Letter in Auto Express



M

Mark Tranchant

Guest
In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that cyclist
is in an "on-road" cycle lane; that is, does the presence of
a cycle lane obviate the requirement for the driver to keep
a reasonable distance? Is the motorist responsible, or is it
the council's fault for providing inadequate cycle lanes?

I've already written to make the comparison with pedestrians
on pavements, and pointed out my objections to the
implementation of most on-road cycle paths.

You may choose to do likewise. editorial at autoexpress dot
co dot uk.

--
Mark.
 
Mark Tranchant wrote:
> In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
> responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
> cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane

As if I could resist!

The obvious answer to P Jenkins' query re cycle lanes (of
course the driver is at fault!) masks an interesting
question: for whose benefit are cycle lanes constructed?
There is a substantial body of evidence showing that cycle
lanes are less safe on average than riding in the main flow
of traffic, and many on-road lanes are not only
significantly narrower than the recommended minimum width,
they may be narrower than a bike. Remember, too, that a bike
needs to weave in order to stay upright (which is why the
Highway Code advises giving cyclists plenty of room, and
even offers a pretty picture of How It Should Be Done).

The Stationery Office publishes a book called Cyclecraft
(ISBN 0 11 702051
6) which is the nearest thing we have to an official manual
on cycling. The advice is clear: a cyclist needs to
choose a road position which ensures their safety, and
this usually translates to roughly the left-hand
wheeltrack of motor traffic (although it may well be much
further out at hazards such as width restrictions).

The reasons for this advice are clear and obvious: it places
the cycle in a position where it is likely to be seen by
drivers scanning for traffic; and it gently reminds
following drivers that the cyclist is not a theoretical
construct of zero thickness and infinite rigidity, but a
vehicle, which should be overtaken properly or not at all.

Both of these benefits are subverted by many on-road cycle
lanes, and almost all shared-use facilities.

Happily there is now a programme run by the CTC, Britain's
largest cycling organisation, which seeks to spread best
practice in cycle provision. Ironically, cycle-friendly
changes are often substantially cheaper and easier to
introduce than poorly designed "farcilities" which introduce
precisely the kinds of conflict which Mr Jenkins noted.
 
"Mark Tranchant" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
> responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
> cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane; that is, does the
> presence of a cycle lane obviate the requirement for the
> driver to keep a reasonable distance?

It's hard to believe people so stupid are allowed to be in
charge of any road going vehicle!

He may as well ask who's responsible if a motorist hits a
kerbside skip in good visibility. Imagine trying to explain
to your insurance company you drove into the skip because
it wasn't a motor vehicle but was on the road anyway. Of
course we know that Jenkins wouldn't drive into a skip
because it would damage his car and maybe even hurt
him....hmm....on second thought maybe someone that thick
would drive into anything he/she/it thought had no right to
be where it is ;-)
--
Regards, Pete
 
"Mark Tranchant" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
> responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
> cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane; that is, does the
> presence of a cycle lane obviate the requirement for the
> driver to keep a reasonable distance?

It's hard to believe people so stupid are allowed to be in
charge of any road going vehicle!

He may as well ask who's responsible if a motorist hits a
kerbside skip in good visibility. Imagine trying to explain
to your insurance company you drove into the skip because
it wasn't a motor vehicle but was on the road anyway. Of
course we know that Jenkins wouldn't drive into a skip
because it would damage his car and maybe even hurt
him....hmm....on second thought maybe someone that thick
would drive into anything he/she/it thought had no right to
be where it is ;-)
--
Regards, Pete
 
On Thu, 20 May 2004 13:34:36 +0100, Mark Tranchant
<[email protected]> wrote (more or less):

>In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
>responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
>cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane;

"Who is responsible if a motorist hits a parked car whilst
that parked car is 'on-road' when parked?"

The crassness guilt-avoidance of this question beggars
belief.

>that is, does the presence of a cycle lane obviate the
>requirement for the driver to keep a reasonable distance?
>Is the motorist responsible, or is it the council's fault
>for providing inadequate cycle lanes?
>
>I've already written to make the comparison with
>pedestrians on pavements, and pointed out my objections to
>the implementation of most on-road cycle paths.
>
>You may choose to do likewise. editorial at autoexpress dot
>co dot uk.

--
Cheers, Euan Gawnsoft: http://www.gawnsoft.co.sr
Symbian/Epoc wiki: http://html.dnsalias.net:1122 Smalltalk
links (harvested from comp.lang.smalltalk)
http://html.dnsalias.net/gawnsoft/smalltalk
 
On Thu, 20 May 2004 13:34:36 +0100, Mark Tranchant wrote:

> In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
> responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
> cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane; that is, does the
> presence of a cycle lane obviate the requirement for the
> driver to keep a reasonable distance? Is the motorist
> responsible, or is it the council's fault for providing
> inadequate cycle lanes?

My first reaction to this is neither shock nor horror, but
simply confusion. If the cyclist is hit whilst in the cycle-
lane, then clearly the driver must have been encroaching
into the cycle lane. Whether or no the cycle lane was
mandatory I would have thought even the dimmest or most self-
righteous of drivers would have realised it was bad
practice to drive into it and knock someone down from
behind (which seems? to be the relevant scenario) - so
perhaps P Jenkins was thinking of something different.
There could be at least a little merit in the question "is
it OK to pass someone closer than you otherwise would, if
there is a clear dividing line that shows where each party
should be" - for example.

Could you post a link to the original letter?

It sounds as if P Jenkins is thinking (in some fashion)
about cyclist-car interaction and has some awareness of the
problems many cycle-lanes have. Advanced stuff for many
people on the roads.

AC

>
> I've already written to make the comparison with
> pedestrians on pavements, and pointed out my objections to
> the implementation of most on-road cycle paths.
>
> You may choose to do likewise. editorial at autoexpress
> dot co dot uk.
 
On Thu, 20 May 2004 16:39:13 +0000 (UTC), "Peter B"
<[email protected]> wrote (more or less):

>
>"Mark Tranchant" <[email protected]> wrote in message
>news:[email protected]...
>> In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
>> responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
>> cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane; that is, does the
>> presence of a cycle lane obviate the requirement for the
>> driver to keep a reasonable distance?
>
>It's hard to believe people so stupid are allowed to be in
>charge of any road going vehicle!
>
>He may as well ask who's responsible if a motorist hits a
>kerbside skip in good visibility. Imagine trying to explain
>to your insurance company you drove into the skip because
>it wasn't a motor vehicle but was on the road anyway. Of
>course we know that Jenkins wouldn't drive into a skip
>because it would damage his car and maybe even hurt
>him....hmm....

> on second thought maybe someone that thick would drive
> into anything he/she/it thought had no right to be where
> it is ;-)

There are people who feel this way, and who do act on it.

When I was on the advanced and defensive driving course run
by the Corporation of London, we were told of lots of
genuine incidents of the recent past.

Including one driver (in a fast Escort) who, when
confronted with some pedestrians crossing ahead (at a red
man) speeded up so that he was able to hit them before they
finished crossing to show them that they "shouldn't have
been there". He did hit them, ambulances called, police
statements taken etc.,


--
Cheers, Euan Gawnsoft: http://www.gawnsoft.co.sr
Symbian/Epoc wiki: http://html.dnsalias.net:1122 Smalltalk
links (harvested from comp.lang.smalltalk)
http://html.dnsalias.net/gawnsoft/smalltalk
 
In article <[email protected]>,
Gawnsoft <[email protected]> writes:

>>In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
>>responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
>>cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane;
>
> "Who is responsible if a motorist hits a parked car whilst
> that parked car is 'on-road' when parked?"
>
> The crassness guilt-avoidance of this question
> beggars belief.

Erm, I think you've missed his point. His comment looks to
me like a very valid one about many so-called cycle lanes.

--
Nick Kew

Nick's manifesto: http://www.htmlhelp.com/~nick/
 
anonymous coward <[email protected]>typed

> My first reaction to this is neither shock nor horror, but
> simply confusion. If the cyclist is hit whilst in the cycle-
> lane, then clearly the driver must have been encroaching
> into the cycle lane.

He might not have encroached the cycle lane. Cyclists are
wider than their wheelbase. The motorist would, of course,
have passed *far* too close to the cyclist, whatever silly
paint stripes were on the road.

--
Helen D. Vecht: [email protected] Edgware.
 
"Nick Kew" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In article <[email protected]>,
> Gawnsoft
> <[email protected]>
> writes:
>
> >>In this week's Auto Express, P Jenkins asks who is
> >>responsible if a motorist hits a cyclist whilst that
> >>cyclist is in an "on-road" cycle lane;
> >
> > "Who is responsible if a motorist hits a parked car
> > whilst that parked car is 'on-road' when parked?"
> >
> > The crassness guilt-avoidance of this question beggars
> > belief.
>
> Erm, I think you've missed his point. His comment looks to
> me like a very valid one about many so-called cycle lanes.

Sorry I'm not with you. If I'm driving and can see something
encroaching into the marked lane I'm using I try not to
collide with it regardless of any other factors. If I can
see it but still collide with it I think I'd feel a prat.
--
Regards, Pete
 
Peter B wrote:

> Sorry I'm not with you. If I'm driving and can see
> something encroaching into the marked lane I'm using I
> try not to collide with it regardless of any other
> factors. If I can see it but still collide with it I
> think I'd feel a prat.

...and we all know how rare prats are on the roads. ;-)

--
m.
 
Helen Deborah Vecht <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> anonymous coward <[email protected]>typed
>
> > My first reaction to this is neither shock nor horror,
> > but simply confusion. If the cyclist is hit whilst in
> > the cycle-lane, then clearly the driver must have been
> > encroaching into the cycle lane.
>
> He might not have encroached the cycle lane. Cyclists are
> wider than their wheelbase.

ITYM "than their track".

> The motorist would, of course, have passed *far* too
> close to the cyclist, whatever silly paint stripes were
> on the road.

This of course is one of the many problems with cycle lanes.
Many motorists think they can get as close as they like to
the cyclist as long as they don't actually cross the line.
I'm often more aware of cars passing uncomfortably closely
when I'm in a cycle lane. The one type of collision that
cycle lanes are supposed to protect us from - being hit from
behind - is made more likely, not less, as indeed are many
other types.

--
Dave...

Dangerous places, cycle lanes.
 
Helen Deborah Vecht <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> anonymous coward <[email protected]>typed
>
> > My first reaction to this is neither shock nor horror,
> > but simply confusion. If the cyclist is hit whilst in
> > the cycle-lane, then clearly the driver must have been
> > encroaching into the cycle lane.
>
> He might not have encroached the cycle lane. Cyclists are
> wider than their wheelbase.

ITYM "than their track".

> The motorist would, of course, have passed *far* too
> close to the cyclist, whatever silly paint stripes were
> on the road.

This of course is one of the many problems with cycle lanes.
Many motorists think they can get as close as they like to
the cyclist as long as they don't actually cross the line.
I'm often more aware of cars passing uncomfortably closely
when I'm in a cycle lane. The one type of collision that
cycle lanes are supposed to protect us from - being hit from
behind - is made more likely, not less, as indeed are many
other types.

--
Dave...

Dangerous places, cycle lanes.
 
On 24 May 2004 07:45:56 -0700 someone who may be
[email protected] (Dave Kahn) wrote this:-

>Many motorists think they can get as close as they like to
>the cyclist as long as they don't actually cross the line.
>I'm often more aware of cars passing uncomfortably closely
>when I'm in a cycle lane.

You have cycle lanes wider than your handlebars?

--
David Hansen, Edinburgh | PGP email preferred-key number
F566DA0E I will always explain revoked keys, unless the UK
government prevents me using the RIP Act 2000.
 
David Hansen wrote:

> You have cycle lanes wider than your handlebars?

There is one near me that's about 30 yards long and a
glorious eight-ish feet wide at one end, tapering down to
the usual two-foot gap. Red tarmac, solid white line, swept
by the council sweeper (aside from the gap, but we can't all
be perfect).

It leads right up to a cyclist dismount sign, and is often
used as a car park by visitors to the small business
beside it.

As an aside, here in sunny Sheffield I saw a driver today
who didn't wish to park down a side street and walk 20
yards to his shop, or double-park on the tram tracks, so
preferred instead to completely mount the pavement (over
one of those hefty kerbs that discourage this sort of
thing), manouvre between several signposts, and park across
the front of the shop...

...and then put on his hazard lights.

R.