Tuesday 3 July 2012

Beetle Mania

So, there I am cycling along the Bow  Road. There are plenty of cyclists. I am wearing a fetching hi-viz tabbard. There is a cyclist in front of me. There is a cyclist in front of him. Behind me there are some cyclists further behind. It is difficult to miss this number of cyclists in fetching shades of high-viz.

I look behind as we start to get towards the junction. I notice a blue Beetle some way behind and indicating left. I move slightly to the right to try to prevent a left hook. Besides there is a huge gap between me and the cyclist behind me - more than enough to slot in behind, slow down and safely turn left.

But clearly this isn't quick enough for this driver. They pull out to the next lane and then cut right across both me and the other cyclist to turn left.

If safety in numbers works, I am left pondering what kind of cycling density is required to stop some motorists pulling this kind of manoeuvre. I am troubled that the answer may be having to get to the density that prevents this type of driver room to open their door to enter the vehicle in the first place.


  1. That must happen thousands of times a day in London, I see it all the time.

    Of course, another big flaw in the "safety in numbers" theory is that it only works at peak times.

    It's 4am as I write this and the central London traffic rumble is still audible outside my window. There's far fewer motor vehicles than during the day but they're still fairly numerous and are moving much faster as a result of it being quieter.

    But where are the bikes? I can't see them. If I fancied a ride out now, where's the safety in numbers? I would still avoid Hyde Park Corner and there are still buses on Waterloo Bridge. Where's the night shift's safety in numbers?

    1. I've been left-hooked three times so far. In all three cases the cuplrit was a black cab. In all three cases, as far as I can tell, the cabbie was amber-gambling - rather than risk slowing behind me and getting stopped at the lights, he went for it.

      First two occasions I just got a bit dusty from contact with the road. Third time cost me two operations, one of which involved an overmight stay and general anaesthetic, and many momths of physiotherapy. No-one got the cabbie's licence plate. The Met, naturally, couldn't give a f*ck.

      These days I ride out at least 2-2.5 metres into the road whenever I am approaching a pinch point or a junction. I have got over the notion that the poor driver is being held up by my positioning - I really don't give a f*ck about them anymore. And I kow I am safer that way, despite that being somewhat counter-intuitive.

      On "safety in numbers", I suspect that is a perversion of the critical mass theory. There is absolutely no doubt that if the number of cyclists out together reacheds a certain point, the only danger is from explicitly homicidal motorists. However, the certain point must surely be literally dozens of cyclists n close formation.

      there was a time when this occurred naturally, and not just on the last Friday of each month from the South Bank. If you are old enough (middle aged or older) you might have seen the exodus from a naval dockyard, a shipyard or a really large factory at end of shift, when the workforce engages in a kind of Le Mans Start racing for the bikesheds, and then emerging from teh gate in a phalanx which would make the most hardened HGV driver quail.

      Seems to me that CTC and others pervert that phenomenon to prop up their discredited policy of arguing that cyclists have the right to use the road, so that is what they must do.

  2. Once you're past that junction, you have to take the left hand traffic lane anyway because of the cars (legally) parked outside the shops, so I just ignore the paint there and go wide early. There are normally buses parked up before the MacDonalds, so I stay wide through the lights too (more badly-placed blue paint encourages harassment from drivers) and take the left-hand lane right the way up onto the flyover. More risk of people cutting left across as you pass the slip. Up onto the flyover, drivers busting right through the 30 limit, down the other side and it's time to cope with the mergers from the left at 30mph

  3. It's horrible at the moment, I do it every weekday because there's no alternative, and I am dreading what it will be like while the Olympics are on and the traffic is bottled up out of the Zil lanes.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Someone did that to me a couple of weeks ago in Stoke Newington - but they left it even later than the Beatle. I was forced to swerve and brake to avoid hitting the side of the car. Amazingly, and I doubt this will ever happen again in my lifetime, a police car was stopped at the red light opposite. Siren comes on, blue light flashes, homicidal driver gets pulled over. Despite giving the police my details I've not heard from them about it since. The probably just give him a telling off and sent him on his way.