I’ve been called many things over the past few years with regards to how I cycle and what I post on youtube. Many of them I will not repeat but one I’m often called or people relate to is a vehicular cyclist.
The idea behind vehicular cycling is you put yourself in a position where you are visible, your actions are predictable and you cycle in a manner which confirms with the principles of driving in traffic. Basically similar to a motorbike but with out all the engine noise and a little less overtaking.
Why do I cycle as a vehicular cyclist?
I do so for my own safety. In some situations I’m traveling much faster than the perceived speed that cyclists can go and at similar speeds to other motorised vehicles. I take a central position in the lane to make my self more visible and stop stupid overtakes from cars behind who just can’t see past the skinny vehicle in front of them.
Taking control of your lane can also be important to force drivers to overtake or pass you properly and safely. For example the following video shows a dual carriageway. If I cycle to the left then drivers should pass me in the other lane, giving me several meters of space, due to difference in speed. But many drivers can not be trusted to do so. So the application of vehicular cycling in this situation should force drivers to pass you correctly in the other lane. Again you can’t trust drivers to do so, but with the application of vehicular cycling I have a nice buffer to my left to utilise as run off space, where as if I was cycling in the gutter, I would have the option of hitting the curb and falling off.
Vehicular cycling has some down falls. Not many cyclists do it, so people perceive that you have the attitude that you are more important and are making a point. This makes people angry for some unknown reason and I often get comments of “get in the cycle lane” even if there isn’t one.
It’s also very very hard for a cyclist which isn’t powerful or fast to take a central position in the road, it can be very daunting to do so and you often get a lot of pressure from vehicles behind you.
It’s often said that vehicular cyclists want it this way and that way and don’t want segregation. I don’t specifically think that is true. If you give me a good cycling facility, segregated or not, and I will use it. If you don’t, then for me to be safe I may have to act as a vehicular cyclist.
What ever happens to cycling in the UK, for several years cyclists will still at some point have to act as a vehicular cyclist to be safe. And we need drivers to understand that they need to share the roads with us.