There’s an advertising campaign going on around here. It is just a Scottish thing. I’ve seen some adverts on the back of buses, but the film I’ve only seen online. It isn’t bad, I think. It is better than the Nice Way Code, anyway, even if we would rather the money was spent on building cycle lanes (what length of cycle lane do you get for the cost of one advertising campaign?), or even on campaigning for proper, segregated cycle lanes. “If I can touch your car, you are driving too close to me”, is not a bad rule of thumb. Of course there are subtleties – one is “unless I have chosen to put myself in that position” (there being a difference between filtering through stationary traffic, when I am in control of what is happening, and being close passed by a vehicle doing 60mph, when I am not). I know that campaigns for minimum passing distances talk about 3 feet or even more, which is more than arm’s length, but arm’s length is at least a start.
So I thought I would have a play with the whole arm’s length idea. When I’ve been moving out to pass a parked vehicle, instead of stopping signalling once I am out, I’ve kept my arm out if I don’t want someone to pass me there. If I am going through pinch points, or there’s oncoming traffic such that I don’t want to be overtaken, I’ll stick my arm out. This makes me look bigger, I think, and is probably a bit confusing as it will look as though I want to turn right. I don’t mind confusing motorists, though, at least they are looking at me… I don’t know how much difference it has made – I did got hooted at by the driver of some massive coach, but if they thought that there was space to overtake me then they were wrong and my signal worked!
You can’t control traffic with arm signals alone, though, as I was reminded to my cost the other evening. I was heading up South Charlotte Street to get to the George Street cycle lane. South Charlotte Street is wide, slightly uphill, and has a shocking surface. There wasn’t anything behind me as the lights changed, so I set off, and suddenly a whole pile of traffic came flying up behind me. I was just too far to the right of the right-hand lane, and got a bunch of close passes at what felt like over 30mph. (Bring on 20mph speed limits…) And the Powers That Be wonder why there aren’t that many cyclists in the George Street lanes, when you need nerves of steel to get to them?