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Motorists and Cyclists - Living Together

There is often antagonism between motorists and cyclists on social media, this seems to have increased since the first lockdown, possibly as there are more bikes on the road. I have put together a few words to respond to some of them via a link rather than either ignoring them or having to retype each time. I do feel that we should try to educate other road users rather than just ignoring negative or ill-informed comments.


The purpose of my responses is not to try to create further friction between the two 'groups' but more to explain how things feel from a cyclists perspective (my own anyway). I'd also point out that I drive a car (over 1,000,000 miles so far) and so do a significant percentage of other cyclists. I hope I can see things from the driver's view too and that this is a balanced view.


There are some bad cyclists out there (just like bad drivers) and am not trying to excuse this, we also make mistakes sometimes, just like drivers. I'm sure this does not cover everything so I'll try to add to it from time to time when I see other points raised. Obviously, these are my personal views, I cannot claim to speak for all cyclists.


Driver: You don't pay road tax so why do you expect anything.

Cyclist: Most of us also have cars and pay road tax too, we are just not using our car today. In any case, a bike is 'zero emission' so there would currently be no charge.


Driver: Why are cyclists always complaining about drivers.

Cyclist: A driver's behaviour or mistake can knock or force us off our bikes, this causes injury or even death to several thousands of people a year. We don't want that to happen to us or to be on your conscience for the rest of your life. A cyclist is just a normal person on a bike, we have lives and families too and are far more likely to be hurt in an accident with a vehicle.


Driver: Cyclists ignore the law most of the time especially at lights and in other places.

Cyclist: There are a few who do this but most don't, I am not excusing them and if a cyclist is breaking the rules I agree that they should be prosecuted just as a driver is.


Driver: You don't have to pay insurance.

Cyclist: Yes, that is true, the rules are set by the Government and not by us. However, a large number of us do take out insurance to cover us if a claim is made against us. This is often in our theft insurance in the same way as it is for a car.


Driver: Why should I have to leave 1.5m of space when passing a bike.

Cyclist: This is the recommended minimum for safety, we are affected badly from the turbulence of a car or lorry and also can't guarantee to ride in a perfectly straight line due to bumps or damage to the road surface.


Driver: You ride too far from the pavement.

Cyclist: We usually ride as close to the pavement as is safe but not in the gutter, don't forget that we need to leave a little space to avoid obstacles or to use in an emergency. There are also drains and gutters right at the edge and we can't use them as we will fall off, possibly in front of you.


Driver: you don't have to take a test.

Cyclist: Yes, that is true, the rules are set by the Government and not by us. We are fairly slow compared to a car so, like pedestrians, are considered to be a lower risk to other road users.


Driver: Cyclists never signal when they are turning.

Cyclist: As with drivers, there are a few who do not always do this, they in the wrong and need to be educated. We should always signal for our own safety.


Driver: You signal for a short time and then stop signalling just before you turn, I thought you had changed your mind.

Cyclist: Unfortunately we have to do this as we need both hands on our handlebars to turn the corner safely.


Driver: You ride in the dark with no lights on.

Cyclist: I agree that there is no excuse for this. It is against the law and it is right that a cyclist should be prosecuted for this.


Driver: You wear black at night, I can't see you.

Cyclist: Most of us try to be as visible as possible for our own safety although there are a small number who are not as good at this as they should be, they need to be educated for their own safety. All things said and done, it is the responsibility of all road users to travel at a speed which allows them to see other road users safely.


Driver: You don't use the cycle-lanes provided.

Cyclist: Most of us use them where it is appropriate, they do not always take us where we need to go and often have vehicles parked in them too which doesn't help. Many are shared with pedestrians which is great for a slow cyclist but unsafe for pedestrians for those of us to can ride at 20mph or more.


Driver: You ride in big wide groups so I cannot overtake you.

Cyclist: The Highway Code currently states "never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends". There is currently some debate about changing this as it is thought that it may be safer for a car to overtake a group once rather than a string of cyclists one at a time. Yes, we should follow the rules as they are at present and the vast majority of cyclists do so.


Driver: you jump to the front of the queue at lights.

Cyclist: If you look at the markings on the road you will often see a space clearly marked with a picture of a bike, it is what we are supposed to do in that case.


Driver: You go the wrong way up one-way streets.

Cyclist: Most of us do not do that. It is against the law and it is right that a cyclist should be prosecuted for this in the same way that a driver would be as it is unsafe.


Driver: You can't get points as you don't have a licence.

Cyclist: Yes, that is correct. We can still be punished for breaking to rules of the road though.


Driver: You are too slow.

Cyclist: Come-on mate, I'm doing my best.


Driver: You are all just arseholes.

Cyclist: Hopefully not all of us but there will be some, much the same as drivers or any other group of people. Sorry about that.

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