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Turning the corner

December 9, 2016 — Leave a comment

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.

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The junction now is very different, cyclists are separated from motor traffic and turning cars have a different phase of light.

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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.

A few months back TrafficDroid posted a short video of him being knocked off by a Taxi in London. Recently an update has been posted with the results.

So the basics of this is the cyclist was travelling in a straight line, thought the overtake was too close so sounded his horn. Driver stopped whilst moving to the left in an attempt to block the cyclist, cyclist carries on, driver passes again this time much closer, moving left and knocks the cyclist over and in between parked cars.

The results of this are 6 points on his license and a £700 fine + court costs.

Some might say, good result. But if I’m honest, I’m disappointed in our system. This was clearly a purposeful act and yet he only gets done for driving without due care, 6 points and a £700 fine.
Because Taxi drivers are self-employed, it is hard to say how much one earns. It’s often thrown around that they are tax dodgers. I don’t think the £700 fine is that much.

But lets put it this way. A professional driver purposefully used his vehicle to knock a vulnerable road user over and into some parked vehicles. If anyone in any other occupation did something comparable, they would be fired from their job and struggle to work in the same field again. Yet when it comes to professional drivers they are let off, back into the street to do the same to the next cyclist that doesn’t agree with him.

Why does our legal system allow this to happen? This sort of driving is not by mistake and it’s clear from his response of “what are you doing?” And not “oh my god are you ok? I’m so sorry” that he did this on purpose.

I won’t even mention the false witness statements that other taxi drivers who didn’t witness it are willing to put forward to help their buddy.

Is filtering legal?

January 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

There isn’t anything in Law or the Highway Code that explicitly says that cyclists are allowed to filter. So are we?

Looking into a few of the highway code rules in detail we come across a few things that suggest that we can and that other road users should expect two-wheeled vehicles to be filtering.

Rule 88 is in the motorcyclists section, but the advice is sound and shows that motorcyclists are allowed to filter. Note the advice here, do it slowly and take care!

88 – Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.

Rule 160 shows that you should be looking out for two-wheeled vehicles filtering

160 – Once moving you should

  • be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer

Rule 211 shows again that you should be looking for two-wheeled vehicles filtering

211 – It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think. When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing. Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.

It seems pretty clear from the sections of the highway code that I have listed above that filtering is legal and that motorists should be aware of it and look for vehicles filtering.

Why is there no legislation/law that says it’s legal? Well legislation says what you can’t and what you must do. Not things you are allowed to do but don’t have to do. As such there is no mention of it any legislation regarding road use.

So who is at fault if there is a collision?

You have to look at each case for its own merits and perhaps compare it to previous cases.

Generally there are a few things that make a difference. How you approached the situation, was it slowly and with care?
Was the motorist cautious, did they take their time and indicate clearly before they moved?
Was their warning signals to you that something might happen (stopped vehicle with a gap in front of it for an example).

There is a thread on a motorcycling forum that discusses how to prove your case with an insurance company. It’s a very good read but note that since it was published in 2005, there have been many changes to the highway code, not just wording but also numbering. So make sure you check with the highway code first.

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.

RX11AXP – Result

May 1, 2013 — 21 Comments

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

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.

Kennington Park Road

  • 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.

Conclusion

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!