What to do when you encounter behaviour like this on the road

A few seconds into the above video we hear:

“Get in the f***** cycle lane you t***”

Charming. The video by Cycle Gaz paints a fairly bleak image of cycling in London. Fortunately, this isn’t representative of all cycle journeys in London.

But how should you respond in situations such as this?

taxi-driver-swearing

Being sworn at for not being in the cycle lane

As a cyclist Gaz has every right to be cycling where he is. It can often be more dangerous to be in the cycle lane. As the taxi driver was driving dangerously close, at least as a cyclist you would be able to swerve into the cycle lane if you felt in danger. Whereas if you were already glued to the kerb you’d have nowhere to move.

car-pulling-in-frontDrivers ignoring your right of way

This is a common occurrence, especially during rush hour when the world famous English queuing patience evaporates into the smoggy London air.

There’s little you can do here other than keep an eye out for vehicles that look like they are going to make a move. Having your wits about you, as Boris raves about, is crucial.

superdrug-truck

Vehicles pulling into your lane too soon

Later on in the video we can see a Superdrug truck pulling into Gaz’s lane. This is a hair raising experience for even the most seasoned cyclists amongst us.

Once again Gaz’s road position away from the kerb is what protects him. Not only will the lorry driver have had more of a chance of spotting Gaz but Gaz also has the ability to move to the left if the truck is coming too close. In a situation like this you should be glancing behind your shoulder so you are not surprised when a huge lorries pulls up. Gaz could also contact the company to complain of bad driving. His comments should be taken seriously but in reality that isn’t always the case.

See also: Helmet camera reviews

Irrate taxi driver pointingDangerous cab driving

Later on in the video we see Gaz pulling up at a traffic light and a taxi driver squeezing past two cyclists.

There’s an altercation and Gaz promises to report the driver to the Public Carriage Office. It helps with these reports to have evidence such as video and ideally an independent witness.

in-correct-laneGetting beeped by drivers for being in a safe position

Time and time again in the video we see drivers who expect a cyclist to be glued to the kerb. There’s a clip where a car beeps at the cyclist and points towards the cycle lane. Another shows a cab driver complaining that Gaz touched his cab and stating “I was nowhere near you”. When Gaz casually explains how else could he have touched the cab, the logical argument is lost in a sea of abusive shouting.

In situations like this you need to stand firm in your road position. It is dangerous to be pedalling too near the kerb and many drivers unfortunately are unaware of this.

If the situation becomes intimidating then it is often better to stand down and take action later by reporting the driver.

See also: How to get the ultimate revenge on bad drivers

Join 9,241 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

173 Responses to What to do when you encounter behaviour like this on the road

  1. Eric 19/12/2011 at 12:05 am #

    As a Londoner I am aware that Londoners are in general an impatient, stressed and distracted bunch which leads to less than optimal behaviour on our roads and pavements. They walk, run, cycle and drive wearing headphones while talking or texting on their phones posing a danger to themselves and others. Add to this the number of people driving illegally without a license or insurance and its no surprise that dangerous situations arise.

    As a cyclist I don’t see the argument as one of good cyclist against bad drivers but more about considerate road users against inconsiderate ones which applies to both drivers and cyclists. Cyclists inevitably are the ones who end up with the injuries but its probably partially their own fault a fair portion the time.

    In the video it does appear that Cycle Gaz is being being dealt with harshly and I have found myself in the same position but on reflection I don’t think we get the full picture in all the cases. Maybe its just the camera position on his helmet but on several occasions it looks like he is cycling in the middle of the traffic lane, which he maybe legally entitled to do, but it is always going to be received poorly by motorists (its like when you are in a hurry on the tube and someone stands on the left on the escalator). I do believe in defensive cycling but I think you can take it too far by cycling out in the middle of the lane which means when a car does try to overtake they have less room to give you or the driver gets frustrated and deliberately cuts you up in revenge.

    Education will help to an extent but until considerate behaviour is conditioned into the British psyche the best way to keep safe cycling in London is to assume everyone around you is a potential life threatening idiot and expect them to do the thing you least want them to do.

    I worked in Munich for a while where the motorists appeared overly courteous to cyclist which I think comes from the way their law views accidents involving cyclists. However, the German psyche is much more about doing things properly. Also, Munich has the space for good segregated cycle lanes and is far less stressful a city to live in than London.

  2. Rhys White 06/01/2012 at 11:41 am #

    I live in North London and go outwards and I see this each day – bin lorries & buses pulling out on me, cars cutting me up.

    The only way forward appears to be police and driver education – When a police car passed me without indicating and over a solid white line and with one headlight out the other evening I knew the cause would be a difficult one!

    When I can I report the worst and most danagerous to http://www.stop-smidsy.org.uk

  3. Stephen Hill 09/02/2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Typical cyclist not being responsible for his own safety he does not slow down or approach hazards with caution.Expect someone to pull out in front of you or not look correctly. Better to give way when in the right than get injured.
    This cyclist appears to have a very aggressive nature not conducive with using the public highway.Before any one attacks my comments I cycle motorcycle and drive and also drive for a living.
    Look after your own safety first and treat everything as a hazard then you may even enjoy the journey.

    Steve Hill

    • London2wheeler 09/02/2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Totally agree with this comment. “defensive cycling is always the best way to stay safe”. END OF CONVERSATION!!

    • Dave Sewell 10/02/2012 at 8:49 am #

      Steve I agree 100% with you. Gaz, the author is a very aggressive individual who looks for trouble on the roads. Everything he does is because he can and not because he should.

  4. Ricky 15/03/2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I only started (tri-)cycling in London this year, having been put off for too long by the accidents I saw every week on my walk home from work. Mostly I have been pleasantly surprised by the behaviour of people on the road. A couple of van drivers have even been helpful (yes! I know!) when I have pedaled off with my bag hanging open or some other daftness on my part. What I have noticed is…

    … all types of road user seem to be as bad as the others.

    Pedestrians often do just walk out in to the road without looking
    Drivers of cars and vans do sometimes cut you up or beep at you for no discernible reason
    Cyclist often run lights (I don’t mind so much at some junctions but, honestly, guys! (usually is guys) shooting the lights at crossroads is just dumb and dangerous for everyone)
    Motorcyclists usually seem to have no idea what they are doing, where they are going or how fast they are travelling.

    The rudest – other cyclists, motorcyclists and moped riders. One guy even drove straight into my arm as I signaled right (my arm had been stuck out for a while)… then he got angry with me. Why?

    For all this, the one thing I wish would be….

    Please CALM THE F*** DOWN!!! Seriously, it’s like a second or two in your life. Who cares? Stop getting angry with everyone else. If someone shouts at you, give them a smile and a friendly wave. Blow them kisses. Tell them you love them. Don’t get drawn in to their weird world of anger and hate. If they attack you, fair enough, call the police. Otherwise, stop picking fights with everyone: it really doesn’t help.

  5. Tim Osborn 23/06/2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Interesting to watch this, as a regular commuting cyclist I found myself siding with the car driver on a few occasions. I’m sure on one of the clips there was a full cycle lane on the left of the shot and the cyclist was riding in the middle of the lane.

    If I was driving i’d be frustrated. If I was a cyclist, i’d be scared of being hit by a door, falling down a pothole, etc.

    I agree that cyclists need to be respected on the road, but have found that riding in a chilled out way and clearly looking and signalling my intentions when I do need to move out or pass other vehicles works for me. Other drivers (including cabs) are very cautious and often (e.g. Aldwych merging into oncoming traffic) cars actually stop and wait for me to join the traffic!

    I won’t be wearing a helmet cam or slapping other peoples cars unless something really bad happens. It’s just not worth it.

  6. Schrödinger's Cat 17/07/2012 at 1:58 am #

    Can we force John Franklin and his army of VC evangelists to watch this on a loop until they realise why almost nobody in the UK rides a bike any more?

    Dutch people viewing that video must feel like they’re watching Neanderthals fight over scraps of meat or something.

  7. Steve Hill 17/07/2012 at 8:55 pm #

    Having watched this video the one thing I notice above is the cyclists lack off defensive riding skills. At no point does he slow down to protect himself.
    He then becomes very aggressive this is not the way to conduct yourself on the public highway.
    I ride motorcycles and were I to ride with that attitude I would end up in A and E very quickly.
    Yes it annoys me when other road users do not look correctly or do not care BUT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT MYSELF AS IT IS FOR ANY RESPONSIBLE ROAD USER.
    Better to give way and enjoy your day than end lying in an hospital bed saying I was in the right you know.
    I think cyclists should stop complaining about other road user and ride defensively and calmly you never know it might rub off on other road users. If not at least you will get to your destination relaxed and in one piece.
    Do as I do treat all road users as an hazard it works and I enjoy my ride whether it be for commuting or pleasure.
    Try it you might like it.
    Safe cycling and best wishes STEVE

    • Gaz 17/07/2012 at 9:07 pm #

      Try to understand how a wide angle lens works, then you will understand that it is near impossible judge the speed at which a vehicle is slowing down from a video.
      Take for example this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1y41At_m9o where it looks like I accelerate when the taxi is along side me. When in actual fact, that is not the case.

  8. Rhys White 17/07/2012 at 10:39 pm #

    I agree with Steve Hill and a couple of the guys on here.

    I understand how a wide angle lens works (well I hope I do being having a Photography major and being a product developer in electronics – yes it can distort the image but unlikely to distort impression of speed – the only thing which would perhaps do this is interpolation if the lens is very wide angle and the image has been artificially flattened)

    As well as being a cyclist and a driver with advanced driver training. On a couple of them when vans cross the path into side roads although it not correct it is also common and the cyclist may just have to slow down – the same as a car driver would.

    At times I get annoyed at drivers, but violence or shouting doesn’t help, it puts you in a worse mood and probably makes a situation which was a close call into worse as for violence – if I for some reason got too close to a car I really wouldn’t want the guy to reach out and slap my frame or wheels

    Respect the cars … they are a tonne of metal … if they move in front of you then unfortunately it’s often you who has to take the avoiding action, in many of these videos you only stop to get annoyed.

    Sorry Gaz to criticise another cyclist, but I don’t want to come across a bus driver just after he’s accidently or on purpose cut you up because he’s probably going to take it out on me!

    Remember why we cycle … cos we love it … if a driver is a prat, allow him to be and pray seriously pray we won’t be hurt.

    • Gaz 17/07/2012 at 10:57 pm #

      Dont apologise for criticising me Rhys, I welcome it (as long as it has a good base and not just “GET ON THE PAVEMENT!!”). I’m criticising others in my videos and I do so to other cyclists, none of us are perfect but I am in a position to learn from my mistakes and get advise from others.

      I made this video a while back so I would like to think that I have learnt from a few of those and can read the road better now.

      I would suggest you watch the video I linked to in my reply above, it is quite interesting to see just how quickly I slowed down in one clip, but the impression you get from the video is that I barely did.

  9. Steve Hill 18/07/2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Hi I agree with Rhys White completely let them go treat them as though they are trying to kill you and pass them at the next traffic hold up.
    I understand some drivers actions are very frustrating but it is better to stay calm I have learnt to and it as improved my observational skills ten fold.
    Enjoy your cycling and stay calm and safe.

    Best wishes

    Steve Hill

  10. Rob Elliott 09/08/2012 at 6:55 pm #

    It’s a shame to admit, that this sort of driving happens even down in the Westcountry!

    Granted, I’m a heavyset fella, and have not long rekindled my love affair of cycling, but the lack of cycle lanes in Plymouth, along with the ignorant drivers infuriates me.

    I’ve cycled to work twice this week, and the cycle to work has nearly had me off the bike once already, and I did get rather vocal with a rather idiotic van driver, who decided to cut a corner, block my exit and even force the car behind me to reverse.

    I’d like to ask though, Gaz, what horn do you have for your bike? As that would certainly be handy when out and about.

    I do intend on getting myself a helmet cam too, as I feel the Police and local Council should be aware that the lack of cycle paths, forces cyclists onto the roads more often than not.

    What infuriates me more, is the fact that we have quite a lot of wide paths, yet no designated cycle lane, and where we do, people meander in them with no regards to the cyclists actually using them.

    Ah, we can but dream.

    • Gaz 09/08/2012 at 11:00 pm #

      The horn is an Airzound.

      Don’t need to tell me about Plymouth, lived there for 3 years. I think cycling in London is better than cycling in Plymouth.

    • Phil Russell 10/08/2012 at 1:52 pm #

      Rob E.—-you might forward that to your local Borough Council, if you haven’t already.
      P.R.

  11. Rob Elliott 10/08/2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Cheers Gaz!

    Seen a few cheapo ones, but your’s seemed quite loud, so would give drivers a good kick.

    As for riding in Plymouth, it’s a nightmare! There’s so much potential, but it’s all wasted.
    I actually miss riding in Belfast!

    PR, PCC is useless. I’ve had markings on my road since April, to re-surface, and it’s now August.
    I doubt they’ll ever pull their fingers out, which is unfortunate. When you think they’re pulling their fingers out, they balls it up.

    • edel 04/01/2013 at 4:27 pm #

      “Being sworn at for not being in the cycle lane” – If you do leave the cycle lane, respect other road users and adhere to the highway code. If you don’t know about it, that may explain why you are ‘Being sworn at for not being in the cycle lane’. Not rocket science really.

      “Drivers ignoring your right of way” – Keep your eyes and ears wide open. Nothing you can do about this really until as a collective bunch of road cycle users you get the respect from the bigger road users. How? Adhere to the highway code, respect the other road users, give way when you are supposed to and – here is the best bit – they will follow suit. Motorcycles don’t help, as their riders behave as though they have the right of way and everything, including cars unable to move forward, backwards or to either side are also in their way and should crash into other road users to let them past. These are the arse holes. Excuse the French.

      “Vehicles pulling into your lane too soon” – Yup, education is what they need. In fact let educate everyone at the same time and start with the Government. The clue is in the title – to Govern – anyhow… Lorries should not be allowed on London Roads between 8a.m. and 9p.m. – that should help reduced the incidents by 100%
      …as for white van drivers, they shouldn’t be allowed on London road at all. Bigger mirrors and compulsory distance sensors on smaller lorries would be a God send.

      “Dangerous cab driving” – it is all part of their training. Bicycle lanes should not cover the entire lane area in front of traffic lights. Who ever though of that idea teamed with the reduced lights timings should be shoot, brought back to life and then shoot again. It is a stupid idea and only serves to create road rage and road tension between all road users. Thus creating an even more dangerous environment for cyclists.

      “Getting beeped by drivers for being in a safe position” – Okay this one is tricky.
      1. Are you actually being warned by the driver that they are going to over take?
      2. Are you actually in a safe place? Have you done your cycling proficiency test and know your highway code?
      Yes, there are those that do that, but on the plus rather a honk before a stupid maneuver than simply the stupid maneuver. ;-)

      • Gaz 04/01/2013 at 11:32 pm #

        Care to expand on this, specifically adhering to the highway code, what things should we adhering to?
        ” If you do leave the cycle lane, respect other road users and adhere to the highway code. If you don’t know about it, that may explain why you are ‘Being sworn at for not being in the cycle lane’. Not rocket science really.”

        • Phil Russell 05/01/2013 at 4:04 am #

          Yes…what is “edel” saying? He seems to think we should all stay in the cycle-lanes, which is clearly twaddle.
          P.R.

  12. Stephen John Hill 06/01/2013 at 12:06 am #

    I read again the constant complaining from cyclists yes we all know a large number of road users are a pain but as human beings we are responsible for our own safety ride defensivley give way even if you are in the right better to give way than end up in hospital.Be aware plan ahead slow down if neccessary.DO NOT ASSUME THE OTHER ROAD USER AS SEEN YOU and do not show aggression this will only inflame the situation.If you show courtesy to other road users sooner or later they will give it back.Remember as a two wheel road user you will always pass them at the next traffic jam.
    I also take offence at Edel’s comment on motorcyclists we do not believe the road is our domain but we ride with forward planning yes some are idiots just the same as cyclists and other road users. Stop complaining and ride safely and courtesly and go home knowing you have behaved in a proper manner and uninjured or stressed.

  13. Bicycle Interests 20/03/2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Video is private, can you make it public again?

  14. edel 04/10/2013 at 10:36 am #

    Stephen John Hill – “we do not believe the road is our domain” – as a cyclist, cycling that is a perspective I feel you reconsider. You may not, others however… tut tut. Get off your bike and stand by the road side and watch the behaviour of “some” perhaps even “many” of the cyclist.

    “ride with forward planning” – Yes absolutely. Drivers should do the same, but consideration and not personal opportunity of road advancement and gain, but safety should be paramount.

    “yes some are idiots just the same as cyclists and other road users” – I completely agree with you.

    http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/how-to-report-bad-drivers/ – how to report bad drivers. REALLY! How do good drivers report BAD cyclist. Hang on here. I sense tension. Who is policing who and under what right or regulation. Simple respect for other users of the road I am sure will resolve all problems. You are cycling to point B. Focus on that, cycle safely. Be aware of drivers, motorcyclist, vans and lorries and arrive in one piece and calm.

  15. Edel 20/11/2013 at 3:46 pm #

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25007830

    In response to the video link uploaded by Gaz

    …shows a number of poor experiences on the road. A few are questionable as to who is right, but what I will give you is the fact that most of the drivers here are exercising a very poor judgement of the cyclists speed and required distance.

    Cutting in front of the cyclist. Um. Interesting because this is a new “Drivers” trend. I think they are trying to illustrate to the cyclist how they feel when the cyclist cuts in front of them. I have had bike (motor and pedal) do that to me too many times and gashing my car. Not pleasant and they just ride off. A number of bad eggs have done a lot of damage.

    The general cerb /parked car distance to me seems bang on. Not too close, not too far and enough to maintain a presence on the road so you have that essential require safety space.

    ..around 4:32 into the video should be reported to the police. I am obviously not sure what happened before that incident, easy to make a judgement base on a snippet clip, but those lines should never be cross. I stick to the law of the road and if everybody did then the whole place would be safer!

    NEVER touch, poke, kick, bang another vehicle. You have NO right. If they did that to your bike you would not be happy. Works both ways, communicate better. Not with rage. When I am on my bike, that is exactly what I do, establish eye contact shake my head & /or wriggle my finger. Rage educates and helps no one. Everyone is stressed at the moment, adding fire to a fire does not help putting it out.

    Post the entire clips of pre, during and post action. That is a whole perspective – but of course not the whole picture. – Then and only then can a fair opinion be formed.

    & I Would consider your language too. There are children on the streets too.

    • Mark 20/11/2013 at 6:55 pm #

      always bang on a vehicle when it comes dangerous close and the vehicle driver may not hear your voice (drowned out by the noise of traffic).
      banging on the vehicle is communicating that it is SOOOO close it is nearly killing you!

      • Alehouse Rock 22/11/2013 at 12:31 am #

        [[[ MARK—-Edel’s long-winded missives are 50% twaddle, and 50% statements of the bleedin’ obvious. But he’s right to say DON’T bang on the bodywork of vehicles. Many drivers regard their cars as extensions of their living rooms, complete with toys, gadgets, and as many distractions as they can cram on board

        When these clowns scrape past, dangerously close to your right elbow, I find it best to BELLOW AT THEM AT THE TOP OF YOUR VOICE, which alerts them, but also embarrasses them. Nobody likes being publicly told off, and errant drivers don’t expect that from a mere cyclist. But really, for “EDEL” to bleat about “more respect from all road-users is the only way”……is he five years old?

  16. Edel 22/11/2013 at 9:19 am #

    Alehouse Rock – I can assure you if you think I am five and cycling on the streets of London and still alive to respond to your comments I wonder about the World inside your head.

    Anyhow, I have been cycling on London’s Roads for over 25 years, cycle occasionally in Germany and speak from my observations about road etiquette seen there. There are rules and drivers stick to it and cyclists stick to it. No road rage, no issues and no problems and no deaths. Other things I have noted about the cyclist culture in Germany – there is no banging on cars, no shouting, no cutting each other up, no bike weaving in and out of traffic, no cycle boxes in front of traffic lights.

    On the up side, thank you for noticing my “50% statements of the bleedin’ obvious” – Obvious to you perhaps, but not to most of the cyclists out there I fear. You cannot measure the road safety intelligence of others by your own knowledge and measuring stick.

  17. Stephen John Hill 22/11/2013 at 11:21 am #

    I have commented on this before but in the light of the recent deaths in London I think it is time to take action I know not all cyclists are bad but neither are all vehicle drivers.
    What we have is a culture in this country where an individuals safety is someone elses responsibility. This needs to stop we as individuals need to take responsibility for our own safety.
    Do not place yourself in a position of danger even when you have right of way back off better to back off than find yourself in a hospital bed saying I was in the right.
    Do not under any circumstance pass traffic stationary or otherwise on the left this practice will only end badly.When filtering on the right do not assume that driver of the vehicle you are about to pass as seen you modern cars have horrendous blind spots.
    Ride in the knowledge no one can see you or they are tying to kill you and you will survive this is something I have been doing for the last 45 years and so far it as worked.
    This next statement I know while create some contraversey but I feel that all cyclists should have to pass the equivalent of a motorcycle CBT before being allowed on the road if you wish to ride a moped which is no faster then a decent cycle and rider you have to pass the CBT but anyone can just jump on a cycle and go and mix it with modern traffic in my opinion a recipe for disaster.
    Ride safe, give way, stay safe after all you will arrive there before most car drivers in todays congested traffic but above all you will arrive in one piece.

    Steve Hill

  18. Mark 22/11/2013 at 1:15 pm #

    i still say, if a car is edging u off the road, squeezing u into a bad position, and putting your life at danger, and u r unsure if shouting will work then banging on it will certainly communicate to them u r scared for ur life n they r too close. ive only ever done it once before tho, and dont advocate doing it on a regular basis, only when in extreme circumstances

  19. Edel 27/11/2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Stephen John Hill – …”something I have been doing for the last 45 years and so far it as worked.”

    It is the element of a fear factor that I translate has kept you alive. I cycle in exactly the same way & completely agree with all your comments.

    Mark – I can only recommend, if in doubt uses ones brakes. Use better judgement stay calm.

    Perhaps a list of cycle safety ideas could be pressed forward to the governing authorities regarding better action to enhance road safety for all. Schemes like Policing the road is a very short minded short term address: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25089161

    I feel solutions such as road separators could be key: http://www.solvinaward.com/sites/default/files/zicla_1_zebra.jpg

Leave a Reply