Cycle lanes don’t keep us safe

It has been said countless times that painted cycle lanes on the side of the roads don’t keep us safe. Despite this, our cycling facilities seem to be made up of mostly this, painted cycle lanes on the side of the road.

The magic paint lines obviously don’t keep other, much harder and faster vehicles from straying into them, and the consequences of them doing so can be huge. As the cyclist in the above video found out, being in the position designated to us on the road doesn’t equal safety and being hit by a bus that was driving in it was not a pleasurable experience!

Lillian’s Law

Back in 2010 on the 26th of June, young Lillian Groves was hit by a car and unfortunately died later in hospital. The police found cannabis in the driver’s blood and a half smoked joint on the dashboard but the driver was only sentenced to 8 months in prison due to the driver only being tested for drugs 9 hours after the incident, at which point the levels of drugs in his system was not enough to prosecute under causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs.

Backed by the Croydon Advertiser, Lillian’s parents are calling for the government to change the law and procedures which deal with drivers under the influence of drugs.

It would include rolling out a drug test kit which can be used in the field. This is to attempt to catch and prevent drug using road users, who are involved in as many as 1 out 5 road deaths. These test kits are already widely used in Australia and United States of America.

Read more and sign the petition >

Road User Hierarchy

At present the UK is very motor vehicle orientated. A large proportion of the population drives, in fact I drive in situations where cycling is not more practicable than taking the car. But because our road system is orientated around vehicles like the car, the drivers behind the wheel seem to think they own the roads. Some drivers believe that everything else should get out of their way and that we should bow down to them and kiss their feet (slight exaggeration).

For me there has always been a hierarchical system on the roads, a pecking order or food chain. The system which I believe is often thought of by the motorists is as follows (with 1 being the most important)

  1. Me (the motorist in question)
  2. Other Motor vehicles
  3. Buses
  4. Cyclists and Pedestrians

As you can see my list puts the self-centred motorist at the top. I see everyday, be it on bicycle or by car, drivers are often very impatient and won’t let people merge into their lane or they tailgate the vehicle in front of them if they don’t think they are going fast enough.
My hierarchy would be as follows (with number 1 being the most important)

  1. Mobility impaired pedestrians
  2. Pedestrians
  3. Cyclists
  4. motorcyclist
  5. Public Transport (buses, trams etc..)
  6. Cars
  7. LGV’s
  8. HGV’s

My system puts the most vulnerable road users at the top and the least vulnerable at the bottom. Things like Public Transport should have road space allocated to them specific and people should let them go as they carry many more people than other forms of transportation. The ones lower down on the list should look out for those higher up. But let us not forget that even HGV’s have requirements on the road and as cyclists, pedestrians and vehicle drivers we must look out for them and provide them the space and time they need.

Take a look at the below video of a single junction in NYC that was filmed over several hours. It shows how all road users make conflicts and issues with each other. I suspect that the US has specific issues with ‘road’ users Vs pedestrians as they have specific jaywalking laws.


Roads are often used by many types of transport, often all at the same time. But the way they have been built suits vehicles such as cars the best. From my point of view this causes conflict when you get pedestrians who want to cross the road. In an ideal world a vehicle on the road would stop for any pedestrian as they are near the top of the hierarchy but in reality this hardly happens. As a vulnerable road user we should look out for them and look after them but even our councils seem to do a poor job of managing where they cross and how long they have to wait.

Too much has been given to the motor vehicle over the past 50 years. It’s time we started claiming back our safety on the roads and making them a safer place to use!

Driving whilst on the phone

In 3 days of cycle commuting last week, i saw nearly 10 drivers using there mobile phone whilst being in control of a moving vehicle. This is a real pet hate of mine, and anyone i see doing so is named and shamed on youtube and more than likely the footage is passed onto the Police. What they choose to do with it is up to them. If they are in company vehicles, i will also contact that company and make them aware of their drivers using mobiles whilst driving.

Anyone that has been in control of any vehicle in a metropolis will know that concentration is very important, traffic levels are always changing and cyclist and motorcyclist can appear from ‘no where’ if you aren’t watching your mirrors. Pedestrians will cross as soon as the traffic has stopped. Why do some people think that it is acceptable to drive a motor vehicle whilst holding a mobile phone to ear?

Being in charge of a motor vehicle and holding a mobile phone is against the law in the UK and you can be finned £60 (up to £1000 if taken to court) and 3 points on your license. But with the dropping number of police on the roads the motorists know they can get away with it 99/100 and this isn’t just limited to using mobile phones. Any one that is subscribed to my youtube channel or regularly watches videos from cyclists, they will see that some people behave on the roads in an unacceptable manner.

A study run by the department of psychology at the university of Utah in USA named ‘Fatal Distraction? A Comparison of the Cell Phone Drive and the Drunk Driver’ compares the reaction time of drunk drivers and drivers on the phone whilst in control of the vehicle. In summary:

We used a high-fidelity driving simulator to compare the performance of cell-phone drivers with drivers who were legally intoxicated from ethanol. When drivers were conversing on either a hand-held or hands-free cell-phone, their reactions were sluggish and they attempted to compensate by driving slower and increasing the following distance from the vehicle immediately in front of them. By contrast, when drivers were legally intoxicated they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking. When controlling for driving difficulty and time on task, cell-phone drivers exhibited greater impairment than intoxicated drivers.

A copy of the study can be downloaded from here.

Below are a selection of the drivers on the phone.