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Chris Boardman films cycle safety video instructing drivers how to pass safely

'I shouldn't have to wear a helmet to pop to the shops' adds Olympic and Tour veteran...

Chris Boardman has been in Exeter this week filming a road safety video about how to pass cyclists safely.

The Olympic and Tour de France veteran took time out to speak to the Western Morning News about his decision to leave his helmet at home while filming a segment for BBC Breakfast about cycle safety.

Viewers complained when Boarman was seen riding around Manchester in a dark coat and jeans.

“I had the audacity to ride a bicycle in normal clothes and was pilloried for it,” he said.

“I dressed as I would to drive down the shops. I have nothing against helmets.

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“If I go on a long ride I wear one – sometimes out of habit, often on a mountain bike – but I am under no illusion about the effect on my safety. I manufacture the things. In an incident with a car they will have almost no effect.

“They are being used to deflect from making real decisions and I won’t waste air time talking about them. The danger for me is being hit by a vehicle doing something it shouldn’t. We should focus on how we stop accidents not what happens to people who have them.”

He said that cycling around town was a clear winner for health and the environment.

“We are drowning in data – economic, health, pollution, you pick any battleground you want and using cycling as a mode of transport for short journeys wins hands down,” he adds.

“The only way to get people to exercise more is to get them to include it in their daily life. It is not about cyclists but communities. We need infrastructure and there need to be laws to protect people. At the moment the easiest way to kill somebody is to do it in a car with the minimum penalty. As a logical person I am desperately frustrated that we are even talking about this. The fact that we have to push for it is ludicrous.”

The video about cycle safety will be released online this week, partly made by Carlton Reid, executive editor of BikeBiz.com, who flew the drone camera and is now editing the final cut.

“In the good old days a video like this would been produced and disseminated by the Government as a public information film but the Government doesn’t do them any more so the Bicycle Association and British Cycling funded this one,” said Reid.

“Some motorists don’t give cyclists sufficient space when overtaking, failing to take into account the wobble room a cyclist needs. Cyclists don’t always ride in a straight line partly because they can spot potholes and other road imperfections that motorists can’t.”

The short film, called Space, highlights Highway Code section 163 – which requires overtaking drivers to give cyclists and horse riders as much room as a car – and reinforces the legal right of two bicycles to ride alongside one another.

“You don’t encounter people very often and when you come around the corner on a lane with high hedges and encounter cyclists, it’s a shock, you weren’t expecting them,” said Boardman.

“But the law does not protect cyclists, and so often incidents are written off as driving without due care and attention which attracts paltry sentencing and penalties.

“I want to see our villages, towns and communities prioritising people – putting them and businesses first. I want everybody to think “what’s the nicest place I have been to?” And I can guarantee it was not full of cars.

“That’s what we need to be aiming for. It’s not about cyclists, it’s about communities. I want the car to be a visitor not dominating where me and my kids live.

“I want my daughter to be able to ride 300 yards to the local park because there is space to do it and the laws and infrastructure allow it. It needs a holistic approach but people will get used to it and prefer it.

“The scary one is on a political level. There is only a finite amount of road space around our towns and cities and you have to take it away from someone else. People don’t like change.”

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47 comments

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mikroos replied to HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:

When it's not easy, for example because of oncoming traffic, less than 50% wait until it's safe to overtake.

Actually, it's also up to the cyclist to ride in such a way that overtaking is not possible. When overtaking is not legal anyway, I don't think riding closer to the middle of the road (as long as it's absolutely necessary - I DON'T encourage anyone to block the traffic for no good reason!) is wrong in any way.

Of course, in a perfect world it wouldn't be necessary, but as long as we live in a world that we live in, we also should do our best to procect ourselves from bad driving.

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harrybav replied to mikroos | 8 years ago
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mikroos wrote:

I don't think riding closer to the middle of the road.. is wrong in any way.

Sure, sure, but the only people happy to assert space against angry young male drivers are angry young male cyclists. On my commute drivers are highly confrontational to anyone cycling a safe distance from parked cars. Maybe Boardman's video will help, a bit. There is a big problem here and it isn't cyclist roadcraft.

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jova54 replied to harrybav | 8 years ago
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vbvb wrote:
mikroos wrote:

I don't think riding closer to the middle of the road.. is wrong in any way.

Sure, sure, but the only people happy to assert space against angry young male drivers are angry young male cyclists.......

I'm quite happy to assert my right to adequate space on any road so that I can cycle in safety. However, being 60 I'm well past being either young or angry. I don't have a problem with vehicles passing me safely and I will always make way for following vehicles to safely pass me but when I get to pinch points or onto roads that don't encourage cycling too far to the left I will position myself so that I manage my safety, which is all you can ever do.

One lesson I learnt from a 'defensive driving' course was to treat all other road users as complete idiots; drivers, cyclists, pedestrians etc. and expect them all to do something really stupid within the next 30 seconds, and I expect other people treat me the same.

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Ush replied to harrybav | 8 years ago
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vbvb wrote:

sure, but the only people happy to assert space against angry young male drivers are angry young male cyclists

I'm not young and I'm not angry (most of the time  3 ). I have also experienced harassment from women. The problem is twofold: cyclists getting intimidated into hugging the curb/kerb and drivers intimidating them into doing that.

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don simon fbpe | 8 years ago
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The more I hear Mr Boardman speak, the more I like.
Still won't buy one of his bikes mind....  22

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Kim | 8 years ago
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Nice of Mr Boardman to catch up what many grassroots activists have been saying for years, shame that he snubs so many of us.

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Charles_Hunter replied to Kim | 8 years ago
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Kim wrote:

Nice of Mr Boardman to catch up what many grassroots activists have been saying for years, shame that he snubs so many of us.

He seems a good chap, care to elaborate?

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kevvjj replied to Kim | 8 years ago
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He has never snubbed me.

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harrybav replied to Kim | 8 years ago
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The guy is magnificent.

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TimC340 replied to Kim | 8 years ago
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Kim wrote:

Nice of Mr Boardman to catch up what many grassroots activists have been saying for years, shame that he snubs so many of us.

Chris has been banging this drum ever since he gave up competitive cycling. He has a voice that is listened to and respected. Perhaps it's for you to support him, rather than the other way round (though his message effectively supports all cycling 'grassroots activists').

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TiNuts | 8 years ago
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Actually, demolition special, although I partly agree with your sentiment, there's nothing stopping Button or Coulthard coming out and publicly supporting Boardman. Isn't that what social media engagement (of which all celebrities are, I'm sure, acutely aware) all about?

There is still the question as to whether the average self-entitled motorist will take a blind bit of notice despite the "celebrity" support, but at least Boardman is making attempts to address issues of which so many of us are acutely aware.

The question is, why aren't the government producing such videos in the first place? Why is it down to a private individual (albeit a high profile one) to attempt to raise public awareness of what are basic safety issues?

Ideally, I'd like Boardman to rope in the ex-Top-Gear Hammond (who is, apparently, a keen cyclist) as well. Hammond, Button, Coulthard and, er, Clarkson in a Trabant.

Perhaps I'm letting my imagination run away with me..........

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ChairRDRF | 8 years ago
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Congratulations to Chris Boardman from the Road Danger Reduction Forum. Well done Chris, pretty much spot on.

Right on helmets and normal clothing, on need for law enforcement etc., etc

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wycombewheeler | 8 years ago
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The question is - where/when will the video be shown? I'm pretty fed up off passing motorists shouting "single file" when their journey has not been delayed by a single second. Especially as it is OK for a single person to take up the full lane, because THEY choose to use an unnecessarily wide, but 6 cyclists can't use the same amount of space.

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dodgy | 8 years ago
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Yeah, let's post negative stuff about Boardman's efforts.

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demolitionspecial | 8 years ago
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This will go down well with the anti-cyclist motorists then, who will just dismiss it as patronising and preachy and become fuel to their fire/'they-think-they-own-the-road' rage.
Had it been better thought through then Boardman would have enlisted a respected British Motorsport icon such as Button or Coulthard, both keen cyclists also, who would have carried more credibility in getting the important message across.

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Critchio replied to demolitionspecial | 8 years ago
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demolitionspecial wrote:

This will go down well with the anti-cyclist motorists then, who will just dismiss it as patronising and preachy and become fuel to their fire/'they-think-they-own-the-road' rage.
Had it been better thought through then Boardman would have enlisted a respected British Motorsport icon such as Button or Coulthard, both keen cyclists also, who would have carried more credibility in getting the important message across.

CB is a sound contender supporting today's cycling in today's world. He is sensible and level headed in my opinion. I've never thought of him as patronising and preachy, just someone who tells it like it is.

And with respect, I keep hearing these "anti-cyclist" phrases like there is some kind of cyclist hating zombie epidemic upon us. It is not that bad, most motorists will give you the space you need. There is friction between cyclists and motorists which is being perpetuated by, er, cyclists and motorists. That will change when attitudes change and until the tide of thinking turns Coulthard won't carry any more influence than Boardman, the petrol heads will just call him a traitor.

The government has to force change on us, as harsh as it sounds. We will adapt like we always do.

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Quince replied to demolitionspecial | 8 years ago
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demolitionspecial wrote:

This will go down well with the anti-cyclist motorists then, who will just dismiss it as patronising and preachy and become fuel to their fire/'they-think-they-own-the-road' rage.
Had it been better thought through then Boardman would have enlisted a respected British Motorsport icon such as Button or Coulthard, both keen cyclists also, who would have carried more credibility in getting the important message across.

Yes, bad, bad Boardman. I'm panning you on a video I haven't even seen yet because... err, it doesn't have Jenson Button in it.

Like that film, Spider Man 3. That didn't have Jenson Button in it. Or David Coulthard. And it was rubbish.

Go back to the drawing board, man.

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