Posts Tagged road safety

Letter to Biffa about close pass

Sent over a month ago, on the 19th of  February. No reply from Biffa to date.

Yesterday morning, at about 0910, I was cycling along Archerhill Road, in the West End of Glasgow. As I came to a constriction in the road (parked cars on my side, road works on the other side), one of your Biffa garbage disposal trucks decided to pass me. Given the constriction, they had to pass very close to me – far too close. I don’t believe there was any maliciousness on the part of the driver. I just don’t think they realised what they were doing.

I’d be very grateful if you could issue a reminder to your drivers about rule 163 of the Highway Code, and that cyclists need to be given as much clearance when passing as they are tall. This is needed in case something happens that makes them fall to their side (such as unexpected potholes, parked cars opening doors, mechanical failures, etc), to ensure they are not seriously injured by passing vehicles.

I’m sure you’re as anxious as I am that your drivers are mindful of the safety of more vulnerable road users. I look forward your reply.


Paul Jakma.

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McGill’s buses and yellow lights

Below sent to McGill’s buses a few weeks ago, via their website.

Dear McGill’s,

Please could you remind your drivers that a yellow light means “Stop, unless doing so would cause a collision”. It does NOT mean “Speed up and get through the lights!”.

I go through the junction at the north side of the Finnieston bridge, and I regularly see your bus drivers going through red there, because they didn’t heed yellow. On some occasions, as they turn right, they actually go through the pedestrian lights that have already gone green! There is simply no excuse for this, as they would have had a yellow for several seconds.

Please re-iterate to your drivers that yellow means “Stop, unless unsafe to do so”.


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Is this rusty bollard safe for bicyclists?

Glasgow City Council have acted on my previous complaint to them, on the part about a bollard with a strange bit of jagged, rusty metal on top at the access to the quiet side road off the Broomielaw/A814, by having their cycling officer inspect it. The officer has found that it’s safe – sufficiently at least that no action will be taken it seems. I’ve taken photos of it, to see if anyone else might agree with me…

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Towergate Insurance and the Death Wish Cyclist

This is a comment I’ve sent to Towergate Insurance about their “Death Wish Cyclist” video, about which they recently put out a press release:


I’m writing about your recent press release at:

In the press release you quote the truck firm, who appears to think his driver is completely innocent. This is a view which Towergate Insurance appears to endorse to some degree, as you have put the video on Youtube with the title “Death Wish Cyclist“. As a car driver and regular cyclist, I think it’s worth pointing out that the video shows the truck driver’s behaviour is far from perfect. Regardless of whatever blame may be attached to the cyclist, there are a number of problems with how the truck is being driven:

a) The Highway Code advises that cyclists should be left plenty of room when passed by motorists (rule 163 and 212). The road concerned is single-lane in each direction, and there is oncoming traffic, so the truck driver could not have changed lane. Yet they were still preparing to overtake, and even accelerated to 44mph as part of this. Had they passed the cylist, it would have been far too close and at too high a speed. The lorry driver was not intending to leave any margin of safety, needed in case the cyclist had to weave or move for some reason, e.g. from a mechanical problem or because of potholes. Motorists who close pass cyclists are driving irresponsibly, especially so when done with heavy goods vehicles which are almost to certain to kill cyclists if there is any contact.

b) The road is through Southampton Common and appears to have a 40mph speed limit. Yet the video  shows the driver reaching 44mph as they prepare to overtake. They appear to be committing a quite obvious offence with their aborted overtake, presuming the data from your system is accurate.

c) There is a side junction ahead, which presumably is easily visible given that the cyclist was manoeuvring to take it. The Highway Code rule 167 states “DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example: * approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road“. The Highway Code says this precisely because road users are likely to be manoeuvring to leave or enter the road ahead – as the cyclist is.

d) The Highway Code also states that motorists should take extra care around vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, cyclists. Further, though it’s impossible to be certain because the camera lens is extremely wide-angle and doesn’t show enough detail, the cyclist looks like they perhaps may be young – a teenager. The highway code specifically advises motorists to be particularly careful around young and inexperienced road users (rule 204).

Road safety requires that we not only avoid making mistakes, but also that we take care to allow for the inevitability that mistakes will sometimes be made by others. On this basis alone, the driving shown by the truck driver was less than perfect. Further, the driving shown appears to directly contravene a number of rules given in the Highway Code, with which all drivers should be familiar. Finally, contingent on the accuracy of your system, the driver may even have been speeding.

All together, it’s very hard to see how this driver is “blameless” for the narrowly averted accident shown in this incident. Without intending to absolve the cyclist in any way of blame for their part, I think it’s important that anyone watching that video should also realise that the driving shown falls far below what is expected of motorists.

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