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UKcyclerules on the Guardian bike blog

4 April 2011

This week’s post for the Guardian’s bike blog looks at how to pass other traffic, and whether undertaking is a good idea.

Let me know what you think!

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Do cycle lanes have any legal significance?

10 March 2011

Recently I’ve been doing more cycling outside of London. One of the first things I’ve noticed is the speed of the traffic – where there aren’t serious congestion problems, cars and trucks move much faster. For a city boy used to weaving in and out of queues, this is a noisy and frightening prospect. Merging across a 50mph dual carriageway to turn right, I’ve found myself looking behind, signalling, and then just hoping for the best.

As far as I’m concerned, dedicated bike lanes are even more important on high speed roads than they are where the cars are pushy but crawling. So I had high hopes for cycling in Bristol, based largely on the optimistic cycling maps produced by Bristol City Council, with their healthy density of green lines for segregated cycle routes. In fact I’ve even discovered cycle lanes not marked on the maps, such as an apparently new lane along this busy A-road (which doesn’t yet appear on street view). Unfortunately, though, the lane disappears right at the scene of my death-defying two-lane merge. Only to be outdone by a similar dedicated lane further up the same road, which ends on the wrong side of the four-lane mini-motorway with nowhere to go but a mystifying detour to the east (or, of course, back).

Relying on these semi-segregated facilities, I’ve wondered (as some readers have asked in the past) about the legal significance of cycle lanes. Read more…

Met Police Cycle Officer in suspected criminal offence

17 February 2011

A few days ago, I rode past two members of the Met police’s cycle unit who had stopped a motorist for some reason. I sneakily took some pictures.

The pictures show two things.

First, I’ll never be a professional photographer (sorry).

But more importantly, there appeared to be something untoward going on. Read more…

When do you have to give your details?

8 February 2011

My usual bike is a roadie. It seems to have its own way of encouraging me to ride faster and faster, so that regardless of where I’m going I’ll arrive in a fit state for nothing more than a shower, a couple of bananas and a rest.

So recently I’ve started taking a BorisBike to work occasionally, for a more leisurely experience. My only problem with the BorisBikes is that, with alarming frequency, my bum slides off the seat. I’ve tried setting the seat at different heights, and wearing different trousers, but nothing can stop the slide. I haven’t yet called the TfL helpline about it, mainly because I’m worried that, in truth, the problem isn’t with the seat.

BorisBikes have one special feature that normal bikes don’t: an identifying number on the side. I’m no expert, but I presume this means that anyone who knows the number of the bike you were riding, and the time they saw you riding it, could (if TfL helped) trace you.  

Obviously tracing the rider of a normal bike, which doesn’t carry an identification number, will be much harder. This made me wonder what the rules are in this area. If you ride a bike, when are you obliged to give your details? Read more…

The laws of car doors

18 January 2011

I once had a colleague who was a real soy milk warrior. He didn’t just drink the stuff and overstock the work fridge – he tried to persuade everyone who ventured into the kitchen of the joy of soy.

He never really told me many benefits of soy milk. He simply explained all the horrible things that he believed happened when cows are milked, and which apparently slopped out of the carton and onto my breakfast.

I wouldn’t normally mind, but he explained all this while I was making my breakfast. Which I quite looked forward to after steaming in for half an hour on my bike. And which is in the running for my favourite meal of the day anyway.

When I finally snapped that I had biked to work and was hungry, the same colleague told me he too had been a regular cyclist, until he rode one day into a narrow gap between a bus and some parked cars. Someone in a parked car opened their door. He crashed into the door and was hurt pretty badly.

It never occurred to me that there might be rules about this sort of thing. But a regular reader, Elliot, has pointed out that the person in the parked car might have committed an offence. I thought I’d check it out. Read more…

The rules of red lights, part 3 – lights for cycle lanes

7 December 2010

I’ve been writing a lot about red lights recently. There’s a risk that this will make me seem a bit of a killjoy, whereas I like to see myself as more of a Lovejoy (not really).

So in keeping with the festive season, this blog post offers you a present.

It’s something every cyclist wants. You will have wished for it many times. You can use it as often as you like. It’s all wrapped up in a post about traffic lights for cycle lanes – read on to find out what it is.

Read more…

The rules of red lights, part 2 – advanced stop zones

30 November 2010

The light goes red. The first car sits on the advanced stop box, guiltily smothering the painted-on cycle symbol. A couple of shark-eyed motorbikers drift around the edges and sit in front.

You filter through to get ahead of the motorbikes, and maybe subtly-but-deliberately block one or two of them in to make a point. You end up naughtily stopping halfway across the pedestrian crossing.

This is not how it’s supposed to happen.

Read more…