Wednesday 29 December 2010

20 cm: The Conclusion

The 1st of March 2010 was just another day cycling to work. It should have been a fairly short journey. However, the journey only started that day and only now has it reached a conclusion. On that journey I came within centimeters of loosing my life.....

20 centimeters.

Just before Christmas I finally found out why the driver in the above clip will not face prosecution, and it is definitely the end of the road for this incident.

After chasing, and chasing and chasing the Procurator Fiscal, on the 1st December I received a letter informing me that the case was not going to be prosecuted due to 'Insufficient Evidence'. Specifically the evidence lacking was the proof of who was driving the HGV. This seemed rather strange to me, as at the time of the incident the driver was questioned, admitted driving the HGV and was charged with dangerous driving. How could this be?

It turns out (following a long conversation with the PF office) that I am in fact a victim of a Supreme Court ruling from October this year.

In short the ruling means that the old practice in Scotland of interviewing a suspect without asking a suspect if they want a lawyer present was now unlawful. This ruling was also retrospective. It turns out that the HGV driver in this case was, you guessed it, interviewed in this way. Thus the interview was inadmissible in court, as was any admission of driving the HGV.

Of course there is more than one way to prove who was driving the HGV on that day, tachograph records, company records etc, but this wasn't investigated by the police so there is no corroborating evidence of who was driving the HGV.

The law is certainly in this instance an ass.

What did transpire during my conversation with the PF was that my video evidence in itself did not constitute corroborating evidence to my own statement. Thus, as it stood my testimony and the video evidence were not enough to convict. However, there was a simple way around that. If the case did come to court, the video evidence would be shown with 'in court' comments from an expert witness, i.e. a traffic officer. Any comments that the officer made about the video, i.e. 'driving of that standard would be considered dangerous driving, in my view' would provide the required corroboration.

So from an evidential point of view helmet camera evidence is admissible and useful in court.

So, whilst I am annoyed that this particular case cannot proceed any further, I am happy in the knowledge that should something like this happen again (hopefully not!) that my helmet camera evidence will be invaluable.

I'll keep on filming......

One of Those Days

First off Happy Christmas!

Today was the first day back on the bike after Christmas. In fact it was a rare outing on the bike! The weather over the last month has kept me off it.

I was looking forward to getting back on the bike, but it was last night when I readied the bike for commuting again that things started going wrong. Here is the list:

1) Back rim is worn down, and due to salt the spokes are stuck fast. New rear wheel needed

2) Replacement chain purchased and fitted, however on todays commute in the chain kept slipping. Only some gears were usable. New cassette needed!

3) One of my front lights is now only working intermittently (B&M Ixon IQ). New front light needed!

4) During the holidays I've lost my new DHB cycling gloves! New gloves needed!

5) My helmet camera recorder doesn't see all of the space on the flash card it uses. Hopefully a new recorder isn't needed!!!! (Hopefully a format will sort it!)

All this at a time when money is tight. Smiley

Oh well, at least it is cheaper than a car.....Smiley

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Red Mist

I am angry today. Why? I am angry after having read this.

This is a typical Red Mist incident and and I am sick of it.

Red mist is not an acceptable justification for endangering someones life. There is no situation whatsoever where I would ever use my car in a manner that would intentionally endanger any other road user. Why? Because I have learned to control my impulses, as is required in a functional society.

If someone through red mist decides to swerve their car at me, then this person deserves to be punished fully for their actions. No question. The caution given to the driver of the above incident is not sufficient punishment.

I am sick of the attitude that some road users have. Just yesterday I came upon a a section of road that was slushy. There was a cycle lane at the side, but not only is it in the car door zone, but it had significantly more accumulation of snow/ice and slush in it. A car (4x4) sits right on my rear wheel (red light up ahead). I signal to pull back. They do slightly, but not much. We stop at the lights and the 'lady' (nicely attired, probably in a good job, has a family etc) winds down her window:

Me: You were too close to me, especially considering the conditions (slushy and -6C)

Driver: You should have been in your 'wee cycle lane'

Me: This is my lane right here.

Driver: No you should have been over there.

Me: It's full of snow and ice, it is too dangerous to cycle in.

Driver: I don't care.

Me: So I should endanger myself by cycling in that lane for your convenience?

Driver: Yes. It's your problem not mine.

Then the lights changed.

This lady was not joking. She was deadly serious.

I am sick of this attitude and I really am not willing to stand for it any longer. This is exactly why we need enforcement. Yes we need the carrot as well, but right now the stick is not big enough.


Thursday 2 December 2010

20 cm from Death

I had an incident when cycling on the 1st March 2010 which I didn't post here on my blog.

Here is my initial reaction to the incident which I posted on Cyclechat a few hours afterwards (including the original typos).

I'm still a bit shaken. This morning I was entering a roundabout at about 15 mph. Nothing else was on the roundabout at the time. I am going straight on. On the next entrance to the roundabout a HGV (oil tanker) is approaching. We make eye contact and he starts slowing. The next thing I know he is entering the roundabout and he is turning right (cutting straight across me). I can't go ahead of him, I can't go behind him. I brake hard, and my back wheel looses grip (sub zero this morning). I manage to stay upright (thank God!) and stop just short of him. He continues to tun and due to his size his rear wheels get closer and closer to me. The pass less than 20cm from me and my bike. He disappears off leaving me stood in the middle of the roundabout in complete shock.

When I get to the meeting I was going to they commented that I looked white.

So I'm just having something to eat, I'll be phoning the police (I have the reg but no markings on the tanker) and then I'll get the video up.

I honestly thought my time was up.

Days before this, I had upgraded my brake pads. I know for a fact if I had not I would have been 1m further along the road.....

It was a serious incident, one which I took straight to the police. After a little 'encouragement' from myself they were happy to charge the driver with Dangerous Driving. In Scotland this means the case is referred to the Procurator Fiscal (PF) who decide on what action to take, i.e. to take it to court or to drop the charges.

It has taken a good few months to find out from the PF what has happened to my case (that's another story), however, yesterday I found out.

Insufficient evidence.

So what do you think?

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Why I Avoid the Edge

Over the last week or so I have had a few drivers behind me, tailgating me, gesticulating at me and occasionally swearing at me. I've not posted the videos as I don't always have time to post these low grade muppet videos. Also as they are often behind me, I don't catch much on video.

Why do they hate me so? Because I don't cycle right at the edge and hold them up for a few seconds here or there. So, I thought I'd put down in writing the many reasons that I don't conform to these 'drivers' wishes.

If I am not cycling over to the left of the lane it is because of:

Drains - They are slippery, and they have slots that wheels can catch in, leading to crashes.

Debris - Yes I can and do cycle through muck and debris, but at the edge of the road, it can hide potholes, be slippy, and can force a wheel off at a different angle leading to crashes and collisions.

Potholes - They tend to congregate at the edge of the road. Hit a deep one and your are off, even shallow ones can change a wheels direction leading to a collision with a car.

Wind - If it is windy, I can wobble due to crosswinds that can hit unexpectedly. Therefore, I sometimes need more room to deal with this.

Narrow Road - If the road is narrow then there is not enough space for a car to overtake safely without crossing the central line, even if I am over to the left (3ft is a minimal distance from cyclist to car as due to above issues I might wobble). If i do cycle over to the left, some motorists see this as an invitation to squeeze past far to close. Therefore, I take a central position to encourage you only to overtake when it is safe to cross the white line and give me room.

Parked cars - I'm cycling along at 20mph close to a parked car, it's door opens, boom, next thing I know I am knocked onto the road and into the middle of the lane. As you were too close behind me, you ran straight over me and my bike. I am dead. This is not hypothetical, it has and does happen. A colleague of mine had a friend who died in exactly this manner. 3 door cars have doors that open surprisingly wide.

Junctions - At junctions, people do stupid things. They pull out when they shouldn't. If I am cycling at the left, I am less likely to be seen, and so these 'pull outs' are more likely. Also if I am at the side of the road, I am closer to the junction (coming from the left) and thus when the car does decide to pull out, I have less time to react than if I was more central.

Pedestrians - They have a habit of stepping out onto the side of the road.

Left hooks - On approach to a junction on the left, cars behind me see me as a challenge. 'I can get past that cyclist and turn into that junction no problem'. No you can't. Often the cyclist has to brake hard to avoid the car turning right in front of them. To prevent this, I will cycle in a position that discourages this type of overtake, i.e. not on the left.

Railings - Where there are railings at the side of the road the worst thing that could happen is for a car to pass close forcing the cyclist into the railings. So I will cycle away from the left to avoid that situation.

Light controlled junctions - Many drivers like to think of these as a racing grid, and to speed away. Who cares about the cyclist, I can squeeze past. Not if I am away from the edge you can't.

Fast moving dual-carriageway - If I am over on the left cars will pass close and fast. Very dangerous. So I ride out from the left. Anyway there is a second lane to move over into and overtake safely.

Combination of all of the above - Imagine I am on a fast moving dual carriageway with a junction on the left, with railings on the pavement, a few potholes and debris at the edge of the road, some drains and it is windy. Where do you think I should be?

So there are plenty of reasons for not being on the left. So please do not drive 20cm from my back tyre, shout or swear. I am not trying to hold you up, and I am just trying to get to work/ get home safely. You'll find your BP will be lower and that you will still join the queue up ahead before it moves past the lights onto the next queue beyond.

Thank you.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Mad to Cycle or Mad to Drive?

I've posted a filtering video before on this stretch of road.

It isn't as bad as that every day, but it's not unusual during school term. However, today was even worse. In 2.3 miles I must have passed multiple hundreds of cars (over 500 I reckon, does anyone want to count?)

Madness. Yet, despite all of this it is the cyclists who are often portrayed as being mad. How often have we heard people say to us, ' must be mad to cycle...'. No. You are mad to drive!

What I find most bewildering is that the road comes from the affluent suburbs of Glasgow (I live in a slightly poorer village!). People pay a premium to live in areas where they have to sit in traffic like that day in day out. Marvelous! :biggrin:

So when will it dawn on these drivers that driving just isn't worth it, that there has to be a better way? Of course, cycling won't suit everyone. I can't imagine my wife or myself cycling the kids 8 miles to the nursery on route to work! But for a large majority, it is a viable, faster, more enjoyable way of getting to work.

My favourite part of the video is at 1:06 where a woman who was at the bus stop accepts a lift from one of the drivers in the queue. maybe I should have offered her a backie! :biggrin:

Thursday 24 June 2010

Where have I been?

Yes, where have I been indeed! It's been a while since I've posted and I am sorry! I've been a wee bit busy lately. Moving house, having babies, doing work to the house, having babies that don't sleep, doing work on the house, even less sleep, holidays work etc, have all conspired against me!

Fear not, I am still pounding the streets between Torrance and Glasgow and loving every minute of it (ok nearly every minute of it!)

Due to all of the above my plans for my 190 mile ride are on hold this year. Pooh! However, I plan to do it next year and this gives me more time to extract sponsorship money!

So to set the ball rolling again, here are two of my recent clips one a wee update clip of the rural part of my commute, now with added sunshine, and my personal favourite filtering video!

Monday 1 February 2010

If Carlsberg made commutes...

The new commute is great. Certainly. However, it isn't perfect. The rural part of it takes in a buy A road whic, in places has limited space for overtaking. The vast majority of drivers are great at giving me room and overtaking when safe to do so, but you do get the odd idiot like this chap.

So today I thought I thought I would try something new. A slightly different route which avoided the problematic A road.


Longer by 1.5 miles (is this actually a downside?!)
Hillier (again, is this really a downside!)
There is a Ford (it's little and I can always lift my legs up and shout weeeeeeee!)
Pothole-ier (this is the onl real downside)


Hardly any cars
Even more rural
More fluffy animals
Great views
Hardly any cars
It'll get me fitter
Some nice downhills
Hardly any cars

So today I tried it. It was one of those days that cylists love. Slightly crisp, frosty, but little ice and hardly any wind. Here is the result

Now ask yourself this.... would you rather drive or cycle?