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  1. #1
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    bike commuting in England

    I am wrapping up a 6 months stay in England, outside of London, where I was sent by my company. I was able to bring my bike along and commuted everyday some 18 miles (RT). I was lucky because a good portion of my commute was along a bridle way, away from traffic and through some lush forest areas. Overall the bike infrastructure was quite good, obviously it is something that local authorities here spend some money on. Directional signs for cyclists (and the very occasional horse rider, I assume) were plenty and very informative. All very good, no complaints.

    However, what really surprised me was the behavior of motorists towards anybody not in a car. Part of my commute was along streets, and drivers had no patience or concern for me and my safety (either as cyclist or pedestrian). The MO here seems to be, if you are not in a car and need to cross the street, make sure you don't get hit. Run for your life. Even in residential areas, the common "STOP line" where cars should stop before proceeding doesn't exist, so drivers might yield to oncoming traffic, but not for pedestrians. Motorists are speeding in a manner I rarely ever saw in the U.S. Speed limits are only taken as silly suggestions.

    Oddly enough, England claims a low traffic fatality rate, which is among the lowest in the world. One wonders if the approach to scare non-motorists to stay off streets (which goes against the current train of thoughts in so many countries (including the US) where drivers are asked to slow down to make it safer and more welcoming for vulnerable road users) is part of the reason for the low fatality rate.

    Anybody else out there who made similar experiences in England?

  2. #2
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Incidentally, I'm moving to England after living in Germany for 3 years and Sweden for the prior 3 years.

    I'm quite sad to hear that England will be a step backward I found drivers in Stockholm and Frankfurt to be outstanding with respect to cyclists. However, I've been in Copenhagen for a month or so, and it's even better here, so I'm sad to hear that it's not as pleasant as any of these places in England.

    Also, a quick word of warning, I would caution against extending the London metro area to "all of England."
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  3. #3
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPprivate View Post
    I am wrapping up a 6 months stay in England, outside of London, where I was sent by my company. I was able to bring my bike along and commuted everyday some 18 miles (RT). I was lucky because a good portion of my commute was along a bridle way, away from traffic and through some lush forest areas. Overall the bike infrastructure was quite good, obviously it is something that local authorities here spend some money on. Directional signs for cyclists (and the very occasional horse rider, I assume) were plenty and very informative. All very good, no complaints.

    However, what really surprised me was the behavior of motorists towards anybody not in a car. Part of my commute was along streets, and drivers had no patience or concern for me and my safety (either as cyclist or pedestrian). The MO here seems to be, if you are not in a car and need to cross the street, make sure you don't get hit. Run for your life. Even in residential areas, the common "STOP line" where cars should stop before proceeding doesn't exist, so drivers might yield to oncoming traffic, but not for pedestrians. Motorists are speeding in a manner I rarely ever saw in the U.S. Speed limits are only taken as silly suggestions.

    Oddly enough, England claims a low traffic fatality rate, which is among the lowest in the world. One wonders if the approach to scare non-motorists to stay off streets (which goes against the current train of thoughts in so many countries (including the US) where drivers are asked to slow down to make it safer and more welcoming for vulnerable road users) is part of the reason for the low fatality rate.

    Anybody else out there who made similar experiences in England?
    There are a few morons in cars out there but I can't say I recognise what you're describing. I've lived in London for the last 17 years and worked in central London for 12 of those (getting about the centre of town on foot) so can only assume you've been spectacularly unlucky, or just picked a bad part of town.

    We don't have stop signs at every junction like you do in so many parts of the US, we just tell drivers to give way unless it's truly necessary to come to a complete stop.

    What part of London are you talking about?
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  4. #4
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    Yes, that's quite correct. I have only had very limited experience (geographically speaking) to the southern tip of metro London. Germany is very different, quite correct; that has been my experience in Munich and some other places in Germany.

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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    There are a few morons in cars out there but I can't say I recognise what you're describing. I've lived in London for the last 17 years and worked in central London for 12 of those (getting about the centre of town on foot) so can only assume you've been spectacularly unlucky, or just picked a bad part of town.

    We don't have stop signs at every junction like you do in so many parts of the US, we just tell drivers to give way unless it's truly necessary to come to a complete stop.

    What part of London are you talking about?
    I think you have been exceedingly kind in your rebuttal of the o.p.'s broad brushed characterization of your city. Rest assured, the U.S. is no bastion of bike friendliness. Quite the opposite. There are only a handful of cities considered bike friendly and two of those get that distinction simply from their "critical mass" of vehicular cyclists (a large percentage of whom are simply too poor to travel any other way) and not from any real committment to foster a culture of bicycle awareness in the driving public.

    H

  6. #6
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    I think you have been exceedingly kind in your rebuttal of the o.p.'s broad brushed characterization of your city. Rest assured, the U.S. is no bastion of bike friendliness. Quite the opposite. There are only a handful of cities considered bike friendly and two of those get that distinction simply from their "critical mass" of vehicular cyclists (a large percentage of whom are simply too poor to travel any other way) and not from any real committment to foster a culture of bicycle awareness in the driving public.

    H
    Not to discredit the OP, but I was quite surprised to hear this. In larger German cities that cycling is quite good and I usually have more issues with peds that with drivers (or other cyclists for that matter).
    Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S)
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  7. #7
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    In my experience, central London is OK for cycling because the roads are so congested.
    The worst part of the UK for cycling is outer London, into the commuter-belt of SE England, along the M4 corridor westwards. All of the towns seem to be very hostile to cycling.
    In my part of England (East Anglia) life happens at a slower pace and cycling is accepted as a normal thing.
    I would agree that the apparently low pedestrian casualty rates are mainly due to fear and avoidance by pedestrians.

  8. #8
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    I think you have been exceedingly kind in your rebuttal of the o.p.'s broad brushed characterization of your city. Rest assured, the U.S. is no bastion of bike friendliness. Quite the opposite. There are only a handful of cities considered bike friendly and two of those get that distinction simply from their "critical mass" of vehicular cyclists (a large percentage of whom are simply too poor to travel any other way) and not from any real committment to foster a culture of bicycle awareness in the driving public.

    H
    I'm used to broad brush generalisations - the number of people who use sweeping statements you'd think that just about every living person was the antichrist incarnate... although in fairness my experience is based on central London and westerly/southerly parts - my experiences of north and east London are limited so it's possible things are different there.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  9. #9
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    In my experience, central London is OK for cycling because the roads are so congested.
    The worst part of the UK for cycling is outer London, into the commuter-belt of SE England, along the M4 corridor westwards. All of the towns seem to be very hostile to cycling.
    Really? I've cycled from London to Reading, London to Windsor, London to Southampton, London to Brighton (with a friend, not as part of the well known annual ride), Reading to Cardiff (and all those routes in reverse) and all over southern England. There are some busy main roads that I'd avoid because they're just no fun to ride at all but aside from what I'd call basic sensibilities (like not riding on the A3 when it's three lanes each way with a 70mph limit) most roads seem perfectly OK to me.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  10. #10
    Very, very Senior Member JPprivate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    I would agree that the apparently low pedestrian casualty rates are mainly due to fear and avoidance by pedestrians.
    Yes, I read about this, it appears that the philosophy was to keep pedestrians and motorists very much separated. Well it seemed to have worked in regards to keeping fatalities down.

    And sorry if I offended anybody with "broad brushed" generalizations. I thought I share my limited experiences from being in one part of the country for six months.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    most roads seem perfectly OK to me.
    I found the small country lanes in Stockbroker Belt were heavily trafficked by fast vehicles. I did a lot of riding in Sussex and there were quieter parts but a lot of bad tempered driving. In Guildford-Watford and that extended region of "exburb" where one town merges into another, I never saw any cyclists.

  12. #12
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
    I found the small country lanes in Stockbroker Belt were heavily trafficked by fast vehicles. I did a lot of riding in Sussex and there were quieter parts but a lot of bad tempered driving. In Guildford-Watford and that extended region of "exburb" where one town merges into another, I never saw any cyclists.
    Interesting, I'm closer to London than Guildford and ride around a few places not all that far from Guildford. Sure you get the odd asshat in a fast Audi once in a while (it's usually the saloons that are driven by morons, I've found the estates generally give me a lot of room unless they're the souped up RS4 or RS6 type) but on the whole I don't have a lot of trouble.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

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