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’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!
Several of the video camera cyclists in London have received a letter from RoadSafe London completely out of the blue. The letter is about reporting motorists who are in the ASL, and what evidence is required for them to take action. I suspect this is due to them receiving a large amount of reports regarding motorists in the advanced stop zones and them not being able to do anything about it. It’s wasting their time and wasting our own time in reporting it, if I reported every motorist I saw in the ASL whilst the light is red, then I would be reporting 40 motorists a day. I don’t want to do that!
The War on Britain’s Roads combines footage captured by cyclists through helmet-mounted cameras, with interviews from cyclists, drivers and those affected by incidents on our roads. Viewers are parachuted into the middle of the battle that is raging between two-wheeled road users and their four-wheeled counterparts.
The documentary airs on Wednesday the 5th of December at 9pm on BBC1 but is there really a war on the roads?
War is a strong word, one that suggests a them vs us and that there is daily conflict on the road. There is obviously some concern coming from the cycling community about this. As what better way to make cycling look dangerous than to convey the roads as a war zone and to show countless videos of dangerous driving.
And whilst this may have a negative affect, this has all come around because of the poor driving that some of us have received over the years. If the documentary can get through to people about how vulnerable we are and how much space we require, then surely it must be a good thing.
Those of us that film will be the first ones to admit how safe it is on the roads. Whilst watching my youtube videos may seem like I run in with a lot of lunatics, you have to take into consideration how many miles I travel and under what traffic conditions.
Most of my riding is done in central London during rush hour traffic, I can do anything from 120miles – 300 miles in a week in those conditions and average over 6,000 miles a year. On average I probably pass and get passed by 4,500 vehicles a week, lets say 250,000 vehicles a year. For the past 3 years that would make 18,000 miles covered and 750,000 vehicles passed. I would say that I have had no more than 50 bad interactions with vehicles in that time. That means I’ll have an incident every 15,000 vehicles or 360 miles.
Considering that I spend most of my time cycling in rush hour traffic, where people just want to get home or into the office on time. I don’t think that is too bad.
So is it a war? It could be described as such. I wouldn’t say it was cyclists vs motorists though, more good road users vs bad road users. It’s not just cyclists who are using cameras, motorcyclists, horse riders and motorists use them to record what they experience on the roads.
I’ve had some involvement with the documentary and whilst they are advertising it as a war (hopefully to gain attention), I don’t think that is the way they program is going, more raising awareness of the issues that we experience on the roads.