British Cycling launched the campaign #TurningTheCorner. A campaign to simplify the rules around turning at junctions, to make it safe for cyclists and pedestrians and to reduce casualties.
I can’t fault the idea of making the roads safer. I’m 100% behind that. However I am concerned with how this is actually going to be implemented. If we look at countries which already have such rules in place, they usually A. have better infrastructure. B. the rules have been established for a while C. More people cycle, more people know people who cycle and generally cycling is more accepted, as such people are more aware.
I can just see now a stream of cyclists going northbound on CS7 past Clapham Common on approach to Rookery Road and a vehicle waiting to turn left, they will be there for one hell of a time. Approach speeds can easily be greater than 20mph and I would struggle to trust a driver to not turn across the path of the cyclists.
And I have many more examples of exactly the same at this junction.
We have a real life example of how a change to the road can fix this. A few years ago I witnessed a truck overtaking a cyclist at Oval and turning left across her, it very nearly resulted in her going under the wheels of said truck. Read about that case.
The junction as it used to be, cyclists going straight had to share a lane with motorists turning left.
The junction now is very different, cyclists are separated from motor traffic and turning cars have a different phase of light.
One way the dutch do it (when space is available) is fantastic. The turning traffic is 90 degrees to the cyclists, and as such do not need to rely on their mirrors to see cyclists, they look out their side windows and windscreen. Cyclists in this situation have priority and cars can only go when it is clear for them to do so.
To summarise. Changes need to be made, and London has been making some fantastic changes recently that has resulted in an increase in people cycling. But we need to improve the areas that don’t have such facilities and the rest of the country. I know that personally I would be cautious of passing a left indicating vehicle on the left, even if the law states that they must wait for me to pass.
In 2012 that was apparently £206, in 2013 it had risen £27 to £233. This seems remarkably low and I have asked Mintel to comment on how they worked it out, I have yet to have a response.
The average selling price of a bike has risen £27 from £206 in 2012 to £233 in 2013.
Note that they state selling price and not sold price. So it should be prices of the bikes on the shelves and has no relation to those actually sold or what quantity.
As I thought this was so remarkably low I decided to look into a couple of the online sellers of cycles in the UK to find out what the average selling price was. These sellers are Argos, Halfords, Sports Direct, Evans, Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles. Being knowledgable about the internet, I know a fairly easy way to get the information from the websites and was able to get all the prices of all the bikes on all the sites. This included kids bikes, which are mostly under the £233 mark.
Average cost of cycle
Chain Reaction Cycles
From those 6 bike shops we have over 3566 bikes with an average price of £779.
I’m highly surprised at the average price of a cycle in the UK being £233, and my findings show that the number is nowhere near when looking at a range of shops.
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!
I’m sure many of you have already seen the website ride-smart.org (which has now been pulled, it can be seen here). It’s meant to be a cycling campaign that raises awareness of dangerous cycling and how it can get you into trouble. But instead it calls people ‘Stupid Twats’ and makes up fictional limericks to try to make people see the dangers of certain actions.
As I’m writing this, my twitter feed is going off the hook and I’ve just been informed that they have published an apology, which reads as below.
Karmarama, the company behind it, certainly made a few mistakes along the way. One which I can relate to is their use of other people’s videos without permission or credit to those who filmed and uploaded them. This of course has led to several of the video owners lodging copyright complaints with youtube. Youtube have a policy of 3 strikes and your out, if they don’t remove the videos in time then the youtube account will be closed down.
Karmarama has tried to suggest that they gave credit to the owners of the footage by this statement on their website.
All videos were taken by lovely riders who give a shit. Unfortunately we never saved their usernames and couldn’t track them back. Sorry lads, keep on uploading these to the net. Together we’ll make a difference.
It was right at the bottom of the website and almost impossible to read.
Karmarama has since taken down the videos but the original playlist “What a stupid TWAT” is still available for viewing.
Compare this to Silly Cyclists, a video series I do which highlights the mistakes that many road users with cameras record and send to me. My approach is not to victim blame or to call people “stupid twats”. Instead I use the clips to help show others how to deal with situations they may find themselves in. An approach which takes a potential negative and turns it into a positive to those who are watching.
I’ve received much praise from many people for the series, many people saying they have learnt a lot from it and now feel safer about cycling on the roads. Even motorists have said they now give cyclists more room as they now understand some of the issues we face.
It’s essentially a similar campaign to what Karmarama has done but the approach is completely different.