Cycling UK » commuting Cycling info - advice and tips Tue, 17 Dec 2013 18:15:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Get Britain Cycling Wed, 04 Sep 2013 07:04:38 +0000 Being on holiday, you often miss all the news (which is quite refreshing). But, I did seem to miss the all party parliamentary – ‘Get Britain Cycling’ initiative.


Improving the situation on the roads, any small incremental improvement is worth encouraging. There will be no Dutch revolution where we wake up one day, with beautiful traffic free cycle lanes to our place of work. But, even small improvements in motoring standards and cycle infrastructure may encourage a few more people to take up cycling, and make our experience a little safer. The fact 100 MPs turned up is encouraging. Even a recognition of the benefits of cycling is reassuring. It makes a change from MPs trolling out stereotypes of young tearaways on BMX going through red lights e.t.c.

Even so, words are cheap and the more cynical will be thinking, ‘words are nice, but show us the colour of your money.’  British Cycling put it quite well.

“I’ve been encouraged with the Prime Minister’s support for cycling and the government’s statement that it wants to put cycling at the heart of its policies. However, when we have a Highways Agency budget of £15 billion for five years contrasted with £159 million for cycling spread over two years with no commitment to continuous funding, it’s clear that’s there’s still more work to do so that actions match words. I am pleased though that we’ve had this debate in the House of Commons and that cycling is being talked about where it matters.” (British Cycling)

The Get Britain Cycling inquiry’s report, published on 24 April, made several recommendations for the government, including endorsing a target of 10 per cent of all journeys to be made by bike by 2025, and 25 per cent by 2050.

Initiatives in the report include:

  • A statutory requirement that the needs of people travelling by bicycle or on foot are considered at an early stage of all new development schemes.
  • Revise existing design guidance, to include more secure cycle parking, continental best practice for cycle-friendly planning and design.
  • The Highways Agency should draw up a programme to remove the barriers to cycle journeys parallel to or across trunk roads and motorway corridors.
  • Local authorities should seek to deliver cycle-friendly improvements across their existing roads, including small improvements, segregated routes, and road reallocation.
  • The Department for Transport should approve and update necessary new regulations, such as allowing separate traffic lights for cyclists.


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More penalties for inconsiderate driving Fri, 16 Aug 2013 08:41:17 +0000 Recently, I wrote about letting go of small transgressions. This is mainly from a personal perspective of staying sane. If you get annoyed by every irritation and minor problem on the road, you would be mad most of the time.


But, although I’m personally keen to let go of small transgressions, I’m very glad to hear the news of more fixed penalty notices for dangerous road use. (on the spot fines)

Lane hogging, tailgating, using the advanced stop box, going through red lights may all lead to more on the spot penalty fines. This will make it easier for the police to give penalties, without having to go through the court process. There will be stiffer financial penalties for driving without insurance, driving without seatbelts e.t.c.

When there is a fatal accident, there is often a call for stiffer penalties, longer jail sentences. I’m not convinced this is much help. My perspective is that it’s too late. But, if dangerous motoring habits are penalised more frequently, it may encourage better road use and prevent accidents in the first place. In an old post – how to encourage cycling, I think more active policing of bad motoring behaviour is one positive step.

On the subject of lane hogging, I was driving on the M40 from London on Saturday evening, and although there were few cars on the road, it was amazing how many were ‘happilly’ stuck in the third lane. One car was doing 60mph in the outside lane, much to many people’s annoyance. Over 50% were completely disregarding the idea that after overtaking you should move on to left hand lane. The road was mostly empty, apart from a few cars in outside lane.

But, as a cyclist, lane hogging is a very insignificant irritation. When you’ve been passed too closely by a double decker bus, you yearn for the times when you’re biggest concern on the road is people going slowly in the outside lane!

If you’re biggest problem on the road is people hogging the middle and outside lane on the motorway, try cycling and you will realise how lucky you are!


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Why cyclists don’t pay road tax in UK Thu, 15 Aug 2013 08:35:06 +0000 I was interested to read about a recent ‘I Pay Road Tax Campaign‘ (I have talked about this before – Should cyclists pay road tax?) Here are some more thoughts on the issue.

I Pay Road Tax

I Pay Road Tax

The original road tax was abolished in 1937, but the name has stuck around. Most adults with a car have to pay the annual Vehicle Excise Duty (which is often popularly referred to as Road Tax. The Post Office calls it a car tax).

As this good BBC article explains – Is there anything such as Road Tax in the UK?, it could be better described as a pollution tax. The amount of vehicle excise duty you have to pay is dependent on the amount of pollution that a car creates. If your car is in pollution  Band A (up to 100 g/km) you pay £0 tax a year. If you’re vehicle is in the highest pollution band Band M (Over 255 g/km) then the cost is £1,065 for the first year and £490.

What it means is that quite a few car drivers don’t pay this ‘road tax’ or vehicle excise duty as it’s properly called.

Vehicle excise duty goes to the Treasury and is not earmarked for paying for roads.

Cyclists are often criticised for not paying ‘road tax’, and quite a few drivers have the opinion that if you don’t pay road tax that gives you less rights on the road (e.g. cycle in the gutter). It can feel like a losing battle to explain that road tax doesn’t  exist.  It can be frustrating because:

  • Many adult cyclists will be paying a huge range of taxes, including VED.
  • The amount of tax you pay, shouldn’t influence the way people drive on the road. You don’t run over a pedestrian because they haven’t paid as much tax as you.

The Vehicle excise duty is an attempt to make drivers pay some of the external costs of driving (namely pollution). Pollution is an external cost because it effects everyone on society. The tax is an attempt to make the cost of motoring reflect the true social cost.

These external costs of driving include include:

  • - Congestion – estimated to cost the UK economy in the region of £22bn a year. A huge economic cost and also high personal cost of being stuck in traffic jams,
  • - Pollution – For example, CO2 emissions which contribute to global warming. Higher rates of asthma e.t.c
  • - Accidents. Motorised vehicles cost the lives of over 2,200 a year. Typically, cyclists may cause the deaths of 0, 1 or 2 people a year.
  • Wear and tear on roads which increases disproportionately with vehicle weight.

For driving a car the social cost is much higher than the private cost. To get an efficient allocation of resources – to help reduce congestion, pollution and accidents, – the cost of driving should be much higher than the free market price. Petrol tax helps redress the balance, but, it is not enough to reflect the social cost.
External cost of driving

By contrast, cycling doesn’t have the same negative externalities. You could make a strong case to say that cycling can have various external benefits

  • Improved health
  • Reduced congestion
  • Reduced risk of serious accidents.
  • Less impact on roads (less frequent need to repair potholes)

In an ideal world, there is a case for subsidising goods with positive externalities – and if not subsidising, at least not taxing at the same rate as cars which create more pollution and congestion.

In a free market, we get an overconsumption of cars (best illustrated by interminable traffic jams). When deciding to drive people ignore the external costs of driving. When cycling people underestimate the social costs. Therefore we get under-consumption of cycling.

The problem is that people don’t like paying taxes. But, without some attempt to include external costs of congestion and pollution, we get gridlock and poor health.

Vehicle excise duty is partially good in that it is an attempt to discourage cars with higher levels of pollution. There is a clear incentive to buy a car which has a low pollution band. However, pollution is only one of the external costs of driving. That is why we should also be including costs of congestion e.t.c.


BTW: I am a motorist, and do pay £160 a year in VED – but, generally would welcome higher taxes on driving. To make it more politically appealing, it would be good to earmark, these taxes to improve transport – fill in potholes, provide alternatives to congested city centres.

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Letting go of small road transgressions Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:38:34 +0000  


One aspect of sharing the road is that we come across numerous occasions of other road users being inconsiderate / breaking the law / highway code.

When you’re cycling along trying to get home in one piece, the letter of the law doesn’t matter so much. What really counts is – do you feel threatened, is your safety compromised? Sometimes the smaller transgressions, it is better to let go.

Patience is a good virtue to have when on the roads. Sometimes I come across cars and taxi’s doing u-turns in the middle of the road. You have to wait for them to finish – it’s a bit inconsiderate, but I can live with it.

Another example is at this advanced stop sign. It’s very common for motorists to ignore it. It is a bit irritating, because at these lights it’s good to get in front of the buses before heading off. But, it’s not such a big deal. It’s not dangerous driving. I don’t go around cursing motorists just because some ‘motorists’ regularly break this part of the highway code. I’m not even convinced that advanced stop signs are good because they encourage cyclists to go on the inside of big buses and lorries which in itself can be dangerous (advanced stop signs)

I would be much more worried about cars passing too close / on the wrong side of the road. Maybe there is no clear law being broken, but you feel vulnerable and it counts as dangerous driving. But, for minor traffic irritations which don’t compromise safety, I try to let it go.

A survey was done a while back about what thing annoys motorists most?

It wasn’t cars speeding / driving with mobile phones / cars tailgating (very dangerous). The thing that annoyed motorists the most was cyclists who rode two abreast. (cycling two abreast)

As a motorist, I find this staggering. The amount of times I come across cyclists two abreast is very rare. At worst, I might have to brake a little, wait a few seconds and then overtake. I don’t think I’ve ever felt frustration that cyclists are cycling two abreast. (I also know what the Highway code says about it)

If I see any cyclist on the road it tends to please me. It’s good to know I’m not the only one crazy enough to go cycling on British roads.

Cycling two abreast at best is the most minor irritation. If I had to choose the most annoying thing as a motorist, it would be when drivers tailgate you on the motorway – it’s dangerous and arrogant. It makes a few cyclist going double breasted counts for little in the bigger scheme of things.

I don’t know what to do, perhaps we should publish a few cheesy signs on the roads like:

  • Keep calm and take a few more seconds.
  • Don’t worry be happy.
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Cycle deaths / casualties in the UK Fri, 28 Jun 2013 11:21:40 +0000 I find it a bit harder to write about this kind of topic. Part of me is a very keen cycling advocate. Despite the dangers of cycling – I feel the health benefits far outweigh the alternative of a sedentary lifestyle. In life, everything has a risk, including sitting on a sofa and stuffing yourself with crisps. But, the increase in deaths for cyclists is a salutary reminder that there is unfortunately a danger, and sadly many of these deaths are avoidable without too much effort or restriction of freedom.

The past decade has seen a clear divergence between the rate of accidents for cycle users vs other types of users. Overall, road fatalities and casualties are falling, but cycle users are seeing the opposite trend.

Firstly, the number of cycle fatalities increased to 118 in 2012, a 10% increase on 2011 – the highest level since 2007.

Whilst car users have seen a significant fall in casualties and fatalities, cycle users have seen an increase.

Cycle fatalities


  • Between 2002 and 2012, the number of fatalities and serious injuries for cyclists has increased from 2,450 to 3,340 -  a 36% increase
  • By contrast for car occupants fatalities and serious injuries has fallen from 18,728 to 9,033 – roughly a 50% fall
  • Pedestrians casualties has fallen in this decade from 8,631 to 5,979.
  • Source: Reported killed or seriously injured casualties, by road user type, Great Britain, 2002 – 2012. Table RAS30005

The only positive aspect to these statistics is that the increase in accidents and fatalities can be partly attributed to rising cycle use. But, I believe the increase in casualties is greater than the increase in cycle use. According to times casualties are rising five times faster than cycle use (link)

You could attribute falling car fatalities to improved construction of cars, But, this wouldn’t explain why  pedestrians have seen a fall in casualties whilst cyclists haven’t

To put it into context, we have endured years of crazy regulations at airports to minimise risk of terrorist attacks. But, since 2001, over 1,000 cyclists have been killed on the roads. If you really wanted to reduce unnecessary deaths, there are quite a few things society could choose to make roads safer and more pleasant.

All Cycle accidents

all cycle accidents

In context, the relative dangers of cycling vs other modes of transport per km

casualties per bn km

Note, these statistics reflect casualties per km travelled. If you used casualties per individual journey – it would look quite different and cycling would appear more dangerous.

International Comparisons


Unfortunately, international comparisons only show overall road fatalities, it would be interesting to see statistics specifically for cycle use.

Reasons for Fatalities and accidents

A report by Transport for London found  fatal and serious collisions involving cyclists in 2011 showed that 56% were caused by the motorist driving in an ‘unlawful or anti-social’ manner, compared to only 6% caused by cyclists doing the same. (link)

Failed to look properly? was attributed to the car driver in 57% of serious collisions and to the cyclist in 43% of serious collisions at junctions

Risky cycling behaviour? A Department for Transport, found that in 2% of cases where cyclists were seriously injured in collisions with other road users police said that the rider disobeying a stop sign or traffic light was a likely contributing factor. Wearing dark clothing at night was seen as a potential cause in about 2.5% of cases, and failure to use lights was mentioned 2% of the time. (Guardian)

With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time.. But, in the case of children, the police found that it was mostly the young cyclists to blame for failure to take care.

Chris Peck, (CTC cycling organisation) noted: “Government must invest more in cycling infrastructure, implement lower speed limits and increase traffic law enforcement: the number of road traffic police has fallen by 29 per cent in ten years.”

How to reduce fatalities?

  • Effective speed limit reductions in urban and rural environments
  • More proactive road policing – fining (taking away license) for irresponsible behaviour. Not just waiting for accidents to happen.
  • Cycle infrastructure designed to keep cyclists safe.
  • Cycle safety awareness part of driving test
  • Better cycle safety training for children
  • Safety in numbers? The hope is that higher numbers of cyclists contribute to greater overall safety. Though these statistics suggest that increasing numbers is not sufficient to make cycling safer.
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An attempt to slow down traffic in Oxford Fri, 21 Jun 2013 07:45:05 +0000 Jack Straw lane is a narrow road, just big enough for two cars to squeeze past. It also provides a short cut from the city centre to the J.R. Radcliffe Hospital. Because traffic in Headington is often very congested, this minor road provides a convenient short cut, and is popular with taxis and other drivers. I’d heard that the Oxford city council had experimented with road markings to try and change drivers behaviour – providing road furniture which encourages slower speed, and discourages overtaking of cyclists.


The new road markings. I like it!

Richard Mann of cycling campaign group Cyclox said:

“We think the designs are excellent. Jack Straw’s Lane has a problem with being a bit of a rat run.
“We have always looked to the Netherlands and to Denmark. Sometimes the ideas work in our context and sometimes they don’t, but it is great that the county council is trying these things.” (Oxford mail)

I went to have a look and see whether it has made much difference.

The aim is that the more unusual road surfacing will make drivers more reluctant to overtake and keep to a slow speed. When I was there, quite a few were obeying the 20mph speed limit, but about 20% weren’t. I could tell they were speeding because there is one of those 20mph speed cameras (well not really a camera, just a sign comes on to say 20mph!) You probably won’t even spot it in photos, but it is there.

There was quite a high % of cyclists using the road. The hill is quite steep, so the cyclists fly down, but struggle up. Cars do overtake cyclists going up the hill, but then some cyclists are doing 5mph up the hill. To be honest, if you’re struggling up a hill, you don’t really want a car revving its engine, impatiently behind you. It’s best if they overtake with plenty of space.


The most testing moment was when two cars pass mid-way, there isn’t much room to breathe, and one taxi flying up the hill was a bit impatient. The 20mph warning sign flickered on, but it seemed little deterant.


Back down the hill, I saw some cyclists get boxed in by parked cars and cars coming down. That’s the problem with small sections of road calming measures, they are only partial to the road.

Overall, I think it’s worth a try. If I came across this road whilst driving, I think it would have the impact of reminding me this was a quiet back street and one to be taken slowly.   As a cyclist, I wouldn’t expect much difference. But, if it makes a few drivers overtake more carefully, then it is worth it.

It also reminds me of:

Naked street experiment - removing road signs. Hans Monderman sought a radical approach to traffic management. He is famous for testing the validity of his schemes by walking backwards into moving traffic. His philosophy was the importance of putting the responsibility onto the road user, rather than trying to direct motorists. Hans said:

“We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behaviour. The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.”

Cycle path and road markings at bottom of Jack Straw lane and Marston road.


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The crazy energy of rush hour traffic Thu, 13 Jun 2013 12:59:15 +0000 Recently, I went on a six hour training ride starting in Oxford, passing through the Chiltern hills and returning to Oxford around rush hour. The ride had a bit of everything. Quiet idyllic country lanes with minimal traffic. Busy A roads with fast moving traffic, impatient drivers – even when the road was quiet, The congestion of the school run in Chitern villages as schools finished. But, overall the traffic conditions were not too bad. I chose fairly quiet roads and was able to concentrate on cycling rather than other road users. It was really quite enjoyable.


Time to wave. The idyll of cycling.yorkshire-dales-littondale


By 5pm I was returning home through the outskirts of Oxford, and the feeling suddenly changed.

I was no longer enjoying the peace and space of country lanes. This was rush hour in Oxford, and everyone was in a seeming panic to get home. Suddenly, you see, feel and hear cars impatiently trying to get home as quick as they can. There are cars rushing past, squeezing through tight gaps, cars pulling out, traffic jams, roads blocked. Your nerves definitely pick up on a different energy. It’s a nervous energy and filled with impatience. It’s no longer about enjoying the bike, but time to ride defensively and hope you can make it.

My route back home to Florence Park takes me through the outskirts of Blackbird Leys. There was a time in the 1980s, when Blackbird Leys was considered ‘The joy riding capital of England’ – every day, burnt out cars would be found on the estate after being driven around at breakneck speed. Thankfully, this reputation is no longer so deserved. Speed humps and more police checks thankfully took the brunt out of the ‘craze’ – although not before a young child was killed in a hit and run – an accident which remains unresolved today – despite several years of appeals for more witnesses.

Anyway, although it is much better, you still come across the aggressive young driver wishing to burn up some rubber and generally create a nuisance. If your protected by a metal box of a car, it’s a nuisance, but if you wear only lycra – you feel doubly vulnerable. Blackbird Leys is no different from the rest of Oxford. Even the last 0.5 miles had so much tension as I nervously edged my way home. I felt a sense of relief at finally getting back to base – and not just for the opprotunity to rest the tired legs!


Back to reality


Squeezing through

Some how, I noticed the vibe of rush hour traffic much more after spending 5 hours in the relative calm and tranquillity of the Chiltern lanes. It was a  shock to the system – perhaps when you are physically fatigued from 100 miles, you are more vulnerable.

Ironically, I recently wrote about how cycling can relieve stress – and despite the crazy rush hour traffic, I still believe it can. But, I just wish the roads were a little slower! 20 mph speed limits would make a big difference.

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Guide to Cycle Paths Fri, 01 Mar 2013 17:37:59 +0000 tavistockplace
photo Joe Ahearn (link)

“When Camden Council conducted research into the reasons for the success of Dutch cycle infrastructure one of the most obvious differences they discovered was that the Dutch cycle on the right rather than the left. To test how significant this is they are conducting a controlled experiment on Tavistock Place to compare the relative safety of wrong-way cycling. Cyclists approaching from the Westminster ride conventionally on the left of the path and then switch sides at this crossover section to continue towards Islington on the right. “(link)


In recent years, the number of cycle paths in the UK have increased substantially. In theory, they have the potential to make cycling safer, more enjoyable and reduce friction between different road users. However, because of the haphazard nature of creating cycle paths, there seems little continuity in design and implementation. It means we have cycle paths ranging from the good to downright bad and some just silly.

More than anything, we need road planners to be bolder in actually designating more space for cycle paths. We widen roads to make dual carriageways, often all we need is a couple more feet to create a really good cycle path. A good cycle path is much more than painting a white line on a pavement and hoping it all works out fine.

Good Cycle Paths

cycle paths
This cycle path is separate from the road. It doesn’t conflict with pedestrians and is wide enough for dual way. This is an ideal cycle path for an inner city path. It is the kind of path which would encourage a huge range of new people to start cycling.

Cycle Lanes Integrated in Roads

Cycling Oxford

This is a relatively narrow cycle path on a road. The benefits of this kind of cycle path is:

  • Increase cyclists’ comfort and belonging on the carriageway.
  • Enables cyclists to pass stationary traffic in traffic jams.
  • Makes cars more aware that cyclists may be using roads.

Potential Problems

    • Cyclists may be encouraged to move on the inside of moving cars and lorries which could be dangerous if vehicles veer inward or turn left.


  • Anecdotal evidence suggests cycle lanes may encourage cars to pass closer to cyclists because they feel that as long as they  are not in the cycle lane, they can get closer.

My Experience

Overall, I support this kind of cycle lane. It is usually better than nothing. More than anything it reminds drivers of our right to be on road. At peak time, roads are frequently congested, and this makes it easier to pass stationary traffic. However, I am aware of their limitations. Just because there is a cycle path to left of road, doesn’t mean I will always risk undertaking. You have to use your common sense. Also, another issue is that the best place to cycle is arguably 1 metre from the edge of road and parked cars this means cycling outside of the cycle lane, but then motorists will beep at you for not being in cycle path. See: Best position to cycle

It depends on the road. I’m keener on cycle lanes in city centres than on open road

Cycle Paths of Limited Use

cycle path

This is the kind of cycle path I don’t use. I don’t use it because

  • a) it is narrow and shared with slow moving pedestrians
  • b) every 100 metres you have to give way to cars turning left or right.
  • Basically it is a cycle path with continual obstacles.

In its defence, I some cyclists still prefer using this disjointed shared use cycle path rather than using main road. If I cycled very slowly, I may prefer the same.  But, I’m just glad this kind of cycle path is not compulsory. Perhaps it is better than nothing as cyclists get a choice depending on their preferences. (see also: Bad cycle lanes)

Stupid Cycle Paths

cycle path

To slow down speeding motorists, traffic calming measures have been installed so there is only room for one car to pass. There is also a pathetic attempt at a cycle path here. In practise I never use it because it is full of broken glass, grass and weeds. It is also at the bottom of a steep hill. You are speeding down quite nicely at 30mph but then have to slam on the brakes, to give way to cars. With a little bit of foresight, care, a way could have been designed to slow down cars without narrowing road and making it more inconvenient for cyclists.


Overgrown cycle path.

Shared Use Cycle Paths

  • Shared use paths – when cyclists are allowed to go on pavements that have been marked for shared use.
  • Unless paths are marked it is illegal to cycle on the pavement.
  • Sometimes pedestrians and cyclists may be segregated by single white line.

One of the biggest complaints about cyclists is when they use the pavement. Many pedestrains (especially old people feel uncomfortable when people cycle on the pavement. Shared use paths often aggravate this by taking a pavement and painting a white line on as a shared use cycle path. Where possible I tend to avoid these. Unless it cuts a corners, makes journey quicker or is much safer. When using it I do remember pedestrians should be given priority and go slow.
Not much room with bus stop. See: Shared use cycle paths

But, also I’m not keen on shared use cycle paths because pedestrians have been my biggest cause of accidents. On three occasions I have been knocked off in shared use cycle paths because pedestrians suddenly change direction without looking. I wasn’t going fast, but it’s something you have to be aware of.

However, although people often worry about accidents, the number of reported accidents is quite low (Buckinghamshire County Council, link). Also accidents tend to be minor rather than major

Short Cycle Paths

cycle paths
There are quite a few entries for competition of shortest cycle path.


Photo by Phil D, flickr

Obstacles in Cycle Paths
watch out for bikes

A major limitation of cycle paths is that they often have obstacles in them. Interesting post at Birmingham Cyclist on how to stop cars parking illegally in cycle lanes. [link]

Cycle Lane

See: Rules on using cycle paths for more on obstacles in cycle paths


Integration of Cycle Paths

A key issue with cycle paths is are they integrated with paths and roads. Often a cycle path is designed and it goes straight into a parked car or fades away when you need it most.
Cycling Bristol

Cycle path in Bristol

Cycling Oxford
Cycle path abruptly ends, making it difficult to join a narrow road of fast moving traffic.

Rules on Cycle Paths

In the UK, it is not compulsory for cyclists to use cycle lanes. The Highway code states: Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer – Rules on Using cycle lanes

Car Users

Most cycle paths in the UK are ‘advisory lanes’. These have a dotted line. This means cars must not drive in cycle lane, unless unavoidable.


This very narrow cycle lane is a mandatory lane (solid white line) it means Cars MUST NOT use or park in. Mind you it’s so small cars would struggle to drive in their anyway.

National Cycle Network

The national cycle network. A combination of custom cycle paths, quiet roads and scenic traffic free paths.

Cycle Paths

Some cycle paths are very scenic and a real joy to ride. Hopefully the network will continue to grow. They encourage beginner cyclists, nervous of using roads to get started.  This is wide enough to allow cyclists and pedestrians to mix.

Having a Laugh?


from Warrington Cycle lane facility of the month! [thanks to Pete for reuse of photo]

Feel free to post your favourite cycle facility in comments!



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Overtaking Cyclists Wed, 20 Feb 2013 18:10:39 +0000 When overtaking cyclists, give plenty of space. You may not be able to overtake cyclists straightaway and will probably need to move into the other lane.


This is particularly relevant for fast rural single carriageways. Often they have speed limits of 50mph, but this speed limits can be inappropriate.

Sometimes, you may have to slow down and wait.

Make sure it’s safe to overtake. Often you see near misses from cars determined not to slow down.

How much space should you give a cyclist?


  • Three feet. Three feet minimum is a good rule of thumb
  • As much room as you would want, if you were the cyclist. If you’ve ever been overtaken at 70mph by a car with a foot to spare, you would always have quite different approach to overtaking cyclists.
  • If a cyclist had to swerve to avoid a pothole – would you be able to avoid the cyclist?
  • The Highway code states:

    “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 211-215)”

Too Close

Mr TP hire



Too close. This is quite intimidating to cyclist.


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Dangerous Driving Maneouvres for Cyclists Mon, 03 Dec 2012 09:22:50 +0000 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.



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