Thursday 31 March 2011

Very Close HGV- Complaint

 On the 24th March I unfortunately suffered the following incident

I believe I now know the company that owns the vehicle so I have written the following complaint. It should be noted that the company hasn't been confirmed, therefore, I have anonymised the letter to reflect this.

Dear Sir/madam,

I am unfortunately writing to you with a complaint about the driving of one of your HGV drivers.

I am a cyclist who cycle commutes 12 miles to and from work each day from Torrance to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. Normally I commute on quiet back roads as I don't like holding up traffic along Balmore Road at rush hour, however, on the occasion of the morning of 24th March, I had to use a short section of Balmore Road after having dropped my children of at their place of childcare. It was during my short time on this road at about 8:06am that I experienced some shocking driving from one of your drivers  (HGV with registration SF55AOC).

Having encountered a number of incidents in the past I have resorted to wearing a helmet camera to record such incidents. Therefore, I have footage of the incident that can be viewed here ( As you can see from the video a number of vehicles managed to pass me quite safely so there was no reason for the shockingly poor, very close pass by your vehicle, especially as there was no traffic coming in the other direction.

You will also note from the video that I was uncertain about the identity of the HGV operator. However, with help from others, and comparison of the sign on the side of the HGV and comparison with your xxx logo, I am fairly certain it is one of your vehicles. Could you please confirm this for me?

Obviously I would be keen for you to talk to the driver involved in this incident. I am not looking for anyone to loose their job, but I think it needs to be made VERY clear to the driver, and in fact all of your drivers that driving of this standard is not acceptable. Had there been a gust of wind, a pothole or something similar in the road at that point it would have been very easy for myself and the HGV to come into contact, with dire consequences.

I should point out, that in general HGV drivers are the best and most courteous on the road, as they should be, considering the danger such vehicles could pose. I am sure that the majority of your drivers drive to a very high standard.

I would be happy for you to use this footage to show your drivers the effects that driving of this standard can have on a cyclist, and in fact I am more than happy talk to your drivers personally about incidents like this. I have experience working with HGV/PCV companies in the past including First Glasgow as this Evening Times article demonstrates (

I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Yours Sincerely

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Magnatom in Bad Cycling Shocker!!!

NEWS JUST IN: It has been reported that Magnatom, a cyclist who our sources suggest thinks that he is perfect and beyond reproach, has been caught on video by another road user cycling in a dangerous and selfish manner.

Magnatom who normally cycles between Torrance and Glasgow has apparently been sneaking off to Springside, Ayrshire hoping to avoid the paparazzi (that continually follow and speed past him cycling on carbon fibre Bianchi bikes), to let his hair down and to flout the rules of the road.

Professor Von Driver from the Institute of Fast Acceleration STudies (FAST) suggests, 'Magnatom is obviously feeling the stress of being perfect all of the time and has decided to relieve the pressure by heading to the sticks, and you don't get more sticks than Ayrshire, and breaking a few rules'.

Von Driver having viewed the footage thinks, '..the publication of this footage will definitely erode any remaining credibility Magnatom had left after his sheep incident, meaning that he will surely take the car in future.....this will definitely make the roads safer for everyone else....I know I can sleep easier having this menace off the streets.'

We, here at The Daily Mind, can exclusively bring you the footage for you to make your own minds up.

The Daily Mind managed to catch up with Magnatom in his evil layer where he spends his time scheming up new ways of delaying drivers and knocking down little old ladies. Magnatom would not speak to us directly, which was just as well, considering he said he could speak Scots on his recently filled in census form. He did, however decided to give us the following statement written on the back of copy of Primary Position Weekly.

'I must admit, when I first viewed the footage myself I was concerned that I may have let my halo slip, the rider is certainly taking a primary position (on the right). However, look carefully at the footage. The cyclist in the video was holding a copy of The Sun, and possibly had an ice-cream in his other hand. That can't possibly be me, as I only read The Independent, and would be drinking a glass of Merlot, not eating ice cream.'

The Daily Mind remains unconvinced.

In related news go to page 8 to read our story about how wearing lycra can give you cancer....

Readers Comments Below.

Friday 25 March 2011

Close Passes and Abuse

I had an 'interesting' ride home the other evening. (I'd have posted this earlier had I not had editing problems!)

First I had a very, VERY close pass on a 40mph dual carriage way.

There was absolutely no need for that. I am of a mind to report it, but there is a lot of hassle in reporting incidents like that. You have to either visit the police, or have them visit you which is difficult when you are busy at work and at home.

Oh to have the Roadsafe system like they have in London.

I was in a rush to get home (parents evening at our oldests school), so further on in my commute I took the fast way home. The horrible A road I mentioned in a previous post. Last time I had an excellent overtake. This time I had exactly the same type of overtake in the same place. Again after I had thanked the driver. It does work, perhaps!

However, things went downhill from there. First there was another very close pass. This time by a driver in a company marked van. Not only that, when I caught up....guess what....yes, you've guessed it, he was on his mobile phone!! This one will get reported to his employer.

Then further down the road (there were road works) as I passed said roadworks, keeping up with traffic, I hear someone shouting:

Get off the f*cking road!

At the time I was travelling too fast to see who had shouted it, but looking back at the footage I can see it was one of the road workers! You can see him in this footage. Unfortunately the microphone didn't pick up the comment, so I can't prove anything (and that's why I've not posted the video).

So why did I have all these problems? My theory is that with the brighter evenings and improving weather, drivers feel a little more able to put their foot down a little bit, and feel aggrieved at anything pereceived to be holding them up.

Either that or they are just d*cks...... 

Tuesday 22 March 2011

The Power of Thank You

Yes, I've had a few runs in, in my time.
I've had the odd heated conversation with another road user.
I'm sure we all have.

What doesn't make the headlines of course, are the hundreds of nice interactions that we have with other road users. All the excellent overtakes, the drivers stopping to let us through a gap, the drivers keeping a good distance back etc.

Of course all of the above is how the roads should work.We shouldn't have to say thanks when a road user behaves around us. It should be the norm. However, it doesn't do any harm to spread some karma. To polish the cycling community halo (oh yes we have a nice shiny one!) for that extra bit of sparkle.

Make friends with other road users.

I do this, and have been doing it from the day I started cycling. I go out of my way to say thanks when I feel someone has been driving/cycling/walking/singing well whilst I am out on the bike. I do this because it's nice to do it, and because that person might be even nicer to the next cyclist they meet.

At the end of last week I had to work late and so was coming home in the dark. Wanting to get home quickly I take the not so nice, fast, narrow, country A road that I normally avoid. I avoid it because it is notorious for impatient drivers and dangerous overtakes.

On one particular stretch, on this occasion, I notice a driver has hung back and left me plenty of room. So approaching a roundabout I put my hand up to say thanks. It turns out the driver is going the same way as me, so they proceed to overtake.

I have never seen an overtake like it. See it for yourself here.

Did they overtake like this because they were busy fiddling with their SatNav? Did they forget they weren't on a dual carriage-way?

I'd like to think it was their way of acknowledging my thank you.

So maybe we should all aim to thank at least one other road user on every commute.

Spread the Joy of cycling! :-)

Monday 21 March 2011

The Biggest Threat to Recreational Cycling?

The majority of my cycling is my commute to and from work, about 23-25 miles a day. However, when I get the chance, which isn't often (3 young kids!) I also hit the tarmac (no-not like that!) for fun.Where I live in Torrance, I am surrounded by some amazing countryside and some very interesting cycling.

For any readers who are not cyclists, interesting cycling means hills. Believe it or not hills are what make cycling  fun! We all start out avoiding hills, but for some unfathomable reason you start to actively seek them out.....

So today, using up some annual leave that I would loose otherwise, I took the day off, with the intention of getting a few miles in. This is particularly important to me as I am supposed to be taking part in Sportive Kinross in a few weeks time.....the BLACK route! Eek! To keep my route interesting I headed over my old enemy, Crow Road (the one over the Campsies not the one in Anniesland!). I have some prior with this one.
It was during todays ride, which was bloomin' hard due to a very nasty head wind (good for my legs I suppose!), that I came across what I think is the greatest threat to recreational cycling in the UK.

The potholes/ruts/crevasses in this picture (just outside Fintry) were entirely typical of the road surface on long stretches of road. It was absolutely no fun, whatsoever cycling on roads like this. It really was so bad in places that you risk damaging your road bike, by riding it on the road. It would be better to cycle across the fields.

I've been cycling recreationally for a few years now, and I love it. I am hooked. There is nothing better than buzzing along a smooth road on a sportive, in a pack, or cruising along a deserted road with only the sound of the birds and flowing water. It really is special.

However, had I just started this year, and this had been my first ride, I might well have just packed it all in then and there. The state of the roads is very depressing. I'm not sure if I can take that route again. My severely vibrated hands couldn't take it!

So councils, I understand that the main roads are a priority, but if you value recreation at all, if you value the benefits of cycling on health and well being of the population and if you want to avoid getting sued to the hilt by a badly injured cyclist/motorbike rider, then sort these roads out.

Otherwise, a lot of new road riders might just stay sat in front of the TV instead and miss views like this I took on today's ride....

Oh, and  before anyone pipes up, cyclists do pay for upkeep of the roads but that's a whole different story.........

Friday 18 March 2011

I hit the Tarmac HARD!!


Have I said ouch?!

Two wheels have lots of advantages over four. However, there is one situation where four wheels (or three if you are a trike rider or drive a Robin Reliant!) are definitely better than two.


This morning it was cold, dry, and sunny, perfect weather for cycling. However, I was caught out this morning on a section of road approaching a Ford. I didn't think it was cold enough for ice there, but it appears that it was. The fact that it is quite a steep downhill, requiring judicious braking didn't help...

Ouch! (Have I said that yet?!). 

So what's the damage? 

Well most importantly the bike seems ok. Anything that is broken or hanging off, was broken or hanging off yesterday. A new hole has appeared in my jacket though!

As for me, well, I got a few scrapes and bruises. Here is a quick anatomy lesson...
 A Sore Thigh

 A Sore  Knee

 A Sore Elbow

Still, it could have been worse. Two and a half decades of judo have taught me how to fall. Mind you I did have mats to land on and not tarmac! 


Wednesday 16 March 2011

I Should be Dead by Now

It's true. Statistically I should be dead by now. In fact I should be dead a few times over.

Not directly from cycling of course. Cycling, according to research, extends your life by two years whilst making you look 10 years younger (which explains my boyish good looks!). So by cycling I am extending my life and my sex appeal. Hopefully my wife will agree.

So why should I be dead? 

Posting youtube videos of cycling incidents would appear to the culprit and should come with a health warning:

Being a Helmet Camera Cyclist Can Seriously End Your Life

So how does posting videos of incidents on the road reduce your life expectancy?

Some would suggest that it is because I take risks trying to get some worthy footage to post. Recklessly throwing myself under the wheels of HGVs, or endlessly cycling up and down a busy road in search of that elusive close pass.

It's not that either. Although I have had plenty of people suggest that that is what I do!

There is a much more direct threat to a Helmet Camera Cyclists life than that. Quite a shocking threat at that. The threat comes from the

Here are some examples (from my youtube account) of the power of the ITG:

...if it was me I would of run you over.

You're lucky, I would have run you over

if i was drivin that van i woulda smacked u with the door as i drove by

If there was a pothole i would have knocked you down it.


I receive messages like this, and worse, probably a couple of times a week. This is what confuses me. From the messages I receive on youtube, it would seem that about 1% of the population will run me over when they see me. Yet, I'm still here. 

How can I possibly still be alive if so many people are willing and able to run me over!?!

I can think of three possibilities. Either by some freak of statistics I have yet to come across the 1% of the population who are the real hard men and who really will run me over when they see me (or any other cyclist, probably), or it is possible that youtube is not entirely representative of a normal population (shock horror!), or

and this one REALLY is a long shot......

....perhaps as soon as the network cable is unplugged Internet Tough Guy has to return to being the sad, misunderstood loner, who probably can't even afford to buy a car, never mind actually be able to drive one.

I don't feel angry at them,  I feel sorry for them. 

Come here and give me a great big hug......

Monday 14 March 2011

Muppet Level Scale

I've decided to provide a scale that I can use in all future incidents which provides a measure of muppetness. That is, how stupid were the actions on display in the incident. Of course it is possible (shock horror!) for me to make mistakes whilst cycling and do something daft and 'muppetlike' as well. Therefore, I will use a bi-scale system.

MORUL = Muppet 'Other Road User' Level
IMORUAL = Introspective Muppet 'Other Road User Annoyed' Level (i.e. me being daft)

Each score will be a score out of 10 with 0 being absolutely no muppetness, and 10 being the king of muppets.

So for any incident I will quote both a MORUL and IMORUAL score. So for instance, for my oil tanker incident:

It would score MORUL =10 and IMORUAL = 0

This incident would score

MORUL = 4 and IMORUAL = 8

This should make it far clearer in the future how daft I rate everyone's actions on the road, including my own. It will also enable me to look for trends in my MORULs and IMORUALs

I am happy for others to use this scale, but would ask that you do not use one scale independent of the other, MORULs and IMORUALs are intrinsically linked to one another.

I will try my best to keep my IMORUALity as low as possible......

Thursday 10 March 2011

Get in The Bloody Cycle Lane!!

If only comments from road users worked like Google Adsense. For every comment from another road user telling me to get in the cycle lane, not to filter etc I would get a credit. Perhaps the amount of credit gained would reflect the level of the aggression, the amount that their BP rose and the amount of swear words in the tirade. By now I reckon I could retire from my day job and head off to some sunkissed beach in the Pacific.

Alas, it doesn't work like that.

So no-one makes money out of it, no-one actually gains any time advantage out of it, and it doesn't contribute to world peace (although it might contribute to global warming!). So why does it happen?

One of the biggest contributions to this situation is a lack of understanding. Those who haven't cycled before on urban roads (and I too was once in this position) don't understand why a cyclist might take the middle of the lane, might get annoyed at a car passing within a foot, or might filter to the front of the queue.  So I thought I'd tackle this issue myself, focusing on the one area that seems to create the most controversy.

Why don't I always use cycle lanes?

On the face of it cycle lanes seem like a great idea. A designated part of the road set aside purely for the use of pedal cycles. It shows to everyone that cyclists should be on the road, and are welcome there. It also guides the cyclists as to the best road position and best riding practice.
Unfortunately in my and many other cyclists experiences they fail on all of the above.

Cycle lanes, lanes just as any vehicle carrying road, should be designed so that users of the lane are as safe as possible, i.e. the lane doesn't, through its design, lead to increased risks for the users of the lane. There are in fact a number of standards which are supposed to be followed when putting new cycle lanes in place. However, these are very rarely followed. So cycle lanes often place cyclists in more danger than if there were no cycle lanes there at all. Look at this site for some prime examples of poorly designed cycle lanes. There are some shocking and very amusing examples.

My own example of what I think is a poor cycle lane is in Milngavie just outside Glasgow. The following video shows some reasons why I think this lane is poorly designed and in some situations down right dangerous.

So there are a number of risks associated with poorly designed cycle lanes  which, if you don't have experience as a cyclist might not be obvious. That isn't even taking into account the fact that the lane surfaces  are often poor, debris often collect in them etc. But there is more to my reluctance to use lanes than the physical risks often associated with them. My biggest qualm with cycle lanes is the psychological effect that they have on other road users. 

Psychological effect of cycle lanes!?! Your having a laugh!!!!!

Nope, and it isn't just psychobable. Let me explain....

I have noticed two effects that in my opinion can make lanes dangerous. The compartment effect and the negotiation effect.

In the UK we have a very structured road system. Everything belongs in its place, there are do's and don'ts in every situation you face on the road. Lanes are well defined on our roads and so long as you remain within your lane, you generally don't have to worry too much about what is happening in the other lanes. So long as the road users in the other lane aren't moving into mine.....

So we have a road like the one in my video, the cyclist is in his/her lane. Fantastic. They are in their place I don't need to worry about them. So long as I am in my lane when I pass, then we'll all be happy. And yet this leads to the following....

I move into the lane and the car stays within the main lane. Surely everyone is happy then?!?

Well, no.

As a result of comparmentalisation (a big word that!) the driver is happy to pass within centimetres of my handlebars. Fine for the driver, not so good for the cyclist. All it would take is a stone/pothole on the path, a gust of wind, or a door to open ahead, for that few centimetres to suddenly vanish with nasty consequences. Cyclists need wobble room, as we don't have a stable platform, suspension (OK we sometimes do), ABS, ESP etc. The space around a cyclist is our airbag.

So the psychological comfort that a driver derives from the existance of the cycle lane can in fact put the cyclist at risk.

The negotiation effect is an even bigger problem.

In the first video above there are sections where I almost feel forced into the cycle lane. Why do I feel forced? I feel forced because the presence of the cycle lane takes away my 'right' to negotiate with following drivers. As I approach the lane, drivers 'expect' that you will enter the lane. If you don't they feel their space is invaded. So by having the lane there, I loose my right to decide where on the road is safest for me to be, and I loose my ability to enter negotiation with the following driver with regards to my road position. In the video above this forces me into the door zone, a dangerous place where an opening car door can kill a cyclist.

As well as this, when I am in the lane and for some reason I need out, I need to negotiate a position further out on the road. However, my ability to negotiate is significantly weakened by the cycle lane, i.e. the following drivers expect you to stay in your lane.....why would you possible want out of your nice wee cycle lane!?

Surely all road design should aim to increase the likelyhood of successful negotiation between road users, not hinder it? When road users are aware of the needs and wishes of others, it makes the roads safer. When we are placed in compartments everyone gets caught out when road users need to leave their compartment.

So Mr Smartypants, what's your answer to all this then?

My answer is......there is no single answer. I can understand why new cyclists might see cycle lanes as a positive thing, but I can't help feeling, that they are divisive, and are part of the fuel for the us and them fire.

Am I asking that they be removed completely?

No. Obviously there are some roads where cycle lanes, which have been designed properly, really do help the cyclists and other road users. The problem is that the emphasis within local councils has been to create cycle lanes to tick boxes, so that when anyone asks, what have you done for cyclists? they can point at x miles of cycle lanes. Just a shame they are crap!

Instead look at every road separately, and if a cycle lane won't actually help, don't put one there! Perhaps signs indicating that cyclists may on occasion be further out in the lane due to parked cars junction etc would help. I don't have all of the answers but with a little thought, I'm sure the powers that be could come up with something better.

What is clear though, is that there are times when I and other cyclists, for reasons that aren't always obvious to non-cyclists, choose to stay out of the cycle lanes that are there just now. If you see us doing that, don't shout or abuse us, just pass us safely and think for a moment or two why the cyclist has chosen to do that.

I can almost guarantee, they don't do it with the intent of annoying drivers. I'd rather someone at the wheel of a potential 1 tonne weapon was my friend, and not my enemy.

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Snow, Wind and Punctures

Are there ever days when I wish I wasn't commuting on the bike?

I'd be lying if I said there weren't.

Over the winter there were one or two days when the ice/snow/cold was so bad that I wished I'd left the bike at home. One day in particular I was caught out with the weather. I thought the roads would be fine, but I made a big mistake. Ice everywhere (oh and there was diesel everywhere that day as well!). I made it to work in one piece but I wasn't looking forward to the ride home!!

However, days like that are very rare, probably about 0.5% of my commutes. 95% of the time I absolutely love cycle commuting. That leaves 4.5% to account for. Today was part of that 4.5%.

I'm glad I came on the bike. No question. I got a good workout and had no incidents or annoyances with other road users. However, the gods were conspiring against me. First there was the snow. Not a huge amount, but the sort that melts slightly when it hits the ground and then refreezes, creating the effect of walking on slippery cornflakes.

Then there was the wind. 
No! Not that sort of wind!! That sort of wind gives you a quick boost!
It was the windy, blowy type wind!
The type of wind that always, ALWAYS seems to be in your face and never behind you.

What annoys me most about this type of wind is not that it makes even pedalling down hill hard, it's the fact that it doesn't actually look windy! There is me struggling my little guts out against the wind, and no-one else can understand why I am going so slowly and looking so red in the face!


Then came the icing on the cake. The puncture. Not a BANG type puncture, but one of those ones where you can sense the tyre getting a little soft. Hmmm, can I make it to work without fixing it/pumping it/ruining my rim?
Oh, and the flatter tyre makes it harder to cycle of course.

 This mornings flat. Yes I know my bike is manky!!

So this 4.5% represents the days when something or everything is conspiring against me to make it to the  meeting I inevitably have first thing.

Do I hate these commutes! Absolutely not.  Why? Because when I do get to work, despite everything that nature and the puncture fairy could throw at me, I made it in and made it on time (just!). I feel like I have accomplished something, even before I have started work

Much better than listening to BLAH, BLAH, BLAH on the radio whilst stuck in endless traffic queues.

Oh, and there is the small chance the wind will be behind me on the way home.........please!!!!!

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Do Cycle Lanes Stop Close Passes?

Not going by this mornings incident.

I normally take this road in primary position. It is a short distance to lights (there is always a queue) and I can keep up with the traffic here. However, my spidey sense was warning me of something behind. So I decided to move into the lane.

This lane is not the worst, but it still takes a cyclist into the door zone. So although I went into it, I stayed at the outer edge of the lane.

Have a look at the footage to see how close this driver got.

Will I be using this cycle lane again? Oh no.

And what about the driver and his daddies reaction? Not my problem. I don't care.

Mmmmm. And yet some people suggest that it is cyclists that are the problem.....

Monday 7 March 2011

Clipless Moment!

It's been a good few years since I've switched to clipless pedals. If any non-cyclists are reading, these are pedals that you clip into with special shoes (yes I know the name is confusing!!).

I've been lucky. I've never had a clipless moment.

Ask a cyclist what happens when you switch to clipless pedals and they will say...

A Clipless Moment! 

So what exactly is a clipless moment? It's the moment when you've stopped your bike, for whatever reason, and you've forgot to unclip one or both of your feet. Anyone who has ever ridden a bike knows that forward motion is vital to keep gravity at bay (unless your name is Danny MacAskill). So just imagine what happens when you've stopped, your right foot is still in the pedal and your bike decides it really wants to have a close look at the tarmac on your right.......


So this morning, just after setting off on my commute to work, I notice my laces, in my soon to be retired cycling shoes, aren't folded away properly. I stop to fix the shoe on my right (still clipped in). No problem. I lean my bike to the right to fix my left shoe (not clipped in) no problem. I then lean back up and..........


Wednesday 2 March 2011

Twitter and Trolls

I've joined the wonderful world of twitter!

This is me here.

Say hi!  

It's taken me long enough to get there, and it'll take me a while to become accustomed to compressing my ramblings to a limited number of characters. Hmmm. Maybe reading my limited ramblings there are better than being exposed to my extended ramblings here!

Yesterday someone questioned one of my recent videos, specifically my reluctance to use the cycle lane. Fair enough. The chap is a cyclist, but feels that I should use the cycle lane. I don't agree in this instance, but fair enough. To make his point he decided to post a picture from one of my videos. This one.

this screenshot shows no reason why you shouldn't be further to the left! why are you so far to the right?
Mmm, I thought. I do look a bit far out there, so perhaps I have been a little aggressive there. Mmmm. Best take a look at the video....(I'll let you fast forward to about 2:35, just shortly before the screenshot)

So can anyone come up with any reason why I might be taking a stronger road position? Mmmm.

Beware of trolls and their very selective screenshots!!