On driving as a driver

In the last couple of days we have been out in the car twice. Once taking a son’s girlfriend home and the other to collect a son from Oxford. As I now ride more miles than we use the car for I have become more aware of just how bad the driving is on our roads. Just a few examples:

  • Yesterday in Leicester a tax started to pull out of a bus stop right in front of me. No warning, no looking, no indicating. Fortunately, I was driving at below 30mph and so was able to stop.
  • Also in Leicester yesterday on the Central Ring the lights changed to red in front of me. I was able to stop comfortably and I was far enough away that it was the obvious thing to do. No way could I have got through on amber. The car behind me then, pulled out, overtook me and accelerated through a completely red light.
  • At the roundabout on the Melton Road at Thurmaston I find it is impossible to start off as the light goes to green as there is always someone coming out of the shopping centre on a clear red. Happens nearly every time.
  • Today driving to and from Oxford I was surprised that at about 65mph (ranging between 60mph and 70mph) we were by a considerable margin the slowest car around. We didn’t overtake any cars (except those slowing down to turn off). If the cost of fuel is such an expensive issue how come everyone can still afford to break the speed limit the whole time?
  • Now that I am very determined to move away from earlier behaviour and keep to the speed limit or slower it makes it very obvious how impatient and aggressive drivers are. On 30mph limits there is often a car behind trying to find an opportunity to overtake. Yet it is also obvious how little the gains that are made are, rarely do you lose sight of an aggressive driver within a few miles of urban road. There is a significant amount of pressure put on you by other drivers to speed, with aggressive tailgating, gestures, weaving around behind you as well as under and over taking (often in dangerous situations).

I would be very interested in suggestions on how we could  change our attitudes and behaviour. I come away from time spent driving surprised there are not more deaths and injuries as well as even more convinced that we need both radical traffic calming on residential streets and separated cycle infrastructure on anything with a 30mph or higher speed limit.

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  1. interesting post Dave, I stick to 60/ 65 ish on motorways and between 50 and 60 otherwise (out of town) and like you I find myself being overtaken all the time, but it is less stressful and more fuel efficient! Like you I don’t understand why people still speed when the economics let alone anything else all point to it making sense not to!

    North Yorkshire interestingly does not use speed cameras but has traffic calming measures through all of its villages, and on the whole this works well, cycle ways around York itself are mostly good though the outer villages are not so well served.

    To be honest I think that we can talk about it, write and lobby councils and MP’s and keep on keeping on!

    • Sadly a lot of traffic calming around here makes life actively more dangerous for cyclists. We get squashed at pinch points & attacked for holding up cars. Most unpleasant.

      Tonight I was riding on a cycle path alongside the A6 and then the A46. No physical separation other than a kerb. Very scary when cars are racing each other at well above the speed limit with no barrier between me and them. These are fancy sports cars being driven flat out (you can hear the racing style gear changes and the scream of the engines from a long way away).

      Some features of York are good for cyclists but the overall standard is still way, way way behind the Netherlands or Copenhagen and falling rapidly behind a number of US cities (like Portland for example).

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