Advice: Undertaking large vehicles?


… In a word – DON’T (or at the very least be very sure you can before you do).

Why? Because I saw it again today, and it chills me to the bone. If there is one certified, grade ‘A’ piece of cycle commuting advice, its this – DO NOT undertake large vehicles as they trundle along. I wanted to holler, top of my voice ‘Don’t!!!’. But I didn’t. There was little point. I’m not Brian Blessed and I can’t yell ‘Flash Gordon Approaching’ at 90 decibels +. I was much too far back to be heard (besides, in my experience imparting advice on the move often seems to fall on deaf ears with the recipient firing a ‘who asked you?’ look in my direction).

Dumfries place 3 (1 of 1)

Forgive me, as I’m no doubt preaching to the converted, but always bear in mind that its pretty unlikely you know precisely which route the bus is taking; which stops it will pull in at, which side roads it’ll take. And its nigh on impossible to read a delivery driver’s mind. There’s every chance that a large vehicle in a city centre is on the look out for a road, a building or somewhere to pull in and it could cut across you in a jiffy (with or without indication). Cyclists always come off second best in these exchanges and for the sake of a few seconds progress, it simply ain’t worth it (‘yes…’ I hear you cry, ‘but shouldn’t the driver be checking his/her mirror?’ Of course. But that’s scant consolation if you’re lying on the pavement).  Lane segregation via cycle specific and/or bus lanes are the possible exception to this, but even in those circumstances, be aware.

The bus lane in Dumfries Place, Cardiff (above) is a classic example. Cars often speed up to beat the buses before turning left into Windsor Place, scything across the shared lane as they do. On many occasions I’ve had to brake hard to avoid a collision with a car that fancies nipping into Windsor Place without warning (or eyeball the driver in advance of the move). Of course, you could be a belting mind reader and you know precisely what the driver is going to do. But then you already knew what I was going to say in this piece and really had no need to read it. If you are, can I have secret of those skills? in the absence of better lane segregation it really would be a terrific defense.

Cycle safe (and take time to enjoy the liberation).

2 replies »

  1. Agreed – it’s impossible to read a delivery driver, or other driver’s mind, and it’s never, ever a good idea to undertake a large vehicle. But after more than ten years of cycling in London, I’ve developed something of a sixth sense about when a car or other vehicle is likely to pull across my path. Partly that’s because I’ve been cycling the same streets for such a long time that I’ve come to learn where the danger spots are, so I know when to cycle defensively – such as taking the lane in places where drivers are likely to try to turn left across my path. It’s also because I pay attention to what other road users are doing, and hang back if they show the slightest sign of being about to cut me up. I wouldn’t say I’ve been right every time, but I have managed to avoid any collisions.

    • I also agree. What I’ve seen recently – I think – is the behaviour of either recent converts to cycling, cyclists who are not motorists (the minority, I think) or cyclists who aren’t paying enough attention. The anecdotal evidence I cited of Dumfries Place – a busy road fed by an even busier one – is a similar tale of 6th sense; the amount of drivers I’ve eyeballed because I just know they are going to effect a quick turn, numbers many more fingers and toes than I can count on.

      We’ll have to work out how to distill the sixth sense, bottle it and make a fortune!

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