Wednesday 22 January 2014

How much room must you give a cyclist when passing?

Just a quick note, I've had my attention drawn to this marvellous comedy piece here.

I mean, this is a cracking little parody isn't it?
There is clearly much confusion over what is the correct clearance for drivers to safely pass cyclists. The Highway Code vaguely talks about giving them as much space as if passing another car...

I mean you know you're in for some fun when you see the font, don't you? And when simple, clear instructions accompanied with a picture which is even included in the article for fecks sake are erroneously described as 'vague'. But we're just getting warmed up!
Clearly what is wrong with the Highway Code rule is that the clearance that drivers will pass cars at will not only vary from driver to driver but also depend on the speed of the car being passed and the speed of the overtake. So in bumper to bumper slow moving traffic, or multiple lanes, under this rule, nobody could ever pass slower vehicles.
So lets get this right, we're comparing passing a cyclist at speed with slithering past an almost immobile vehicle in slow moving bumper-to-bumper traffic? You're comparing two moving vehicles with passing a near as dammit immoveable object?  Oh, Keith, you're a card!
We must first accept that the clearance given by drivers will be entirely their judgement call and if effected without collision or causing a cyclist to fall off, it will corroborate that the driver's judgement was correct; no matter how perceived from the cyclist's perspective. Cyclists may claim what they like but the outcome justifies the means.
You what now? You mean near misses are okay as long as they're misses? If you pass a cyclist with, say four inches to spare at a speed of, say, 40mph thats fine and a cyclist who is complaining about it is just having a laugh? Genius, thats a perfect parody right there! Its like saying swinging your fist at a chaps face but stopping three inches short of a punch is fine, you didn't punch him, you just made him flinch a bit. Like a  kid walking along kicking his legs saying if the other kid gets kicked its his own fault for being there. Brilliant humour.

But even better than that we've got a joke suggestion for a new rule:
 Leave as much clearance when passing a cyclist that it is physically impossible and unlikely for the cyclist to deviate to the extent that a collision can result without it being the cyclist's fault. After all, that is the object isn't it?
Oh, Keith, thats so funny. I mean you've just basically justified passing as closely and as dangerously as you like, replacing a perfectly reasonable, understandable set of rules with a completely subjective view that means the motorist will always be in the right! I mean, thats just the perfect parody of campaign such as Drive East Midlands which seem to be just dripping with just such ridiculous moton apologism.

Hang on a minute, you don't suppose that article isn't a parody, do you? I mean... Couldn't mean it, could he? Naah.... I mean, life imitating art like that, it couldn't be quite so extreme... But its the same site as the one its parodying... Oh.


  1. His suggested rule isn't really hugely different from the current one. I'ts just more vague with some loopholes. I suspect that his estimation of an expected deviation and what constitutes "cyclist's fault" are likely to be very different from mine. So he's failed in his attempt to clarify things.

  2. And yet put cyclists and pedestrians (legally) in the same space, such as in Cambridge, and you'll hear no end of 'I was nearly killed by a cyclist!'.

    I don't support close and (relatively) fast passing either of pedestrians by people on bikes or people on bikes by people in cars. But there does seem to be a double-standard, and it's not in the favour of the person who can do a fraction of the damage.

    1. Its peculiar that we're criticised for doing exactly whats done to us only at much lower risk, you're right :)

      I'm not a huge fan of shared use spaces, but there are a few such facilities that are fine in Cambridge. Dunno whether you know Kings Hedges very well but there are shared routes here that I think work okay.

      The idea that fast overtaking of cyclists can be defined as safe if we survive... Barking mad :)

  3. surely the problem with taking that as your judgement is you don't know if you are right until the pass has been completed. and in the instance of the minibus driver who hit someone with a wing mirror not until you see a report of a death. its a bit like saying yes i shot a gun but i missed so i must not have been meaning to hit you.

  4. Well said, KP is actually insane.

    1. Interestingly CycleGaz has posted a very measured, reasonable, and referenced comment on KP's post - which KP largely rejects on the grounds that it looks like safe overtaking would be too inconvenient for him!

  5. I doubt the Highway Code is as widely-read as it should be, but I suspect its readership is at least a million times that of KP's little website. In fact, apart from you, CycleGaz and Godfrey Bloom, has anyone else actually read the pearls of wisdom cast by KP in front of the swine?

    The man is a total irrelevance. He thinks that because he is a retired traffic policeman, that makes him a "road safety expert". My brother is a retired traffic policeman too and, much as I love him, I won't be taking his advice on road safety.

  6. On overtaking, do take a look at

    This is actually a crucial issue. The police are reluctant to get involved, but in my view they should - and there is a court case where the judge decreed (correctly in my view) that motorists should give cyclists "wobble room" - allowing for wobbling due to wind, rough surfaces or just to be on the safe side.

    there's more on the CTC website I recall.

    Dr Robert Davis RDRF

    1. Its more than just wobble room, we also need to consider what happens when a heavy, fast object moves past a lighter object - simply put, the low pressure behind the fast moving car can cause the cyclist to be towed out into the slipstream, and it may be the second or third vehicle that strikes the cyclist who will, from the perspective of that driver, have seemed to have swerved out.

      Its not just giving wobble space (although that of course matters!), its also understanding the physics of what happens when multiple fast moving vehicles pass cyclists. Seems to me that there is very little understanding of this among motorists.

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