How can cyclists avoid the closed pass?

Not all cyclists benefit from a backstage “Q” figure to build them a flamethrower like the one we’ve developed above, so how can you avoid the danger of close quarters?

Faced with the daily danger of close passes, Graham Cooper has come up with a new – and by all accounts extremely effective – way of protecting his seven-year-old granddaughter when he rides a bike with her.

Grahame repurposed a fiberglass pole from a tent and tied it to his rack with a rubber band. The post extends a meter from the axis of his bike – the law says motorists must leave at least 1.5 meters when passing a cyclist. He even wrote about how and why he developed the idea as well as instructions on how to make your own version. here.

According to the before and after videos Grahame posted on Youtube, the flag pole turned out to be remarkably successful.

“I’ve never felt so relaxed on these roads since I started using this flag; the difference is amazing. Every driver seems to go further than drivers normally do, and the more cautious ones easily give me the full 1.5 meters of clearance – something that is normally very rare indeed,” Grahame explains on his website.

Why do drivers get too close?

No one knows for sure why some drivers insist on passing cyclists too close. However, it’s not because they failed to spot the person on the bike.

If that sounds counter-intuitive, note Dr Ian Walker, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bath – his research focuses in particular on the safety of vulnerable road users and their interactions with motorists, taking into account issues such as road user attitudes and stereotypes, and the roles of urban design and policy in impacting the safety of vulnerable road users. Dr. Walker has conducted research to monitor cars as they pass cyclists wearing a variety of high-visibility and disruptively patterned clothing.

Dr. Walker found that the outfits in the study (except for the one with the word “police”) were treated exactly the same, almost to the centimeter.

It seems likely that, ‘punishment passes’ aside, close overtaking is the product of driver incompetence. It doesn’t help that so few people in Britain now cycle. When we traveled to the Netherlands last year to shoot our road hazards documentary, Stop killing our children, we spoke to Vim Bot – national and international political adviser for the Fietsersbond, the Dutch cyclists’ union:

“Foreign observers notice that the behavior of motorists in the Netherlands is better than in their own country, and certainly than in Britain – I think it has to do with the fact that cycling is part of everyday culture in the Netherlands. This means that most motorists will cycle themselves, or they will cycle as children, or they will make their children cycle so that they know that there is has cyclists everywhere.

The ethical choice

ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green and reliable travel services. More than 30 years later, we continue to offer bicycle insurance (covers cargo bikes), breakdown insurance and mobility scooter insurance while placing concern for the environment at the heart of all our actions.

The Good Shopping Guide considers us the most ethical supplier in the UK.

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