Monday 23 June 2014

Is it reasonable of me?

You're cycling along a country road, one that has a 30mph limit. It's a road that you've had hassle on before with close passes.

A bus overtakes you and gives you plenty of room.


A car overtakes you and gives you a reasonable amount of room.....but it does so with a car coming the other way. It's a bit close and the oncoming car has to slow a bit to allow the overtake. Not the worst by any means, but certainly not the best. I certainly wouldn't have contemplated that overtake. So you shake your head. Nothing more. It would never make it into a video, otherwise you'd be posting 5 or 6 videos a day.

Then, out of the corner of your eye you catch something very close to you on the right. At first you can't be sure what it is, but it is no more that 50 cm from you. It's passing at a reasonable rate. You crap yourself.

It turns out that the object coming into view is another cyclist.

This happened to me a while back and the video can be seen here.

Why bring it up now as I posted this video a while back?

It's because I came across a discussion about it on the rider's cycling club Facebook page, one where I take quite a considerable amount of abuse, some of which suggests that members of the club would like to use violence against me. In fact the rider in the video specifically suggests that he'd like to make things....a little uncomfortable for me. So I thought I'd clear matters up a little.

I was not on a club ride.

That's right. I was not on a club ride. I also wasn't on a sportive, something that I do from time to time and somewhere where I am quite happy to pass by and to be passed by other cyclists at close proximity. Just to be clear, I also wasn't racing. I'm too old (and have a very gammy knee)  and not enough time to train for it. In fact, I have actually considered joining a club before but I just don't have enough time.

The cyclist was going faster than me. Yes I think I am reasonably fit, but I also know the limits of my fitness on a bike, and that there are many club cyclists who, could quite simply, whip my ar$e. Mind you, I did have a heavy rucksack on and the cyclist did have a slingshot from behind the bus.....but I digress.....

I mention all of the above because I want to point out that close passing, when out on a club ride etc is expected and part of the normal etiquette. Close passing another cyclist, without warning when you don't know the cyclist, and when it is pretty obvious that they don't know you are there, and when it is pretty obvious that the cyclist is just cycling home, in my opinion isn't. Quite simply I wouldn't do it to other cyclists when out on the road and I know most other cyclists wouldn't either.

Is this not reasonable? Does this make me a 'Gringo' or a bellend? Why does it get one of the staff from the local bike shop 'ready to burst'? Should it result in me getting a camera stuffed up my ar$e?

Is it not reasonable to expect another cyclist to give me a bit more room on a pass? Or perhaps to give a little bit of a warning? What do you guys think, especially club cyclists from other clubs?

Instead I get a whole load of abuse, which is a nice advert for the club.

Another thing that I am often accused of comes up again as well. The fact that I 'over-react' or get annoyed at 'nothing'. This is seen as a problem. Is it though? Not everyone has the same threshold for incidents on the road, and not everyone is willing to just put up with things the way they are. In fact, I am probably about average  when it comes to how I react to bad driving.

Average?! Seriously?!?!

Yes, I think I am. Some cyclists keep their heads down. They don't mind cars passing within a foot, or sitting 0.5 seconds from their back wheel and they don't like other cyclists making a fuss. Then there are those who either don't cycle at all because they feel too scared by what they see on the roads, or they give up (and I know many who have unfortunately) because they just don't feel safe enough.

I reckon I am probably about half way between these two groups.

Who is right? Who knows. I suspect that those who keep their heads down, ignore some of the risks, and those who don't ride, overestimate the risks. That certainly doesn't mean I am always right, but I suspect that there are a lot of cyclists like me out there who love cycling but feel the roads need to be a lot friendlier, as the signatures on the cycle friendly Glasgow petition would suggest.

So Scott, more than happy to meet up if you if you want to chat about it. Probably best I don't bring my cameras though, for my safety.....apparently.

(I did consider posting on the Facebook page itself, however, I would have had to join the group to post. For obvious reasons, I'm not too keen to join).


  1. Dave, don't you know that road club cyclists are gods who can do no wrong and are exempt from any criticism? What I have found is that some of the worst and most dangerous cycling I have seen on my commute has been from club cyclists.

    On your video, I think that the problem was not so much the closeness of the pass, but the lack of a shout to let you know he was coming. It's a safety issue as well as common courtesy to let another cyclist know if you are about to pass, especially at speed, to avoid any unexpected movement from the cyclist being passed. You were right to complain.

  2. This sort of things happens all the time. Partly my own fault, that I cannot hear a motor vehicle behind me so I presume that a passing cyclist would call or ring a bell or something to let me know they are there, if they are then intending to pass. (OT, I know, but my pet hate for cyclists passing me, is when they pass on my inside as I am pulling away from traffic lights...).

  3. Sounds like we’re quite similar cyclists. I commute by bike on mixed roads every day, and occasionally participate in the odd sportive, but I don’t do club rides.

    However, I do think you over reacted to the pass a little. I also think you over react to many of the passes on your YouTube channel. If I’m honest, I think you do significantly more harm than good to the cycling community. Sorry, and I know you care a lot about your cause, but there you have it.

    Sometimes, You have to wonder if it’s you, or everyone else...

  4. Dont think you overeact at all,and I think you are quite right to highlight close passing as esp dangerous-the government would seem to agree with its latest safety ad with the schoolgirl with outstretched arms.Not everyone participates in the 'odd sportive' and many cyclists are of mediocre ability or are just trying to get from A to B occasionally.
    Will be interested to hear Cllr Gordon Mathewson's reply to you pertinent comments-many of us have little faith in Glasgow District Councils supposed adoption of cycling, the hire scheme notwithstanding.This is the Council who saw fit to name its shiny new Velodrome after Sir Chris Hoy,and completely ignored the greatest cyclist this City or Scotland has ever produced.