The most courteous drivers in London?

Back in July I asked a simple question that turned into a the biggest discussion this site has ever had. I asked: Who are the least courteous drivers in London?

Opinions were mixed and tensions ran high at certain points but many people agreed Addison Lee (the mini-cab company) was the worst. Last week, I had an email from Iain who suggested I turn the question on its head. He suggested I ask: Who are the most courteous drivers in London?

I liked his idea because I realise the initial question was a little negative. We all have moments where we really appreciate when a driver does something considerate. That’s why I wanted to open up this weeks Forum Friday to see if people have some good examples.

In my answer to the question… Who are the most courteous drivers in London?

Well, last time round I suggested that Black Cab drivers were the most courteous. Generally I’d continue to agree and have yet to have a serious issue with one. Though of course, there are unfortunately exceptions to the rule and I’m sure many would disagree with me. I still have plenty of good memories of them staying well back and letting me filter into their lane when mine is blocked by a parked car or a bus picking up passengers. However, I also have memories of Black Cabs swinging out in front of me to pickup a passenger and not giving me enough room.

On a daily basis who do you think are the most courteous drivers in London?

This weeks posts if you missed them:

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47 Responses to The most courteous drivers in London?

  1. Pete 08/10/2010 at 9:37 am #

    In my opinion most drivers are courteous, it’s just unfortunate that the occasional bad ones stick in the mind more than the majority of good ones.

    Taxi’s and buses seem to be the best for me, they generally spend most of the times on the road.

  2. Ben Brown 08/10/2010 at 9:38 am #

    The most courteous drivers are all the good drivers you don’t notice who just avoid you without any fuss. I generally think bus drivers are the most used to and tolerant of cyclists and that’s pretty good considering we both share the bus lane. I find taxis too often sneak too close to cyclists and have an air of annoyance with cyclists taking up their precious space.

  3. K 08/10/2010 at 9:46 am #

    It’s always down to the individual. I reckon a very large majority of drivers are decent, courteous and have common sense, but I rarely see them because they just hang back behind me until one of us turns off onto another road… they don’t put themselves in a situation where I have to take notice of them.

    Yesterday a Royal Mail van driver let me through a junction where he had the right of way. That was kind. A black cabbie did me the same favour today (and he waited until I was able to clear both lanes of traffic). I’ve also had both types of driver behaving badly.

    • Ziggy 15/10/2010 at 9:34 am #

      Hmmm – The rights of way are 99 times out of 100 designed to keep traffic flow going. To give way to other drivers/riders/pedestrians when it is your right of way is 99 times out of 100 just making the roads more clogged and more dangerous.

  4. iambrianjones 08/10/2010 at 9:47 am #

    I would say that drivers who are regular cyclists are the most courteous ones. Because I cycle more than I drive, when I do sit behind the wheel of a car I am ultra aware of how my big mass of metal can pose a danger to cyclists and pedestrians. Maybe there is a lesson in there that we need to get more motorists to also use bikes so that they can become better, more courteous drivers.

  5. Patrick 08/10/2010 at 10:02 am #

    I couldn’t possibly say who are the most courteous, because I am struggling to remember many occasions of courtesy in my London cycling experience, a fella let me make a right turn this week, but that was because he was in a long queue of traffic. With roadworks in Brixton and Elephant & Castle right now, the tendency is for cars, buses, vans and lorries to fill up any available space which leaves little room for a cyclist to manoeuvre. The first thing that goes in heavy traffic is consideration for cyclists.

  6. Gaz 08/10/2010 at 10:07 am #

    Milk float drivers are the most courteous IMO. I’ve had bad run in’s with every other kind!

  7. Neil 08/10/2010 at 10:13 am #

    I generally think bus drivers are really cautious, they seem genuinely interested in not killing you and look carefully at what they are doing and who else is on the road. Bus drivers get my vote.

    • Tim Lennon 08/10/2010 at 10:26 am #

      Have to echo this. Although I’ve had a couple of occasions when I’ve seen bad driving by buses, I spoke to them both times and they were corteuous and apologised. Otherwis, they normally leave me a decent amount of space, or notice me overtaking.

    • kathryn 08/10/2010 at 12:22 pm #

      that’s becuase they’re easier to track down if something goes wrong, and if it does, they lose their job – which other drivers don’t. I know that’s quite a negative opinion on what’s meant to be a positive discussion but I do think it plays a role in how careful they are.
      But also – they do receive training on it, and the training is obviously effective.

  8. Richie 08/10/2010 at 10:17 am #

    My favourite is where you are travelling down the inside of a queue (say on embankment), and the driver sees you before you get there and pulls a little bit to the right. I always appreciate this and give them a little wave as I go by, as I think its important their gesture was appreciated so they will do it again.

    I do the same for motorbikes on the motorway in the car. A lot of the time they do the same and give a little wave to say thanks. The goodwill feels good!

  9. Mike (chthonicionic) 08/10/2010 at 10:19 am #

    Having been run off the road by a milk float,* I can’t say @Gaz is 100% right, but in general anything that is slower than most vehicles probably experiences some of the impatience and bullying of other road users and so is more likely to be well disposed to cyclists.

    I’ve had lovely bin lorries, post office vans, taxis, and, yes, even Addison Lee drivers who’ve held back and let me out.

    I get the most courtesy when I’m towing my children though – a happy 4 y/o on the rear seat and two sleeping 1y/o twins in the trailer makes everyone smile and wave and even wind down the window for a chat whilst we wait at the lights. And yet there’s always an exception to the rule. Step forward an elderly bloke who undertook me last week in a left-turn only lane with his window open screaming “You soft-faced c*nt” at me. No idea what that was about.

    * I’d overtaken him earlier and waved. To say hello. I think he thought I was taking the piss out of his not-very-fast transport and as I was waiting at the next junction, he deliberately passed close enough to shove me onto the pavement.

  10. Bart Govaert 08/10/2010 at 10:31 am #

    I find experienced motocyclists tend to be very tactful.

    People on Scooters with L signs and MOMO design helmets … that is another story

  11. Katie 08/10/2010 at 10:54 am #

    Strangely enough, the best experience I’ve had yet was with someone driving a flash car, a Merc I think. I would have expected the opposite.

    It was in Southwark, Union St. There was a queue of traffic at the lights, none indicating so apparently not turning left or right. I slipped up the inside to position myself at the front so I didn’t have to wait for them all, as I was turning right. I stuck my arm out to indicate a right turn, and then looked over my shoulder to make eye contact with the driver at the front. He nodded and smiled at me, and I nodded back, then turned back to the lights. Expecting him to give me a couple of seconds to set off and then speed off, I pushed off as hard as I could and as I looked back over my shoulder, noticed that he didn’t go until I was safely across the junction and on my way (much to the annoyance of drivers behind him).

  12. Murray 08/10/2010 at 10:58 am #

    I find examples of courteous drivers to be entirely random. Of course, mostly when drivers take care around cyclists we don’t notice. It is more easy to notice the idiots who put us in danger. I’ve had drivers give way to me when they didn’t have to or whatever – and it is always a surprise – but these people are never one specific type. It’s been bus drivers, very occasional cabbies, people driving old bangers or flashy expensive cars (though never sports cars) and very rarely motorcyclists.

  13. Mike Smith 08/10/2010 at 11:27 am #

    Normally, I detest the archetypal white van driver, but at the tail-end of last year, I was forced to revise my opinion of one of them.
    About halfway down a very steep, very narrow lane in Cornwall near where I live, I rounded a bend to see a long-wheelbase transit heading up towards me, his wing mirrors brushing the hedgerow on both sides. I skidded to a stop on the leaf-covered road, and resigning myself to walking all the way back to the top (25% gradient – I know from experience I can’t pedal it), I started to dismount.
    Imagine my surprise (cliched, but appropriate) when he hooted and flashed his lights, and then started to reverse.
    He reversed about 300 metres!! to a point where I could safely cycle past him.
    I slowed right down as I reached his window, and gave him my most heartfelt thanks, to which he replied ” no prob. No way I could see you cycling back up that bas***d!”
    I agree with what other people have said – in every bad group there are good guys, and in every good group there are numbskulls.
    We all need to just make a tiny bit of effort to remember the good guys, invisible though they may be most of the time!

  14. Dunc 08/10/2010 at 11:35 am #

    bus drivers and cabbies

  15. chris 08/10/2010 at 11:35 am #

    Well the other morning I was in an ASL waiting to go straight across the junctino, with a car already encroaching most of the way through to the forward line as I arrived there. A motorbike was also already in the ASL (which annoys me normally) and on my outside; he was indicating left, and deliberately asked across as to what my intentions were. I said “straight on”, he nodded. I said “and if you cut across this joker, you’ll annoy him even more which would be good”.

    I’m still not a fan of motorbikes in ASLs, but he made sure he wasn’t inconveniencing me AND we both got a little bit over on a car driver who was out of his place. So I think we all won.

    Petty? Moi? Maybe, but we both laughed and went on our day with a fuzzier feeling.

  16. G 08/10/2010 at 11:58 am #

    Bus drivers, I believe, receive v thorough training on how to share the road with cyclists, partly because of us using bus lanes, I guess. So that would partly explain it. I’ve actually never seen a bus driver get really shirty with bad cyclists, but this might just be randomly anecdotal. They tend to reserve their ire for inconsiderate bus passengers….

    I also find other cyclists to be almost uniformly considerate of each other – unsurprising but not to be taken for granted! I often exchange friendly grins and people always seem happy to accommodate each other.

    However – I agree with everyone who said courtesy can be found everywhere, just like discourtesy. So perhaps Andreas’ question could be reframed in terms of who has good stories to tell, and there’s been a few here already; remembering, also, that these are examples of what we should both practise and expect from others as a matter of course…

  17. AdamS 08/10/2010 at 12:00 pm #

    The most courteous drivers are the ones who:

    a) are not in a hurry to get somewhere
    b) have a realistic view of their own self-importance
    c) have a degree of intelligence, decency and road sense
    d) lead happy fulfilling lives which means they don’t need to barge other people off the road to feel better about themselves.

  18. russell 08/10/2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Taxi drivers are the best I think although one lady driver nearly ran straight into me outside waterloo station!
    But on the whole I feel pretty safe around these guys

  19. nopy 08/10/2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Bus drivers! Always keep their distance behind me (regardless of speed) and always wait for me to pass if they are about to move off from a bus stop.

    Their training is really good.

  20. Jonathan 08/10/2010 at 12:45 pm #

    Bus drivers, especially the ones at the junction of Camberwell New Road and Brixton Road. Otherwise it’s good and bad apples. And it is worth us remembering that there are some dimwitted cyclists out there too who give us lot a bad name. This week I saw ‘look no hands’ riding the wrong way on Horseferry Road in the rush hour and too many idiotic riders with no lights.

  21. John 08/10/2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I’m sure every cyclist has noticed this, at some point: From the way a driver treats you, their awareness and the way they handle their vehicle, it is occasionally possible to guess that they are a cyclist or motorcyclist themselves..

  22. peter 08/10/2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Other cyclists are pretty good to other cyclists, but many (perhaps most) are very uncourteous to pedestrians – particularly when it comes to letting them cross at zebra crossings, or jumping lights across them.

    Most drivers in London are very good, I’d say.

    And if you find that most other road users behave rudely and angily towards you then you need to look at your own behaviour on the roads!

  23. John 08/10/2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Taxi drivers will always give way to you when they have a fare – its money in the bank to make their fare last longer!

  24. Justin Rolfe 08/10/2010 at 6:02 pm #

    Bus drivers BEST.
    Taxi drivers LEAST… least that’s what I thought…

    …with all the comments above, I’ll be looking out for good cabbies!

  25. Jules 09/10/2010 at 12:34 am #

    i had a very similar conversation at work this week and had a slightly age-ist but i think true response – the most courteous drivers are the ones who look and me and think “that could be my daughter” and give me room. or the ones who’ve been where i am – experienced motor-cyclists or people who usually cycle but are driving for the day. people who’ve had a near miss or crash and are looking for you.

  26. theandyman 09/10/2010 at 1:00 am #

    Bus drivers tend to be fine when they a) have passengers aboard or b) it’s not too late at night. Cab drivers look out for their fares (most of the time – ) and their licence, but otherwise act as if they have a God given right to rule the road. THe last time a Taxi made way for me, he admitted at the next light that he thought his paint might have been scratched. The true Knights of the road? Random strangers, but NEVER the drivers of concrete mixers…

  27. thereverent 09/10/2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Most drivers who aren’t in a hurry.

    Sometimes you can almost tell that a driver cycles by the way the give you enough room. Always nice when you meet them.

    But I’ve stil found the most courteous driver in London to be the chauffeur of the Lord Mayor of London. I cycle into the city for work and he has always given me loads of road when I’ve seen him. But I suppose getting scratches out of the paintwork of that Rolls would take ages.

  28. Cafewanda 09/10/2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I have mixed experiences with bus drivers, taxis and the dreaded Addison Lee people so I can’t identify any particularly courteous drivers.

    I try to acknowledge any good deeds witha smile, thank you or hand signal as long as it’s safe to do so.

  29. Stephen Forde 10/10/2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Who are the least or most courteous drivers?
    A question you can only answer if you judge the many on the actions of a few or the one or in the the most extreme cases on the none. Yes I am sure some cyclists imagine discourtesy where none was commited simply because they dont like “that kind” of person car, van, whatever. I have been the most and least courteous road user in my time. That I know for sure. I try each day to be better as I like cycling and have no beef with anyone and nothing to prove. Just a destination to get to and sometimes not even that:)

  30. richard @ City of London 11/10/2010 at 7:20 am #

    I’m a white van driver and would have to say that we’re certainly not flavour of the month. I wouldn’t say that there’s any one sector of drivers that stick out to me, but bus drivers come close. When I was a courier, back in the 90’s, buses always seemed to give us more space than any other type of driver (maybe that’s just because their vehicles were bigger).

  31. Corin 11/10/2010 at 5:52 pm #

    On run up to Blackfriars bridge this morning a very nice driver of a Jeep Cherokee retracted his side mirrors to let me through when he saw me filtering up the middle of traffic. I didn’t take him up on the offer as I’d found a perfectly good and safe station just behind, but I appreciated the gesture.

    Just goes to show you can’t always judge a driver by their car!

    • Tony 19/10/2010 at 12:56 pm #

      Being a cynic, i might say he was more concerned about the mirrors than about you!

  32. matthew 11/10/2010 at 9:12 pm #

    So ten minutes after reading this blog post on the train and thinking “yes, your right, it’s not a battle out there…” i find myself being chased down great eastern street by two men in a white van trying to know me off my cycle ….. grrrr

    thank you buses / taxi / everyone else – you do take care around me (us)

    to the two men in THAT white van – you are small minded twats – shame on you.

  33. matthew 11/10/2010 at 9:13 pm #

    So ten minutes after reading this blog post on the train and thinking “yes, your right, it’s not a battle out there…” i find myself being chased down great eastern street by two men in a white van INTENT on knoCKing me off my cycle ….. grrrr

    thank you buses / taxi / everyone else – you do take care around me (us)

    to the two men in THAT white van – you are small minded ***** – shame on you.

  34. Russell 12/10/2010 at 10:51 am #

    God I’m such a sheep! I agree with the majority, it *is* only the idiots you notice and most drivers are pretty cool; bus drivers are probably the best, taxis are almost equally good and as I say, most drivers do give me space and generally get on with things without fuss on my journey (Mortlake to Oxford Circus via Kensington High Street).

    I always wave or give a thumbs up when people let me out, which I hope goes some way to encourage repeat kindness on their behalf.

  35. Steve 12/10/2010 at 9:15 pm #

    I’ve had a few near misses on London’s roads, but mostly drivers are pretty careful.

    We have to make sure they can see us… always. Dark clothes, no lights etc don’t help. Drivers are not always thinking about cyclists, so we have make sure we get their attention.

    Most of us are drivers too, I expect… so we know how invisible cyclists can be in certain situations.

  36. Fritz 13/10/2010 at 9:59 am #

    In my experience Cabbies tend to be the worse, especially in the West End. And I also agree with the guy who said the following…

    ”People on Scooters with L signs and MOMO design helmets … that is another story”

    Amen to that!.

  37. Pete 13/10/2010 at 2:04 pm #

    I noticed on the previous discussion on the worst drivers that Addison Lee were getting a lot of people votes.

    I asked my friend who is a mini-cab driver about this and he said it was down to the fact that a lot of them are fairly new to cab driving and they all rely heavily on their sat-navs (anyone who has taken one of their cabs will know that is true).

    For that reason they are often in the wrong lane or suddenly find themselves having to turn off resulting in them cutting people up or having to shoot away from junctions across lanes etc.

    Made sense to me.

    • Tony 19/10/2010 at 12:50 pm #

      So their excuse is just that they are incompetent? Not mush of one!

  38. Tom 15/10/2010 at 10:04 am #

    Black Cab drivers are the most courteous drivers in London? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Are we talking about the same city here? I have had numerous run ins with black cab drivers, the worst of which was being driven into in a cycling lane by a black cab driver. When I asked him politely why he had just done that, he told me to f*** off.

    They are in my opinion one of the worst drivers in London. They criticise everyone else for breaking the rules yet break every rule in the book themselves by doing u-turns wherever, parking on double yellows etc etc.

    I have written to the hackney carriage office and was told that they have no power to act against their drivers.

    Black cab drivers – the worst drivers ever. Period.

  39. Steff Davies 20/10/2010 at 5:43 pm #

    What Tom said, as far as black cabs go. The best drivers, in general, are the double-decker/bendy bus ones. They get specific training in how to deal with cyclists, and while you still get the occasional impatient fool who wants to overtake to get to the bus stop twenty yards ahead, they’re getting rarer and rarer and most are distinctly saner than any other class of driver I can think of.

  40. David 30/10/2010 at 6:45 pm #

    I agree that bus drivers are often surprisingly careful around bikes.

  41. Iain 05/11/2010 at 10:40 am #

    Have to say Having ridden into central london from Redhill twice last week, London drivers are much better than those in Surrey – I didn’t fear for my life once! A commuting style run in early on Wednesday (at Westminster for 0800), lunch ride home, lunch ride in on Friday and home at 1600, on all runs motorists in general gave me room, let me change lanes when I needed to pass stationary vehicles (or had got myself in the wrong lane) Overtaking drivers giving room, or just keeping pace behind knowing they won’t get far anyway. (I was amazed how long I was running with the same cars on the lunchtime rides – most of CS7!) Even the evening rush ride wasn’t too bad, Mitcham wasn’t great, but a single lane is always going to be a bottleneck. There were moments when filtering that the motorists even moved over to create more space. The biggest problem i had was some of the roads, well the holes in them!) Also why do pedestrians walk along cycle lanes (Hyde park and the blue ribbon of CS7 at the university) and seem so surprised to meet a bike… The only real problem was that I broke a spoke on Friday, didn’t really notice until I got to a long downhill and didn’t need to brake to control the speed… Felt that on the next climb too!

    Hmm, perhaps I should set up a little business taking city cyclists for a daredevil ride around Surrey’s rural roads where near misses are commonplace!

  42. Gareth 04/08/2012 at 1:26 pm #

    People in smaller cars – they have more of a sense of the people around them and so tend to be more courteous. People in those stupid big shiny American things with daft names like Tourane and Cheyenne have so much space around them inside their ludicrous cars that they have no sense of who’s around them. Smaller still – the motorcyclists and scooters – and the rules change again. They’re deeply selfish and have got worse since they started behaving as if they own the bus lanes – and clearly believe that being allowed into bus lanes means they’re also allowed into cycle lanes and advanced stop zones. Grrrr. Bus drivers are usually OK although I’ve been shouted at unreasonably by a couple recently, so those two can sod off!

    Sorry – that was mostly about discourteous in the end, wasn’t it!!

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