Nuisance Cyclists or Traffic Calming Measures?

car overtaking cyclist

Car passing cyclist giving plenty of space.

In the UK, the authorities often spend a lot of money on traffic calming measures. These range from speed humps to speed cameras and  a deliberate narrowing of the road. The idea is that obstacles in the road make motorists slow down and pay more attention. Often traffic calming measures are effective in reducing accident rates.

Sometimes parked cars act as an effective traffic calming measure. By narrowing the road, road users are often forced to slow down and wait to pass by.

road calming

A traffic calming measure, though congestion means it’s not really needed. (btw: the small gap on the left is really too narrow to be comfortable for cyclists.


Slowing down cars. (allegedly a cycle path is hidden amongst the weeds).

This happened last Saturday in a race. The council had narrowed a road and parked cars meant that a car travelled  through this village below 30mph. I was stuck behind the car.

The racing cyclist in me was frustrated to have to freewheel in the middle of a race (especially because I lost by 3 seconds, and it is one reason why we like to race on dual carriageways) But, the cycling advocate in me, would say it is good to have slower traffic speeds in villages because slower traffic is better for cyclists and pedestrians and creates a nicer living environment.

Cyclists in the road can be a similar traffic calming measure. It means in theory, cars have to wait a few seconds before passing carefully leaving a good gap and overtaking.

The part of me who likes to drive as quick as possible from A to B is frustrated when I have to slow down behind horse boxes, cyclists and the like. But, the part of me which appreciates road safety sees it as good and doesn’t mind getting slowed down. I don’t think I’ve ever been frustrated to have to slow down to overtake cyclists. This is because:

  • it is quite rare; and usually I’m quite happy just to see cyclists on the road.
  • I have empathy with cyclists on the road and will overtake them exactly, if it was me on the bike.

I know many motorists won’t see it like this. Probably because they don’t have much empathy with a different road users. There is also the problem mindset of driving as fast as they can. (e.g. trying to beat satnav to get there before the predicted time.)

Since the war, there has been an ongoing road building programme to improve the road network. It means it’s pretty fast to drive around the country. Yet, no matter how fast, it is human nature to be always frustrated when it can’t be just a little faster.


Box Hill and Warning to Inconsiderate Cyclists

There was substantial coverage of recent incidents on box hill where police issued warnings to ‘inconsiderate cyclists’ with prospects of £1,000 fine.
It is said there were inconsiderate cyclists, e.g. cycling 4 abreast (the horror)

Others are indignant the police waste resources chasing cyclists when they would make a better contribution to road safety by targeting inconsiderate motorists who could potentially kill other road users. Cycling 4 abreast is not quite in the same league as driving whilst using mobile phone / exceeding speed limit.

As is often the case, the issue was blown out of proportion. The police backtracked – they can’t actually issue £1,000 fines on the spot and they apologised for wording.. There is always room for all road users to be more considerate to other road users.

Highway code states that cyclists shouldn’t cycle more than ‘cycling two abreast

So next time you see a nusiance cyclist, or nuisance horse, or nuisance robin reliant travelling along at 15mph. Take a deep breath and just remember the Old Monty Python adage ‘always look on the bright side of life.’


2 Responses to Nuisance Cyclists or Traffic Calming Measures?

  1. Lars December 10, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    I don’t see how forcing cars to spend more time in oncoming traffic could be dangerous either. Oh wait, that does sound obviously dangerous. But at least the cyclists can have a good chat, which is much better than someone using a mobile phone.

  2. Peter November 8, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Don’t disagree with anything that you have said. But having been involved in traffic calming projects I would suggest that the gap shown in the photo (which is too narrow for cyclists) is not actually for cyclists at all. The gap is usually to ensure that drainage along the kerbline remains uninterupted; this provides a much more cost effective solution.

    I agree that it does not help that these gaps often resemble the often hotch potch gaps left for cycle lanes. But in this case there you have it.

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