I shot the video below this morning. I record my rides, not so much to glorify my riding (slow & inelegant) but because I love to film the countryside around where I live in Suffolk. This morning I was descending what passes for a hill around here and a motorist gave me a bit of a fright. I’m not posting this video to moan about the driver in question, but because I think some motorists don’t understand why close passing is so dangerous.
If you see a cyclist in ‘tuck’, meaning they are leaning hard over their bike, rather than sitting in a usual riding position it’s because they are trying to get out of the wind. The problem with doing this is that it means controlling the bike is a little more challenging. But within a safe margin. Getting a close pass can give cyclists a fright, and a fright can leave to a physical jolt. A sudden shift in body posture or even a tightening of the arm muscles that getting a fright can have lethal consequences for cyclists.
Over about 25mph, especially if we are ‘tucked in’ the level of concentration needed and the fine motor controls required to stay safe exist within a very narrow margin. It’s more or less safe, as long as we don’t get the shit put up us by a close pass from a vehicle. We’re concentrating on not hitting pot holes or other road detritus. We’re watching the oncoming traffic. If there are pedestrians in the mix we’re watching every single one of them, because they can be unpredictable.
Cars these days are a lot quieter on the road than they used to be. With the wind whistling around our bikes and rushing through our helmets (or hair) we may not even know we have a car behind us. We simply can’t here a lot of modern cars. In the video you can see that I moved to the middle of the lane on several occasions during the descent. This isn’t just to find the safest line through a corner, it’s also to try and show any motorists who are behind me that now is not a good time to risk passing me.
The car that passed me had to swerve back in front of me as soon as he / she had passed, further complicating my attempts to safely ride my bike. If a car that passes me hits oncoming traffic there will be a catastrophic outcome. The chances are the people in the cars, protected by crumple zones and airbags will probably live. I will not. Just a few moments later I get passed by a silver car, which gives me more space, but again has to swerve to avoid oncoming traffic. I removed the sound from the video because it’s terrible quality, but the driver of the oncoming car gave a fair blast of their horn.
So please motorists, I will continue to do everything I can to use the roads safely, but I do need a little more consideration from some of you.
P.S Bike cams have very wide angle lenses, this pass was a lot closer than it looks!
About the author
Andrew Culture is a professional writer and reviewer who has been writing about everything to do with bikes and cycling for many years. Andrew is also a musician and award-winning zine author.