Top most dangerous vehicles to cyclists

Cycling on the roads is a really dangerous and tough thing. It’s especially dangerous when it’s dark. Even moreso when you’re in rush hour. At this time of year I have to add all those together and I get a big wad of danger delivered on a platter to me.

I was having a discussion with a friend at work and listed the worst road offenders for being ignorant, inconsiderate and downright dangerous when a bicycle is involved. I made this list based on the past few months of returning to cycling, and also the last week or so of returning to full road cycling – mainly due to the dark canal path not being too viable for cycling.

So I made the list, and coming home tonight I added to it in my head, here we go.

BMW’s

Audi’s

Women

Baby on Board

Jeeps

Taxi’s

General vehicles

What’s interesting here is that the general vehicles includes white vans, they aren’t that bad compared to these other vehicles and I’d definitely say Buses are way more considerate than most on the road.

So BMW and Audi cars are the worst offenders. When I notice a car that has just cut me up, lept in front of me or driven within an inch of me is driven by a woman or carrying a Baby on Board sticker I’m amazed. Don’t they have kids that have bikes? Would they be upset if their son or daughter was cut up by a car and knocked over? I wonder in such circumstances would they remember all the cyclists they try and knock over day to day?

Okay, so there are generalisations there. I know Lee drives his BMW very well and I’m sure gives loads of consideration to other road users, particularly cyclists. Yet this is a reflection of what I’ve actually witnessed on the roads myself as a cyclist, these are the categories of vehicles that have been the most inconsiderate and dangerous towards me. Oh, and do not be in any doubt that I do not use the word dangerous in a melodramatic way, that’s fact, I really do mean dangerous.

So much so that I’ve decided to reclaim my position on the road, and I’ve very much moved across to cycle more firmly in the centre of my lane, if I don’t cars will try and squeeze by, and no matter how far into the side I go they’ll always come close.

That didn’t work today though, quite a few times I was cut up and narrowly missed, and the worst offender was just as I cycled across the lights past the University on the way to Greenbank. Right behind me a black Sierra speeds up and pushes towards my back wheel, I’m not exaggerating when I say he was about two inches to my right. I decided to pull over a bit and defend my lane just as he decided to floor it and leap past me, still with only that two inch gap.

Well here’s to you Mr G280 UGE, let’s hope someone does that to one of your children in an attempt to show how manly and annoyed they are, then speeds by. Let’s just hope they can handle their bike and stay upright, and not fall over in the path of the next vehicle.

Why don’t you all just think about the cyclist in front of you. Here are some thoughts, and I shall swap he\she throughout for those sex equalitists among you!

  • He may not be able to indicate – it’s difficult keeping a bike on the road without wobbling, concentrating on other drivers, working your gears and brakes, and trying to avoid being knocked over.
  • She may turn suddenly – you cannot hold your arm out all the way to, and round, a junction. There’s stability, braking and the turning manoeuvre to carry out, and with both hands.
  • He needs room – to indicate (an extended arm space at least), to give them confidence and therefore stability, to turn, etc.
  • She may wobble and weave on the road – there are potholes, sunken drains, glass, wind, car drafts, all these things to contend with.
  • He needs room to brake – a bike does not stop very fast.
  • She needs room in front – a bike can continue moving forward, cutting straight in front of them is not good, she cannot brake in time, nor can she manoeuvre around you quickly.

Have a think of some of these next time you are on the road, and remember something one of my neighbours didn’t, that cyclist might be your neighbour. Hey, they might be your workmate arriving at work, senior to you at work even, and they are always someone elses child.

Update: 21/10/2005

I thought of two other guidelines for drivers when approaching cyclists

  • Look ahead of cyclists – if there’s a parked car ahead and you’re passing them leave enough room alongside the car as well. They have to overtake it and can’t just suddenly stop because you’ve overtaken and squashed them between you and the parked car!
  • Don’t take the apex – when a cyclist is coming up to a left turn and you’re overtaking them, don’t pull in and take the apex of the curve. They’re still moving forwards and you’re cutting them up and forcing them off the road is not proving your F1 skills.

Update: 04/11/2005

Two incidents happened this morning that have made me mad enough to write about them, and the more I think about this post the more I think I’ll just keep adding to it and putting up registrations of vehicles that really cause me danger and that I can remember!

The first was incredible since it was coming out of the very place I live. Not five metres from the junction out of our estate I heard a vehicle racing behind me. Bear in mind this is along a narrow road with cars parked on one side where kids play daily. Just before the junction is a hidden entrance to the left, that’s where all the site traffic drives in and out, and it was just at this point the silver Mercedes raced past me to try and beat me to the junction.

Well he didn’t, obviously, and he ended up driving alongside me, sitting on the right hand side of the junction (that’s the wrong side of the road for all you non-left hand side of the road drivers). I was on the correct side of the road getting ready to turn, luckily I wasn’t turning right and fighting him for position on the road, and luckily there was no traffic trying to enter the estate to find it blocked by an overbearing idiot in his silver Mercedes living in Greenbank Village. I just wish I’d managed to get his number plate or his house, I’d go and pay him a house visit.

The second was a dark blue VW type estate family car with a registration something along the lines of SM54 JVZ. I was cycling to the junction with Colinton Road from Merchants Golf Course, the lights were red, and no traffic in the turning right lane, so I cycled down to the junction to sit in the red cycle box (this is an area on many junctions for cyclists to move through the traffic and sit safely at the front of the queue). Unfortunately the lights changed as I was passing this car and they started to move, so I powered down and pulled infront of them. That resulted in a huge horn blowing incident, them racing round the front of me and braking in front.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking already, but let’s just rewind a few moments to before the junction. I was cycling alongside Merchants Golf Course, and for anyone who knows that means a narrow road, blind hills and corners, and it was at one of these combined blind hill-corner sections that a car passed me as another vehicle was coming towards it on the opposite side. “Close” I thought, but then another car followed it, the very same VW. It pulled out from behind me and sped past on this blind hill combined corner, he couldn’t see a thing. Faced with an oncoming vehicle he pulled in and cut me up dangerously close. All I could do was wave my hand.

Obviously there must be some great satisfaction for him to sound off his horn from behind to a cyclist. It must have made him feel really big, and having conveniently forgotten his attempt to kill himself, the other driver and me, he felt the need to blast his horn and try and scare me off my bike. Perhaps the thought never crossed his mind that I was the same cyclist he’d attempted to kill, or that I had done nothing wrong to the point of having to cut in. Perhaps if he’d eased off his accelerator and let me back in he might be feeling better about himself…and that was just the cycle in today.

Update: 04/11/2005

…and lo and behold it wasn’t the last attempted murder of the day. On the way home I was cycling up to the first big roundabout on Calder Road which has three lanes leading to the roundabout. The lights were at red with a couple of cars stopped. I was about three metres from the rear of the stationary car when another vehicle on my right hand side tries to overtake and pull in front of me in the lane. He was so unsuccessful that his front bumper was in line with my front wheel, yet he was still pointed into my lane trying to cut me off and force me across the road.

So when the lights went to green I cycled forward and he pulled forward continuing driving into my lane alongside me, he just sped up, cut right in front and off! Now he can’t say that he didn’t see me because he was alongside me trying to force me off the road.

10 comments on “Top most dangerous vehicles to cyclists”

  1. Patrick Hadfield Reply

    As a driver, thinking that a cyclist might be a colleague is probably more likely to make me cut them up! Just joking…

    As a cyclist – when it is warm and not raining (another danger this time of year) – I avoid roads where I can. Buses in Edinburgh seem to have adapted well to sharing the road with cyclists. The only good thing about Edinburgh’s transport policy is the good provision of cycle routes – at least, they allow me to cycle eight miles to work away from homicidal drivers (such as myself, as I have proved above…).

    As a pedestrian, I think cyclists could be more considerate. When I am not cycling to work, I walk part way along a shared pedestrian-cycle path. Cyclists often seem to think they have a right to the path, and treat pedestrians as something to push out of the way. A bit like cars do to cyclists on the road, perhaps.

    By the way, for off-road cycling, dogs would be way up high on my list of dangers: completely oblivious to cyclists, runners or whoever, and ignoring their owners imploring to heel!

  2. Richard Brunton Reply

    You should see an earlier post I have on cycling, actually that reminds me this was supposed to be Part II of the post and I’ve not named it properly…never mind!

    Have a look back for Cyclists and Motorists Part I – I think it’s called that. I have a go at cyclists there too!

  3. Malcolm Reply

    I heartily agree about BMW drivers. It is extremely rare nowadays to see a BMW driver who does not drive in an arrogant, pushy manner, and at a speed in excess of the legal limit.

    I also note the inclusion of Jeeps. I hope this was directed at those who drive the American import and not generally 4×4 vehicles – sorry I should have said “gas guzzling, dangerous to pedestrians and other motorists, causing excessive wear and tear on the roads and taking up too much parking space 4×4 vehicles” to loosely quote the Libdem spokesperson for transport in London, who forgot to investigate the facts before making the statement.

    Mind you, on reflection, perhaps Richard was avoiding criticising 4×4 drivers, since I, as his aged parent, made him extremely jealous when I demonstrated the high G forces exerted when I accelerated hard in my 4×4

  4. Patrick Hadfield Reply

    I’ve just realised an omission: Volvos. Or maybe Volvo drivers have moved up market, and they all drive BMWs now. Personally, Mercedes drivers must rate pretty high up the list, too.

    Part of this may just be jealousy, part of it annoyance at the damage cars do to the environment. (Which doesn’t stop me driving, of course!)

  5. Patrick Hadfield Reply

    I checked out Cyclists Pt1, and agree with your views of other cyclists.

    You also wax lyrical about the pleasures of cycling by the canal – ducks and geese mainly.

    Well, my cycle – or walk (to a bus stop) – to work takes me along the river, and it is a pleasure. Going home is easier – I live downstream – but either way, the trees and wildlife make getting to work a pleasant experience.

    This week I have seen a heron, a kingfisher, a family of swans and loads of ducks. The leaves a whole range of colours, and the whole is quite beautiful.

    It almost makes commuting worthwhile!

  6. Lee Reply

    I don’t come across many cyclists along the A1, and try to avoid Edinburgh like the plague.

    BMW drivers? I saw a whole new light when I got mine. I used to be of the same mind, but when you buy one and see the number of jealous arseholes who try to take you on just because of the badge on your bonnet. It’s pathetic, and thankfully I’ve stopped caring now.

  7. David Reply

    I commutted on a bike all through college and for about 10 years after that. Most of the time was on streets without bike lanes. In that 15 year period I got hit by cars 5 times.

    1- a red volvo w/ baby on board in the rear window – clipped my hip with her mirror. She just didn’t leave enough room between her car and the curb for my and my bike when she passed me. She also didn’t stop after flipping me over the curb. But she did when the cop who was three cars behind her got involved.

    2 – large white panel van. Again, I got scrapped off on the curb while going around a corner. The bike and I need more than 6 inches of room. I managed to jump the curb but couldn’t avoid the sign pole that was in the way.

    3 – Red BMW. Two drunk college guys thought it would be fun to ride up next to the cyclist, reach out the window and give him a shove. Fortunately the other side of that curb had a nice soft patch of grass to go tumbling across.

    4 – White Lincoln Town Car – side swipped me IN A BIKE LANE. He wanted to use the bike lane as a turn lane. Fortunately I was able to jump the curb and stay on the bike. Then he had the nerve to stop and yell at me because my pedal scrapped the paint on his door. The fact that I and the bike were uninjured made me just laugh at him and the big nasty scratch on the side of his nice new car, and just ride away.

    5 – Old Ford Pickup Truck. This is the only accident I didn’t walk away from with only minor scraps and bruises. It is also the only one in which the driver who hit me was not being inattentive. The truck driver and I got put into a bad situation at a busy intersection when two other negligent drivers forced the truck driver to decide between hitting them and me, or risk jumping the curb and slamming into the 10-12 elementary students who were waiting at the corner for the light to change. He made the right choice. He also drove me to the student health clinic, paid my medical bills, and replaced my bike. After driving me to the clinic he had to go back to the scene of the accident and explain why he left the scene of the accident. Fortunately the only charges filed were against the other two drivers.

    As a general rule the I always seem to expect the worst from the more expensive vehicles. Don’t know why, maybe if they can afford the car in the first place they can afford to replace it?

  8. Richard Brunton Reply

    Oh lord David, sounds like you’ve had a tough time! I really worry that something like that will happen to me (I know my girlfriend is too), I just hope that the injuries weren’t too bad and that the drivers at fault have had the fright of their lives and changed their ways. The guy that helped you sounds like a good guy, and it’s cool that you appreciate what situation he was in.

    Perhaps as part of your driving test you are forced to cycle for a minimum of three weeks, or maybe even ride a motorbike, both (I’ve found anyway) seriously increase your awareness.

  9. David Reply

    Richard,

    Most of my Bike accidents left me more scared than injured. Usually they resulted in only a couple minor bumps and/or abrasions. But then I’ve always been a klutz, so I learned how to fall at an early age. I figured riding daily on very busy streets, most of them without bike lanes, and averaging only one accident every three years was pretty good odds.

    My biggie with the truck cost me a few broken ribs, one nasty laceration and several very large bruises. It could have been much worse. Probably should have been. My bike was totaled. When the smoke cleared it had passed under the front wheels and was crumpled under the body of the pickup. Fortunately I wasn’t locked onto the pedals at the time and the blow from the truck’s front fender threw me clear of the other cars. If the truck hadn’t hit me one of the other cars probably would have. I was busy trying to avoid the two lunatics that caused the accident when the truck hit me. I never really understood what happened. But the police assured me that the driver didn’t have any better options.

    The main thing you need to do is stay aware of your surroundings, try to ride on bike paths or in bike lanes when you can, and learn to handle your bike. My side swiping accidents could have been much worse if I hadn’t known how to jump my bike over curb height obstacles. It’s amazing the things you will practice as a child when you are young, indestructable and bored. Also I had places to bail out. Some of that was luck, some intentional. Sometimes the best route to ride is not the shortest route to where you are going. I used to ride past the local high school on my way to work because it was the shortest route. But with all the parents who are picking up and dropping off kids, and the way kids drive I soon discovered that riding a couple miles out of my way and avoiding being near the high school was a much safer route.

    I am constantly amazed at the stupid things I see bicyclists do while riding with or around cars. Many of the riders here in town ride like they own the road. I’ve tried to tell a few of them that even if you are right, that 2000 lb. car hurts, a lot. Just be careful and pay attention. Like I told my kids when teaching them to ride. Accidents are going to happen. You are going to occassionally fall, or maybe sometimes get knocked down. The trick is to minimze the chances of the accidents happening. Carefully pick where and how you ride. My son crashed into the neighbor’s mailbox three times before he figured out that riding on sidewalks with mailboxes protruding over them is not a good plan.

    Lastly, wear a helmet. I’ve replaced two of them over the years. All of them have been worth every penny I paid for them. My helmet after the truck accident was in 3 different pieces. Other than a headache that went away when I took the pain killers for my ribs and a small scrape on my ear, my head was not damaged.

    Keep riding and have fun.

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