s benefits are well documented, traffic congestion is reduced, as is pollution, health and wellbeing are boosted for the participants and not forgetting the resultant benefits of less dependence on a stressed NHS. When it comes to playing our part in supporting cycling and cyclists it’s not a case of “why should we?” it’s a case of “why wouldn’t we?” Supporting cyclists and cycling is really a case of policing for the benefit of all, a prime case of policing for the greater good of the community.

Cyclists don’t cause us, as an organisation, problems, that’s because they aren’t causing our communities problems, they aren’t killing nearly 100 people on our regions roads as mechanically propelled vehicles currently do. Yes we do get complaints of the “nuisance” variety, pavement cycling, some anti-social behaviour (usually yobs on bikes rather than “cyclists”), red light running etc. but you get the idea, most peoples interpretation of “1st world problems” or the “modern day blues”, nothing that’s a priority for a force like our own in a modern day society. Bad cycling is an “irritant” to the wider community rather than a danger, and maybe an improvement in infrastructure and policing may alieve many of the reasons that cause a very small minority of cyclists to be an “irritant”

So what can we do to do our bit ?, to encourage along with our partnership agencies people onto bikes and get the personal and community benefits already discussed. Well as we already touched upon in the first part of this blog, people’s fear of the dangers of cycling is the largest barrier, particularly the close pass. The media plays a large part, every cycling tragedy is to the fore, not that they shouldn’t be, such incidents can be a force for change but there is very little to re-address the balance, to convince people that cycling is safe. We as a force must do our upmost to protect the vulnerable on our roads and convince them that if anyone does endanger them on the road the perpetrator will be dealt with. The flip side of this is of course that anyone endangering a vulnerable road user should expect to be identified and prosecuted; this is the key to policing the problem.

The way forward

Although we have had great success prosecuting using cycle camera evidence sent to us by cyclists, not all, even those running cameras on their daily journeys have the desire to start reporting offending drivers (as previously discussed here : Lights, Camera, Action !  ).

So we need to be proactive, and so in partnership with Birmingham City Council we have a new partnership scheme which will see a traffic officer riding the most vulnerable locations for cyclists looking to instantly act upon close passes, distracted driving and the like. The cycling traffic officer when passed too close will let the officer up the road know, who will in turn stop the motorist. Then the offender will be given a choice, prosecution or 15 minutes spent being educated as to the correct way to pass a cyclist.

It’s simple but effective, drivers are shown how far they should be from a cyclist, we have chosen the widely advocated 1.5mtr as our minimum but of course a much further distance will be needed in many circumstances depending on the vehicle type and speed. For instance if the opposite carriageway is available for an overtake and isn’t used in its entirety the driver will be pulled and shown why they should utilise all the available road room available to facilitate a safe overtake. A full sized replica road floor mat with various hazards positioned on it will give perspective and equip drivers with the knowledge needed to prevent further offences being committed.

Those who are committing any other offence as well as the “close pass” due care offence will be prosecuted for all offences, no immediate educational alternative for those who show such a low standard of driving.

Days without education

close-lorry-pass

Expect prosecution, not education for anything of this standard !

Following a period of education at a particular location if offences persist we will have “enforcement” only days where education isn’t an option for those committing close pass due care offences. Hopefully given the amount of publicity we anticipate this tactic will receive, most drivers should very quickly get the message and hopefully the enforcement only days should be few and far between!

We anticipate a change in driver behaviour as awareness of the tactic spreads, after all, every cyclist on the road ahead may well be a traffic officer on the operation, as our cyclists will not be liveried in any way, drivers will have no way of knowing !

RoSPA

For those who are reading this and think they need to make themselves or others (for example employee’s, friends or colleagues) more aware of how to share the road with cyclists in a way that will avoid prosecution, we recently teamed up with RoSPA and produced an interactive presentation which is free to download and is ideal. The presentation gives drivers examples of how to overtake cyclists, examples of what cyclists may do in certain situations to ensure their safety, and highlights blind spot awareness plus much more, and unlike anything that’s gone before it is filmed on live roads with live traffic, so those who have never cycled on a road get everything from a cyclists perspective. Well worth a look you’ll find it here : RoSPA Share the Road

Well that’s it for this blog, that’s where we are at, anyone from the media who would like more details of the new “Share the Road” scheme which proactively deals with close passes or attend a media launch day for the scheme in the coming week please contact Brigg Ford at our Corporate Communications Department, as for the rest of you, feel free to tweet us with any questions.

Until the next blog

Take care and safe cycling.

Advertisements

155 thoughts on “Junction Malfunction and a New Dawn

    1. Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL)

      As the Crown Prosecution Service describes “Driving without due care and attention” = driving inappropriately close to another vehicle, the law has always been there, the Police have simply refused to use the law to protect cyclists the have complained about bad drivers.
      From the CPS website:
      The offence of driving without due care and attention (careless driving) under section 3 of the RTA 1988 is committed when the defendants driving falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Richard

      I would like to congratulate WM Police for the above information, including your work with ROSPA and your recently announced scheme to target “close pass” motorists.

      The ‘close pass’ is by far the biggest danger I face every ride. Junctions can be hazardous but I find being proactive such as good road positioning, awareness and visibility alleviates a lot of the dangers.

      I ride with lights all the time, for example.

      I also ride with a mirror. I would like to highlight this as I am convinced it is the only reason I have yet to suffer an accident. It gives me a huge insight to traffic behind me, interpreting likely behavior, avoiding incidents and allowing good traffic flow around me.

      After all the safest place for any cyclist is behind a car, not in front. I am perfectly happy to yield to motorists, and do so regularly.

      The very first thing I was taught when I learned to drive and ride a motorbike was Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre.

      Take it from me once you ride with a mirror, you will never ride without one again. For what they cost, what have you got to lose? No one ever talks about this simple, but very effective safety tool.

      And hardly anyone uses them.

      Interestingly, the handful of those who do in my area are ‘older gentlemen.’ These characters have clearly been riding for decades, one is Brian Robinson, the former pro rider, now in his 80s. He is one of a collection of grizzled veterans, most in their 70s and 80s who still ride all year round.

      One still has his RAF mustache.

      Like

      Reply
    3. andrewvokes

      Hallelujah! Finally some common sense! Reading this is like Christmas to me! I don’t want to go around throwing this book at motorists, I just want to get home safely to see my family, but some motorists see us as nothing more than road rodents, and care little for our safety or well being. If they need a firmer approach to get the message across then so be it! Well done WMP!

      Like

      Reply
  1. Chris Wh

    Thank you West Midlands Police for your enlightened and forward thinking. I think this is a brilliant scheme, I wish it could be adopted countrywide. I do hope that the cycling traffic officer has been trained to ride according to the DfT national standards for cycling (marketed as Bikeability), for instance riding in primary position where appropriate. Could offenders have an option to take cycle training (at their own expense)?

    There’s a very relevant post on Martin Porter’s blog, [http://thecyclingsilk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/the-criminaljustice-system-how-it-fails.html] and this initiative goes some way to address his concerns.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  2. ralph caton

    All very valid. Bet the cyclist who I saw consulting his smartphone in Ferry Lane while doing about 15mph, and later riding with his arms folded across his chest wasn’t reading it.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Tim

      Not suggesting the behaviour described is wise or even reasonable, but was the cyclist in question posing a real risk to others? Because that’s what the whole blog post is about.

      (not saying he wasn’t, but the comment doesn’t say where he was or who else was around)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. Simon

      Was he piloting 2.5 tonnes of steel? No.
      It’s not terribly clever but, unlike drivers, he poses negligible risk of injury to other road users. Don’t deflect attention from the elephant in the room.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    1. Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL)

      We haven’t seen the results yet, or the charging standards!!!
      A previous blog says close passes of cyclists are seen as being in inches not feet
      The pic in the Highway Code shows an appropriate clearance as over four feet in very low hazard, low speed conditions, This is the view of a cop, the Crown Prosecution Service sees driving inappropriately close as “Driving without due care and attention” = 3 to 9 points

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Allan

    Love the idea of a zero tolerance approach. I was knocked off my bike, witnessed by an off-duty policeman (who handled the whole situation brilliantly, I should add) but TVP decided not to prosecute because I wasn’t badly injured.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t baying for blood. The guy was genuinely shocked and wasn’t driving like an idiot (well, apart from …) but as the article says, if drivers know they’ll be penalised for certain behaviours, they’ll stop behaving in those ways.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  4. Adrian North

    But… Road Tax, Red Lights, Pavements, license, MOT… 😉

    Seriously, this is a brilliant initiative, targetting the cause rather than blaming the victim. This MUST be passed around the country as an example of Best Practice.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  5. Matt

    This is a fascinating analysis, and the advice for cyclists all makes good sense. And I agree that a higher rate of prosecutions for offences that drivers may not even be aware they are committing, but which for cyclists are hazardous and scary, is probably the way forward.

    I do wonder about the parameters you’re setting on near misses in your scheme with Birmingham City Council. Quite apart from the obvious difficulties in accurately measuring passing distance, I now personally would probably not even register an overtake wider that 1m, and probably wouldn’t feel particularly threatened by anything wider than 2ft of space (or at high speed). When cycling in the city (Bristol), in some locations I reckon a majority of overtakes would be withing 1.5m. I certainly wouldn’t personally feel like giving all those drivers a talking to.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. andreapullen

    Sounds great, does this mean I can have my case that Solihull police couldn’t have been less bothered about re-opened? Wasn’t followed up due to lack of witnesses, despite the incident being captured on GoPro. Van overtook me so close that it left a big black mark down my arm and grazed my wrist. Don’t know how I didn’t end up under his wheels.

    Officer on duty in the station was completely unsympathetic and pretty much told me not to cycle on the roads.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. pchodson Post author

      Technically what you have described is a injury road traffic collision, not a close pass and should have been recorded as such. Call 101 and report as such, they may ask you to visit a station to report via a self reporting form. Apologies, you should never have been sent away from the station. Any issues e mail me personally on m.hodson@west-midlands.pnn.police.uk

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    2. Dave H (@BCCletts)

      Read section 170 RTA 1988 – if the presence of a motor vehicle causes damage or injury the driver must give details to any person requiring them to make a civil claim. Various conditions (injury/damage relate to reporting to Police, and the offence of not reporting/giving details)
      Van will be marked – I got action based on photos of marks left on truck where driver forced me off the road deliberately.

      Like

      Reply
  7. Pingback: Morning Links: Shooting on LA River bike path, Emerald Necklace opens, and write your own anti-bike screed |

  8. Lisa Naylor

    A great initiative – I hope you get the support and resources you need to push this out as widely as possible to have maximum impact.

    You mention Birmingham City Council; have you approached any other local authorities to seek support in rolling this out further? I’m a regular cyclist in around Olton, Solihull and Shirley and encounter close passes on almost a daily basis. I’d love to see this kind of enforcement in my local area – especially on Lode Lane northbound from Solihull bypass towards JLR which has become a real problem area lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Links: The imagined self, cameras, interviews, Alan Moore, and more « The Story's Story

  10. Andy Carter

    This is an excellent blog. However as a cyclist who was recently knocked of his bike by a taxi driver at the junction of Tennant Street and Bishopsgate Street I’m a little surprised by the strong use of language regarding enforcement. My incident was widely witnessed and two West Midlands Police Officers, who were in a vehicle close by, were alerted to the incident. Although my bike was damaged, mercifully I wasn’t hurt other than some bruising and scratches on my arm. The taxi driver admitted causing the incident, and he and I exchanged details, witnessed by the Police Officers. However other than a ‘ticking off’ the taxi driver drove off with penalty. The Police explained that because I wasn’t particularly hurt and that the taxi driver was going to pay for the damage caused to my bike they wouldn’t prosecute, or open a case on the accident. I was shaken following the accident, relieved not to be seriously injured, so didn’t argue the point.
    This seems to run counter to your blog, particular that related to enforcement (which I endorse). I’d happily discuss the matter further by email.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL)

      Standard Police reply “we will not discuss individual cases”
      You need to visit the Police Station and insist on making a Formal Complaint against the driver, and tell the Police you expect them to take the appropriate action. When this is inevitably resulting in poor action you then need to complain. The Police will not assist you in getting justice once they have made a bad decision (and usually before) any help you ask for with regard to how the Police apply the law will be shut down, the Police attitude tends to be that they are right, and you are wrong.
      Maybe I will be proved wrong, and these guys will explain why the law that looks obvious could not be applied.
      Oh and beware the “Public Interest” line, it only applies in extreme cases e.g.if the driver was your Father, and he caused your death and was massively distressed by what he had done so had already suffered enough.

      Like

      Reply
  11. Moyra

    Could cyclists be educated about their close passes with pedestrians on shared paths? I have been passed, at speed, less than a few inches away from me more times than I can number and have sustained injuries from cycle handlebars, necessitating trips to doctors, and A+E on at least one occasion. I have lost count of the scratches by brambles and hedges as I am forced to move into them to avoid cyclists coming at me at speed with no regard for pedestrians.

    As a pedestrian who walks at least 5 – 7 miles a day and regularly more,, I’m afraid I do regard many cyclists on shared pavements as more than an occasional nuisance, and as a regular danger to my personal safety, especially given the lack of clarity of signage about which paths are shared use.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Dave H (@BCCletts)

      If the cyclist can be identified any significant injury warrants a civil claim on a path with such problems it is often worth walking with a walking cane/stick which most sensible riders will see for its potential to catch their wheels or pedals if they attempt to pass too closely. Also provides you with the means to define your position to be ‘not shoved into the hedge’

      Like

      Reply
  12. surfsensei

    Good article, good scheme and I look forward to reading and hearing of more rigorous enforcement very soon via Twitter and hopefully on the BBC. Reliable enforcement is of course a key issue (I work in a school, where this works if it is done properly) and this is where many of the aspirational statements fizzle out in practice. The message needs to be spread very forcefully, without apologies, that if you are in charge of a motor vehicle, you carry a greater burden of responsibility for the safety of others and if you break the rules you will be penalized; this responsibility needs to be reflected in law and penalties need to be applied rigorously too. If a driver knows that they will lose their licence, not just get a few points, then they will pay attention. The recent case of the HGV driver being, at last, imprisoned for causing a fatality – texting while driving – shows that he should have lost his licence long before, when he received his previous convictions. Please encourage your colleagues in other areas to stop being lenient on people in charge of motor vehicles. Keep up the good work too. Safe journeys!

    Like

    Reply
  13. James Sooer

    Have you seen what Safer Scotland advertise as safe overtaking room? Search “Give me space cycling Scotland”. It is a disgrace. Apparently one child’s arm’s length is sufficient space for a car to leave whilst overtaking. This is a widespread campaign with billboards and adverts on buses. What are your thoughts?

    Like

    Reply
  14. Mark Kuramoto-Headey

    One commute I used to make necessitated turning right on a large roundabout on a dual carriageway. My method was to hog the outside lane then cycle close to the roundabout itself, on the grounds that I could use the roundabout as an ‘escape route’. When I wanted to exit, I would stick my hand straight up and stare at the oncoming vehicles, lowering my arm when I knew they had spotted me. The fact that it was such an odd move (on my part) seemed to attract the attention of the drivers and only once did I even come close to having to go round again.

    Like

    Reply
  15. John Moss

    I ride/drive a Yellow ‘Mango’ Velomobile in Coventry and have witnessed many times drivers using their mobile phones to film me WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING!
    I usually have a Garmin action camera like those shown in use by the traffic officers.
    If I have good images of these offenders, where do/can I send a copy for enforcement?

    Like

    Reply
  16. Tim

    I have to be honest and say that I’m convinced the only long term measure which can make cycling genuinely safe and accessible is safe space for cycling; high quality segregation on fast or busy routes, and measures to slow and reduce motor traffic in residential areas and town centres (such as closing off through routes). I hope the police will support these kind of changes because I don’t trust all drivers to moderate their behaviour, and while I believe that junctions are the high risk locations, it’s the general feeling of danger (and close passes) which puts the vast majority of people off cycling.

    All that said, I appreciate that the police don’t build the roads, and this progressive, thoughtfully worded article, based on hard evidence and analysis, is very very welcome. It is refreshing indeed after all the petty sniping at people on bikes. Motor vehicles are very useful and necessary tools, but that in no way justifies the sense of entitlement and the lack of consideration for other road users shown by some drivers. I hope the kind of policing discussed can go some way to address that, and I will be very interested to hear about any results.

    Like

    Reply
  17. G Mc Call

    In the interests of fairness and balance and to improve road safety across the board in every way, which can only be a good thing, will the law be equally applied to cyclists to offer them the opportunity to be educated when observed undertaking, overtaking and filtering other road users. Accidents and RTA’s occur as a chain of events and what can be described as ‘nuisance’ or ‘irritant’ riding may also be a precursor and contributory cause. To educate all poor, unaware, and poorly observant road users, and apply the law equally across the board will improve road safety for all.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Andy from Embsay

      Dude – did you miss the bit where it says over 80% of KSIs are caused by motorists. Where there are limited resources, where would you concentrate them?

      Oh – and by the way – filtering past slow moving or stationary traffic is legal. Love the victim blaming of a cyclist “irritating” you somehow makes driving dangerously excusable. Bizarre.

      Like

      Reply
  18. aileron346

    Very refreshing initiative and I wish it well. Mostly when the protection of vulnerable road users gets discussed, it degenerates into a ping-pong of accusations about cycling on the pavement and red light jumping etc etc. As if a few silly cyclists mean that my children cycling on the roads shouldn’t be protected by the law.
    Interestingly, the antics of the law-breaking minority of motorists never lead to people arguing that I shouldn’t be protected in my car.
    So a really refreshing initiative… all the video footage is highlighting what has been going on for years and years but always hard to get good evidence. This may go some way to changing the reputation the police have regarding close pass offences. I hope it is seen as exemplary practice and taken up by other forces.

    Like

    Reply
  19. Balthazar

    I’d just like to add a comment expressing my thanks for a really excellent article.

    And I shall definitely try the “watch the wheels not the eyes” tip. That never occurred to me before despite tens of thousands of miles cycling.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL)

      CPS support is unlikely to be needed, it will only apply if the offender challenges the fixed penalty notice (CPS do not give involved with fixed penalties). If an officer has stated the drivers behaviour was below the required standard, they are already screwed!
      From CPS website:

      The offence of driving without due care and attention (careless driving) under section 3 of the RTA 1988 is committed when the defendants driving falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver – section 3ZA(2) of the RTA 1988.
      An example of this is “driving inappropriately close to another vehicle”

      Note “below” the standard is enough, far below the standard would be:
      Dangerous Driving
      The offence of dangerous driving under section 2 of the RTA 1988 is committed when a persons standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

      1.5 (4′ 9″) meters is already a lenient standard given the width of a Ford Focus is 1.8 meters and drivers are expected to give a cars width

      Having video evidence (and in this case and an Officer’s statement) that the driver’s behaviour fell below the required standard is meeting the CPS charging standard. Some Forces will play on CPS guide line, but this is pure laziness, as is well known in the Police Force.

      Like

      Reply
  20. Clive Durdle

    Apologies if you have seen these links, but I think they are very important in understanding what is happening on roads and possible ways to improve things.

    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/air/safety/safety_management_en.htm

    EU safety management in aircraft. Please study everything in detail and think through carefully what are the appropriate responses. Powered vehicles are heavy fast moving machinery, arguably they are offensive weapons, like kitchen knives they can of course be used responsibly.

    HSE uses these principles, but for some reason I do not understand, they do not get applied in situations not defined as “at work”.

    http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/raf-pilot-teach-cyclists/

    And it is not just the heavy fast moving machinery. There are serious issues with humans ability to control these machines without incredibly intensive training and retesting.

    Like

    Reply
  21. Lee

    Wow! is all I can say after reading that. Could you please get other Police forces around the country to buy into this? I cycle in Cheshire and Greater Manchester and it’s the same situation here. When I’ve complained to drivers directly, I either get apathy or agression in return; as you can imagine, I don’t bother complaining any more. Great tips about the wheels, the white and the lines you take; I picked all of these up from my motorcycling days and they still serve me well today. Other things to note are the attitudes taken by motorists with respect to the cyclist’s need to stay out of the door zone and to “Take the lane” where appropriate to prevent a vehicle from making a closs pass at a pinch point.

    Like

    Reply
  22. Neil

    Bravo! An excellent initiative.

    Two things that have made me feel safer cycling is a small ‘fold away’ cycle mirror fitted to the end of the handle bars and having my bike fitted with electric assist.

    It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize why some cyclists jump red lights, mount pavements, don’t stop at junctions etc. and the obvious answer is the loss of momentum – it takes a lot of effort to go from a standing start to normal cycling speed and I do understand [but not condone] why cyclists avoid having to stop.

    Having the electric assist is a huge help in making me feel safer on the roads. Junctions and traffic lights can be negotiated at a similar speed to motorised vehicles; no more ‘standing up’ wobbly starts. If I am on a road with limited opportunities to overtake and I am aware that I’m holding up traffic [via the mirror], then I simply pull over and let them pass; the electric assist makes gaining that momentum effortless and pain free. In a similar way, if pedestrians are encountered on shared cycle/footpath, then slowing down to walking pace is no longer a sacrifice as I know the motor will pull me back to speed with little sweat on my part. Once that reluctance to sacrifice momentum is a thing of the past, the temptation for ‘risky’ cycling disappears with it. It has also encouraged me to review the routes I take; the ‘short but busy’ routes have often been replaced with the ‘longer but quieter’ routes now that cycling is no longer the ‘sweat fest’ it was.

    Like

    Reply
  23. Clive Durdle

    Are other possible offences used as well? Assault, threatening behaviour and breach of the peace come immediately to mind.

    And if these traffic offences happened during a driving test, would the learner driver be passed? If not, should not the driving licence be withdrawn and the driver have to pass a higher test, like IAM if they have been found guilty of driving without due care and attention?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  24. John Holt

    Well done. Thoughtful analysis. I live in Birmingham and work in London and would suggest that London benefits from a higher density of cyclists such that road users (and pedestrians) look out for them. Birmingham has not reached that critical mass nor has the level of infrastructure provision (which may be nothing more than headstart boxes for cyclists at junctions).

    So there are 2 messages for improvement (1) Expect to see cyclists (2) expect to be prosecuted if you don’t.

    I do though think that cyclists on pavements in Birmingham are beyond “nuisance”. I have been knocked over by one of a gaggle of 5 coming downhill on a footpath at right angles (new phone, new suit but that was all) and the behaviour of some misusing the pedestrian underpass to Fletchers Walk is positively dangerous. The latter are cyclists not yobs on bikes.

    I have had a near miss with a cyclist. 50/50 I’d say. No lights at dusk but I feel I could have done better. It still haunts me. Drivers be careful.

    Oh and I am a weekend cyclist (aches gently – its Monday).

    Like

    Reply
  25. Pingback: Singletrack Magazine | The Lion's Share

  26. Matt Hodges

    I like your proposals and wish our local force would follow your example.
    However I think there is another serious driving fault that endangers cyclists that you haven’t mentioned. That is overtaking with inadequate view of the road ahead. As a cyclist I am regularly passed on the approach to bends by drivers who couldn’t possibly see whether there was anything coming the other way. Usually they get away with it. Occasionally a car coming the other way has to brake sharply and the overtaker cuts in dangerously. A friend was injured in a similar situation when the overtaking car braked, skidded and hit him. This is a very common fault on rural roads.

    Like

    Reply
  27. Rob

    Thank you WMP, as someone who cycles to and from work 4 or 5 times a week this is most welcome. 99.9% of drivers are courteous safe and aware of cyclists and give us room but there is always the odd 1 who is in a rush or is just plain old ignorant. where do we send footage to? I’m quite happy to forward on footage of aggressive drivers.

    Like

    Reply
    1. pchodson Post author

      Rob

      Theres a blog titled lights camera action which contains all you need to know regards the self reporting of Due care (close pass offences). Safe cycling 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  28. MLD

    The task at hand here would appear to be immense, just look at the responses on facebook when Birmingham Updates reported the WMP initiative https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=birmingham%20updates%20pass. Pretty shocking attitudes towards cyclists by some car drivers. Personally I have now been clipped twice by cars, both times I was stationary, once waiting to turn right across the oncoming traffic and once trying to squeeze into a hedge as an oncoming car failed to slow on a narrow country lane. On both occasions the cars failed to stop, despite me being knocked to the ground in the latter. On a third occasion, again on a country lane I had another driver put his foot down and drive at straight me aggressively, only swerving at the last minute and hurling verbal abuse at me as he passed. My only crime being on the same road as him riding a bike, there was even plenty of room for us to pass safely with no inconvenience to either party. Is it any wonder cyclists get angry. Its a welcome initiative but only scratches the service of a nationwide lack of respect for vulnerable road users of all types.

    Like

    Reply
  29. Pingback: Raising boys & girls | North Tyneside Cycling Campaign

  30. Dave H (@BCCletts)

    If only your crash investigations could be published as objective non judgemental factual reports with a commentary of lessons that can be learned from each one. Slowly we are showing what really causes cyclist and pedestrian deaths in HGV crashes in the sequence of events.
    Perhaps also to ban the wide use of N3G off road HGV’s on general road haulage work, and to consider a campaign for cyclists to be more aware of what is coming up behind them.
    In Birmingham Tuesday night my awareness of a close passing car coming in from behind meant that I was braced and his nearside mirror got a healthy clip as it passed the end of my handlebars. He stopped and wound down a window to complain, bit I pointed out that it would be hard to explain as anything but his dangerous passing of a cyclist.
    With so many fatalities involving motor vehicle drivers hitting a cyclist from the rear any measure that makes a cyclist aware of this impending danger, to initiate avoiding action would seem to be a good move. I do have an idea – might be worth discussing.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Clive Durdle

      Agree completely, making sure investigations use best practice from hse, aviation, rail and medicine, for example about the detailed chain of events.

      An area that is often forgotten is about attitudes and how they are created over time.

      Try reading this thinking cyclist as well as pedestrian, after the jules Verne story p 150 onwards – does need knowledge of PDF management

      https://archive.org/stream/AmazingStoriesVolume02Number11#page/n33/mode/2up

      Revolt of the pedestrians

      Like

      Reply
  31. Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL)

    I am left wondering why!
    The CPS do not place any reference to close passing of cyclists under Careless Driving, it can only be found under Dangerous Driving. It does seem quite obvious that passing a vulnerable road user at less than the required minimum for a given situation is Dangerous as opposed to passing a car or van etc. What I don’t get is why you charge Careless when Dangerous applies, and why the CPS don’t ask you to resubmit the charges as Dangerous as per their charging standards?

    Like

    Reply
  32. bob craven

    Well done jack and well said. With 30 years of cycling under your bum you make a lot of common sense which seems is lost on many others nowadays.

    Paul the police will no longer get involved in any incident where there is no complaint of injury. They havn’t done so for a number of years. As they see it without injury and no complaint of any offences being committed they are wasting there time as its considered a job for insurance companies or private individuals to sort it out amongst themselves. In other words its a waste of their time and effort. They no longer will work unpaid as intermediaries for insurance companies.

    Someone mentioned stopping at RED lights. The law requires everyone to stop on the AMBER LIGHT when that is shown after the green one. So not just to stop on RED. Its stop on AMBER and that light is on for some 3 seconds to give many drivers and cyclists the opportunity to stop in good time before the RED light comes on.

    What interests me is that when we have so many fewer officers on the beat so to speak and many mature and experienced road traffic officers have been put into other duties or retired as a result t of re assessment of there role how can you pay so much lip service to cyclists as a vulnerable road users. Is it a caze of politics or a genuine concern? After all there are and have been many more traffic considerations that you could be making and reporting offenders that break the law by committing acts that are by law and society considered dangerous either to others or to themselves.

    It seems strange that they have decided to do something about the dangers cyclists face when being overtaken by so little a distance. That when cyclists do not give or require such a similar distance when they decide to undertake or overtake other vehicles and place themselves perpetually in that dangerous situation. There is however one thing that I would like the police to take action and that is tailgating. This has become to commonplace on many of our roads and just because no one has yet come up with a definition the police take no action against those who would make ALL our lives less safe on our roads.

    Like

    Reply
  33. Dave H (@BCCletts)

    Just been discussing London HGV-cycle fatalities 94% are cycle hit from rear c.80% when front n/s corner hits rear of bike, as driver makes full lock left turn. Disportionate number of women killed. However 10 years ago 5000 cyclist survey found that women admitted to having problems looking back with this having correlation to incidents which arose because of poor rearward awareness, disportionately involving women. Conclusion was that perhaps the biggest road safety campaign for cyclists was to learn the Lifesaver, or use a mirror to be fully aware of what is coming up in your direction from behind. It can often give you the opportunity to take avoiding action or make your presence more obvious to the driver.

    In barely 2 weeks we also have an annual spike in bus-cycle/motorcycle crashes in London when the evening commute suddenly goes darker and no joke up to half of the annual serious crash counts cluster, until we all adjust to the new conditions. How do WM figures look in this respect?

    Like

    Reply
    1. Northern Cyclist TVL (@NthrnCyclistTVL)

      New rules? Use a mirror and give way the vehicles behind you? Or maybe just as the people working on this project believe, simply start enforcing the law, and drivers will stop failing to see cyclists, as they will actively look for them as they consequences are at the front of their mind for a change.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s