Sunday 28 June 2015

when "cyclists follow the highway code" means "get out of the way"

Twitter is notable in that it allows politicians to engage with their electorate.

Here is Sarah Wollaston, MP, praising the PM for promising the attend the all party cycling working group —and who should come out the woodwork but someone someone with the old "highway code and license" distraction.

yet ask the for more detail on what particular "safety issue" and why not license and tests pedestrians with it, and it comes out that the key reason to single out people on bicycles is "pedestrians on the whole do not block roads".

which gets you into the real meaning of what "follow the highway code is", along with the classic "when I did my cycling proficiency test "anecdote of
"when we learned to cycle we were taught to go single file to safely allow a vehicle to pass'
And that's really it isn't it. You can look at actions of people cycling and point to some that endanger themselves or pedestrians, and make the case for better training. But not use it as a complaint for cycling two abreast, for as the highway code rule 66 says
You should never ride more than two abreast, 
That's right: the highway road says "you can ride two abreast", and even more than three abreast is a "should never", not a "must never"

Which means that anyone who thinks having "cyclists learn the highway code and be tested" is going to have their expectations of not being held up not met.

And why do they say it? It's clearly not about safety, it's purely about the inconvenience caused by having people cycling in front of you, and a mistaken belief that it is beholden on the cyclist to get out of the way of people driving —and because of that belief, irate frustration that all those cyclists in Britain "don't follow the highway code"

Here then, is a message for people complaining about being held up by people cycling:
we are allowed to ride wherever in the lane we feel safe, and if we do that two-abreast, it is still legal. If you find yourself unable to accept this, please return your license to the DVLA with a covering note about your own unwillingness to co-exist with other road users.


  1. Brilliant!

    (Personally, I'd like for some of those oversized motor vehicles to get out of the way where they are blocking my passage along the road (central Bristol, so-called 'rush hour'), but I know that isn't going to happen....)

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  3. I believe this comment is relevant, I saw it recently and it reveals the inherent selfishness of blaming bicycles for taking up too much room.
    fatblokeonabike  Libertarian Voice • 9 months ago
    Personally, I will ensure I ride single file when you drive single file.
    When you are next driving, look to the left. Do you see a seat there? That means that you are driving two abreast, just like the cyclist you complain about (who by the way are almost certainly doing nothing wrong - the Highway code says to ride no more than two abreast.)
    Also, remember that you are required (by law) to give a cyclist the same amount of room as you would a car when you are passing. If cyclists were to ride single file, rather than two abreast (or in parallel), as you request, then they would be spread out along a length of road twice as long as they currently do. It would, thus, take twice as long to pass a group of cyclists as it does now.

  4. A bicycle occupies 8% of that required by a car. To those who cannot pass 8% of a car, just imagine how difficult it is to pass 100% of one!

    Vehicle (car/van) occupancy (commuting & business, 2013) 1.2ppmv. Single occupancy rate 85%. NTS0906

    To those sitting in traffic, remember, based-upon the 8% figure. 100/8=12.5 cyclists per car. Ten cars carry 12 people. But the same space is sufficient for 125 cyclists.

    Just imagine what would happen to congestion of most of those drivers were on bicycles. Bearing in mind that journeys are often very short.
    Average trip length 1995/97-2013 Up to one mile 21.1% One to two miles 18.6% Two to five miles 27.7% Between 1995/97-2013 of all trips made 39.7% were two miles or shorter and 67.4% were five miles or shorter. Source: NTS0307

    Congestion is the consequence of too many people driving (largely alone) unnecessarily for short journeys.