Do RLJing cyclists pose a risk to the rest of us?

I’ve often asked cyclists that don’t stop at red their reasons behind their behaviour. More often than not they say something along the lines of

I don’t hurt anyone by doing it and it saves me time

But is that true? It’s been said that drivers often think that all cyclists jump red lights. And they expect that every cyclist is going to continue through a red light which has just changed from amber. This is probably one of the most dangerous things to do and often a cause of collisions at junctions.

It affects those of us who stop at red lights because the drivers aren’t expecting us to stop and they want to get across the junction, this can mean any cyclist stopping at a red light which has just changed is at risk from being shunted from behind.

I was lucky in the video below, the driver just missed me, I presume he thought I wouldn’t stop.

T – The new way to avoid the door zone

The San Francisco Streetsblog recently posted about a new ‘system’ to keep cyclists out of the door zone which has been introduced by the
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on a trial basis. The idea is to add a T next to parking spaces. This is meant to show the area of the door zone but to me it is rather confusing.

a 'T' on Howard Street

Is this really a good way to avoid the door zone? From what I have seen the vertical line of the T is painted out from the boundary line of the parking spaces, so if you cycle outside of the T then you should be just outside of the door zone.

How it could be better, but it still doesn't make sense

American states have tried several different ways to get work around the door zone. Most of them involving a form of sharrows but many of them don’t have borders so cyclists don’t stay out of the door zone.

Cyclists, like many road users, will stay in the lane markings provided, even if that means putting them in danger.  If the lane markings provided adequate space next to parked cars then KSI’s from doorings should be decreased. For example, the image below shows how there is a buffer between the cycle lane and parked cars and there is a boundary line on both sides of the cycle lane. This should keep most cyclists safe from the door zone as they follow the cycle lane away from the danger.

Chesterton Road, Cambridge

The T to me is another road marking which is confusing and is not self explanatory. The door zone is not known by many cyclists and if the road marking that is meant to save lives is not self explanatory as to what the danger is, then it doesn’t work.

Grammar For Motorists

Came across this nice little website from a friend. Certainly an excellent twist on cycling blogging and one to follow. The story behind it? Well here is what the twitter account says..

Grammar for Motorists is an idea that came to me while cycling to work this morning. Hope it has legs. Any ideas for future lessons welcome.

Here are just a few of the lessons so far

Lesson 4: Spacing

Use of spacing between words helps to avoid unsightly collisions between words that will obscure your meaning and cause confusion.

Similarly, when driving, use of spacing when overtaking cyclists will help avoid unsightly collisions between vehicles that will increase your insurance premiums and cause death or serious injury.

Lesson 3: Imperatives

Cyclists must stop at red lights.

Motorists must stop at red lights.

Motorists must not accuse all cyclists of being “red light-jumping scofflaws”.

Motorists must not labour under the delusion that no motorist ever jumps a red light.

Lesson 1: Prepositions

The car must go around the bicycle.

The car cannot go through or over the bicycle.

If there is no space to overtake, the car must wait behind the bicycle.

Avoiding close passes

A few months back I was trying to think of a way to get motorists to give us a little more space when overtaking us. There isn’t really much we can do that would be legal, which makes; flame throwers, paint guns and window breaking pins out of the question.

The one thing we do have in our arsenal is our arms. I’ve started to indicate to my right if i suspect a driver is going to give me a close overtake.

And from my unscientific research it seems to be working. An indicate to the right is making drivers either stop their overtake or they give me more room. Either way it is putting the doubt into the mind of the driver about what I’m going to do. Which is something the highway code suggests anyway

213

Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

A fair percentage of drivers don’t seem to think about this and overtake at a distance which many cyclists do not think is safe.

This is only executable when you think someone is going to overtake far to close, sometimes it’s hard to even be aware of the moment when you are about to be clipped by a wing mirror!

Delays at crossings in the United Kingdom

This is a response to David Hembrow’s post ‘Delays at traffic light controlled crossings’

Crossing roads in the UK as a pedestrian or as a cyclist is generally a pain! The roads really are aimed at the traffic traveling along it. Pedestrians are often forced to wait a substantial amount of time after they have pushed the button to cross the road and even then, you might not have much time to cross.

For example, the video below shows the traffic light sequence at hyde park corner, plenty of cyclists and pedestrians use this daily.

As we can see from the video, pedestrians and cyclists have 6 seconds on green to cross, 8 seconds of no light and 82 seconds of red light. Pushing the button actually has no effect at this junction as the phase is designated and is based on the traffic light sequence on constitution hill.

David Hembrow shows us what it could be like!

As David says in his post. The delay caused to motorists for this ‘priority’ to pedestrians and cyclists is actually very minimal.

I cycled the route for the up coming Barclays Cycle Superhighway Route 8 that will be launched in July. Work is being done on the route at the moment but it takes advantage of some already in place facilities. These facilities include several traffic light controlled crossings and the time you have to wait at these is very different to what cyclists and pedestrians expect in the Netherlands.

The first crossing is a 24 second wait. No so bad but could be better. The second crossing however is appalling, we waited nearly 50 seconds but nothing. And we both decided it was best if we cycled across the junction whilst no traffic was coming.

This act of crossing whilst traffic isn’t coming is actually very common in the United Kingdom. Because pedestrians are often forced to wait a large amount of time to wait. This actually has a repercussion on the traffic using the road. As the crossing request from the pedestrian is not cancelled, the lights will change at some point and there may not be anyone there to cross, so vehicles have to stop for nothing.

This also has an effect on cyclists when these types of crossings are involved with building off-road routes, they become a pain to use as they can take several times longer to travel a set distance when comparing it to using the road.

For example the Vauxhall Gyratory has an off-road cycle path that goes all the way round, but again pedestrians and cyclists are forced to wait long traffic light phases. I can cycle around the gyratory and leave the exit i want in under 30 seconds but using the off-road route takes over 5 minutes in the test run I did! [The video is 1min 47 seconds long and is sped up by a factor of 4.]

With crossings like these, off-road cycling routes are hardly appealing to cyclists. I personally know that I would, and do, prefer to cycle on the road where I can get to my destination in a reasonable time!