One of the perils of cycling in London is the likelihood of experiencing some bad driving, and the chances are that you’ve been on the wrong end of a careless taxi driver, a wreckless motorcyclist or a tired TFL bus driver who’s thoughtlessly crept into the bike lane.
Of course, having a close call due to bad driving isn’t as bad as actually having the collision (and we’ve written on the steps to keep in mind if you are ever in an accident), but you’ll no doubt want to make sure that where there’s a driver to blame, they can’t do it again.
Obviously, your insurance company can’t do anything when you’ve not actually been hit (and that’s a good thing!) but for the good of the cyclists union and for the safety of all road users, you should consider making a complaint to the relevant authority. Below are details of how to make that complaint, depending on what sort of vehicle it was.
So you’re cycling along and get pushed into the curb by a boy racer in a Citroen Saxo. You somehow manage to keep cycling, but are shocked that the driver is allowed on the road. What do you do?
- Make a note of the registration number (worth pulling over and saving it on your phone)
- At the next opportunity write down your recollection of exactly what happened
When it comes to complaining, the first thing is to contact your local police station. Your statement will help with the Metropolitan Police’s RoadSafeLondon campaign, but don’t go thinking the driver will face immediate punishment: if it’s the first note against the registration number then police will see your complaint next time a complaint is made – and it may well be a matter of time.
While not an official measure, you should also consider reporting the incident to the CTC, whose ‘Stop SMIDSY’ campaign is aimed at making streets safer.
Taxi drivers have much more to lose if they’re reported – driving isn’t just a mode of transport for them, but their livelihood. In the first instance you should contact the Public Carriage Office, although they will only look into cases where there may have been discourtesy or abuse.
If possible, take a note too of the driver number (black writing in a white box, usually on the rear of the cab) as this will be helpful to the PCO.
Follow the same steps above and report the taxi driver to the police. Given many taxi drivers often work the same areas, make sure you’re certain where the incident happened as it may be a regular occurrence that police can then look out for.
There are a number of details you need to take if you’re planning on making a complaint to TFL about a bus. As with other vehicles, you need the registration number, but you should also get as much of the following as possible:
- The route number (from the front or back of the bus)
- The bus’ serial number (usually on the front or back, but could be anywhere)
- The driver number (usually in the driver’s window)
Of these three, the driver number is the most important as it shows who was driving the bus at the time of the incident – and makes it much easier (and more likely) that TFL will take action.
Think outside of the box
While you’re fairly restricted when it comes to complaining about buses, with private vehicles and cabs you can use a bit of initiative. In the case of company vans or cars, note which company the driver is working for and make a complaint to them directly. While you might not see a result directly, the driver might get a warning and drive more carefully as a result. Likewise with taxis, contact the businesses which have paid to advertise on the side – it’s unlikely they’ll want to be associated with reckless driving.
Patience is a virtue
You’re unlikely to see immediate results against a driver who you complain about. But think of the greater good – the more complaints, the more chance that bad drivers will be reprimanded, either by their employer or the police. And that’s only going to be a good thing for road safety for cyclists.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.