How the rest of the world sees us cyclists and how not to answer an interview

Recently LBC radio invited me to talk about an exciting topic: “How safe is London for cycling?”. I was glad that finally main stream media were asking the right questions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. The topic that was pitched to me was very much a trick and in fact the interview turned into a cyclist bashing session. You’ll be able to hear the frustration in my voice as I realised we were once again going to be covering old ground.

Listen to the clip below and let me know what you would have answered for these common complaints that were raised.

With a benefit of a little more preparation here’s what I should have said on each of these topics..

All cyclists jump red lights

Whilst it’s true that a small percentage of cyclists jump red lights focusing on this largely ignores the bigger issues. You have to ask: Why do cyclists jump red lights? The answer they are likely to give you is that they get 50 yards of traffic free riding. Being on a narrow road and cycling next to a heavy goods vehicle is not always a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, due to the lack of investment in cycling infrastructure and planning for cyclists on the roads this is the daily reality for anyone who does want to pursue a cheaper, healthier and pollution free mode of transport.

Whilst I definitely don’t encourage that behaviour and would myself like to see less of it, what we have to remember is that a cyclist jumping a red light is a very different affair to a car jumping a red light. The implications of the latter obviously being far more severe to an unfortunate person crossing the road or to fellow road users.

Cyclists should be licenced/insured

This is an ancient argument that has long been discredited. If you start to try to licence cyclists you make it more complicated for someone to start cycling. As we are living in a city struggling to meet its pollution targets and on the verge of major fines from the EU any pollution free mode of transport should be embraced. The bicycle happens to also solve many of the congestion problems in London.

All cyclists wear headphones and talk on their mobiles

That wouldn’t make them too different to drivers then would it?

Cyclists are a huge danger to pedestrians

If you compare the one recorded death by dangerous cycling in London versus all the deaths every year on roads from drivers then you’ll never make a statement like this. It’s true to say that cyclists shouldn’t ride on the pavement but to call a bike a huge danger to pedestrian is a gross exaggeration.

How the rest of the world sees cyclists

The one good thing to come out of the interview (apart from a bit of good promotion of London Cyclist blog!) was to be reminded how the rest of the world often sees cyclists. If similar questions come up in a future interview I’ll be a little more prepared to hold my own. What would you have answered?

Related link:

  • Bloody cyclists – covers the common arguments and provides some useful stats

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.


142 Responses to How the rest of the world sees us cyclists and how not to answer an interview

  1. bdave262000 21/01/2011 at 11:39 am #

    Saw her on the One Show, enough said.

  2. Dunc 21/01/2011 at 11:46 am #

    of course. if I wanted to say tina was awful it would have been a reply to her post. mine was a new post. i don’t jump red lights for a similar reason to tina

    • Tina 21/01/2011 at 11:49 am #

      Thanks Duncan, my mistake.

  3. Julia Roberts 21/01/2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Andreas – as above comments this radio interview made my blood boil. What an awful lady. Typical response from someone who doesn’t know the reality. Yes there are a few minority cyclists who do give the rest of us a bad name. But for the majority we are law abiding cyclists. I will be honest and say I have one junction on my route to work (as you come over Tower Bridge and to onto Aldgate) where I like to be on the edge of the junction box avoiding pedestrians (effectively jumping the lights) so I am ahead of the traffic when the lights go green for me to move – it is a complete nightmare junction and I don’t feel safe sitting in the cycle box. I like many cyclists have insurance through LCC and with Butterworths. And as someone who has been hit(and badly injured) by an uninsured driver who didn’t even have a licence to drive I can say I NEVER listen to music or chat on my phone. Maybe she should come out for a bike ride with us real cyclists and then she can eat her words.

    Andreas – keep your head held high – keep up the good work. We all know what this lady really is!

    • Roberty Bobberty 21/01/2011 at 12:40 pm #

      I though I would copy my previous reply to a different stream as its pertinent to this discussion

      What really interests me and to be honest annoys me is why so many people are so very very agressive about cyclists as though we are a different type of person altogether. There are also a lot of odd assumptions ie cyclists are not drivers, (most of us are) or pedestrians (all of us are). It is very strange. I have given it much thought and conclude that deep down the cycle bashers are aware that the cyclists are generally morally superior (only whilst actually cycling) so the anger is a disguise for their sense of inferiority. Its similar to charity worker bashing “they only do it for the perks” and “all politicians are liars”. I’m no bettter than anyone else, but cycling is better than driving a car – fact – for about 15 separate reasons.

    • To-jo 21/01/2011 at 5:30 pm #

      Yeah that junction is terrible. I love having the traffic breathing down my neck as the lights go green as I try and get speed up on the slight hill with cars going either side of me and the poor road surface adds to the fun.

  4. chazamataz 21/01/2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Hmmm, typical sidestepping of anything relating to reality from Feltz there. Ho hum. Let’s leave her to it eh. For the rest of us sentient, intelligent beings, the debate needs to shift from people obsessing about petty cycling misdemeanors like red-light jumping, to a real discussion about cutting cars out of our cities altogether so that cycling becomes the main form of transport, and cities are designed to facilitate this vastly superior (in pretty much every way) form of transport. Cycling causes a negligible amount of injury in relation to motorised traffic, so this obsession with such trivial matters reflects a psychological frustration within society towards urban cyclists in general, an attitude that is unique to this country. Go to Amsterdam, Paris, Copenhagen, Sydney…cyclists are revered, as they should be! There needs to be a change in the way people cycle – trust me, bad cycling does my head in, as much as bad driving and, um, bad pedestrian-ing – but until we change the landscape so that cyclists are not under constant threat of injury or death through collision or pollution, people need to wise up to the real issues.

    • nadjonion 21/01/2011 at 12:40 pm #

      Now we are talking, chazamataz.

  5. Tim 21/01/2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Don’t beat yourself up about it Andreas. Talk radio is noise wallpaper and will be forgotten three minutes after hearing. However live radio is a synch to sew up as they find it hard to stop you. Go with your own agenda and talk to it. Don’t pause and signal you want another question. Ignore their points unless you can steer the answer into what you want to talk about. They love controversy as it winds the listener up. So never be reasonable (as you naturally are.) Be provocative but polite. Before you start find out how long you will be on and plan the agenda yourself.

  6. AdamS 21/01/2011 at 1:03 pm #

    To be honest Andreas I thought you gave a decent account of yourself. At lot of cyclists do jump red lights, use their phones and ride with headphones in, and in most cases this is illegal and/or dangerous behaviour even if we feel victimised by poor cycling provision and the behaviour of other road users.

    The only issue would have been more forceful on (if I’d been well respected and brave enough to be invited onto LBC) is that the whole level of ire directed at cyclists is completely out of proportion to the danger they present on the roads (and occasionally pavements), which you kind of did.

  7. Shreds 21/01/2011 at 1:39 pm #

    I gave up trusting the media years ago. They always have an agenda. I used to do cycle interviews when I was publicity officer for another city and unless you knew your interviewer well, then it wasn’t worth doing as they would steer it off the agenda.

    So I gave up doing them.

    Every point she made that was negative about cyclists, is also true of motorists and other road users. Mobile phones, headphones, jumping lights, bad road manners etc, cycling is only a microcosm of Society as a whole.

  8. Trevor 21/01/2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Do you know what I enjoyed most about this interview? Watching the corner if your radio to see if anything would happen.

  9. hugomac 21/01/2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Your response was fine. It was reasonable. If you want criticism it missed a killer point which you might have had to deliver and repeat and hammer home. Her “job” – and you would have known that if you had done your research on her – is to rile you and make a shocking point, a headline, something notable. Your job? good question. The listeners expect a good fight or humiliation so by being reasonable you may have provided low ratings scores.But you should go on these things better prepared.. “YOU KNOW Vanessa that you invited me on this program to discuss cycling in london and you should really allow me to say something about that – about how good it is for the environment, health, how it causes very little damage – how the whole country is reacting to so much red tape and licencing is just more of that. I will answer your point on jumping red lights – it’s stupid, cycling dangerously is for morons etc but like motorists exceding the speed limit happens. Sometimes it is out of fear or frustration at bad road design and sometimes it is just ignorant. Cyclists might be arrogant but they will be the likely losers in any crash so Vanessa you should be more angry about the motorist on their phone with their music on full blast or podestrians stepping out onto the road. Really where are the hard facts to support your assertions – you talk anecdotes I talk facts and statistics the listeners can decide.

  10. Angus 21/01/2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Umm, perhaps you ought have smelled a rat in advance.

    LBC are way down there in the gutter in terms of pandering to the perceived general consensus, or at least that general consensus that the Daily Mail et al trot out.

  11. To-jo 21/01/2011 at 3:29 pm #

    You’re being hard on yourself Andreas. I don’t listen to LBC much because I am not a fan of the confrontational interview technique that seems to be the norm nowadays. Main reason why I stopped listening to Radio 4 Today programme was because of John Humprhies playing devils advocate all the time. Anyway, I’ve heard a few people set up by the LBC jocks and then take wonderfully huge falls. I still wince and laugh when I think about the TFL bod defending the ludicrous blackwall tunnel closures for the next 3 years to change a light bulb or two. These fall guys are often professionals that know how to handle the media. So on the whole Andreas you stayed calm and discussed the points well.

    IMO – red light jumping is nearing the majority at quiet junctions and a few bobbies enforcing the law would help to calm the situation down.

  12. Phil Russell 21/01/2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I suspect people like Vanessa Faults (sic) would ideally like cyclists banned from the public highway completely, although she’d never admit it. I wonder has she ever snarled “Pay your ****ing road-tax!” as she slices past some inoffensive rider briefly in the path of her smelly banger…(I only pose the question, of course) She does sound the type, though. Quite hysterical, really. For many years my stock response to that particular “advice” from drivers has been, ” Pollocks! I already pay me ROAD FUND LICENCE—-on the car! And then I leave it parked and prefer to cycle! Think about it!”
    Some drivers see the bike as the poor person’s car, as if people would stop sailing and rowing if only they could afford a speedboat. Vanessafeltz syndrome is hard to combat, but every time we ride the pavement, or jump a light, we commit an offence and further damage our reputation. Is it worth it? Andreas, don’t worry—- you handled yourself quite well on air, and came across as far more reasonable than your interviewer…, what was her name again?

  13. Kim 21/01/2011 at 4:53 pm #

    My response to the woman who was taking about out “the arrogance of cyclist” would have been to say: why do you think that has to do with cycling? The problem is the arrogance of some people, no matter what their mode of transport, it doesn’t matter if they riding a bicycle or driving a car, they still arrogance and unpleasant, the only difference is that if they are driving they are a greater risk to others. Changing your mode of transport doesn’t make you a better person, but if this guy was made to ride a bicycle rather then being allowed to carry on driving, other road users would be a lot safer…

  14. GrumpyCyclist 21/01/2011 at 8:32 pm #

    You were completely ambushed. Who was the interviewer?

    The whole interview was based upon anecdote / hearsay which constantly put you on the back foot. These interviews are not to impart information or discuss but just to get a reaction. We learnt more about the interviewer’s opinions / prejudices than anything about the subject.

    As someone mentioned earlier the “gish-gallop” is a superb way of turning the tables on this kind if interview. It is pretty much what she was doing anyway.

    Politicians are masters at damage control at these kind of interviews.

    I would say that having some facts to hand concerning road death statistics, accident statistics etc. would put you in a strong position. When she talks about anecdotes ask her for the statistics related to the anecdote – facts you know. She won’t know these facts – she is just padding to get a reaction – and will start to look stupid and put her on the defensive.

    Failing all that, if you don’t know the facts and she is getting on your nerves just make it up. Politicians can’t do this as they will get it checked, but no-one is going to come back and ask you to correct. So when she says about red light jumping say that only 3% of cycling accidents at junctions are caused by cyclists jumping red lights whilst 70% are caused by cars jumping lights. Is this correct? Well who knows, least of all her! The interview is a sham anyway as soon as she starts talking “anecdotes” so I would urge you to go all out at that point and be as creative as you like!

  15. Tom Leeks 21/01/2011 at 8:49 pm #

    I thought your replies were generally pitched at about the right level but I take issue with just a couple of points. I definately do not agree that cyclists running red lights and pedestrian crossings are a tiny minority, I see what looks like a majority but we will never be able to prove this until we do get some form of cyclist registration. I am not suggesting that we pay for a licence, registration can still be free even if it is compulsory. ( They will tell us of course that they cannot afford to run a scheme unless it can raise enough to at least cover expenses but surely cycling is due a little more investment, it is not getting much at present). I am at times, like many of us, a cyclist, a driver and a pedestrian. I try not to change my views according to my ‘travel status’. If, as a pedestrian, I expect the cyclist to give me right of way then I will treat the pedestrian similarly when I am a driver or the cyclist. Your advice about not being on the nearside of heavy trucks and buses is at times impossible to follow. I know of at least two examples (there must be many more) where the new blue lane as it approaches a cross road or left turn has lane direction arrows directing other traffic into the blue lane. What is the cyclist supposed to do then, pull out of the blue lane into traffic, to be on the offside of a turning vehicle. This needs a rethink.

    • GrumpyCyclist 21/01/2011 at 9:17 pm #

      Registration is a red-herring.

      If registration prevented law-breaking then we would never see car users speeding, useing mobile phones etc. But we do, and from road traffic surveys, law breaking such as speeding is so endemic that transport authorities spend tens of millions trying to prevent it.

      Registration for cars is a good idea, but none of the reasons that make it a good idea for cars transfer to cycles.

    • Amoeba 21/01/2011 at 10:13 pm #

      Tom Leeks,
      As Andreas said in the interview, mandatory cycle registration schemes and helmet schemes have been shown time and again to discourage cycling.

      The benefits of cycling are numerous and are often not obvious, and since people who cycle are often not driving, the reduction in motor-vehicles reduces pedestrian casualties. That reduction in casualties also reduces motor-vehicle related pollution which kills far more people than do so-called road ‘accidents’. The true cost of traffic noise damages social cohesion and people killed and injured, together with increased cost to the NHS and lost income from those killed by traffic pollution are rarely factored into the equation.

      For starters, there has to be an overall benefit and since cyclists kill and injure a tiny fraction of people,when compared with motor-vehicles, discouraging cyclists and forcing them into cars would merely increase the primary cause of deaths on the roads.
      FYI, cyclists cause less than 1% of road casualties, motor-vehicles cause over 99%. So banning cycling altogether would eliminate tiny risk and increase the far greater societal risk. That really makes sense, doesn’t it?

      DfT figures for the UK 1998-2008:
      Motor-vehicles killed a total of 8201 pedestrians of which 820 were on the pavement or verge.
      Cyclists killed a total of 30 pedestrians of which 3 were on the pavement or verge.
      You will note that motor-vehicles killed 273 times the number of pedestrians killed by cyclists.
      (Assumes that 10% of pedestrian casualties occurred on the pavement or verge as was the case in 2007-2008)

      Registration schemes are a means of cyclist bashing. World-wide many have already been scrapped. There is a mandatory scheme in London, it’s the Boris bike scheme. And in the two incidents uncovered by a FOI request, the large numbers were not reported to TfL.
      Forcing cyclists to be registered is as useful as forcing pedestrians to wear registration plates.

      Registration does not work. Let’s say you see a car jump a red light and you manage to photograph it. You take the photograph that clearly shows the registration to the Police, what do you think will happen? The answer is that nothing will happen.

      Far more lives would be saved by limiting motor-vehicles to 20 mph in town and residential areas.

  16. Tom Leeks 22/01/2011 at 9:42 am #

    Grumpy cyclist & Amoeba, just two more head in the sand ‘do gooder’ cyclists. Surely no-one could suggest that registration would prevent law breaking any more than it does with cars, I certainly don’t say that. Anything though that could even slightly reduce the numbers of cyclists I see breaking laws is worth a try. Tiny minority?? Nonsense.
    The paragraph about cycling accidents/pollution/ NHS costs etc shows belief in an earlier corrospondents comment, referring to the interview technique of just ‘making it up’ believing that no-one will ever check it.
    Even registration though would be a waste of effort and resources if there were not a change in attitude from the police. As your corrospondent rightly says, relying on members of the public to take photos and make reports will not work. They need to put a bit more effort in officially. Currently the cycling laws are regarded at about the same level as laws about right of way fouling by dogs. They don’t work either and dogs are probably easier to recognise than Lycra clad cyclists.
    I think I’ll just give up on comment, this forum seems to produce so much waffle that I now find it a waste of my time.

    • Amoeba 22/01/2011 at 10:57 am #

      Tom Leeks
      I don’t understand why you accuse me of having my head in the sand. I want all road users to abide by the Law, but I recognise that we’re a long away from that. I would welcome zero tolerance, because it would benefit all vulnerable road users.

      If you’d read my earlier comments, I’m objective, and criticise non-objectivity. I stick to the known facts and cite evidence.

      I note you haven’t disputed the figures with any evidence.

      Lastly, do you ever challenge bad behaviour? Because I do!

  17. Iain 22/01/2011 at 11:16 am #

    Has the interviewer ever ridden a bike? Invite her out for a ride Andreas – it would make a loverly feature for her show.

    Incidentally, when I stick my panniers on my bike I know it’s a bit wider and allow more space, shame the numpty with a caravan yesterday didn’t do the same (was surprised I still had an elbow… – more amusing was the acres of space the caravan’s queue gave when they passed!) Also, if you’re towing a horsebox, make sure the lights work, Dobbin whinnying your intentions is nice, but when left and right whinnys are the same knowing what you’re doing is not easy – hence why £80k of sports car and my bike nearly collided with you when you decided to stop and turn right…

  18. Helen 22/01/2011 at 11:52 am #

    Easy to say now but I’d be inclined to treat Feltz as if she were Jeremy Clarkson in a wig, only without the good looks.

    I loved Humphrey’s advice to Bernard in Yes (Prime) Minister on dealing with the press. Rephrasing their question so you can answer one of your own always seems appealing. And then there’s just going on the attack ‘ah well, of course car drivers have Paul Smith and the Safespeed campaign. And drivers go out and burn down speed cameras, what do you think of that then, Feltz?’

    • Amoeba 22/01/2011 at 5:28 pm #

      Helen said: “I’d be inclined to treat Feltz as if she were Jeremy Clarkson in a wig, only without the good looks”

      And the latter’s publicly declared warm attitude to anyone who rides a bicycle.

      [Note to Andreas, can we be certain that Vanessa Feltz is the person who interviewed you? Because a limited search of LBC’s website indicated no mention of her.]

  19. Tom Leeks 22/01/2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I suppose on reflection ‘head in the sand ‘was a bit unnecessary but it was mainly because of the accident/ pollution/NHS paragraph. I don’t believe that you have figures to back this up because I think those figures are just not available, not without some disputing anyway. For exactly that reason I have no figures to dispute with.
    Many times I have been strongly tempted to reprimand a law breaking cyclist but usually they are much younger than I am and I am, I think understandably, a bit nervous of confrontation. I did not mention this initially as I did not want to be labelled a ‘grumpy old man’ but I have been cycling on and off (no pun intended) for over 50 years. I’m sorry I missed your earlier contribution but I am pleased to note that you are objective and I hope that you will continue to search for clear undisputed evidence for your arguments.

    • Amoeba 25/01/2011 at 8:02 am #

      Tom Leeks,

      Deaths from Traffic related Pollution

      “….Road transport contributes far more to the public’s exposure to pollutants and is responsible for up to 70% of air pollution in urban areas. ….if new evidence was taken into account the 1998 figure of 24,000, premature deaths per year would rise to 35,000 Research by the European Environment Agency suggested that the figure could be as high as 50,000 for the UK. …. new evidence would support a figure of around 3,500 early deaths per year. Studies in other countries have suggested that the risks from poor air quality could be even higher. If the more extreme figures suggested by this work were used the estimate of the number of early deaths in London could be as high as 8,000. Initial concerns that COMEAP’s 1998 figure was an over-estimate appear, in the light of new evidence, to have been wrong.
      10. The Government’s current 2007 Air Quality Strategy estimates that particulate matter reduces life expectancy by around seven to eight months, averaged over the whole population of the UK. This is an average and for individuals who are particularly sensitive and are exposed to the poorest air quality the reduction in life expectancy could be as high as 9 years….”

      House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee
      Air Quality ; Fifth Report of Session 2009–10 ; Volume I ; 16 March 2010

      If I’ve understood this properly, this means that the figures can be factored by 0.7 to get the actual figures attributable to road transport. That translates the 3,500 figure to 2,450 per year.

      The figures aren’t as high as I thought, but they are of the same order as road fatalities: (Road casualties 1994-1998 3,578 average killed per year).

      It appears that estimates of the figures have risen and there is seemingly more to learn about this, it looks likely the figures will rise again.

      Bear in mind that there are a number of studies, but the ones I’ve investigated are hidden behind pay-walls, so I don’t know what they say in detail.

  20. Grumpy Cyclist 22/01/2011 at 6:27 pm #

    My initial reply was somewhat facetious and tongue in cheek. Clearly the interviewer was “making it up” with anecdotes (which may,or may not, be accurate) and statements such as “all cyclists wear headphones” which are completely untrue. At such a time that the interviewer is employing these type of tactics then the chances of constructive debate is zero. Andreas did well at being calm in the face of this – which was solely designed to rile him up. When the interview is such a farce nothing reasonable can be achieved, so playing the interviewer at their own game isn’t going to lose anything.

    Your registration idea – how much would it cost to administer (DVLA isn’t cheap)? And what would it achieve when you yourself admit it probably wouldn’t help much?

    Anyway, to test the idea, there is an ongoing registration scheme with bicycles in central London where over a million journeys have been done on bicycles with registration plates, and the cyclists are completely traceable. It is called the cycle hire scheme. If anyone wants to spend the time working out whether this scheme has made its users more law-abiding and whether the registration plates have been used in conjunction with reporting law-breaking I am sure they can. The fact is that registration doesn’t help matters. Only extra law-enforcement helps matters, and they hardly need to have registration details to stop cyclists.

    The actual facts speak for themselves. The link to Hansard with pedestrian casualties has been posted. Motor vehicles killed around 150 times more pedestrians than cyclists in that period of time. The number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicles on the pavement are orders of magnitude more than the numbers killed by cyclists on pavements. Pavement cycling is anti-social and irritating, as is red-light jumping. But one has to keep perspective that motor vehicles are the most dangerous road-users, and so – when I use my car – I expect to be held to a higher standard of care than when I am cycling or walking.

  21. Stuart Crawley 22/01/2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Just had a listen to the audio and I don’t think you put a foot wrong Andreas. She was just trying to stir up a bit of controversy and you didn’t rise to the bait. Anyone with any sense could see the gaping holes in her argument; they will have their own view as to whether “most” cyclists have earphones in (unless they never leave the house). The rest would never be persuaded by anything you said anyway. The fact that someone representing the cycling community did not condone running red lights and other dangerous behaviour should be all that a reasonable listener would need to hear to form a reasoned opinion. Keep up the good work.

  22. Tom Leeks 23/01/2011 at 11:03 am #

    Well done Grumpy Cyclist–A lot more reasoned than your original outburst but ‘faceteous and tongue in cheek are always more likely in ‘the heat of the moment’, I did it myself with the ‘head in sand’ comment. Whereas I agree with much that has been said on both sides I also suggest that much of it has been blown out of proportion. I think cycling with phones in the ears is potentially dangerous, using a mobile phone while cycling is much more dangerous and should be punishable but these are not things that MOST cyclists do. The guilty few ARE dangerous. Running red lights and pedestrian crossings are probably less dangerous but very much more frequent, the red light one probably being most dangerous for the cyclist him/herself.

  23. James R Grinter 23/01/2011 at 12:48 pm #

    About red light jumping; I would highlight that far more motorists in London go through (and speed up for) Amber and Red lights than cyclists; in fact if you wait, as a pedestrian, at any traffic light junction or crossing in London I reckon you will see motor vehicles go through on Amber nearly every time.

    (could be an interesting survey)

  24. Tom Leeks 23/01/2011 at 3:31 pm #

    James, yes it would be an interesting survey. Recently when driving I stopped at an amber light and very nearly had the next car in my boot and suffered an angry horn blast. A very frequent occurrence but I still think the numbers are higher with cyclists. Anyone want to volunteer for the survey?

  25. bdave262000 23/01/2011 at 7:40 pm #

    The interviewer is acutally Petri Hoskins not Venessa Feltz.

  26. Paul F. 25/01/2011 at 7:20 am #

    Here in the United States bicyclist are to follow the same traffic laws as licienced drivers of autos, truck, buses ect. We have to stay to the right and obey all traffic singns and laws. Yes, I have run red lights here in the US. Cars have gotten really close to me. Some people have claimed to almost hit me. Am very glad that the cars did not hit me. Some cars will pass me and then turn directly in front of me to make a turn. The car horns to me never cease to stop blowing and yes, this disturbs me greatly when doing my best to navigate traffic.

    Bicycles and cars are just going to have to learn to get along. It is not a fight, or argument we all are to share the road equally. Everyone should have equal share of the road. My fiend was run over and killed about six months back when some young drivers were racing up a side road and he was killed instantly. I always like to ask, what could of been done to of had this accident avoided. On the internet I saw a site where they lock a bike where someone was killed and paint it white. These white bikes are called Ghost bikes. I was alread hit by a car on my motorcycle, the young driver pulled out in front of me, I was injured pretty badly. I still walk with a limp of the right leg and still use a cane to walk with. So what I do is my best while bicycling and watch what I do…I have to be responsible for me and my actions.

    Thanks for one’s time. Paul F.

  27. Rich 26/01/2011 at 12:50 pm #

    So she says that cyclists should be licensed so that infractions can be reported.

    It’s worked really well for drivers of cars hasn’t it? You never see a driver breaking the law, as his number-plate is there for all to see.

  28. Paul R 27/01/2011 at 8:35 am #

    Marginalising cyclists is the easy option for commentators such as this woman. She talks abour cyclists as if they are a breed apart, not distinguishing between the committed commuter, the jobbing cyclist, the tourist (on one of Boris’s) or even the child bunny hopping on the pavement!. We are a lumped together as a group to be despised and therefore sidelined. The simple fact is that we are driven – sorry for the pun – by a car centred culturre which has been ingrained in our psyche for many years. Until the UK like many other European countries, recognises the true value of cycling and builds an infrastructurre to ensure both car driving and cycling can co-exist peacefully, there will always be people like this commentator around to have a pop at the so called easy target.

    Keep flying the flag Andreas!

    • chazamataz 27/01/2011 at 12:31 pm #

      Well said Paul. We really do face an uphill struggle (sorry, couldn’t resist) in changing the collective mindset in regards to cycling in this country… the more people on bikes and out of cars, the better.

    • Vladimir 05/12/2011 at 4:04 pm #

      don’t worry yourself too much. oil prices are only going to grow and motoring will only become less and less affordable over the years. at some point or another in time the motorists will really wane in number; and then who will have the last laugh? 😛

  29. Tommi 02/02/2011 at 10:40 am #

    Just had an idea that I’d hope to rid of some of the “all cyclists” nonsense.

    The next time someone asks why all cyclists do something stupid I’m going to ask back should the interviewer be riding a bicycle would he be doing the same thing? If not then would he agree not everyone riding a bike does that something. Furthermore would he agree that it’s not people riding bicycles who are jerks, it’s just jerks who happen to be riding bikes. (OTOH if he’d say he’d do something stupid on bike it would be interesting to know if he does stupid things in a car too, and why they think it’s OK.)

  30. Wozza 09/02/2011 at 11:10 pm #


    Stood your ground well to blatant incitement.

    Q: Cyclists are a huge danger to pedestrians?
    Answer: Pedestrians are as much of a danger to cyclists.

  31. Vladimir 05/12/2011 at 4:01 pm #

    she did not listen to reason, I have to say. Perception is one of those things that skew people’s views, and it has been well documented in psychological texts as well as plenty other scientific texts that it is a proven phenomenon and we’re always going to remember the bad and blow things out of proportion in our own minds.

    She just kept repeating “I would notice a cyclist obeying the rules of the road”. Not listening to reason, pure and simple.

  32. Amoeba 05/12/2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I did look through the comments but got a little side-tracked.

    Regarding ‘Cyclists are a huge danger to pedestrians’

    This is a difficult one, it would appear that pedestrians offer a significant danger to cyclists, probably equal or greater than vice versa.

    Clearly the mass of a cyclist plus bike is probably broadly equivalent to that of a pedestrian. In a direct collision, both are likely to come off badly. However, I suspect that cyclists are most unlikely to cycle into a pedestrian except when a pedestrian steps out unexpected, perhaps from behind an obstruction. The figures suggest that pedestrians, through lack of awareness and not looking seem more like to walk into the path or side of a cyclist and cause a cyclist to lose balance and crash. I appreciate this is a small sample.

    I cite this:
    Comment by Paul M

    “For the period 1st September 2007 to August 2010 we had 333 reports of Pedestrians being injured in collisions on the highway. Of those, 3 were Fatally injured (2 in Pudding Lane where the vehicle rolled back down the hill, and 1 in Bishopsgate by Middlesex Street), 52 were Seriously injured, and 278 Slightly injured.

    8 were injured by the actions of a Licensed Taxi driver.
    9 due to the actions of a motorcyclist
    15 due to the actions of a Cyclist (4 Failing to Conform to ATS and 4 Failing to conform to another sign)
    19 were injured by the actions of a car driver,
    27 by PSV drivers, (16 struck by PSV’s mirror),
    35 by HGV drivers (15 struck by HGV’s nearside mirror) , and
    219 Pedestrians were considered to have caused the collision. Of those, 31 stepped into the path of a vehicle having consumed intoxicating liquor, 5 failed to heed a traffic sign, 1 had taken drugs and stepped into the path of a vehicle. On 4 occasions the cause was not identified, and on the remaining 178 occasions the pedestrian had stepped into the path or side of a vehicle without looking.

    During the same period of time there were 319 reports of Cyclists being involved in collisions. Of those, 1 was Fatally injured (at Queen Street Place), 43 were Seriously injured and 275 were Slightly injured.

    7 by Motorcyclists
    19 by PSV drivers,and
    20 by Pedestrians stepping into the path or side of the Cyclist without having looked,
    50 by Goods/HGV drivers,
    52 by Licensed Taxi Drivers. 8 where the driver made a U turn , and 13 were the passenger door was opened and struck the Cyclist.
    81 where the Cyclists were considered responsible for the collision. 6 having consumed Intoxicating Liquor, 6 having failed to comply with ATS, 6 having failed to comply with a traffic sign, and the remainder relating to a loss of control or movement that brought them into conflict with a motor vehicle.
    89 were injured by the actions of a car driver.

    224 Mototrcyclist were injured during the same period of time. 21 were Seriously injured and 203 Slightly injured.

    4 were injured by the actions of a PSV driver,
    4 were not ascertained,
    6 by the actions of a Cyclist,
    26 by Licensed Taxi Drivers, 8 making a U turn, and 4 by the passenger opening a door.
    28 by Pedestrians stepping into the road without looking,
    37 by Goods/HGV drivers,
    58 due to the actions of the Motorcyclist, and
    61 by Car drivers.

    Christine Phillips
    Ward Constable”

    More cyclists were injured by pedestrians than pedestrians injured by cyclists (20 against 15)

    From a comment posted by Paul M on

    • Ray Whitehouse 23/12/2011 at 10:34 am #

      Christine, thanks for all that info. it presents quite a balanced view. I must admit I’m more scared of pedestrians than lorries a lot of the time. there are many cycle paths in and around London. Those around Buckingham Palace are a menace to cyclists due to the number of pedestrians just ignoring them, taking photos, etc.

      The one I come across most is the new implementation of the Greenway going alongside the olympic park. The path is split into 2 half for cyclists and half for pedestrians. I am yet to be able to cycle along it without asking pedestrians politely to let me past.

      As for cycling on ordinary pavements I believe that sometimes it is safer to do so, where I live in Romford it can be seen quite regularly and as long as it is done carefully then that should be OK. Especially where youngsters are concerned.

      Actually what annoys me in Romford is the number of invalid scooters who ride on the pavements. There are lots and lots of those in Havering.

  33. Simon Norton 05/12/2011 at 11:54 pm #

    I recommend a book: Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt (Penguin)

  34. Fred 17/02/2012 at 8:17 am #

    There have been pedestrians killed on walking tracks used by cyclists in my area – there is a campaign starting up for cyclists to be licensed and for number plates on their bikes – that way they can be reported for some of their dangerous antics and may be a bit more careful on the roads than they are. I am a safe driver and I know a lot of drivers aren’t but I am appalled at the majority of cyclists who have a cavalier attitude to driving on the road and that seems to be reflected in the comments here.

    • charles 17/02/2012 at 10:37 am #

      Fred – are you a cyclist? If not (and I’d put money on you not being), I would heartily recommend that you go and hire a lovely bicycle and cycle around London, or any other city in England, for a day. In fact, I’d recommend all drivers in large inner cities do this. Once you’re done with your day’s riding, come back and we’ll see how the conversation goes from there. Hey, I’ll even show you around, show you how to indicate and stuff (the majority of drivers don’t seem to be aware of how to perform this complex skill)



    • Amoeba 17/02/2012 at 11:48 am #

      Yes some cyclists cause problems, but studies show that cyclists are rarely responsible for collisions, most collisions are the fault of drivers.

      I see bad behaviour from most road users, but none from horse-riders so far. However the ones who are the greatest cause for concern are car drivers. I suspect that pretty-well every regular cyclist has been bullied and probably threatened by a motorist, I have. That’s never been my experience with a pedestrian or cyclist.

      Here’s an example:
      KJ05WUM Female Bully Driver – aggressively impatient close overtake
      Apparently, ‘The driver left a comment on the original video threatening to “bump” this cyclist and has been given a serious warning by the police.’ So this driver has an anger-management problem.

      Car touches cyclist during dangerous overtake
      In the following video, the impatient driver’s car passes so close that it “brush[es] [the cyclist’s] leg and clipping [his] hand on his wing mirror.”
      I’m sure there are more such examples.

      Pedestrians and cyclists are essentially much the same mass-wise and only a little different speed-wise (I am excluding super-fit racing-cyclists and Audax-riders here). If a cyclist runs into a pedestrian, yes that can be bad, but it’s rare. According to one set of statistics I’ve seen from City of London Police, more cyclists were injured by pedestrians who step without looking into the cyclist’s path.

      Whereas when a car runs into a person, whether on a bicycle or on foot, it is the person who is going to get hurt and as speeds increase over 30 mph, it’s increasingly likely to be bad. This is basic physics. The car’s mass is vastly greater than a human being with or without bike. The velocity and energy of impact is very likely huge.
      Fatal impact – the physics of speeding cars –

      As for the bicycle registration / number plates idea, it’s been tried in numerous countries and it doesn’t work in the way you might expect. Such schemes strongly deter people from cycling and since many cyclists are drivers too, that means more cars. Increasing car use is not compatible with low road casualties, unless serious additional safety measures are introduced.
      Most of these schemes have been found to be counterproductive and subsequently dropped.

      Cars are vastly more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists. Did you know that each year, motor-vehicles kill several times as many pedestrians on the pavement alone than the total killed by cyclists on the road and pavement each year? Unlicenced and leisured drivers are a much greater menace. Griping about cyclists is quite honestly utter tosh.
      So your point is not accepted.

      The way that motor traffic kills isn’t limited to road traffic collisions. Air pollution, noise-pollution, obesity and the diseases of inactivity all play their part and cost the UK £billions each year.

      So be careful what you wish for, because you might get it and it wouldn’t be what anyone with a shred of humanity and integrity wants.

      Yes I am a cyclist, but one who also drives.

  35. Alehouse Rock 04/05/2014 at 2:03 pm #

    [[[[[ AMEOBA—-it’s FRED who needs the help.

    • Amoeba 04/05/2014 at 2:39 pm #

      I realise that, I was just providing the ammunition. I can rarely be bothered to argue with people on the internet any more. There are all kind of stupid claims out there, when the facts are readily available. Experience all too often shows that merely pointing out the facts are different from someone’s opinion, rarely changes anyone’s mind. Often it seems they are variously too ignorant and stupid, or too cocksure, or lying, presumably for money, religion or because they’re a troll. And of course, then there’re the sock-puppets and liars often have a cohort of those, there’s even software to enable sock-puppet coordination, used by professional deceivers.

      As Ben Franklin and Johnathan Swift are supposed to have said:
      “You cannot reason a man out of an opinion into which he was not reasoned to begin with.”
      And, Upton Sinclair famously noted:
      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

      I don’t know which is the case, as I haven’t been following the thread, but I have encountered all of these.

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