This post is two weeks in the making as each morning that I have cycled my 8 mile morning commute to the train station I have encountered one particularly driver who doesn’t seem to realise just how close he/she gets as they overtake.
My morning route takes me along a mixture of minor unlit A & B roads and normally the point where I encounter this driver is along a relatively fast section of rural road which in the last few weeks has contained a fair amount of standing water on the edge of the road at times flushing across the road in sections where the camber changes.
The first time I noticed this particular car cutting in close I was not happy but left it at that, as let’s face it, this is not a rare occurrence for cyclists especially as the roads are somewhat waterlogged at the moment. However the very next day when the same car in virtually the same spot cut in even closer than the day before it started to really irritate. I have since cycled that route at around the same time 5 more times since then and every and I repeat every time, the exact same car has cut in a little too close for comfort each time. Now hopefully I am pretty visible with two rear flashing lights on the bike, one on back of my bike helmet, reflective clothing and reflective strips on the panniers. It seems I am visible enough as most other drivers seem to be able to pass by without enabling me to write my name in the dirt down the side of their car.
So driver of a grey VW Jetta carrying private plates travelling via Hursley and Otterbourne on your way to Winchester or beyond, please take more care you’re getting just a little too close at times.
An Article in the Guardian newspaper from last year carried the following rather sobering study that highlights exactly this occurrence. “A study commissioned by a car insurance company Direct line suggested that drivers fail to see 22% of cyclists on the road in clear view of their vehicle. Direct Line used revolutionary eye-tracking technology to establish that motorists who used satnavs were even less likely to spot a cyclist than those who did not. Some 24% of cyclists were “invisible” to drivers who used a satnav, while the younger the driver, the more likely they were not to spot a cyclist – 31% of cyclists were not seen by motorists aged 20-29, compared with 21% by those aged 50-59.
The corresponding figures for motorcyclists were also poor, with 15% not seen by motorists. By contrast, drivers spotted all but 4% of pedestrians who stepped into the road without using a crossing. The problem was worse in London, where 30% of cyclists were “invisible”. A Direct Line spokesperson, Vicky Bristow, described the results as “frightening” and called for the government to take action. She said: “Encouraging all road users to be extra vigilant will improve road safety, but tackling an issue of this scale requires top-down change.”