Riding in the dark

BicycleDutch - 13 August, 2018 - 23:01
The days are incredibly long in the Dutch summer. At the end of June there is daylight from about 4 am to 11 pm. And yet I managed to ride … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Instead of blaming individuals, fix the system

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 8 August, 2018 - 09:00

Doubtless many of you will have seen this video of a ‘near miss’ on the A38 in Bromsgrove, in which a child narrowly escapes serious injury, thanks to the quick reactions of a driver – a fireman, Robert Allen.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this but if it stops a child from being killed on the road it’s worth it! Today a child rode out in front of me, across the dual track, without looking! Thankful I was driving under the speed limit & reacted quickly! #neverchanceit @BromStandard

— Robert Allen (@HWfireRAllen) August 5, 2018

I wasn’t the only one to notice that the way this incident was framed – both on social media, and in the media more generally – focussed entirely on human actions. On the one hand, the quick thinking, forward planning and skill of the driver, and on the other, the mistakes and foolishness of the children.

Framed in this context, the only way to prevent near misses (or even serious injuries and fatalities from occurring in future) is to ensure that all drivers are as quick-thinking and careful as this one, and also to ensure that children don’t behave impulsively, and don’t make mistakes and misjudgements.

But unfortunately both of those things are actually very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Children, especially younger children, have serious problems judging the speeds of approaching vehicles, due to their difficulty in perceiving visual looming (HT AndyR_UK). On top of that they will inevitably be impulsive, fail to concentrate, or become distracted. Equally, drivers won’t be paying attention 100% of the time. They will also get distracted. They are fallible. They will not all be as cautious and as quick to react as Robert Allen. Because they are human beings, not robots.

So the only realistic way of preventing these kinds of incidents from happening in the future is to design the danger out of the crossing. We can’t rely on human beings not do stupid things, or to not make mistakes, because it’s not who we are. The only rational response is to minimise the chances of collisions occurring in the first place, and to minimise the severity of those collisions if they do happen. The alternative – attempting to get children to behave properly in the context of this type of crossing – is nothing more than applying the flimsiest of sticking plasters to a gaping wound.

If we look at the location, it’s a little bit ambiguous whether the posted speed limit is 60mph or 70mph, because the crossing is at exactly the point where two lanes (60mph limit) become a four lane dual carriageway (70mph limit).

But whether it’s 60mph or 70mph doesn’t really matter – as Ranty Highwayman observes, either way, these are still very high speeds for children to be processingespecially where drivers will be distracted by the process of merging back down to one lane in the in the oncoming direction, or focused on accelerating up to 70mph as they move into two lanes from one in the facing direction.

On top of that, we have the pedestrian barriers – presumably installed with the intention of stopping people from cycling straight out into the road – acting to steer anyone cycling up to the crossing into a position parallel to the road, where any oncoming motor traffic will be directly behind them. 

Rather than naturally facing that oncoming traffic, children (or anyone else cycling here) will have to look right back over the shoulder to process it. Frankly the entire layout is a recipe for casualties, which the ‘Sign Make It Better’ warning does nothing to fix (not least because it’s only about 50 feet from the actual crossing – not a great deal of help when it comes to alerting drivers of the potential danger).

I’m not sure when this road was built, and the period in which it was thought this was an appropriate type of crossing for a road of this context – but it’s far from unique. There are several similarly lethal crossings of 70mph dual carriageways in West Sussex, usually the result of existing routes or lanes being severed by the construction of new roads and bypasses, with absolutely no consideration given to the safe passage of people walking and cycling across them. I can think of at least three on Horsham’s northern bypass, which was built in the late 1980s. Below is just one of them.


There’s housing behind the trees on the left hand side of this location, and a railway station a couple of minutes’ walk down the lane to right. It’s not only the danger that is infuriating – it’s the fact that people could be walking and cycling, easily, to and from these locations, but have these horrendous barriers put in their way. The road simply shouldn’t have been built like this – it should have had underpasses integrated into it during construction, to allow people to cross it freely, and in safety.

The Bromsgrove example is perhaps even more pressing, however, as the road is a clearer example of severance – with housing on both sides of the road. If the A38 were a Highways England road, then under the IAN 195/16 standard (which I’ve covered here) a grade-separated crossing would be a mandatory requirement for a 60mph limit. If that’s not possible, then the speed limit should be lowered, the motor traffic lanes should be narrowed significantly, and the crossings should involve clear sightlines, with only one lane crossed at a time. Something like this kind of thing, which I saw on a distributor road in the city of Zwolle.

There are no signals; this is just a simple priority crossing, with cycles having to give way to motor traffic. However, only one lane has to be crossed a time, motor traffic speeds are much lower, and the visibility is excellent, for all parties. This really isn’t rocket science.

If the council wish to retain a 60mph limit, or four lanes of motor traffic, then that obviously means that human beings should be separated entirely from the road, to insulate them from the increased danger that attempts to cross such a road at-grade would involve. An underpass is the obvious answer in that traffic context.

That would plainly be an expensive undertaking, but really there’s no other safe way of addressing the severance posed by a multiple lane road with such a high speed limit.

Obviously I don’t know the local situation, but I suspect it may be much more appropriate to ‘downgrade’ the road to an urban distributor, with single lanes in each direction, separated by a median, and with a much lower speed limit. That would allow the ‘Zwolle’ type of crossing to be employed, and safely. But there are many other places where that is impossible, or at least undesirable. The Horsham example is one location where the traffic volumes and road context – an explicit bypass – should really necessitate grade separation.

To a large extent, we’re reaping the harvest of decades of road-building and planning with little or no thought for the safety and convenience of anyone who wasn’t in a motor vehicle – people cycling and walking along these roads, or attempting to cross them. It’s going to be difficult and costly to undo that damage. Perhaps it’s not surprising, therefore, that we all reach for the superficially easy option of attempting to change human behaviour, rather than changing the system, when we’re confronted with incidents like the one in Bromsgrove.

Categories: Views

Meanwhile in the town of Houten

BicycleDutch - 6 August, 2018 - 23:01
The town of Houten is the current titleholder in the biennial election of the “best place to cycle in the Netherlands”. The town won the election organised by the Cyclists’ … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Going for a swim

BicycleDutch - 30 July, 2018 - 23:01
The nearest swimming pool from my home where I can do some exercise is in Vught, an easy bike ride away. I have shown the ride back in the dark … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Events and high temperatures. Keep cycling through it all.

A View from the Cycle Path - 28 July, 2018 - 22:30
July has been warmer and drier than usual for the Netherlands, starting off warm and slowly heating up until the last couple of days in which we've seen 37 C locally and slightly higher temperatures further south. Cycling of course continues through all weather, hot and cold. Here's a round-up of what's been going on in Assen over the last month. The TT More than anything else, Assen is famous David Hembrow
Categories: Views

You don’t solve design problems with bells

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 25 July, 2018 - 17:27

There’s recently been some silly-season noise about making the use of bells compulsory in our newspaper of record, The Times.

Frothing gibberish on Page 3 of The Times today. Remember when this paper took cycling safety seriously?

— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) July 14, 2018

This story seems to have been based entirely on five written questions from the MP Julian Lewis.

Re @thetimes article about bicycle bells, it is based on 5 parliamentary questions posed by Julian Lewis (MP for New Forest, Conservative) to @transportgovuk .
All 5 receive 1 answer from Transport Minister @Jesse_Norman

— always last (@lastnotlost) July 14, 2018

The non-committal response from the Minister has been spun into a story; the Minister in turn dismissed it.

But let’s (charitably) take this seriously, just for a moment. What does ‘mandatory use of bells’ actually mean? Am I supposed to ding every time a pedestrian hoves into view? In a town or a city, my bell would be ringing relentlessly. Let’s also bear in mind that plenty of people will object, often quite aggressively, to the ringing of a bell, interpreting it as akin to the honking of a car horn. A basic starting principle – before any of this nonsense ever gets anywhere near legislation – would have to involve getting some basic agreement and consensus about what people actually want and expect, when it comes to a form of audible cycling warning (or even whether they want people making a noise at all). It you can’t get the general public to agree, which I would imagine is more than likely, then there’s no point even embarking on legislation in the first place.

In any case, the general issue of bells, warnings and ‘silent rogue cyclists’ is symptomatic of basic design failure. I’ve probably cycled at least 500 miles in the Netherlands over the last five or six years. Not a huge amount, but enough to get a good flavour of the country. In all that distance – in cities, in towns, through villages, across the countryside – I can’t honestly remember ever having to ring my bell to warn someone walking that I was approaching. Not once.

A large part of that is probably down to the fact that people walking in the Netherlands are – understandably – fully aware that they will encounter someone cycling quite frequently. In general, it’s unwise to assume that, just because you can’t hear anything approaching, nothing is approaching – and this is especially true in the Netherlands. Being aware of cycling is just an ordinary part of day-to-day life, because everyone cycles themselves, and because they will also encounter cycling extremely frequently.

However, I suspect my lack of bell use is also due to the fact I rarely ever come into conflict with pedestrians, because of the way cycling is designed for. Unlike in Britain, where walking and cycling are all too frequently bodged together on the same inadequate paths, cycling is treated as a serious mode of transport, with its own space, distinct from walking.

No need for bells here, to warn people you are approaching

I don’t need to ring my bell to tell someone walking I am coming up behind them because we’re not having to share the same (inadequate) space. There are of course many situations in the Netherlands where walking and cycling are not given separate space – a typical example below.

However, these will almost always be situations where the numbers of people cycling, and of people walking in particular, will be relatively low. In practice, these paths function as miniature roads, marked with centre lines, and used by low amounts of low-impact traffic on them. Pedestrians treat them as such, walking at the sides, and the dynamics of path use are obvious and well-understood. If demand for these paths increases, such that people walking and cycling begin to get in each other’s way, separation of the two modes becomes a necessity. It is all blissfully rational.

Contrast that with Britain, where ‘cycle routes’ will often be nothing more than putting up blue signs to allow cycling on existing – often quite busy – footways.

It isn’t hard to see why people walking will not be expecting cycling in these kinds of environments. It looks like a footway; feels like a footway. It is a footway. So users who are cycling then have to decide how best they approach someone from behind.

  • Do they ring their bell?
  • Do they try to make a noise with their bike?
  • Do they call out? And if so, what do they say?
  • Do they try to glide past without any noise at all?

Bear in mind that there is absolutely no consensus on which of these techniques is preferable to people walking. Some people hate bells, because they think it implies they are being told to get out of the way. Some people don’t like noises, or calls, and apparently prefer the clarity of a bell, and what it signifies. Some other people might be deaf.

As you cycle up behind someone, there is obviously no way of knowing how that particular person will react, and what they will prefer. It is entirely guesswork.

My own technique is usually to approach, slow down a bit, and hope that the person gradually becomes aware of my presence. If they don’t, then I usually say ‘excuse me’. My bell is reserved for occasions when someone is stepping into the road without looking, or similar situations where I can foresee a potential collision occurring.

A short snippet below, on a path I use on a daily basis.

I can see that the two girls are aware that I am approaching, but I slow down in any case, until I am sure. The woman is not aware, so again I slow down, and have to use a verbal ‘excuse me’ to let her know I am there.

This probably isn’t perfect. Maybe there is a better way. But really, I don’t think there even is a ‘perfect’ way of dealing with these kinds of minor conflicts. They are all flawed. You are going to startle someone; you are going to do the wrong thing without even realising it; you  are going to annoy someone. It’s unavoidable.

But the solution to this problem is not MOAR BELLS or MANDATORY USE OF MOAR BELL. The basic issue here is crap cycling and walking environments. Every single location where people are being expected to use bells (or some other form of audible warning) will be one where cycling is not expected; where someone cycling is having to share the same space as someone walking; where there is not enough width for the two modes to peacefully co-exist. Bells are not the solution to this problem. Better design is.

The path in my video above is only a couple of metres wide, and has to accommodate cycling and walking in the same space. That’s just a straightforward recipe for conflict. If you think the answer to that conflict is bell legislation then you don’t care about cycling, and frankly you don’t really care about walking either. I don’t want to be cycling at little more than walking pace, having to ring my bell every few metres. I doubt people walking want to be having to deal with that either. I certainly don’t when I am on foot.

Let’s stop dribbling on about bells and instead ensure that our walking and cycling environments work for both modes, with clarity about where people should be and about expected behaviour, and with comfortable space for everyone.

Categories: Views

A Bicycle Roundabout in Boxtel

BicycleDutch - 23 July, 2018 - 23:01
The town of Boxtel has a most peculiar piece of infrastructure; a bicycle roundabout. It is silly, mainly because it is never a good idea to treat people cycling as … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

A new cycle bridge in Zwolle

BicycleDutch - 16 July, 2018 - 23:01
Zwolle has yet another big cycle bridge; the Zalnébrug. This new bridge spans the N35 right at the edge of the built-up area in the south-east of the city. The … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Fast Cycle route MaasWaalpad partly opened

BicycleDutch - 9 July, 2018 - 23:01
The Maaswaalpad is another beautiful fast cycle route in the Nijmegen region. It was named after the rivers it connects, the Maas (Meuse) and the Waal. The name is also … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Policing close passing of cyclists: Update 4th July 2018

Road Danger Reduction Forum - 4 July, 2018 - 19:06

At the “Cycle City Active City” conference in Manchester last week Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman commended the work on policing close passing of cyclists by PCs Mark Hodson and Steve Hudson of the West Midlands Police Road Harm Reduction Team, saying his Department “plans to build on it – it is a very effective way of building awareness and reducing casualties”. We’ll have a look at what this means.

We have also had headlines about 3rd party reporting of driver law breaking – and a new initiative in London. Let’s see what is actually happening – and what may, or may not happen – on the ground.

By now readers of posts on this site will be aware of the existence of operations policing the close passing of cyclists and related enforcement based on reducing road danger at source. Our last update was after our training day last year here ; specifically on 3rd party reporting of careless/dangerous driving we reported on the launch of Operation Snap here.

Police Services that are currently or have been recently carrying out policing of close passing of cyclists.

The basic format is the same: plain clothes officers report ahead if they have been passed too closely; the driver is stopped and , generally using a mat supplied by Cycling UK (new ones are being ordered for this summer), the driver then has Rule 163 of the Highway Code and its rationale explained to them. Some 26 of the 42 Police Services in the UK attended our September training day last year.

Precise numbers of forces doing this kind of work are difficult as some don’t update us and there is also a lot of work involving joint operations over different policing areas.

3rd party reporting is discussed.

I have almost certainly missed out on some close passing policing – do let me know. Here is where we are at the end of June 2018:

Avon & Somerset
They have a Cycling UK mat and had done full close pass operations 3 times in Bristol, and also in Bath, Swindon & Cheltenham by mid-September last year. 10% engagement on social media – 2.5% is more normal. Local BBC news covered an operation as a main story. They were due to run more operations.

3rd Party: They started automated online reporting of traffic incidents in September, and can use info from this to promote the close passing scheme. Use of 3rd party footage for prosecution is now allowed. Avon and Somerset give cameras to officers who commute by bike.

There has been some Twitter criticism of the response to 3rd party reporting: “Adam Reynolds‏ @awjre 7h7 hours ago If you are videoed doing a close pass & the pass is deemed below standard @ASPolice will send you a letter and ask you to do this online driver course which contains a series of videos where the blame is placed on the cyclist. HT @Chutzpah84 for this beauty. 11:02 am – 15 Jun 2018 From Bath, England

Operation Velo (with Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) was launched in February.
A tweet from @CambsCops caused some comment because of implication that cyclists should ride single file when they don’t have to.

Close passing work still in infancy. Using mat for education only, promoted on social media. The main development is the use of signs on roads in Cumbria in 2018:

Some 3rd party reporting is done; they will try to add close passing to this.

Initial interest has been shown, but no developments we know of since last year.

One close pass operation in a rural location (with close passing of horses also involved), one in Dorchester, one in Weymouth planned for later this summer.

Devon and Cornwall

Using the mat

They have “run several events” since last year.

Due to run operations this year.
They have the Extra Eyes 3rd party system in place : They will now be insisting that any footage place on a public or shared YouTube feed will receive no further police action beyond a warning letter.

There has been criticism on twitter of failure to follow up an incident:
Kirsten Sjovoll‏ @KirstenSjovoll Jun 22 Could @EssexPoliceUK please explain their apparent policy of ‘no video footage, no crime to investigate’ where there is an incident between a cyclist and a motorist and there are two independent witnesses offering to give evidence? 

Introduced close passing policing last year: no further news since then. They use a leaflet prepared by Gloucestershire CC which is included in our information pack and has been requested for use by some other police services.

Leaflet cover

Greater Manchester
A number of pilots were run last year. As you know, Manchester is the scene for probably the biggest investment in cycling infrastructure in the UK (after London) under the leadership of Mayor Andy Burnham and the excellent Chris Boardman. I am due to be discussing how close passing and related danger reduction policing can be rolled out with Boardman’s team shortly.
GMP have a link as part of Operation Considerate for 3rd party reporting .

Hampshire and Thames Valley
Since October 2016 they have conducted 13 Close Pass (Give Space Be Safe) operations, 6 of which are since the last update . A total of 99 motorists (1 lorry, 33 vans and 65 car drivers) were stopped, all have opted for education at the check site rather than prosecution. The last operation was on 13th and 14th June on the Isle of Wight.

There have been over 4 million views of the film of their work in a BBC Inside Out item .  A shortened version is used to play at events about what they do. There has also been a back of bus campaign, and leaflets. They use 3-4 officers plus a council RSO and someone from the fire service for each operation.

They had no 3rd party reporting mechanism except for dangerous driving last year, but hope to set one up by October.

They are using VR (virtual reality) goggles for training.

Their work has been accompanied by officers urging cyclists to wear bright clothing and helmets.

Nothing new to report here since our last report: Operation “Safe pass” started on 2 July 2017, with 6 operations up to mid-September. Emphasis has been on education and engagement.
They have done around 120 stops in their operations, with 3-5 police plus Road Safety Officers (RSOs) involved. Responses have generally been positive, with no prosecutions. Motorcycles have occasionally been used. They take camera footage with tablets, for instant feedback to drivers.

Not much has been done on social media. They are trying to extend the operation into winter by following existing cyclists to watch for close passes. A poorly trained cyclist seems to get a lot of close passes compared to better trained ones.

According to @MerseyFire Oct 13 2017 : “Merseyside’s Safe Pass initiative stopped 1 driver every 3 mins yesterday highlighting dangers of driving too close to cyclists.#RoadSafety”

Their third party reporting system has been refurbished 


Cycling UK, Chair RDRF and Sgt. Osborne of Cycle Safety Team at launch of MPS programme last year

The Met, as the largest police force, are obviously going to be a special case. We reviewed the start of their operations last year here. They are carrying out “at least one operation a week” addressing close passing of cyclists – in fact in 2018 so far they have done 84, with 83 prosecutions for traffic offences and 12 seizures of vehicles.

There is due to be a major step forward later this week in London…Watch this space!

Norfolk and Suffolk
No news from them since last year, when we reported:
Norfolk and Suffolk had only piloted a single day in each force area, using 3 cyclists (PCSOs), 3 Motorcyclists and members of the local fire station and an RSO from the council. They had only recorded 4 close pass offences in Norfolk and 3 in Suffolk, but in debrief found that would be attributable to running the operation early in the morning and during rush hour, in places where the cyclists were the ones managing to overtake static cars!

They were planning on running 2 more operations in Norfolk in October, on a smaller scale, but in the afternoons in the areas where statistics suggest an increased number of cyclists collisions. They were pleased that the education format taken from colleagues in West Mids worked well and will be the default format.

Photo SL Brown

North Yorkshire
They attended last year’s training day, have a mat and officer commitment, but lack of resources have meant no close passing operations and just the use of the mat at public events for education.

South Yorkshire
No reports back from them. A video of a questionable response to a 3rd party video reporting a (very) close pass received many comments on Twitter.

Sussex                                                                                                                                                        Their approach was launched on 6th June this year. “The Force intends to name the scheme ‘Safe Pass’ based on nudge theory to present motorists with the subconscious opportunity to pass cyclists safely, rather than closely
Third party reporting can be done here.

West Midlands
Still market leaders on close passing and related policing. They were visited by Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman who was impressed by what they are doing

1. On CLOSE PASSING: In the last year they have been partnered by West Midlands Fire Service, who now do the educational work. This allows the police to carry out operations with four officers (one cyclist, one safety officer generally on a motorcycle, with two stopping officers at the stop site).
2. With 3rd PARTY REPORTING, they have had some 350 – 400 reports up until November last year – we’re due to get the updated figures soon. 3 cases have gone to court and resulted in guilty verdicts under Section 3 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act. Other cases where there has been a refusal to nominate a driver are pursued. Whereas the on-road activity is educational, 3rd party reporting can result in prosecution. So far the ratio of education to enforcement (which results in either 3 points on the licence plus a fine, or a Driver Awareness training session) is 1:3.
3. They have continued their policing of road danger in their newly named “Road Harm Reduction Team” into:
(a) 20 MPH POLICING. This occurs some 2 -3 times per week.
(b) POLICING CYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE. They are about to start policing careless driving with regard to Rule 178 of the Highway Code, namely breaking of rules with regard to Advanced Stop Lines, to reduce “left hooking” incidents.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA: As well as their award winning Twitter account, they have an important blog we strongly suggest you read.
5. West Midlands Fire Service are also training commercial drivers
West Midlands accept most 3rd party reports, and the TP officer decides if prosecution is appropriate.

Here’s an example of what they do from Twitter today:
Were you the cyclist on the A452 Collector Rd towards Chelmsley Wood who was “close passed” at about 8:30 am yesterday, & the offender was immediately pulled over & prosecuted by ourselves? If so can you please make contact with PC 3505 Mark Hodson. Please RT 
We’ve got excellent footage from our vehicle from behind the offence but we would just like to know if you were running a camera, not only for the prosecution but so we can use the footage “post” prosecution as part of our #OpClosePass programme

West Yorkshire
They report:
“We have re-branded our Operation to the Close Pass name rather than Safe Pass that we previously used, this is to keep us in line with the National name / branding. We have also made it a Neighbourhood Policing style of Operation so our NPTs are now deploying this based on requests from their communities or Local Authorities for particular problem locations, this approach provides greater flexibility rather than relying on specialist Roads Policing Officers who can often be called to deal with other incidents. Deployments are a maximum of 3 hours in duration and targeted around the morning or evening rush hour.
* Numbers of operations : We launched our 2018 campaign after the Tour de Yorkshire in early May and have had a total of 7 deployments, with 2 in Leeds and 5 in Wakefield.
* Numbers stopped : In total 28 motorists have been stopped (with 10 on one location in Leeds which we will be revisiting)
* Charges (if any) brought 1 Driver was reported for driving without due care (due to disputing the incident, even with video footage)
* Progress with 3rd party reporting Still no further in WYP but hope to have a solution in place by Autumn,
* Social media activity Lots of Social media through NPT Facebook & Twitter campaigns & also Local Authority Twitters
* Anything else like media coverage We had quite a bit of media interest particularly with Wakefield who launched their operations on a week of action in June. Links here ; here and here

We also have our Off-DutyOfficers who use the Cycliq cameras on their commute and recreational rides who are busy with over 20 warning letters & educational leaflets sent out since February and 1 prosecution where the vehicle not only passed close but sounded the horn whilst doing so.”

Police Scotland                                                                                                                                             Award winners here: #OperationClosePass winners of Most Effective Road Safety, Traffic Management and Enforcement Project at 2018 Scottish Transport Awards.

Overall for all of Scotland over a year, there have been 41 operations with 186 drivers stopped.
Their Twitter presence has included:
As our vulnerable road user campaign finishes, we would like to dispel a common myth. There is nothing wrong with cyclists riding two abreast It makes it easier to pass them as it reduces their overall length. Here is a handy video to demonstrate this @polscotrpu Jun 23

If you are driving a car & you see a pothole you try to avoid it… why would anyone expect cyclists to be any different? If approaching a cyclist(s) they may suddenly change their road position & move out towards the centre of the road. Be patient, then pass when it’s safe

And also:
“A fine example of how to safely pass a cyclist(s). Be patient, wait until it’s safe to pass & make full use of the road in order to afford the maximum amount of space for the cyclist(s). If only every pass was like this! It would allow others like Rhoda to use the road safely . (See the video here )There has also been criticism – welcomed and politely received by them – of a Press Release issued by police Scotland with their “vulnerable road users” (including motorcyclists) programme.

Police Service Northern Ireland                                                                                                                They report:                                                                                                                                                    “CLOSE PASS OPS –
6 sessions at the end of May/ Start of June with various police motorcyclists which targeted areas that members of the public had highlighted as issue areas in response to Facebook (PSNI Belfast City Centre) / Twitter posts (@PsniBelfast) #Seethecyclist #opclosepass. I patrolled the areas in plain clothes with a shadow motorcycle support and I spoke and dealt with 40 motorists and cyclists for a number of offences over the sessions including Driving whilst using a mobile telecommunications device, careless driving, careless cycling, dangerous cycling, breach of a traffic sign (red lights – Cyclists), breach of cycle lanes (motorists) by FPN, reports and Advice and Guidance.

Cyclist education packs
Working with clubs and commuters around road presence and positions. One of the key club areas is when in 2 abreast, ensure they look like 2 and not 5 wide. There are two photos attached which show the difference once a rider shouted Tidy Up and cyclists moved into position; feedback from drivers showed this was a key area of frustration when they assumed riders where more than 2 abreast.

We have rolled out the Give Cyclists Room decals +1.5m which is placed on the rear of vehicles (including large number of police vehicles) and this has been taken up by a number of large firms such as ARGO Merchants (HGVS 300+ vehicles), Genesis bakery (LGVS) and currently in discussion with Royal Mail for all Greater Belfast area vehicles (2k+). We have been running a bus branding campaign and have a number of city centre busses currently driving about with full width posters on the rear of the vehicles.

#SeeTheCyclist camera logo
I’ve branded several hundred cycling tops with the now infamous camera logo and rolled out education around rear lights and rear cameras on bikes.
As a result we are seeing more cyclists with rear lights night and day in an attempt to remove the “I didn’t See you” excuse. We also have a number of clubs who have adopted the logo into their kit design and also some standalone cycle shops which are selling tops with the logo.

We haven’t moved to online reporting yet as we are waiting for FPN issues to be addressed and legislation around a careless driving ticket to be approved ”


Surrey RPU have been, in my view, doing exemplary tweeting. Do see a tweet attached and a diagram they use also attached. Here is a whole thread for you – I think it sets the gold standard!

RPU Surrey Police explain things to LBC
March 9thDrivers could face fines if they overtake too close to bikes. @NickFerrariLBC asks: How can this possibly be policed?

RPU – Surrey Police‏ It really is quite simple. If its safe & legal to overtake, you MUST ensure a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle you’re overtaking. A distance of at least 1.5 metres is the MINIMUM gap we expect. If that amount of gap isn’t available then you must wait until there is.
We pro-actively police this using mini Police operations, using plain clothes officers cycling with a camera fitted to the pedal bike. Those that pass too close, or commit other offences, are stopped by uniformed officers and dealt with.
E Rota have been out & about enforcing drivers passing cyclists too close. Ensure you overtake with sufficient safe distance. …
Surrey Police will also accept clear dash cam or helmet cam footage, which can be submitted by members of the public via this dedicated link: … The Metropolitan Police have a similar online reporting tool, their link is here:
Our aim is to make the roads safer for all road users, however they wish to travel. If a driver feels they can’t safely complete an overtake of another road user, then they shouldn’t overtake. #ClosePass #RoadSafety
Jenny Browne‏ I agree entirely but recently coming out of New Malden towards the A3 roundabout a cyclist chose to drive in the road causing a tailback as it was too narrow to overtake but he had a cycle lane on the pavement but decided not to use it surely this works both ways !

RPU – Surrey Police‏:There is no legal requirement to use a cycle lane. Unfortunately, most cycle lanes are not fit for purpose due to debris, potholes and other dangers – all exaggerated if cycling on a road bike.
Jenny Browne The majority I’m sure are fit for purpose if not why not it has to be in the best interest of cyclists to use cycle lanes otherwise why are we spending thousands creating them ?
RPU – Surrey Police‏:
Jenny, they’re really not. Borrow a road bike (not a mountain bike) and go give them a go
nothing to prove. ‏

Jenny Browne Being an occasional cyclist and a driver and paying full attention to more vulnerable road users, I find it really unfair that the cyclists aren’t really penalised for riding pavements, roads and running red lights as they please. They should have at a public liability insurance.
RPU – Surrey Police:‏ Insurance doesn’t stop people committing offences. Cyclists don’t ‘get away’ with red light offences, if we see it, we’ll deal with it, same as any other road user.
Jenny Browne understand the insurance doesn’t stop people committing offences but at least if third parties get injured or a property is damaged due to cyclists’ carelessness, it would be easier to claim against them.
RPU – Surrey Police‏: Same rules for all pedestrians then so when people are running late and barge into people they can claim off insurance?
Jenny Browne if someone barges into people and causes injury, they surely should. Although I suppose there is a higher risk of injuries when a bicycle collides with a car than when two pedestrians bump into each other, also cars/bikes tend to be high value?
RPU – Surrey Police‏ I think we should rely on statistics here. Insurance is a legal requirement for motor vehicles because of the extensive damage they can cause, and how often they cause it.
‏ Jenny Browne Duly noted. Can’t really argue with that.
Nina Eileen‏ It just gets annoying if there is a path right next to the road but they are on the road anyway
RPU – Surrey Police ‏Unfortunately the vast majority of ‘cycle lanes’ are not fit for purpose and unsafe to use, especially on a road bike.
matthew chappell‏ So with you 1.5m from the kerb, and us 1.5m from you looks like we will be overtaking in 20 Acre top field. By a mountain bike and go play in the woods. Leave the roads for those that pay for them. P.S. Pay insurance as well
RPU – Surrey Police‏ Matthew, you need to learn how to measure chap. It’s really quite simple. There is even this little diagram to help. If you feel it’s beyond you, please return your driving licence to the DVLA.
Replying to @SurreyRoadCops @LBC @NickFerrariLBC
Sharon Hannam‏ Why do cyclists feel the need to ride 2 abreast chatting, causing tailbacks in the traffic?
•RPU – Surrey Police‏
Sorry if you feel the social engagement and enjoyment of our surrounds is an issue. Do you have the same thought when you pass a horse rider?

Third party reporting

This is “the big news”: after Operation Snap rolled out in Wales last year, we now have an extension of it for forces throughout the UK with Nextbase launching the National Dash Cam Safety Portal (NDCSP) “a website that allows road users – cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists and pedestrians, as well as drivers – to easily send video of dodgy and dangerous behaviour to the relevant police forces via a single online hub.”. (For descriptions, see here and here

Police forces linked to the portal via their own platforms include: Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Cheshire Constabulary, Essex Police, Hampshire Constabulary, the Metropolitan Police Force, Norfolk Constabulary, North Yorkshire Police, Suffolk Constabulary, Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Thames Valley Police, Dyfed-Powys Police, Gwent Police, North Wales Police, South Wales Police.

Forces who will receive footage directly from the portal include: West Mercia Police, Warwickshire Police, West Midlands Police and Wiltshire Police.

The remaining 24 forces are working towards joining the scheme, according to Nextbase. If a local force has not yet signed up to the platform, it says, the system will generate a witness statement and reference a code which can be taken directly to the relevant force for processing, where the footage can be viewed securely.

While Nextbase is a private company, they clarify some confusion there has been about NDSCP as follows:
There is an important distinction to be made between videos submitted to the Portal and road users who send us (Nextbase) videos directly and agree for them to be used for marketing purposes – for clarity, the Sunday Times article on July 1st is an example of the latter. Nextbase have NO access to videos submitted to the police, since the website is hosted independently by Egress (the company that supports the government’s websites). The Portal has been built to support the police without commercial gain in mind.

This can be a fundamental game changer. However, it will require sufficient evidence to be submitted, appropriate responses from stretched police services, and acceptance by the general public.


Summary and Conclusions

There are some 19 Police Services in the UK supporting, or about to support, some form of policing close passing of cyclists. However the nature of this is very patchy. As we see it, the principal issues and problems arising are:

1. Insufficient number of police allocated to operations.
This isn’t just the usual – but of course necessary – complaint that there is very little roads policing in the UK. When I made this point to Road Safety Minister last week he replied that “it was not in (his) gift” to allocate resources, as he is a Minister at the Department for Transport, which does not fund roads policing. That’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that operations need to be carried out regularly and frequently to get the message across.

While pioneers WMPRHRT work with partners like the West Midlands Fire Service, and non-roads police officers can be used as well, there is a need for the actual close passing operation to be at the core of activities, and that will require a uniformed police officer. Numbers of operations targeting close passing have to be sufficient to create the impression, first raised by a MPS officer, that the police “can’t be everywhere, but we could be anywhere”.

Similarly, if the 3rd party reporting systems coming in are to work, adequate numbers of staff have to be available to process the evidence coming in.

2. 3rd party reporting is a crucial element.
We have always argued this and the long awaited roll out of a user friendly reporting scheme should radically affect this and indeed all roads policing.

3. Education is only part of the process.
While the overall objective is changing what is regarded as acceptable behaviour: “hearts and minds”. However, we agree with WMPRHRT that the possibility of successful prosecution has to be there. At present their ration of education (e.g. mat use and talk) to enforcement/charging is 1:3.

4. Twitter and social media are crucial elements.
The message has to be got across to drivers – cyclists already know about close passing – and that means good use of all media. Surrey RPU, WMPRHRT are gold standard here, with the Met’s Cycle Safety Team on the podium. It needs to be proactive. We’re also aware that police Twitter accounts may be operated by officers in their own “free” time.

5. Reducing close passing is just one type of road danger reduction.
Our view is that this is part of a general approach which should target the principal cause of harm to others as the priority. Ideally there is a close link with policing of 20 mph, pavement parking and infringement of cyclist infrastructure. Tweets from police services, press releases etc. which move away from this to target pedestrians and cyclists are not part of this, nor are non-evidence based calls for hi-viz, helmets etc., which at best water down the already limited focus on reducing danger at source.

This is all part of an ongoing process – further updates to come. Do let us know about relevant developments. And if you like what the Police Service in your area is doing – why not let them know on social media?

Dr Robert Davis, Chair, Road Danger Reduction Forum. July 4th 2018

Categories: Views

Inclusive cycling on special needs tricycles

BicycleDutch - 2 July, 2018 - 23:01
Cycling in the Netherlands is very inclusive. It isn’t restricted to the daring young men who can get up to speed and who are fearless in the busy urban traffic. … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Two bicycles per second

BicycleDutch - 25 June, 2018 - 23:01
The Utrecht Central Station bicycle parking – the one that is going to be the biggest in the world – is open for about 11 months now. During the morning … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Pushing e-bikes will not result in mass cycling

A View from the Cycle Path - 24 June, 2018 - 17:02
15-20 years ago the most common objections heard to the idea that better infrastructure was required to enable mass cycling came from people who promoted training of cyclists and vehicular cycling. It was claimed that if enough people could be trained to cycle amongst motor vehicles then no cycling infrastructure was required. Decades have passed and of course no such result was ever seen becauseDavid Hembrow
Categories: Views

Road works vs the Dutch cyclist - a rural main route between village and city

A View from the Cycle Path - 19 June, 2018 - 13:23
Road works always risk placing cyclists at a dangerous disadvantage, which can result in people opting for another form of transport. To prevent this, cycle-routes must always be maintained, as can be seen in this video. There are many other examples of this principle being applied in many different situations.David Hembrow
Categories: Views

Westminster Bridge bus stop bypass, revisited

As Easy As Riding A Bike - 19 June, 2018 - 11:48

In case you had forgotten, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust spent over £10,000 of NHS funding in an attempt to prevent ‘floating’ bus stops being built on Westminster Bridge (a detail uncovered by Tom Kearney).

This was part of an orchestrated campaign against the bus stop bypasses from hospital management. They sent out press releases to the Evening Standard, with quotes from their chairman –

Sir Hugh Taylor, chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS trust, said: “We believe that TfL’s plans for cycle lanes and so-called ‘floating’ bus stops on Westminster Bridge pose risks to both pedestrians and cyclists. We are particularly concerned about the impact on patients and carers, especially the elderly, disabled, and families with children in buggies and wheelchairs coming to Evelina London Children’s Hospital.”

They started a petition against the bus stop bypass design – garnering just over 1,000 signatures. They added news items on their website. They organised protest events.

Further FOI requests revealed this entire strategy may have originated with the local MP Kate Hoey, who wrote to the Trust in April 2016 suggesting a campaign against the bus stop bypasses would be

‘a great opportunity’.

Those same FOI requests contain a hilariously revealing admission from the Trust’s Secretary and Head of Corporate Affairs –

‘I don’t think we’ve any evidence [floating bus stops] are unsafe – even though we think they are’

Despite not having any evidence, this same individual was simultaneously claiming that 

‘The Trust is very concerned that Transport for London’s plans for the cycle super highway and “floating” bus stops on Westminster Bridge are dangerous’

The whole curious affair is covered in detail by both Cyclists in the City and by Paul Gannon.

Fast-forward a year to 2017, and it turns out that Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust…. aren’t actually opposed to bus stop bypasses at all, and drop their high court challenge. Construction started in the summer of that year, with zebra crossings across the cycleways at the bus stop islands. The official opening of this southbound section (in front of the hospital) was in the autumn.

Completed Westminster Bridge South works look great – new protected tracks on roundabout & bus stop bypasses on bridge. #beforeandafter

— Will Norman (@willnorman) October 20, 2017

That means these bus stop bypasses have been running more-or-less normally for around eight months now. Has the predicted danger and chaos ensued? To give a flavour of how these stops operate at busy times, I filmed them earlier this month, at 5pm on a Wednesday. I stood here for forty minutes (until my phone battery ran out). The following video shows every single person who cycled (or scooted) past the bus stops between 5 and 5:40pm – around 100 people. The cuts don’t hide anything – they’re simply those periods when nobody was cycling past.

As you’ll see if you watch the entire video, it is very, very mundane. The vast majority of people cycling past do so without any interaction whatsoever – when interactions do occur, they are at slow speed and involve negotiation. This is hardly surprising. People cycling have an interest in not colliding with other human beings – they will injure themselves in doing so. While filming these clips I kept on having to remind myself that an NHS trust objected so strongly to something that is frankly pretty boring.

Nevertheless there are some moments that are worth commenting on.

  • The very first clip (0:13) shows someone overtaking someone slower, by using the bus stop island. There was nobody standing on the island at the time, so nobody was put in danger, and I doubt this manoeuvre would have been attempted otherwise. This is, however, one reason why I think it was a mistake to build the cycleway so narrow (1.5m, and with high kerbs) – it prevents overtaking, and more importantly it removes ‘negotiation space’ as people step onto the zebras, or accidentally step into the cycleway. In a misguided attempt to slow people down, I think the narrowness of the cycleway here actually makes matters worse.
  • From 4:38 onwards there’s a good example of some interaction on the zebra crossing.
  • 7:14 – probably the fastest cyclist of the clip.
  • At 7:25 a woman looking at her phone accidentally steps into the cycleway and stumbles. The man cycling seems to have anticipated this happening and is already steering around her.
  • From 9:16 we see an elderly woman in a hospital chair being wheeled across the zebra, to the island, to a waiting taxi. (Incidentally the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association claimed in their consultation response that “segregated cycle lanes will make it difficult to load people in wheelchairs and other mobility impaired people – this will be a particular problem outside St Thomas’ Hospital.”)
  • From 9:26 there is a minor near miss, as a woman steps into the cycleway without looking. A collision is avoided by the man cycling anticipating, and stopping. (There were a number of other minor incidents like this with people stepping into the cycleway without looking, but none were anywhere near as close as this).

I don’t think we can learn too much from all of this because I was only here for forty minutes. I know that Transport for London have been conducting more extensive rolling video surveys of the new zebra crossings on CS6 and on CS2, which will provide much more comprehensive analysis. However, this was a busy period of the day, at a time when lots of people were coming and going to get on buses. Just under a hundred people cycle past in this period too.

The design is not perfect. As I’ve already mentioned, I think the cycleway is too narrow, which will create problems. The bus stop islands seemed to cope with the number of pedestrians at this busy time, but they could (and should) be wider. To my mind the road here is still ridiculous wide – four lanes, with hatching, and an island – and I really think some serious consideration should have been given to narrowing the road to three (or even two) lanes, and indeed restricting the types of motor traffic allowed to use the bridge to buses and taxis only, which already dominate the traffic composition in any case. That would have allowed much more space for pedestrians, for people cycling, and for bus users.

But even with these problems, it is hard to see what all the fuss was about. My video shows forty minutes of pretty benign interaction (or non-interaction), and even when things go wrong and people behave badly or make mistakes, there are no consequences. Perhaps most importantly of all, the whole video shows buses and cycles flowing freely, without coming into conflict with one another, or impeding each other. Both modes benefit. It’s a stark contrast to the previous situation, where anyone cycling on the bridge had to mix it with these large vehicles.

The footway on the left here was also ‘shared use’, with people allowed to cycle on it, so the new arrangement is yet another improvement in that respect, clarifying where people cycling should be, and where they are expected.

It does seem extraordinary to me that these proposals received so much attention and outright hostility, while the road network across London remains such an unpleasant, dangerous and pedestrian-hostile environment – where ‘green man’ pedestrian signals still do not exist at busy junctions (and are blocked (in 2018!) on the grounds of modelled delay); where zebra crossings are so scarce; where people face massive delay and staggered crossings trying to cross even one arm of a junction. My hope is that as more and more of these types of bus stop are built, so the evidence base will build too, and we (and NHS Trusts) can start to focus our attention on the more pressing problems instead.

Categories: Views

Riding to the doctor’s

BicycleDutch - 18 June, 2018 - 23:01
One of the cycle journeys I make every now and then is to a health centre where my family doctor resides. When I had to go there recently, for a … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

The oldest grade-separated roundabout in the Netherlands

BicycleDutch - 11 June, 2018 - 23:01
Protected separated cycling infrastructure has been the norm in the Netherlands for quite a long time. The Utrecht “Berekuil” was the first intersection in the country with a separate level … Continue reading →
Categories: Views

Groningen. Somehow the new infrastructure is never quite good enough

A View from the Cycle Path - 7 June, 2018 - 20:38
We've run cycling infrastructure study tours in this area for well over a decade. The tours are based in Assen where we live with (for three day tours) a day in Groningen which is just 30 km to the North. People always want to see Groningen because Groningen famously has the higher cycling modal share of any city in the world. It's certainly worth seeing, but Groningen's high modal share is David Hembrow
Categories: Views

Concrete cycle-paths. Smooth, maintenance free and generally preferable to asphalt

A View from the Cycle Path - 6 June, 2018 - 20:09
A lot of the cycle-paths in this area are made of concrete rather than asphalt. When I first moved here  it seemed a slightly odd choice because concrete is a more expensive material. I was surprised that we were getting the premium product while drivers on roads alongside those cycle-paths had the "cut-price" asphalt (immaculately laid, mind you). The advantages of concrete have become more David Hembrow
Categories: Views

From Railway to Cycleway

BicycleDutch - 4 June, 2018 - 23:01
It’s not often that I cycle across an international border but in this week’s video I do it 9 times! That is because I cycled on the former railway line … Continue reading →
Categories: Views


Subscribe to Cycling Embassy of Great Britain aggregator - Views