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GMB slammed on social media after asking: “Should cyclists be forced to ride single file?”

TV show ‘debate’ sees Matt Barbet’s explanation of why it’s safer to ride two abreast countered with insistence that cyclists should “show respect”

ITV’s flagship morning show, Good Morning Britain, has been slammed on social media after it aired a segment entitled “Should cyclists ride single file?” which pitched broadcaster and cyclist Matt Barbet, who patiently explained why it is often safer for people to ride two abreast, against writer and BBC DJ Ed Adoo, who ignored the question at hand and instead dredged up an anecdote from eight years ago, saying that people on bikes need to show more “etiquette.”

The piece, which can be viewed on ITV Hub – it starts at 2 hours 10 minutes into the recording – began with one of the show’s hosts saying, “Drivers and cyclists testing the other’s patience,” with his co-presenter adding, “But with more cyclists than ever on Britain’s roads, should those taking to two wheels be forced to ride single file?”

It then cut to a brief report where, after some dashcam footage and a few vox pops, the reporter said: “Part of the problem, say cycling groups, is Rule 66 of the Highway Code, causing confusion.”

The reporter says that campaigners are calling for the rule to be changed to read, “You can ride two abreast, and often it is safer to do so.”

Both British Cycling and Cycling UK did incorporate those words into their suggestions for a new version of the rule in response a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation last year into proposed changes to the Highway Code.

> Fleet Street fury over campaigners' calls to clarify ‘two abreast’ cycling rule

Currently, the rule says: “You should never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.”

The DfT has proposed amending the rule to read that cyclists should “ride in single file when drivers wish to overtake and it is safe to let them do so. When riding in larger groups on narrow lanes, it is sometimes safer to ride two abreast.”

Barbet, a former presenter of Daybreak, the predecessor show to GMB, as well as ITV4’s The Cycle Show and its Tour of Britain coverage, was invited to put his response first and began by saying that viewing cyclists and motorists as separate tribes was a fallacy, pointing out that most people he knows who ride bikes drive cars, too. “It’s not cyclists clogging up the roads, it’s cars,” he added.

He went on to explain how riding two abreast makes it easier and safer for motorists to overtake cyclists, as has been clearly shown in this video produced by journalist and author Carlton Reid six years ago which features advanced driving instructor Blaine Walsh and champion cyclist turned active travel advocate Chris Boardman.

Side by Side from carltonreid on Vimeo.

He also highlighted the principle of the hierarchy of road users, which puts the most vulnerable, first pedestrians, then cyclists, at the bottom of a pyramid, and those driving vehicles with the propensity to do most harm, such as HGVs, at the top.

Incorporating the concept within the Highway Code formed part of last year’s consultation, with the DfT saying that it “ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users.

“The objective of the hierarchy is not to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation, but rather to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users,” the DfT added.

As often appears to be the case when TV shows seek to put forward a ‘balanced’ debate on a whole host of supposedly divisive topics, not just cycling, the counterpoint to someone putting forward a case based on facts and evidence was instead based on anecdote and sweeping generalisations.

Adoo started his reply to Bardet by recounting an incident in 2013 in which a cyclist swore at him, which prompted him to pen a column at the time for Huffington Post which was published under the headline, It's Time We Gained Some Respect From Cyclists.

In that column, written at the end of a month in which six cyclists had been killed on London’s roads, Adoo dismissed safety measures such as protected cycle lanes or banning HGVs, claiming, “The problem is it's nothing to do with bus or lorry drivers but the cyclist [sic] themselves.”

In his conclusion to that piece, he added: “The bottom line, cyclists need to learn how to respect other motorists and not do idiotic things such as riding without a helmet or protected gear.

“It has to stop and I think a cycle registration or tax scheme would ensure first and foremost, that deaths are reduced.”

On GMB this morning, he returned to that theme – without once addressing the specific issue supposedly being debated.

“I’m not saying that all cyclists are morally wrong, and they’re rude and they swear all the time,” he insisted.

“Yes, you are,” Barbet interjected.

“No, I’m not saying all cyclists are rude,” Adoo replied, “what I’m saying is there needs to be etiquette with cyclists,” going on to repeat his call for cyclists to be registered.

Asked by Barbet if he ever rode a bike on the road, he answered: “Yeah, loads of times.”

“You know how intimidating it can feel, don’t you?” Barbet said.

“Listen, it’s not about intimidation, it’s about respect on both sides,” Adoo insisted.

“But again, some cyclists – especially London – they think they own the roads, and they don’t, it should be that the highway should be for everyone, and for everyone to owe respect.”

Among those responding to GMB’s tweets of clips of today’s segment was Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox of Lincolnshire Police, national lead for road collision investigations.

Unsurprisingly, the clips also drew the usual share of comments about how cyclists should have to be insured and pay non-existent ‘road tax’ – points that were quickly countered by other Twitter users.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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62 comments

Avatar
Philh68 | 2 years ago
2 likes

Reframe the question. Should cyclists as legitimate road users be forced to share the width of a lane with motorists at the risk of their safety, for the motorist's convenience?

The words we use change the interpretation considerably, don't they?

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DaveSpokes | 2 years ago
1 like

The usual uninformed clap trap trotted out by an uninformed, untrained Journalist. What a surprise. We have an attitude on the roads in this country of Might is Right. Its nothing to do with two abreast its more about impatient self entitled Drivers who just don't want to slow down. Until we change that we will have vulnerable road users killed and injured and nothing will improve. Move the onous onto the Trucks,Vans and Cars and Pedestrians,Cyclists and Horse Riders will all be better off. As to insurance? Join the CTC or British Cycling..problem solved. The organisations will also have more clout by way of more members. Cyclists don't always follow the rules, we do stupid things but who pays the price? Yep the Cyclists.

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Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
4 likes

You can take Piers Morgan off of GMB but not the Piers Morgan out of GMB.  Sad to say he was a symptom - not a cause.

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peted76 | 2 years ago
4 likes

Oh GMB.. you bunch of lickspittles.

In your rush to get 'anyone on' in opposition to the 'answer clearly defined to the question,' you ended up with a right knob-jockey (pun intended). Is that good TV, did you entertain?

 

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Kendalred | 2 years ago
6 likes

Of course when the motorist demands 'respect', they really mean 'deference'.

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Captain Badger replied to Kendalred | 2 years ago
6 likes

Kendalred wrote:

Of course when the motorist demands 'respect', they really mean 'deference'.

Quite, I had a driver cut up and brake check me and a mate cos we were "riding 2 abreast" (we weren't, not that it mattered), and  "holding up the traffic". Again not.

Eventually, after inviting us to go round the corner to sort it out like men ( at that point we laughed like drains) he instructed us to "show some respect" (more hilarity)  before driving off.

deference indeed....

 

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Velo-drone replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
1 like

Yes, curious how "respect" translates differently for him depending on who is showing the respect to whom.

Cyclist showing driver respect = getting out of their way to ensure that they never ever have to slow down.

Driver showing cyclist respect = graciously allowing them to be on the road at all, subject at all times to their constant demonstration of respect to drivers as defined above.

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Hirsute | 2 years ago
9 likes

I was beeped on Sunday for failing to overtake 2 cyclists who were about 1.5 width. The road was 40 and windy and I knew a vehicle would appear any second and there was a straight bit just coming up.
No doubt I wanted to provoke a reaction and get footage in 'this column'.

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Captain Badger replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
3 likes

hirsute wrote:

I was beeped on Sunday for failing to overtake 2 cyclists who were about 1.5 width. The road was 40 and windy and I knew a vehicle would appear any second and there was a straight bit just coming up. No doubt I wanted to provoke a reaction and get footage in 'this column'.

Drama queen....

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TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
12 likes

Unfortunately so many people are completely biased against cyclists and there is no changing it.

I did a little social experiment on Facebook the other week using presumed liability.  I asked a question which basically said that "Would you be in favour of a law that meant that in a collision between a pedestrian and a cyclist, the cyclist would be presumed to be liable unless they could prove otherwise?"  To which everyone that responded said - yes of course we are.

But it will come as no surprise to you that when I added in that the same law would mean that in a collision between a cyclist and a motorist the motorist would be presumed to be liable unless they could prove otherwise that virtually everyone that responded did a complete U turn

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rkemb | 2 years ago
5 likes

Maybe they should give the commentators they invite on a quick pop quiz on the Highway Code before they're allowed to say their piece, just to check that they know what they're talking about.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to rkemb | 2 years ago
8 likes

The other pre-appearance quiz should be getting them to explain how licensing cyclists should work in real life. At what age does a cyclist need a license and insurance? Are they allowed to only cycle on pavements until that age? Are they only allowed to cycle on roads after that age? What happens when a parent is out with their child on seperate bikes? 

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Jenova20 replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 2 years ago
5 likes

AlsoSomniloquism wrote:

The other pre-appearance quiz should be getting them to explain how licensing cyclists should work in real life. At what age does a cyclist need a license and insurance? Are they allowed to only cycle on pavements until that age? Are they only allowed to cycle on roads after that age? What happens when a parent is out with their child on seperate bikes? 

 

It would require: new legislation, retrofitting existing bikes with number plates, selling new bikes with registrations, a licencing system and Gov database(s), enforcement tech (like ANPR), unless number plates are the same size and format as on cars, education. The reason this isn't done anywhere is because it costs too much and brings no benefits. It would also fuel calls for more road investment for cycle infrastructure...It's exactly why it's a non-starter.

These anti-cyclist fanatics would know this if they pulled their heads out their backsides.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Jenova20 | 2 years ago
1 like

Oh I know, but it would be nice for people like Adoo to voice these rather then just shout about it is needed without considering the laws and rules required and logistics and infra. He essentially wants to take bikes off of children for example.

The scooter hires in birmingham have ID numbers on them for people to use to report misuse etc, however if you see the size of them........

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EM69 | 2 years ago
4 likes

MSM Love stories like this as it attracts the majority of their lame brain viewers. Doesent help those who ride the roads each day though, and have to put up with even more aggression from impatient motorists who genrally use your position on the road as an excuse for their pi$$ poor driving.   

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Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
19 likes

When a motorist is effectively saying that they are unable to negotiate a safe overtake of a slower road user, be it; tractor, car, 2 cyclists abreast, a horse and rider or Father Christmas doing his rounds with the local charity, all that statement really demonstrates is a lack of basic competence.

Consistently laying blame on the other party is really a cry for help to become better trained in the skill of driving.

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EM69 replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
4 likes

Very well put...

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TriTaxMan replied to Mungecrundle | 2 years ago
7 likes

Mungecrundle wrote:

When a motorist is effectively saying that they are unable to negotiate a safe overtake of a slower road user, be it; tractor, car, 2 cyclists abreast, a horse and rider or Father Christmas doing his rounds with the local charity, all that statement really demonstrates is a lack of basic competence. Consistently laying blame on the other party is really a cry for help to become better trained in the skill of driving.

I had exactly the same discussion with someone on Facebook in response to a close pass initiative.  The drivers argument came down to "If you ride in single file it means I only need to put two wheels onto the wrong side of the road to pass you..... and that means its safer" - and when I suggested that if it was not safe for him to pass by putting all 4 wheels over the centre line it probably wasn't safe to pass with 2 wheels over the centre line all I got was "I've been driving for 50 years I know when it is safe to overtake"

And to back up how much of an inconvenience cyclists were he had "to follow cyclists riding 2 abreast on 3 seperate occasions this year on a main road"

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Mungecrundle replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
8 likes

TriTaxMan wrote:

And to back up how much of an inconvenience cyclists were he had "to follow cyclists riding 2 abreast on 3 seperate occasions this year on a main road"

Another of my favourites:

The amount of time, as a driver, that I have spent being held up by cyclists over the last 40 plus years of driving over maybe half a million miles can be measured in terms of minutes. The amount of time spent in traffic jams on motorways (no cylists) would be in the order of weeks if not months.

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Mungecrundle replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
2 likes

TriTaxMan wrote:

I had exactly the same discussion with someone on Facebook in response to a close pass initiative.  The drivers argument came down to "If you ride in single file it means I only need to put two wheels onto the wrong side of the road to pass you..... and that means its safer" - and when I suggested that if it was not safe for him to pass by putting all 4 wheels over the centre line it probably wasn't safe to pass with 2 wheels over the centre line all I got was "I've been driving for 50 years I know when it is safe to overtake"

How to overtake a cyclist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBg1aD3XEQo

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brooksby replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
6 likes

There do seem to be a lot of motorists on the roads who are very averse to moving their steering wheel...  God knows how they cope with junctions.

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Jenova20 replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
4 likes

brooksby wrote:

There do seem to be a lot of motorists on the roads who are very averse to moving their steering wheel...  God knows how they cope with junctions.

 

Probably the same people who drive over those small roundabouts, instead of, you know, around them.

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Captain Badger replied to Jenova20 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Jenova20 wrote:

 

Probably the same people who drive over those small roundabouts, instead of, you know, around them.

mutter mumble get me coat rhubarb....

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Hirsute replied to Jenova20 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Or as I have found on the wrong side of them when effectively moving from the minor to major road with a limited view.

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Captain Badger replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
6 likes

TriTaxMan wrote:

.......

And to back up how much of an inconvenience cyclists were he had "to follow cyclists riding 2 abreast on 3 seperate occasions this year on a main road"

Just think of what he could have achieved with that lost time. When will this senseless waste of lives end? Oh the humanity.....

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Velo-drone replied to TriTaxMan | 2 years ago
4 likes
Quote:

The drivers argument came down to "If you ride in single file it means I only need to put two wheels onto the wrong side of the road to pass you..... and that means its safer" - and when I suggested that if it was not safe for him to pass by putting all 4 wheels over the centre line it probably wasn't safe to pass with 2 wheels over the centre line all I got was "I've been driving for 50 years I know when it is safe to overtake"

It's a matter of perspective. To him it is safer - because it IS safer for him.

He is not paying a moment's thought to whether it is safer for the cyclist.

If he only has two wheels over the line, he can pull back in much quicker if something suddenly pops into view. He may endanger, obstruct or even maim/kill the cyclist(s) in the process. But insofar as he has a very slightly higher chance of avoiding a head on collision than if he went fully over to the other side, he's right. And that's really all he is thinking about.

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Captain Badger replied to Velo-drone | 2 years ago
2 likes

Velo-drone wrote:

......And that's really all he is thinking about.

Bless

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festina | 2 years ago
12 likes

Doesn't the highway code say that drivers should give cyclists as much space as other cars/road users? In which case it wouldn't matter if cyclists were 2 abreast.
Drivers on my local dual carriageway (which is 40mph and is the main route back to my house) can't even cross the white line to give space even when the adjacent lane is empty. They show no respect.

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Captain Badger replied to festina | 2 years ago
9 likes

festina wrote:

Doesn't the highway code say that drivers should give cyclists as much space as other cars/road users? In which case it wouldn't matter if cyclists were 2 abreast. Drivers on my local dual carriageway (which is 40mph and is the main route back to my house) can't even cross the white line to give space even when the adjacent lane is empty. They show no respect.

Dammit, get outta here with your facts and logic! Whaddya think this is????

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EK Spinner replied to festina | 2 years ago
6 likes

I have always felt that line in the HC was never clear (and I suspect many here would agree). Not only is there no dimensions given, there is no definition of space.

Does it mean the space between the rider and the overtaking car should be the same as if it were a car being overtaken, because you can pass a 1.5t car at 60mph wih maybe a 500mm gap without there being any adverse effect. doing the same to a cyclist is bloody scary

Or does it mean the gap beween the overtaking car and the verge should be the same as if you were overtaking a car in that space.

I would much rather that it were clearer, something like "all ovetakesing should be done by driving fully in the next lane to the right whaen it is clear and safe to do so" with an exception for single track roads where there is no second lane and a definite list of dos and don'ts for single tracks

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