Dangerous Driving Maneouvres for Cyclists

Any cyclist will have encountered various dangerous types of motoring. These are some of the worst that I have experienced from time to time.

Overtaking a bike and Coming to a quick Stop.

Last week, I was descending Boars Hill at about 30mph. A white van overtook, and as soon as he had overtook, he came to a complete stop to make a right turn. I had to come to a complete stop in the same distance as the car. However, for bikes it is often difficult to stop as quickly as cars. The Car driver was probably unaware of the danger he had created for cyclist. (I did stop but the braking was so sudden, my back wheel skidded before I could bring the bike to a sudden stop. It was an unnecessary overtaking manoeuvre because as soon as he completed the overtaking he stopped to signal right.

According to research conducted by GreenRoad -  43% of fleet drivers deemed ‘sudden and extreme braking‘ to be the most widespread risky behaviour.

Cutting Left after Overtaking.


I see this maneouvre quite often in Oxford. A car overtakes cyclists and then shortly afterwards turns left. Some cars signal left and correctly check the inside for cyclists. Others, overtake and then turn left with scant regard for the other road users, they have just overtaken.


This cyclist had to be well aware of a car cutting in. Fortunately, he was aware and able to stop.


The U Turn in the middle of a road.

In an urban environment, you often come across taxis doing u-turns in the middle of the road. This is mainly inconvenient. Though I doubt people would be so patient, if a cyclist took up a whole lane to do a sudden u-turn.

But, a sudden u-turn can be dangerous. I was once descending the hill from Brill (easily doing 30-35mph). But, as I came round the corner, a car was horizontal across the road in the middle of a u-turn. Fortunately, it completed manoeuvre at the last second, leaving a narrow gap for me to squeeze through. Today I was descending when a car reversed out of his drive on to a hill. When he saw me descending at 30mph, the car driver just froze and the only option was to squeeze in between the car and grass verge. Another close miss!

Don’t do

Overtaking without giving sufficient space

On the roads of Oxford, I have been overtaken by a bus so close, that my elbow touched the side of a bus. When cars pass within a few cm, I like to give a ‘gentle tap’ on the side of the vehicle. Once an irate van driver pulled came to a stop and started shouting, how dare you touch my car? When I explained he passed within a few cms, he was actually quite repentant.

Sometimes, motorists are fully committed to driving at 50mph on a country road. If they come across a cyclist, they just find a way to squeeze past (even if double white lines). Often this results in cars coming the other way beeping the overtaking car (because they cross the white line). But, also it is dangerous for the cyclist, who has a car overtaking very close, at high speed.

Cutting Corners

One of the things that irritates me the most is coming across a car driving on the wrong side of the road. Motorists cut corners and you see a car heading straight towards you. If you express any annoyance, the motorists don’t seem to understand why it’s not pleasant to have a big box of metal hurtling towards you.

Sharp cornering was considered the second most common but risky manoeuvre behind the wheel (39%

Driving With Mobile Phones.

I never trust cars where the driver is using a mobile phone.

Excessive Speed

There is a difference between going 10mph over speed limit on a motorway and going 10mph on a windy country lane with Max Speed of 50mph.

At high speed, any mistake is magnified and more likely to result in an accident. Also as speed increases, accidents are more likely to be serious and fatal.

What Can a Cyclist do To Protect Himself?

Not much really, but these will help

  • Have good brakes that can stop you pretty quick.
  • Always be looking ahead. Expect the worst and keep alert.



9 Responses to Dangerous Driving Maneouvres for Cyclists

  1. andy February 23, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    I commute 20 mile round trip 6 days a week 6am and 5pm so I see sleepy drivers not giving a stuff about anyone and I see rush hour down a dual carriageway. I work as a HGV driver.

    One thing that is noticeable at both the biggest and smallest ends of the spectrum is that the most lethal person on the road is a car driver. Sure 95% are very safe but 5% are oblivious of the situations they create by being ignorant.

    The cycle lanes so potholed and neglected on my commute they are unused and every cyclist has to sit right of the line and as the cars insist this is their personal space they often like to invade my personal space. They also cannot comprehend “tucan” crossings and invade my space to cycle infront of them at red lights.

    On the flipside.
    I am 6″6 wear an xxl hi-viz cycle jersey ride a large white bike have efficient lights and I dont get spotted daily. I pass 6 guys daily with no lights. No hi-viz, black bikes/clothes and no helmet. Not all cyclists are victims of the cold blooded killer 5%ers but of themselves.

  2. Pete December 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    From my experience the biggest danger to cyclists are other cyclists.

    I will preface that by saying that I commute to work by bike most days, 30 miles round trip, so see a lot of different road behaviour.

    The majority of cyclists around here (Honolulu) completely ignore the rules of the road, which apply to them in the same way as they do to cars. Having grown up in the UK and spent time commuting by bike there also I’m pretty sure the laws are essentially the same.

    To be honest I have seen 1 (one) other cyclist following the rules of the road during the past year, although I think they are followed more closely in the UK and Oxford may have more aware cyclists than most places.

    I say that cyclists are the biggest danger to other cyclists as it is their behaviour that has affected the views motorists have of cyclists. If a car cuts off a bicycle who is not in a legal position who is in the right and who in the wrong?

    In your two shot sequence above there is no bike lane. The driver also seems to have waited for bikes to clear out of the junction before turning (pedestrians, bicycles, vehicles in the background have all changed) but still there is another bike which is but off.

    How did the bike being cut off, legally, get there?

    As far as I know a bike is considered to be a small vehicle and passing between the curb and other vehicles is not legal (unless there’s a bike lane).

    Given that the vehicle in question is a double decker bus (could also be closing in on the curb for a bus stop) it makes it very difficult for either a) the cyclist to see the car in front indicating to turn or b) for the car to see the cyclist.

    It does cut both ways and education may be the only way forward…law enforcement on both sides might help to force that issue also.

    Sorry for the long winded comment…it’s not a simple topic.

  3. Wheezer2 December 5, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    With the huge increase of cyclists on the roads, it may be beneficial for learner car drivers to complete a cycling course before being allowed to drive, this will hopefully give them the ability to understand the dangers of unthoughtful driving.

    I believe we do not really understand others until we are put in their situation, to educate is to have experience.

    I am a better driver because i cycle also. On the other hand some cyclist could do with being ‘educated’ as well, plenty of them think the have a right of passage through traffic. :(

    Maybe a general course on thinking about others may do it all round???

    • tejvan December 5, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      It’s always good to have the perspective of other road users. I think being a motorist can help you to be a more considerate cyclist.

    • Mike May 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

      Now there’s a good idea.

      I’m a cyclist and a motorist. I definately think being both helps me avoid cyclists while driving and dying while cycling!

  4. Patanga December 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Happy that you didn´t get into any accident.

    For good (and emergency) braking I can suggest kool stop dura brake pads – I have the salmon (wet) cartridges and they have so much more braking power than regular pads. When I first installed them, I was actually surprised and had to get used to properly dose out so much power. Also nice is to keep the wheel rims clean from oil/etc, esp. when it is raining, to make sure they work.

    Just ordered a mixed set for replacement of worn-out ones (on mixed one side is for wet, the other for dry)

    • tejvan December 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

      thanks Patanga, agree Dura Ace are great.

  5. Rob M December 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Excellent post my friend.

    Cycle commuting through the urban areas and then into Manchester city centre brings me into the fray amongst all of those experiences where I have to curb my enthusiasm to complain and just accept what car drivers are capable of.

    Maybe that is why I have the air horn and hydraulic disc brakes to get me safely to work.

    The number of times I’ve had to use either of the apparatus is dwindling with my experience gained to accept my father’s advice as a driving instructor to expect the unexpected.

    • tejvan December 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      > to accept my father’s advice as a driving instructor to expect the unexpected.

      You definitely frequently remember this advice when cycling.

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