Thursday, 13 February 2014


I've written a couple of posts in the past where I attempted to keep things simple. I'll try and continue the theme of keeping things simple by making a very simple statement that hopefully will be clearly understood.

My position on the road in front of you, doesn't matter.

It's quite a short sentence and, I think, pretty clear in what it is saying.

Unfortunately with all simple statements that have been made without any preamble or detailed explanation, they probably need a qualifying the statement. However, I hope that if you reach the bottom of this blog post you will agree that the whole blog can in fact be summarised by that one statement.

I cycle on the road. I cycle on the road in a way that I feel keeps me safest. I do not cycle on the road with the aim of annoying other road users. However, I understand that occasionally happens. It happens because occasionally my road position holds up road users who happen to be behind me at that point.

Why does this happen?

Again, keeping things simple, I'll make another simple statement.

Road users generally want to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

I think this statement is pretty uncontroversial, especially during rush hour. First thing in the morning everyone is generally rushing to work. We have to be there by a set time and generally we tend to depend on circumstances allowing us to get there on time. If there a road works holding up traffic, we get delayed. If the weather has caused flooding, we get delayed. If we need to scrape the windscreen, we get delayed. If we get stuck behind a tractor we get delayed. 

If we get stuck behind a cyclist, we get delayed.

These drivers felt delayed.

Real delay? Umm, err, actually that very rarely happens, especially during rush hour. It is rare for me on the urban part of my commute (my rural part on the way to work is on very quiet back roads, and it's rare for me to see a car!) to delay a car and its driver by more than a few seconds. In fact it's not unusual for me to pass most drivers who have passed me earlier in a commute as I filter through miles of slow moving traffic.

Had the drivers in the above video held back, would I really have delayed them much?

Anyway, I digress. Cyclists can sometimes be perceived,  and on rare occasions might actually, delay people in cars slightly on their way to work.

Third statement coming up.

People generally do not like being late for work.

Once again, I don't think I am being controversial there. If we are late, we might miss a meeting. We might get in to trouble, or we might miss out on a coffee....God forbid.

Oh, go on, one final statement....

Delay is bad.

Delay cannot be tolerated and thus, anything that delays us, or appears to delay us is bad. Thus, cyclists cycling in the middle of the road are bad.

The logic, when you break it down is pretty simple.

This is a problem. The problem is that as a cyclist who cycles on roads that aren't designed for bikes (yet!), I have to take central road positions and I need to delay, or appear to delay drivers for my safety. I'm sorry, really I am, but it's a fact of life. Taking a central position is how cyclists are taught to cycle.

Hold on a minute though! Why am I even talking about why I take certain positions? Why do I need to even justify it? That is the crux of the issue. I shouldn't have to.

Where I chose to ride on the road is my business. My position is, my position. If you come across me in your travels and you see me in front of you, it is up to you to wait behind me, and if and when it is safe to do so, pass me safely.

That's it. Nothing more.

If a pedestrian is walking in the road, yes you might not like it, but you wouldn't drive past them close and at speed, just to make a point. No. You pass them safely.

If a horse is taking up your lane, you don't rev your engine as you pass. No. You pass slowly and at a distance.

If a tractor is holding you up, you don't hit your horn at them. That won't help, it's probably at its top speed already. You wait until it is safe to pass or they turn off.

Why then, when a cyclist is in a position that you don't like do you feel the need to make a point? If you don't like it call the police. If you don't like it contact your MSP. But don't, DON'T make a point with your vehicle. Don't just squeeze past. Don't take a risk with my and other people's lives.

My position doesn't matter to you, but my safety should.


  1. In your 4th "example" you should have pulled into the empty space to your left which was clear to allow the taxi to safely pass you. But of course you will reply to that "there was a parked vehicle coming up" to which i say "god forbid YOU having to put your brakes on rather than the car which was doing the speed limit."

    1. Your comment suggests you have completely missed the point of the blog.

    2. You are making the assumption that the taxi's time is somehow more important than a cyclist's time. There was a much safer overtaking opportunity immediately after the truck.

    3. Do you know what happens when you pull into a small space to "be nice(way)" and let cars past? They never let you out again!!!

    4. Important point: it's a speed LIMIT, not a speed TARGET...

  2. I think what is so awful, is that I agree with you wholeheartedly but, watching it in the office with the sound off, the behaviour of all of those motorists is so typical of the motorists that I encounter on my own commute, and I have just kind of got used to us, so that I honestly can only tell which one is the "dangerous pass" by watching you waving your fist ;-)