Lack of motorist awareness about 'taking the lane'

good concatenation of various blog thoughts here:

Most motorists and law enforcement officials have no idea why cyclists ride in the middle of the lane. They think we're being arrogant (apologies for previous loose vocabulary).

If the Government agrees that this is the safest way to ride (Bikeability), then doesn't it also have a responsibility to train drivers?

Shouldn't the solution be to incorporate the Bikeability principles of taking the lane in the Highway Code?

This post was edited by mike_c at 8:07am 22 July 2015.


This is a great point - it's very confusing if different user groups have different ideas on what is 'right' on the roads.

Our LA runs driving test theory classes, as probably do others, and I have thought that LCC local groups, perhaps in conjunction with Living Streets, could influence the syllabus to allow input from other road users.  E,g., I am always amazed how many drivers don't know that they should give way to pedestrians crossing the road into which they are turning.  I was hit by a car when I stopped for some assertive pedestrians and the car behind didn't.  (Whilst checking I had that correct I came across a USA site and this 1999 LCC Camden site  I was more recently the object of a screaming rant from a local NHS day ambulance driver when I maintained the middle of the road in front of her in slow moving traffice when my passing the traffic in front wasn't an option (nor was it for her!)  Now she must have passed through some training  scheme... Who trains thse trainers?

  • By Austen at 6:04am 27 July 2011

Mike asked "Shouldn't the solution be to incorporate the Bikeability principles of taking the lane in the Highway Code?"

I think the answer is "yes".

What I don't know is "how".






  • By Stephen at 3:53pm 27 July 2011

The question I ask myself would be is the risk from an enraged driver because they perceive that I am 'in their way' greater than the risk of a driver attempting to squeeze past me when there isn't really room, a pedestrian stepping out into my path or an occupant of a vehicle flinging open a door and sending me flying all because I decided to stay closer to the kerb to allow drivers to pass me.

Whilst they might be odd the psychopathic driver on the road, in my experience they are vanishingly small. In fact the risk of a careless driver trying to push past you or any of the incidents I mentioned are much more likely I would suggest.

In any event it is likely that no matter what you did the psychopathic driver would still be psychopathic and if it wasn't you on your bicycle they would probably take it on an elderly person attempting to cross the road or another driver sticking within the speed limit.

It might be a great idea to extend cycle training to a broader range of road users but for the time being I personally feel a great deal safer riding out in the lane where appropriate rather than hugging the kerb.



"Most motorists and law enforcement officials have no idea why cyclists ride in the middle of the lane. They think we're a**eholes."

are you for real?? can't believe a professional organisation is making this comment.  It's statements like this that fuel the fire between motoritsts and cyclists unnecessarily.  I noticed this comment last week (when a**eholes didn't contain asterix). I hoped that it would have been removed by now.  Very irresponsible and really doing no favours for LCC.


  • By JamesAC at 8:57am 5 August 2011

Unfortunately, it is all too often the case that motorists, many of whom should know better (especially our law enforecement officers), don't understand why cyclists "take the lane". There are countless examples posted on the various cycling forums of cyclists being pulled over by the police, because they were cycling in the middle of the lane, rather than in the gutter. There are many, many more examples (and I've had personal experince, too) of motorists taking cyclists to task in a more or less vilent manner for the same reason.


When I started cycling to work, I would say it took me about 4 - 6 weeks to "enlighten" motorists on my route the reason for my lane positioning. Once they understood that I wasn't going to cycle several miles at 10 mph in the middle of the carriageway, and that once a hazard was passed I would move back into secondary position, then things began to look up. But it certainly was the case that in the first few weeks of commuting, I got hooted and shouted at every day. I don't know if the drivers thought I was an a**ehole, but they certainly didn't understand why I was cycling in the position I had adopted.

  • By mike_c at 11:06pm 6 August 2011

Most of my friends would never have the confidence to 'take a lane' from a motor vehicle... but then most of them wouldn't dream of riding a bike in London.

Is this why there's an over-representation of London cyclists who are male, aged between 20-40... because these are the people most likely to be able to handle what can quite frequently be a confrontational experience, where a cyclist must assert their right not be damaged by a fast-moving metal object?

If you visit the Netherlands, where such conflicts have been largely eradicated, the demographic is 50-50 male/female with huge numbers of children and older people cycling.

I know which I prefer...

As far as I see it, the only way to affect a behavior change among motorists is to require cycle training as part of obtaining a driving permit. Also, I think it's critical that this training not just be an afternoon in a Tesco carpark, but it should entail real-life urban traffic situations - Kensington High Street Westbound from Royal Albert Hall to Kensington Olympia (West), Old St/Hackney Rd (East). Any suggestions for North and South?

Using the Netherlands as a model is admirable, but the car culture in London is quite strong. Personally I don't understand why anyone would need a car in this city - it's relatively flat (easy for cycling), most necessities are within five miles, and there's brilliant public transport. London has all of these things going for it, so why aren't there twice as many cyclists on the roads and why don't we have cycle-only roads? These two issues, of course, are interrelated: . In order to get more people on their bikes, it is necessary to further restrict motorist access to the roads, and the next Mayor of London will have the opportunity to prove her/his commitment to making London a truly bikeable city.

I follow the highway code as should most car drivers and that is drive on the left of the highway except if overtaking ot turning right. This does not mean driving in the gutter it means keeping a safe distance to any obstacles on the left whether this is a gutter, a pot hole or simply a parked car.

When I come to a pinchpoint on the journey or one where I may need to change lane I take the correct position but do somtimes make sure there is no room for a car to squeeze past on my right.

I rarely get any horms shouting at me.

Earlier this week I took my blind stoker from Paddington to Upminster on a tandem. As the tandem is particularly difficult to steer especially when getting going I made sure we had a bigger gap than usual between us and the edge of the road.

After 23 miles the only problem I had with any cars were 2 who overtook us just before turning left. Most cars gave us a lot of space so in general most car drivers are supportive of cyclists.

  • By JCL at 8:51am 12 November 2011

When I first took to the roads as a cyclist, I was oblivious to the risks posed by car doors and like many a cyclist I see, stuck perilously close to parked cars while riding. It was only after hearing about a friend ending up in hospital after he hit an opening car door on High St Ken, and a visit to, that I grasped the need to 'ride wide'. I have on occasion taken the time to explain this to drivers hooting me (notably on back streets) to move out of the way and the reaction has been one of surprise and sincere apology. While there will always be the occasional 'psychopath', as referred to earlier, for whom education is irrelevant, most drivers, if made properly aware of cyclists' reasons for taking the lane, would be more understanding and patient. Will it only take a tragedy that affects the whole nation to raise awareness about this? There are plenty of individual tragedies that affect friends and families of those killed in accidents caused by opening car doors - I attended the funeral of my friend's 25-year-old son this summer, after he died in just such an accident. We need to make more noise about this so that policymakers listen and do start to raise driver awareness - in less financially stringent times, a public information film would have been one way, but at least including it in the highway code and drivers being obliged to take refresher courses seems reasonable. 

I sit in a truck in the west end 5 days a week and people sitting in the middle of lane is not seen as a problem by me it's people who sit in the middle of the lane but make no effort about going anywhere and just hold that position no matter what there speed or what sort of junction is ahead that's when it becomes dangerous

no matter what ... sort of junction is ahead

To be fair, if there's any sort of junction ahead it's probably justified. You don't overtake on junctions, certainly not the busy, cramped junctions of central London.

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