Creating problems - pushies/motorbikes

As someone who's ridden motorbikes for many years in London, I'm struck by how things have changed recently. As we share similar vulnerabilities, risks and benefits when it comes to riding in traffic, I always used to find that bikes and pushies had a fairly easy coexistence.

I've always been extremely careful around pushies, even to the point of using my presence to 'shield' cyclists from bad cabbies, HGVs etc.

Nowadays though, it seems to be different. There's the whole thing about ASLs, which seems to have stirred up problems. Forums like this promote an us-them mentalityy, and it's leading to some crappy behaviour on the roads. I'll tell one story as illustration, but this type of thing generally is getting more common.

This morning, filtering between two lanes up to the lights, a cyclist coming from the left looked, saw me, and hurried to get out into the filter space in front of me. Getting to the front, lights on red, he then stopped in the gap (there was no ASl here), smirking over his shoulder. This left me stuck between a bus and an HGV, waiting for the green.

I asked him to pull forward, and he laughed. Lights turn green, he kept his position, keeping pace with the slow moving heavy vehicles, leaving me still between them.

As I said, there have been more and more of this type of deliberate endangerment, in road spaces we used to share fairly easily.

I don't know if cyclists just enjoy the sense of opposition, but I don't think it helps in terms of safety. I'm starting to feel less tolerant, and lessinclined to make that extra effort around cyclists. Far from it, I find myself accelerating to stop cyclists pulling out into filter spaces, for example. This isn't spite, I just no longer want to risk having nob jockeys like that around me. Before ALSs, bikes and pushies alike would filter, pull ahead of the queue, and move over to allow others in. That seemed to work. Now we get people 'guarding' their precious space.

Is this the desired effect of 'cycle activism'?

Anyway, I'm very impressed by all your research into the Highway Code when it comes to ASLs and so on, but you might be better served by getting on with the people you share the narrow, dangerous bits of road with. I think most bikers, powered or not, ignore the Highway code all the time in favour of doing what makes us safer.



A valid point, and I agree there seems to be a rise in arrogance with some individuals on bicycles, but please don't generalise about cyclists. The same as I will not generlise about HGVs not indicating when turning left. Arrogance seems to be rife these days regardless of transport type, but unfortunately, cyclists seem to be able to draw more attention to themselves.

I spent many years as a motorcyclist, so I do share your view, and very much understand how this sort of behaviour impacts other road users. But please just don't get caught up in generlisation because I am frequently yelled at by drivers with typical anti-cyclist sentiments, but I never do any of the things I am targeted for.

If there are more conflicts between these two sets of road users, perhaps it's because cyclists are now forced to share bus lanes with so many fast-moving motorbikes.

While it's clear people on motorcycles are vulnerable too, they also pose a significant threat to people on bicycles - most commonly because they choose to drive their machines so quickly, very often illegally so.

The motorbikes in bus lanes trial showed that half the recorded motorcyclists were breaking the speed limit, proving that it's a ludicrous proposition that you can create safe and inviting streets for cycling by forcing fast-moving motorbikes into them.

And note, this isn't a baseless generalisation, rather it's a conclusion borne from Transport for London data collected to support a measure that supposedly would reduce road danger for everyone.

You couldn't make it up...

Thank you lcc... I would like to have written something similar, but unfortunately I never seem to be able to do it without enraging someone. So I tend try to educate people against generlisation instead.

By I whole heartedly agree with you.

Hmm, I wasn't arguing for more motorbike access to cycle lanes etc - I don't use bus lanes much anyway, as I prefer the middle of the road wherever possible and bus lanes are all too often full of gigantic, slow red vehicles which stop all the time.

About vulnerabilty, my preferred approach whether on a bike or a pushbike is to be aware of the situations where there's a danger (HGVs, u-turning cabs etc) and try to minimise that through road positioning and defensive riding. I worry that in forums like this the attitude is promoted that "these are the rules and everyone should stick to them." It's a noble aim but it's never worked before, and assuming everyone else will stick to the rules is a sure route to A and E or worse for anyone on two wheels.

My main observation was that I now see cyclists as one of those frequent hazards, with the kind of behaviour I mentioned above. If I find myself in a similar situation, I'll speed up next time (essentially intimidating the cyclist into deciding not to pull out) to stop it happening, employing the same tactics I'd use with cars. I used to make an effort to share road space with bicycles, and now I am inclined to do the opposite. Whatever the reasons for this, I don't think that's a good outcome for cyclists, perhaps you disagree.

I'm not arguing with the need for better road design (some cycle lanes would be funny if they weren't so dangerous), just mentioning where the kind of attitudes I read here, and the behaviour I see on the roads, leads to. It's neither generalisation or based on statistical research - just my own personal experience. It could be that I'm alone, but I don't think so.

  • By Gardda at 1:08pm 28 December 2012

"I don't know if cyclists just enjoy the sense of opposition, but I don't think it helps in terms of safety. I'm starting to feel less tolerant, and lessinclined to make that extra effort around cyclists."


There really is not that much common cause between pushbikes and m'bikes except that they have both usually got two wheels.   Accidents to Pushbike users are usually more severe, to motor bikes more frequent.

The hard salesmanship of m'bike dealers is being made much easier by this year's exponential increase in interest in 'cycling' which is unfortunate.

If you have to buy  a motor buy a car. The valuable ecological thought of pushbike riding is no longer good, once sound , speed , fossil fuels, cost ,have taken the place of leisure , good health, and excellent economy.

Maybe if we had a our own cycling tunnel under the Thames that would get some of us out of the way of motorbikes?  They have one under the Tyne: 

TfL propose building a new road tunnel from the Dome towards Silvertown.

I think we should have a cycle tunnel built alongside.

I am trying to get this message out to as many people as possible before consultations close on 1 February.   I have "tweeted" Chris Boardman, Chris Hoy, Ali Brownlee and Jason Kenny! asking them to re-tweet!

  • By Gardda at 2:31pm 4 January 2013

The space that 'pushies' and m'bikes take up, may seem the same, but are in reality very different indeed, in terms of metres per sec M/s.

Velocity is space and 40mph is 4x as much space per second /s as 10mph, obviously enough.

On my brief walk down alongside the westmister superhighway I certainly saw at least one argument, and one non argument.

Two cyclists argued vigorously about bad manners, and one m'cyclist did not argue about his closeness to 'pushies' merely took the closeness.

There must be a good many pushies who have bad experience ,in that case, of their ride home that way, and what the issues are between cyclists themselves re road manners.  Not using ,or even having, a bell is one of them.

  • By Ben at 8:12am 11 January 2013

Actually. no. Velocity (or more accurately, speed, as direction of movement isn't really relevant) is not space. When you move, you vacate the space you were in before. Any object always takes up the same amount of space, as far as I can tell.A slower moving object takes up the space on the road for longer, obviously.

As to closeness, I wonder if cyclists would be comfortable if I as a motorcyclist gave them as much space as they often give themselves when slipping up the inside? Probably not.

I think as cycling grows more popular, there is a very real case for compulsory training and some form of licensing. If it at least stops people riding under lorry wheels, and perhaps encourages the ides of the 'lifesaver' over the shoulder before changing position, it will be worthwhile.



  • By paul at 9:51pm 12 January 2013

Actually yes - you can get more traffic through a given space if they slow down. The faster vehicles move the more space they have to leave to avoid collisions.

Likewise there is a real difference between a cyclist slipping up the inside of  stationary traffic at 5mph and a motorcyclist passing at 40.

unhairybiker :

Why were you "filtering through" traffic in the first place if there was no "safe place" to be?

(The cyclist probably should not have done so either in the case you describe).

If you had filtered through and there was an ASL - then you are not allowed in it - as a motorcyclist you are part of the motorised traffic and not entitled to be in front of anything and should have stayed back in the queue.

I'm fed up to the back teeth of having MBs sitting in front of me in ASLs , spewing out their noxious fumes into my face just because they can't understand / be bothered to obey what is a VERY SIMPLE road marking of a PUSHBIKE.

Here we go yet again . Just a background to myself ,I cycle regularly 70/100 miles a week open country and cities , am an advanced motrcycle instructor and was previously an adi car instructor and travel weekly through london although not on a daily basis .

I feel the backbiting between all forms of 2 wheeled transport be it in london or otherwise is very counterproductive for any progress going forward. As with all forms of transport we have the good ,bad and downright ugly/dangerous behaviours by drivers ,motorcyclists ,cyclists and lets throw in pedestrians as well. the only way going forward is for 2 wheeled forms to pressure the city to help by providing more use of cycling only areas this is managed in other cities and should be called for in london as our flagship city in the country. bottom line we will never eradicate poor behaviour by all road users so have to find safer ways to seperate the molst vunerable road road users and a true cycle lane system in the capital would surely be safer than sharing lanes with busses . 

Before anyone goes crazy and tells me to stop defending motorcyclists I have seen the results of poor motorcycling 1st hand and it is horrific so like all of you deplore such behaviour  but as an instructor i teach my pupils to be defensive riders as to expect the unexpected from all road users which in London is not easy to do but necessary to survive and feel that if we also had a better form of cycle networks and maybe throw in the same sort of defensive riding techniques for cyclists from an early age then london would be a safer place to commute .

Finish by saying all road users caught endangering livesthrough their actions should be heavily punished for such recklessness ,education is often the 1st step but repeat offenders need to be dealt with.

Helen2000, motorbikes are not entitled to be in ASLs without good reason but as two-wheeled vehicles in a country that legally allows lane-splitting and filtering, they most certainly are entitled to be in front of other traffic, including pedal cycles when appropriate -- for example at a stop line without an ASL.

The traffic gods didn't give you ASLs because you were non-motorised -- they gave you them because as a two-wheeled vehicle you were vulnerable to being pushed off the road by four-wheels.  Motorbikes share this vulnerability, which is why they also seek to get out in front of the four-wheels, whether someone has painted an ASL there or not.  Yes, they know this is naughty.


As a lifelong cyclist and a motorcyclist of some 25 years plus experience, I have recently taken to getting around the city by bicycle.

What surprises me most is that there have only been 3 cyclists killed in as many weeks. Looking at the behaviour of (I would say) 50% at road junctions, it is a miracle that there have not been many more. As a young motorcyclist I quickly learnt (the hard way) that when filtering through stationary traffic if you didn't get to the front of the queue before the lights changed (where you could use superior acceleration over other road traffic), you were in trouble big. So ASLs to me as a motorcyclists are positively dangerous if a cyclist thinks he can block my path, and in that instance faced with potential injury I'll take the fine thanks.

As a cyclist I can only out accelerate the traffic say half the time, so again if turning right ASLs are dangerous and I get off and use the pelican crossing. To be anywhere but the left side turning left or going straight on is suicide, unless I am very confident I can out gun them.

I don't like ASLs and in my opinion the better option on busy junctions would be to let the cyclists go first. All this would need is a re phasing of the lights, slowing down the sequence and allowing us to go on Red/Amber. Better still, but I guess prohibitively expensive, have a dedicated cyclist Green light.

Finally, whilst I readily accept that HGV drivers have a visibility problem with bikes, I note that the most intolerant road users of the cyclists are generally  those who make a living from driving or riding on the Capital's roads. To these people we are just another menace to be loathed. .  

  • By ou812 at 10:29pm 2 September 2013

Helen2000 - Eh? He said there wasn't an ASL, and also that there was a safe polace until the cyclist intervened. Anyway, I ride motorbikkes and pushbikes. I hate ASLs when I'm on either bike, and think they cause more problems than anyone imagined.

Now that police have responded to pressure to enforce the letter of the law on red light jumping, a lot of cyclists are getting upset, thinking it wouldn't apply to them. Thanks, LCC, for being part of the campaign for more pedantic policing!

While we're at it, why do so many cyclists refuse to look behind before moving? Someone suggested it may be racing rules, ie the responsibility is with the person behind. This works fine when there are only cycles involved, moving at similar speeds, but less well on the public orads, when faster vehicles are coming up behind. Often, the people who aren't looking are also refusing to listen, haveing decided that having a soundtrack is more important than not getting squashed - such idiots are only advancing the cause of human evolution.

ou812 - what are you on ? The responsibility is always with the vehicle, MB, cylist behind (I hope I never meet you on a ski slope where the same Rule applies)

Faster traffic behind has to stay behind until it is safe to overtake. Are you trying to suggest we sit in our ASL until the mororbikes behind us have zoomed off ?

Personally I am not a "fast" cyclist - but I do try to move off promptly and quickly when the lights change so that I am not holding up fellow road users at the junction - not a racing mentality at all.

  • By ou813 at 11:19am 11 September 2013

re: my change of name, I lost my password.

Sorry, Helen, I wasn't clear. I didn't mean you should loook behind before leaving the lights, that's different. When pulling away from a standstill, the responsibility is always with the vehicle behind, of course. I meant when changing position while moving. eg, going from gutter to middle, coming out between a queue of traffic to filter down the middle of the road etc. These are the situations where I most often have to do drastic things to avoid hitting cyclists.

In those situations, the person changing position really has responsibility, rather than the person behind them. In terms of relative speeds between the cyclist in front, changing road position without looking or signalling, and the car or motorbike behind, it's like someone overtaking on a motorway, when the car in the middle lane suddenly pulls into their path going 20mph slower. It's inviting a crash.

When people move out to the centre of the road, to filter, I find that really hard to understand. They must be aware that there are vehicles narrow enough to be using that space, so why not a brief check that there isn't one coming before emerging from the queue? In all situations, I'm amazed that cyclists more often than not don't look over their shoulders before changing position. I find it almost physically impossible to move without looking first, because I don't want to die.

On a different note, your use of language (zoomed off, smelly motorbikes etc) reminds me of Marxist academia, in never using a neutral word when a negative one can be found. Do you live in a world where motorbikes only ever "zoom"? Do you refer to 'moo moo cows' too?


Although riders and drivers have a responsibility to look before changing lanes or moving position on the road other road users behind them also have a responsibility to see them and anticipate possible movement. This is why filtering should only be done at a slow speed.

EVERYONE has the responsibility to make sure the roads are safe.

As a cyclist and biker I can see the problem from both sides. The fact is that cycling in london is dangerous because we have too many people in cars lorries etc on roads that were not designed for the amount of traffic on them. This creates tension and conflict. You can't avoid getting grief from people. On the other hand I do agree with the person who said how much he is shocked by cyclists not looking behind them or changing lanes. Ask any motorbike (or cycling) introductory and they will know that this is the 'life saver'. In also angry about seeing fellow cyclists jump red lights, sometimes even when pedestrians have started to cross. There is no justification for doing this. I do appreciate that there is some merit in looking at traffic lights and trialling allowing cyclists to go through (when there isn't a left turning road)

ou812 ! Do we now have political thought and grammar police on this forum ?! If so please gather your evidence properly.

Are "zoom" and "smelly" negative? One is used as a verb, one as an adjective which would have indicated that I did not appreciate the "fragrance" - if I had used the word.

Motorbikes do tend to positively "zoom off" rather than "draw away" from a stationary position.

And if I had used the word "smelly" what of it ? - I actually complained of MBs sitting in ASLs - where they have no right to be - and "spewing out their noxious fumes into my face" . They do this in a very "positive" way.

(BTW, if you want to complain about everyone who spells the noun "license" when they mean "licence" please feel free)

  • By SimonS at 12:20am 27 September 2013
Totally agree with the OP that an us and them mentality is dangerous and antisocial. We should all look out for each other regardless of what form of transport we use. Regarding the scenario described, I couldn't comment as I wasn't there. I do know that I don't like it when anyone breaks the law and motorcyclists break ASL rules very often though, plus many ride on cycle lanes. My feeling is that you don't get the perks of cycling without the work of cycling ;-P I have noticed that when motorcyclists have an accident that it is often the cyclists who stop to help first and I spent a couple of hours recently giving a witness statement for a motorcyclist who got swiped by an idiot car driver. I think most of us who travel on two wheels have engaged in less than sensible filtering at times. I have noticed how motorcyclists usually filter on the right and cyclists on the left - observing motorcyclists has helped educate me that sometimes you are much more visible and safer passing on the right. Ou812: It is really delusional to make assumptions about someone's political views from their wording and getting nasty and personal is a bit dim. You seem to have a lot of axes to grind - try empathising and being friendly now and then, you might just like it.
  • By ou813 at 6:09pm 13 November 2013

No, no! I wasn't making assumptions about anyone's political views - more about the type of debate, as in choosing who you are against, then oppoese them at every opportunity. Thus, because motorbikes are bad, the reaction is to condemn the biker in this case, and defend the cyclist, despite it being a story of awful cyclist behaviour. That was the point about Marxist academia. Not that Helen is a Marxist, but that her style of debate is similar to the way many Marxist academics go on. Incidentally, if I had been saying Helen were a Marxist, that wouldn't be an insult, would it? I'd be more inclined to see it as a compliment personally, but it does depend on your viewpoint I guess.

As has been said several times - yes, motorcyclists are breaking the law when they infringe an ASL. Motorcyclists were red light jumping as a rule long before ASL's reared their ugly heads, and will probably continue to do so. Just as cyclists routinely red light jump (as I believe they should!) when an ASL isn't present.Am I to believe that cyclists making this argument wait in the queue when an ASL isn't there, because they are part of the vehicular traffic, not entitled to be in front of anything and should have stayed back in the queue? Really?

Naughty it may be, but I bet very few cyclists would wait at the light if there is no ASL. Be honest about that one.

  • By sk5 at 3:39pm 29 November 2013

There is a lot of arrogance on the roads. Bigger population, small city and old style deisgned roads.


I've said it once and i'll say it (type it) again: NOTHING will change in this country right away. We wait until the last minute to do anything.


Wait until there are more deaths and blood on the governments hands and there are more confontations with drivers getting beaten up and the roads are chaos.....then things will change!!!!! 


I am in complete agreement with you. There seems to be a 'push' going on in the motorcycling fraternity by those who want to use cycle lanes and the ASL. I'm afraid that my experience of Powered Two Wheelers (PTW's) is nearly always negative with riders barging into the ASL, sometimes even cutting me up by performing a right turn from my left!. Most of those who do this, it has to be said, as I want to be fair to more experienced bikers here, have L-plates. For these folk, I usually like to have a little chat about HC 178 which they have just broken.

Some claim that motorbikes should be able to use the cycle lanes and ASL because it's 'safer'. Whose safety are we talking about here?. It's an utterly misleading and void arugument IMHO, reasons being:

1. Motorbikes are fast and often have more powerful acceleration than cars, so don't need to use facilities designed for slower cyclists.

2. Motorbikes are ridden at speed on dual carriageways & motorways where there is a much greater risk of an accident. In stationary traffic, the risk is, I would say, minimal.

3. According to a PDF available on the CTC website, the majority of fatal and serious motorbike accidents occur in rural areas and in places away from ASL's.

4. Motorbikes have a larger footprint than bicycles, especially with panniers and farings. The last thing that the cycling world needs is cycle lanes and ASL's clogged by motorbikes.

5. Motorbikes can be very noisy and are polluting. I dislike having bikers barge in front of me in the ASL, rev their machines and due to the angle of the exhausts, spray me with foul gases!.

Unfortunately, regarding point 4, I see it a lot whenever work brings me to London. However, one morning on my way to the work site, I drove past a lone biker in an ASL surrounded by cyclists - made me smile as he probably felt a bit sheepish.

There is only one reason why motorbikes are ridden in cycle lanes etc - convenience.

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