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Jeremy Vine: There's a strong argument vehicles should not be allowed to overtake bicycles in cities

"It's pointless to overtake a bike in a city"...

Broadcaster and outspoken cycling advocate Jeremy Vine has prompted a discussion about how road users share space in urban environments, and suggested vehicle drivers overtaking cyclists in cities is "pointless".

Accompanied by one of his now-famous 360-degree camera videos, in which a taxi driver overtakes him five times only to drop back behind the cyclist at traffic lights, Vine said, "there's a strong argument that motor vehicles should not be allowed to overtake bicycles in cities.

"If you watch this clip from my commute, you'll see there is no point whatsoever in any of this driver's five overtakes — even with the roads clear.

"No complaints about the cab driver: he never passed too close. But why can't he see: even without traffic, it's pointless to overtake a bicycle in a city?"

It was to be expected that the Vine on 5 host's eye-catching suggestion would be challenged by those who disagree, with Vine summarising his argument in response.

"The argument is that a bicycle is faster, so every single overtake he does will have to be repeated. And as you see from the film, even though he is quite a good driver, all overtaking involves a slight increase in risk," Vine tweeted.

"I think my point is that any overtake bears risk, and they should be avoided if possible, and the clip clearly establishes that motor vehicles are slower than bicycles, so it's best for him not to overtake me at all."

Despite the inevitable anger in many replies to the broadcaster's suggestion, some agreed with the sentiment of the point.

Rory Meakin said: "This video illustrates quite well how, for most journeys in cities, cycling is faster than driving. Sure, the top speed in a car is higher, and if you’re driving at 2am mainly on a 40mph+ road driving will be quicker. But for most trips it’s ill-suited"

Irish Fine Gael politician Ciaran Cannon insisted the idea bikes are faster than cars at getting from "Point A to Point B" in urban environments is "not up for debate, it's just a fact".

Vine regularly shares videos on social media of footage captured while he cycles around the capital, including dangerous driving, celebrity encounters and basically anything and everything interesting.

He is also a regular on his penny-farthing, and was taken to hospital and left with a black eye after falling from his high wheeler last month.

 The week before his penny-farthing fall, Vine shared footage of a high-speed overtake in a 20mph zone, which he said "not meaning to overdramatise [...] the closest I've come to dying on my bicycle."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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40 comments

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Adam Sutton | 2 years ago
1 like

TBH all this has done is remind me why when Jeremy Vine is on the TV or radio I have to change channel.

This could have been framed in a much more productive way simply showing how in many situations cycling is faster, and given the rising fuel costs also a good way of saving money. 

Instead in true Vine fashion he's thrown a blanket arguement out to court controversy and division, much like his infuriating radio and TV shows. As others have said even in London the idea of not allowing overtakes makes sense only on certain roads. I agree on the overtake at 33 seconds too, his overtake at this point is the one that is pointless.

It is this kind of holier than thou attitude from cyclists like Vine that kept me in my car for years. What got me on my bike again to start with was the train companies messing the time table up at my local station. It made sense to go to a station 2 miles away and didn't make sense to drive there. 

I think if I made a jersey up that said "my other bike is a car, but it would be slower on my commute" it would do more good to get people thinking and on side than this nonsense.

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mdavidford replied to Adam Sutton | 2 years ago
0 likes
Adam Sutton wrote:

all this has done is remind me why when Jeremy Vine is on the TV or radio I have to change channel.

in true Vine fashion he's thrown a blanket arguement out to court controversy and division

I'm not convinced changing channel would help with that. That's basically SOP these days, whether it's radio, TV, online...

 

 

 

(...including this comment.)

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Adam Sutton replied to mdavidford | 2 years ago
0 likes

Vine is on another level. 

I was very mindful to reference cyclists with a mindset like Vines rather than a blanket statment about cyclists in general. As a cycle commuter myself it would be rather like shooting myself in the foot.

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mdavidford replied to Adam Sutton | 2 years ago
0 likes

I wasn't talking about cycling, particularly - it applies to anything and everything.

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Flintshire Boy replied to Adam Sutton | 2 years ago
0 likes

.

Good comment on the bike stuff.

.

Not so good on the Vine stuff.

.

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Pot_Kettle | 2 years ago
2 likes

I'm no perfect cyclist, but find the overtake on the wrongside of the road at the traffic lights (33 seconds) a bit strange, and then 'forcing' himself back in.

I would have held back and let the other road users move off.

What would have happened if the lights had staid at red a few seconds longer, would he have jumped the red or if another vehicle had been comming the other way?

sometimes better to be 15 seconds late than not at all.

we all need to take responsibilty on the road, no point in moaning at other road users then doing something daft yourself.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Pot_Kettle | 2 years ago
0 likes
Pot_Kettle wrote:

I'm no perfect cyclist, but find the overtake on the wrongside of the road at the traffic lights (33 seconds) a bit strange, and then 'forcing' himself back in.

Yep, I found it strange as well. If there was an ASL then it would have been more explainable as the lights were still at red when he started the manouvre. I've been caught in similar manouvres with then needing to come across between the vehicles moving off but that has normally been when filtering down between two lanes of traffic heading the same way. However as there wasn't ans ASL, only two vehicles ahead and nothing behind, waiting behind would have been better and he still would have been pacing the taxi to the next lights for the over-take there. 

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JustTryingToGet... | 2 years ago
5 likes

It's a sensible discussion to have, because the location specific case for it can be data driven.

Unfortunately there won't be a sensible discussion and the dick-wads will be out in force.

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IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
2 likes

The trouble here is that Jeremy Vine thinks London is typical of the UK. While there are known areas where you can guarantee that a cycle will be faster than a car, the reality is that this depends on time of day and daily demand - like when school holidays magically lop 30 minutes off a commute.

As a thought experiment, Vine makes a decent point. As a cycle campaigner, I'm not convinced he is helping.

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mdavidford replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
2 likes

He doesn't think it's typical of the UK, though - he specifically said 'in cities', not everywhere. And yes, there are some 'cities' that are really just large towns with pretensions where you might not see this kind of thing so much, but I think it's kind of implied that he's talking about the larger ones where, even outside of London, you do. But it's Twitter, isn't it - brevity is kind of a thing there.

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wycombewheeler replied to IanMSpencer | 2 years ago
4 likes
IanMSpencer wrote:

The trouble here is that Jeremy Vine thinks London is typical of the UK. While there are known areas where you can guarantee that a cycle will be faster than a car, the reality is that this depends on time of day and daily demand - like when school holidays magically lop 30 minutes off a commute. As a thought experiment, Vine makes a decent point. As a cycle campaigner, I'm not convinced he is helping.

Even in school holidays and fine weather, I cannot beat my cycle commute time in the car.  3.5 miles, town of circa 100,000 people. I  might be able to beat it before 6 in the morning, but not by much.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
3 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
IanMSpencer wrote:

The trouble here is that Jeremy Vine thinks London is typical of the UK. While there are known areas where you can guarantee that a cycle will be faster than a car, the reality is that this depends on time of day and daily demand - like when school holidays magically lop 30 minutes off a commute. As a thought experiment, Vine makes a decent point. As a cycle campaigner, I'm not convinced he is helping.

Even in school holidays and fine weather, I cannot beat my cycle commute time in the car.  3.5 miles, town of circa 100,000 people. I  might be able to beat it before 6 in the morning, but not by much.

Indeed - but which makes you feel better? yes

(Obviously if it's dumping sleet probably the car, but the other times?)

Maybe slower but 3.5 miles is definitely in the "totally makes more sense on a bike" distance.  Assuming you're not on Everest and you don't have to TT down a motorway for part of that...(see arguments about distance, big cities, hills)

Of course we do have to confront the decades-old "motorisation" of our lives.  Although a very sizeable portion of our travel is short cycleable distances (see "Journey lengths" at the UK travel survey 2020) we have built in a dependence on motor vehicles.  In a feedback loop generations have built their lives around access to motor transport.  We commute long distances, live in places with no trains and few buses and we have centralised much of our commercial and public infrastructure.

As for Vine's take at least he's raising awareness.  The majority of people have no awareness of cycling as an actual transport option other than those who just know they hate "cyclists".  To make change happen the best way is building relationships with people individually - Jezza can't be expected to do that with everyone!

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

So is this the true Jeremy Vine overtaking thread?

Wait - there was another one? I've just skipped past something that was slowing me down, was that it?

Maybe

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massive4x4 replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
0 likes

I see a lot of suggestions on these forums that cars replaced bikes or public transport is not backed up by the statistics.

The reliable stats go back to about 1950 and they basically show that the amount of passenger miles has gone up by around a factor of 4 since 1950. Buses have gone down in use, trains have gone up since the 50's and motorcycling and cycling have drastically cut in passenger miles (though 2020 got the numbers about half way to 1950's levels).

So even if you got cycling back to the same levels of passenger miles we saw in 1950 and all of those trips displaced a car journey that would only displace a tiny number of car journeys.

We simply travel a lot more now that we have cars, this ability to travel has vastly increase quality of life for most people. See attached link for passenger miles data:

A whole sale shift from driving to cycling across the whole country is really without precedent, there are plenty of European countries with more cycling passenger miles than the UK but they also have higher car passenger miles too.

Thus a provision of more cycling infrastructure is likely to lead to more travel both bike and other modes and more growth.

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Passenger-transport-by-mode-in-Great...

As for Vines orginal argument, it only true on roads with lots of traffic lights which are quite a small portion of overal driving. My GF's old Toyota Yaris which did very little motorway use had a average lifetime service speed of 27mph.

 

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Rome73 | 2 years ago
2 likes

Every urban cyclist knows this. And the worst is the close pass / hoot / shout and then stuck in traffic whilst we just sail past thinking wtf. 

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wycombewheeler replied to Rome73 | 2 years ago
2 likes
Lukas wrote:

Every urban cyclist knows this. And the worst is the close pass / hoot / shout and then stuck in traffic whilst we just sail past thinking wtf. 

Or the driver who gets more and more irate as they keep having to pass insisting on passing the same cyclist, without ever considering that they are not gaining anything.

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JustTryingToGet... replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
4 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
Lukas wrote:

Every urban cyclist knows this. And the worst is the close pass / hoot / shout and then stuck in traffic whilst we just sail past thinking wtf. 

Or the driver who gets more and more irate as they keep having to pass insisting on passing the same cyclist, without ever considering that they are not gaining anything.

And them then pulling into hug the curb to stop you getting past... before going apocalyptic when you walk it past them on the pavement, remount innfront of them then leave them for dust.

I genuinely think attitudes could change if that type of motorist could intellectually grasp:
They are slower than the bike
They are holding up traffic

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Hirsute replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 2 years ago
3 likes
JustTryingToGetFromAtoB wrote:

I genuinely think attitudes could change if that type of motorist could intellectually grasp: They are holding up traffic That cyclists are traffic

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TriTaxMan replied to JustTryingToGetFromAtoB | 2 years ago
5 likes
JustTryingToGetFromAtoB][quote=wycombewheeler wrote:

And them then pulling into hug the curb to stop you getting past... before going apocalyptic when you walk it past them on the pavement, remount innfront of them then leave them for dust.

I would be interested to try a little experiment, that if you catch a driver doing that on film, moving to the kerb to deliberately block your progress, try sending the footage to the police stating how long you had been held up by the motorist driving contrary to section 3 of the RTA 1988.

I mean that specific act is akin to the police threatening a cyclist with section 29 of the RTA, being the cycling equivalent of section 3.

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ShaneDG | 2 years ago
0 likes

I would go further a say that overtaking of any kind i an urban area should be made illegal.
All It does is move the driver to the next queue quicker.
Also banning through traffic from certain zones and having a very punitive congestion charge zone located at/ near schools would help reduce traffic and increase LOS of most routes reducing driver stress etc...

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
5 likes

That makes sense to me. Maybe there should be a general rule - 20mph roads should not allow cycle overtaking unless the road is otherwise totally clear (there's little point in having a car following along behind a bike for no reason).

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kenobe replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
3 likes

It assumes cyclists can keep a fairly high pace up. Most city centre cycling is done by Just Eat, Deliveroo etc who are often pootling about at about 8-10mph. Be an absolute nonsense if you couldn't overtake them. Also not all our cities are flat. Often have to crawl up Leece St, behind a cyclist who is doing about 5mph up the hill. 

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hawkinspeter replied to kenobe | 2 years ago
7 likes
kenobe wrote:

It assumes cyclists can keep a fairly high pace up. Most city centre cycling is done by Just Eat, Deliveroo etc who are often pootling about at about 8-10mph. Be an absolute nonsense if you couldn't overtake them. Also not all our cities are flat. Often have to crawl up Leece St, behind a cyclist who is doing about 5mph up the hill. 

Here in Bristol, you'd be lucky to manage 8mph average in a car. Most overtakes simply get the driver to join the back of the next queue where they then get in the way of the cyclist. And yes, there's plenty of hills in Bristol which doesn't change the fact that during busy times, cyclists are filtering besides stationary vehicles.

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kenobe replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:
kenobe wrote:

It assumes cyclists can keep a fairly high pace up. Most city centre cycling is done by Just Eat, Deliveroo etc who are often pootling about at about 8-10mph. Be an absolute nonsense if you couldn't overtake them. Also not all our cities are flat. Often have to crawl up Leece St, behind a cyclist who is doing about 5mph up the hill. 

Here in Bristol, you'd be lucky to manage 8mph average in a car. Most overtakes simply get the driver to join the back of the next queue where they then get in the way of the cyclist. And yes, there's plenty of hills in Bristol which doesn't change the fact that during busy times, cyclists are filtering besides stationary vehicles.

 

Most of this could be solved by allowing cyclists to go through reds.

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hawkinspeter replied to kenobe | 2 years ago
0 likes
kenobe wrote:

Most of this could be solved by allowing cyclists to go through reds.

I'd be up for that too for certain junctions e.g. where you don't need to cross a road on the left.

However, there might well be a stronger safety argument for disallowing overtakes on certain roads. If we are serious about Vision Zero, then we need to consider some alternative thinking about how we use roads and just how much we want to trade safety for driver convenience.

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chrisonabike replied to kenobe | 2 years ago
1 like
kenobe wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

Here in Bristol, you'd be lucky to manage 8mph average in a car. Most overtakes simply get the driver to join the back of the next queue where they then get in the way of the cyclist. And yes, there's plenty of hills in Bristol which doesn't change the fact that during busy times, cyclists are filtering besides stationary vehicles.

Most of this could be solved by allowing cyclists to go through reds.

Hmm... were you angling for "Bingo"?  Anyway, I sort of agree but what I'm thinking of is probably not what you are: proper infrastructure which means that red lights for cars need not always stop cyclists. That's for the safety of cyclists.

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Flintshire Boy replied to kenobe | 2 years ago
0 likes

.

Super suggestion.

.

What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

.

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Hirsute replied to kenobe | 2 years ago
7 likes

Surely all places have deliveroo people with illegal ebikes ?

 

 

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srchar replied to kenobe | 2 years ago
4 likes
kenobe wrote:

Just Eat, Deliveroo etc who are often pootling about at about 8-10mph.

In London, those guys are haring around at up to 40mph on illegally derestricted eBikes.

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kenobe replied to srchar | 2 years ago
0 likes
srchar wrote:
kenobe wrote:

Just Eat, Deliveroo etc who are often pootling about at about 8-10mph.

In London, those guys are haring around at up to 40mph on illegally derestricted eBikes.

The lads on them round here are earning a fair bit than the food delivery boys.

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