Exchanging places is a scheme run by The Cycle Task Force of the Met. A fantastic scheme that gets cyclists into HGV’s and shows them the blind spots! It’s a real eye opener, I was shocked when I first when in and I throughly recommend everyone to do it when they get the opportunity.
Some very wise words where said in the video and I don’t think they where highlighted enough.
You know you’re safe because you’ve made eye contact and he has seen you
Whilst it’s not strictly true that eye contact makes you safe, I always think it’s a good idea to do. A. your body movement to look behind should be eye catching to the driver. B. If you can see the driver then you know you are not in his blind spot!
Avoid at all costs going up the side of a HGV at lights
As the driver went on, he mentioned on approach to the lights as well. This is important, when filtering you need to be careful and doing so when there is no escape route or time for you to get in front then it can be a recipe for disaster. Remember that getting to the front should not be your goal when approaching red lights, keeping safe and visible to other road users should be. And that means not filtering up the side of HGV’s
The more room a lorry has left you, the more likely it is going to turn left. The more tempting it looks, the more dangerous it is.
A fantastic comment that could easily be missed. Reading the road is a very valuable tool, and seeing that space on the side of a vehicle of such a size being so big should be a big indicator that it is going to attempt to turn at the junction. Remember we must engage our brains whilst cycling and try to read every situation as we approach it. If the possibilities of a vehicle turning left are high, then stay back, stay safe!
As the pair summarise, it’s team work that we need. Both parties need to be a bit clearer with what they are doing and don’t be so brash to pass each other when approaching a junction.
I was watching BBC News yesterday morning, and Boris Johnson was on speaking about the 5 cycling deaths we have had on London’s roads in only 9 days!
He pulled out his standard statistic which goes something like this
Year on year cycle deaths are down. Cycling numbers are also up, which means it is better.
This isn’t a case of being better, it doesn’t matter if it’s gone done and it certainly doesn’t matter if numbers are up.
The point is that people are dying on our streets. Dying on their way to work. dying on their way home.
These people are dying and nothing is being done!
Our streets are built on 1960′s philosophy of car is king, everyone uses them to get everywhere.
That isn’t the case, our roads need to be re-designed to suit the needs of everyone that travels on them. To keep everyone safe and to allow all road users to get to their destination without fearing their life when they get to a certain junction.
I was at the vigil the other day for Venera Minakhmetova. The LCC where going to attempt to have 2 minutes silence for those that had recently died. Unfortunately the motorists we where preventing from continuing their journeys didn’t appreciate it and leant on their horns, this ruined the silence. Of course, these motorists only days before probably took 2 minutes out of their day to remember our fallen war heroes. But as soon as they get behind the wheel, seem to become different people and forget about others.
Boris needs to up his game, things have got to change, yes it will cost money, yes it will change how some people use our roads but we need to build a sustainable city for everyone to use what ever mode of transport they use. Other cities around the world are host to many cyclists and easily get through the year with zero cycling fatalities, why can’t London be the same?
Today TFL released a press release regarding enforcement of ASL/bike boxes to help improve cycle safety in the capital.
Basically they are working with the police in giving motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists advice about how the bike boxes should be used. In their own press release TFL give a history of the ASL in the UK, it goes like this
ASLs were first introduced into the UK in Oxford in 1986, primarily as a measure to increase safety for cyclists by enabling them to move in front of traffic queues at signal controlled junctions. The regulations and layouts permitted for ASLs and lead-in lanes are contained within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2002. This was introduced in December 2002 and came into effect on 31 January 2003 for new schemes
So ASLs have been part of UK infrastructure since 1986 and have had a law regarding their whole use in place for 10 years. But only now are road users being taught about them. The problem we have is that you pass a test to drive and you can go the rest of your driving life without having to pick up a copy of the highway code or reading about new implementations to the road network.
As new signs, laws, road markings etc.. are introduced into the road network, current road users are only made aware of such additions if they look into them or if they are brought up on them. How can we fix this?
As road users, I speak here as a cyclist and as a motorists, we should be regularly tested at intervals on road theory, things change and I’m sure that a 60-year-old driver who has been driving for more than 40 years is not aware of many of the additional changes made to the road network in that time frame. Even if it was a 10 year interval then all motorists would have been made aware of bike boxes and we wouldn’t need to educate them this time round but instead fine them for not following the rules that are set to them!
10 years! It’s been 10 years since ASL and their function where backed by law and in that time frame it has been extremely rare for a motorist to be pulled up for the offence of not stopping correctly at a red light and encroaching in the bike box. That’s a shocking time frame and this should have been something that was addressed from day 1. Not just because it’s breaking the law but because those boxes were put in for safety reasons and by no one following by the rules it nullifies the safety aspects! WHAT IS THE POINT?
TFL have included some safety tips for both motorists and cyclists regarding ASLs
Do not enter the Advanced Stop Line (ASL) box when the light is red – this space is reserved for the safety of cyclists;
Crossing the first or second ASL lines when the light is red makes you liable for a £60 fixed penalty, three points on your licence, and endangers vulnerable road users;
If the traffic signal changes from green to amber and you cannot safely stop before the first stop line, you may cross the line but must stop before the second stop line (Highway Code rule 178).
All good but adding a few other things like
Be aware of cyclists filtering towards the ASL whilst you are waiting in stationery traffic, give them time and space to join into the traffic flow were required
If you are stopped in the ASL, please be aware of cyclists who attempt to use it and allow them to pull away safely.
Now for the cycling one.
Do not cross the second stop line while the traffic signal is red. Contravening a traffic signal is against the law, and could result in a £30 fine;
The information on the TFL site is actually quite good for TFL, although some of the images and spaces defined as safe overtaking are a little worrying.
The information on the Met site is of course detailed and well thought out, the myth busting info is pretty good as well.
However I would add one final point for cyclists
The ASL is not a target, if you can’t get to it safely, do not attempt to reach it. Take a strong position where you are and keep safe.
Interestingly all the documentation does not state how cyclists might enter the ASL, at present cyclists can only legally enter an ASL via a feeder cycle lane or at a broken point of the ASL. Both of these are usually to the left of the cycle lane, which is probably one of the most dangerous places to filter. It’s much safer to enter from the right (usually blocked by motorcyclists) or by the middle on a two lane road.
To sum this all up. 10 years too late, nothing has changed there then.
A fantastic lock and cable combination that will allow you to secure your frame and both the wheels.
The d-lock comes with a Gold rating from Sold Secure, the highest rating possible, and with a 12 rating out of 15 from Abus. It’s a good solid d-lock that is suitable for locking in all locations. The shackle is made from 13mm hardened steel, the lock system is an advanced powercell double locking mechanism with Abus plus locking cylinder, it feels very solid and well made.
As with all d-locks it comes with a way for mounting the lock to the bicycle and Abus do one of the best mounting systems in my opinion. It fits a range of tubes, from 15 – 35mm and it does this by using shims inside the main clamping system. The locking unit has two different attachment positions so that the lock can be orientated in several positions.
The internal area of the d-lock is around 230mm by 105mm. There is a slight divert in the locking system to allow for a few mm of extra space, this will fit through most bicycles rear wheel and part of the frame as well as around standard bicycle racks.
The Cobra Cable is long enough to fit through the front wheel and back to the lock around the rear wheel, a handy extra that doesn’t weigh much but keeps opportunistic thieves from taking your front wheel.
The lock and cable combination is competitively priced at £69.99 with the included cobra cable making this a good purchase for those looking for a complete locking solution.
I’m sure many of my subscribers recall this incident and are wondering what was happening with it. Several weeks ago I was in court as a witness for it. The driver was found guilty of Careless Driving, 3 points on his license, £200 fine, £140 court costs and £15 victim surcharge.
This incident has been much more than just that result, I’ve known what has been happening behind the scenes for quite some time.
Reporting the incident
Those who use RoadSafe London will know that there was a change in how things were handled late last year, a change that many of us appreciated! This was the first incident to be dealt with under the change, and potentially the turning point. When I originally reported this incident I was left with no feedback and when I chased about it I still had no feedback. After contacting an officer who I knew had previously worked with roadsafe the report was chased up and I was put in touch with PC Walters.
From there I gave a statement and provided footage. This was different to before, others and I had previously been to RoadSafe HQ to meet with the staff and talk about the system but this was a different approach.
The company failed to respond to any form of contact and that isn’t just from my self but from many of the people who viewed the video. They were inundated with e-mails and didn’t know how to respond. This goes to show that a company vehicle with contact information on it is a massive advertising board, if you drive in a manner which people deem to be dangerous then the company will be contacted. I did not put details about how to contact the company or ask people to contact the company in my video description, people did it on their own accord.
PC Walters visited the company to get details on who was driving at the time. The company had been making improvements to its fleet, including improved driver training and putting “Look out for cyclists” stickers on the dashboard of their vehicles. VOSA visited the company and checked on everything, I don’t know anything apart from that and I believe that happened after the improved driver training and stickers.
The Court Hearing
Despite the clear video footage of what happened, the defendant originally pleaded not guilty to careless driving. It went in front of a magistrate and the defendant and witnesses were questioned. The defendant said that he was distracted by a van that sped past him and took the same turning as him, he had to slow down and sound his horn as a warning. The horn is on the same stalk as the indicator and he was unable to indicate earlier. The defendant said that he thought the cyclist was taking the same turning as he was. He mentioned his professional driving experience of over 20 years and training he was undertaking to drive bigger vehicles.
As I left the court room, the driver said “Watch yourself out there” to me and his brother gave me a sinister look. Probably not the best thing to do when a waiting room is filled with several police officers.
The Road Layout
This can be a confusing road layout for someone who has not ridden it and is one that has been raised on several occasions as a danger spot to TFL, I raised in back in 2010 when I spoke to the manager of CS7 and CS3.
Cyclists following the road round to the left would stay in the bus lane.
Cyclists following the road straight ahead need to merge into lane 1.
Drivers following the road round to the left need to be in lane 1.
Drivers following the road straight ahead need to be in lane 1, 2 or 3.
And there is the problem. A cyclist wishing to continue straight ahead must merge into the same lane as traffic that is wishing to turn left. A strong position is required in the lane and taking it as early as possible is the best approach. However with motorists zooming past and cutting in front of you, this is daunting for many cyclists and ultimately motorists feel as though they can push past when really they shouldn’t.
The work that was undertaken by the Police was fantastic and something I had not seen or heard of before with a non-collision cycling incident caught on camera. The punishment I believe was fair given previous punishments we have seen with video footage but perhaps there is still an underlying exceptional hardship taken on drivers. I’m sure many will say that they believe that the driver should have lost his license.
The work that the company did to improve their drivers was something I was not expecting and I think they deserve credit for that!