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"It's a sensible discussion to have": Is Jeremy Vine's idea to ban drivers from overtaking cyclists in cities a good idea?

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

Jeremy Vine is no stranger to sparking discussions about cycle safety, and this weekend suggested drivers should not be allowed to overtake cyclists in cities, because "it's pointless".

Vine shared a video of a taxi driver overtaking him five times, only to drop back behind at the next set of traffic lights.

> Jeremy Vine: There's a strong argument 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," Vine tweeted.

"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? 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.

"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."

The idea unsurpisingly caused a fair amount of discussion and debate, with some rubishing the broadcaster's idea, and others suggesting there could be something in it.

So what do road.cc readers think?

JustTryingToGet reckons: "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."

While Lukas agreed that: "Every urban cyclist knows this. And the worst is the close pass or hoot or shout and then stuck in traffic whilst we just sail past."

ShaneDG said they "would go further". "Overtaking of any kind in 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."

Paul Nevill commented: "I don't waste my time overtaking other road users if I know I'm going to have to slow down immediately afterwards if i'm in a car or on a bike."

Francis Jackson reckons a law is not required, just education. "I don't think that such a law is needed, most of the time they are just unable to overtake anyway due to amount of traffic... however, perhaps some education as to how much fuel they burn sprinting to the next set of lights..."

Not everyone agreed with Vine, however.

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."

Mike Reynolds argued: "No that is not a strong argument.. done safely it is fine and why create a bigger hatred of cyclists?"

So what do you think? Does Vine have a point? Is overtaking cyclists in cities pointless? If so, is legislation necessary?

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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18 comments

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

So is this the true Jeremy Vine overtaking thread?

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
0 likes

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?

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clackerty-clack | 2 years ago
0 likes

Ban drivers from overtaking cyclists in cities a good idea?

No, that's too much.

Just ban drivers.

 

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clackerty-clack replied to clackerty-clack | 2 years ago
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driving a car in a city like London is plain stupid.

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clackerty-clack replied to clackerty-clack | 2 years ago
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even where I live on the south coast and commute 10 miles each way I'm always quicker than cars

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hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
2 likes

I could have sworn I commented on this yesterday

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
3 likes

hawkinspeter wrote:

I could have sworn I commented on this yesterday

You'll think the same in a couple of years too. road.cc ... cc ... cc

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hawkinspeter replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
1 like

chrisonatrike wrote:

hawkinspeter wrote:

I could have sworn I commented on this yesterday

You'll think the same in a couple of years too. road.cc ... cc ... cc

From what I can remember, I mentioned that maybe roads that have 20mph limits would be prime candidates for introducing "no overtaking" zones, although I think overtaking should be allowed when there's no other traffic around.

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antigee | 2 years ago
2 likes

not London but some research from a cyclist loving city in the US...

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200723171957.htm

"Evidence from Urban Roads without Bicycle Lanes on the Impact of Bicycle Traffic on Passenger Car Travel Speeds' published in Transportation Research Record, the Journal of the Transportation Research Board, demonstrates that bicycles do not significantly reduce passenger car travel speeds on low speed, low volume urban roads without bicycle lanes. "

suspect the key phrase is "low speed" many drivers that choose to overtake dangerously are often driving above the speed limit...pretty sure many drivers that would argue against such an iniative are really arguing for the right to drive at unsafe speeds in cramped urban environments meanwhile finger pointing at "entitled cyclists"

 

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NOtotheEU | 2 years ago
0 likes

He's clearly either joking or only cycles in London rush hour.

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chrisonabike | 2 years ago
6 likes

Never mind bicycles and cities.  For some time The Netherlands has been stopping any overtaking at all - often physically, not just with signs and paint - on certain roads as a safety measure.

For those who're clutching their pearls already / preparing a strongly worded letter to their member it may be of interest that The Netherlands also ranks pretty well for congestion - it's a really good country to drive in.  I wonder how that could be...?

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wycombewheeler replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
2 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Never mind bicycles and cities.  For some time The Netherlands has been stopping any overtaking at all - often physically, not just with signs and paint - on certain roads as a safety measure.

For those who're clutching their pearls already / preparing a strongly worded letter to their member it may be of interest that The Netherlands also ranks pretty well for congestion - it's a really good country to drive in.  I wonder how that could be...?

who would have guessed? it's nicer to drive on roads with fewer other cars.

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chrisonabike replied to wycombewheeler | 2 years ago
0 likes

wycombewheeler wrote:

chrisonatrike wrote:

Never mind bicycles and cities.  For some time The Netherlands has been stopping any overtaking at all - often physically, not just with signs and paint - on certain roads as a safety measure.

For those who're clutching their pearls already / preparing a strongly worded letter to their member it may be of interest that The Netherlands also ranks pretty well for congestion - it's a really good country to drive in.  I wonder how that could be...?

who would have guessed? it's nicer to drive on roads with fewer other cars.

Jean Paul Satre wrote:

Hell is other drivers

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lesterama replied to chrisonabike | 2 years ago
0 likes

Exactly why we need proper discussions on integrated transport - in its widest sense - rather than thinking about overtaking in isolation. Bravo, the Netherlands.

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chrisonabike replied to lesterama | 2 years ago
1 like

lesterama wrote:

Exactly why we need proper discussions on integrated transport - in its widest sense - rather than thinking about overtaking in isolation. Bravo, the Netherlands.

Increasingly I think there is some cultural feature in the UK - which is both good and bad - which gets in the way here.  I call it "partial laissez-faire attitude" as we're clearly happy to be extremely intransigent in certain circumstances but in others we wave our hands, shrug etc. (Like in regulating motorists!).  "muddling through" if you like.  So we don't want to "force people to do stuff" - though in many cases we certainly do. And we're wary of "grandiose plans" - although a few slip through largely unchallenged - so we end up refusing to join the dots for most things. ("Let local authorities get on with cycling stuff - they're best placed to do that..." - well we don't do that with road or rail infra, do we?)

I often reference the Netherlands as they are clearly the "gold standard" (with a few exceptions because no-one's perfect). However in the UK when we do make any infra that isn't just "sign on a footpath" we tend to be promised "Dutch" but end up with double-Dutch.  Between designers, councils, objections and the construction teams what we end up with is "cargo cult Netherlands" - looks a bit like but due to misunderstandings / lack of coverage is nothing like.

If we could only set an appropriate minimum standard - maybe not as good as NL but actually safe and useable.  And then just get lots of our rather tatty "minumum" stuff done?  A good second-rate everywhere would be a huge improvement for the UK.  And there are no shortage of models at this level:

Copenhagen's great - but it's not Amsterdam

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/how-convenient-is-cycling-in-malmo-sweden/

https://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/bicicleta/en/services/cycle-routes/the-bicycle-lane-network

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/28/seville-cycling-capital-southern-europe-bike-lanes

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alexb | 2 years ago
2 likes

I'm not sure you need it on wide roads and there are plenty of them in London, but on single lane roads, or roads where oncoming traffic cannot pass each other, then yes, I see no reason why cars need to overtake bikes. 

I can think of a half-dozen roads on my commute to work where there is simply no point in cars trying to overtake bicycles

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Rendel Harris replied to alexb | 2 years ago
5 likes

alexb wrote:

I'm not sure you need it on wide roads and there are plenty of them in London

The thing is, even on the widest roads (excluding the dual carriageways) in London there's little point overtaking, you're only heading for the next red. The widest road I regularly use in London is Chelsea Embankment; it's not uncommon between Battersea Bridge and Chelsea Bridge to be overtaken (usually illegally as it's a 20mph limit, which is about my commuting speed) by the same car two or three times and still be ahead of it at the Chelsea Bridge lights. Not only does this unnecessarily increase danger (however wide a road is obviously it's safer not to be overtaken) but it's wasteful of fuel and increases pollution, accelerating hard then braking hard instead of pulling away gently and easing to a stop not only uses more fuel but increases deadly PM2.5 pollution from tyre wear and brake dust.

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nosferatu1001 replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
5 likes

As above - it's the fact that the average speed of cars is often lower than bikers in cities around rush hour, so by overtaking they're never gaining anything - they're just hitting the next red faster, waiting longer and putting people in danger (all overtakes carry extra risk) 

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