Cyclist comes out of nowhere

Catching up on my millions of saved-for-later google reader items, I was stopped by this press release advertising truck cams.  The provider of the cameras is boasting that one caught a near miss between their client Sibley Material Movements’ truck and a cyclist, which showed the truck driver to be “not at fault”.  Watch it full screen.  There are a few simple facts that can be ascertained from the video.

The video shows the truck driving along a typical two-lane two-way road with oncoming traffic at a little over 40 mph and then braking  in the final seconds close behind a cyclist who was moving across the lane to make a right turn.  The video is sadly too low resolution and wide-angle to see if and how the cyclist checked behind them and signalled.

What one can see is that the cyclist was always in the lane.  The cyclist is described as having “pulled out”, but this merely refers to the preparation for the right turn.  There is no suggestion or evidence that the cyclist was not always in that lane ahead of the truck.  There is no way to enter the road from the left shown in the video, and the cyclist is there in the distance for the duration of the clip.  This is, remember, a two-lane two-way road, with oncoming traffic.

Which leaves a question for Sibley Material Movements, who boast that the video proves their driver was in no way at fault and that the truck was “being driven safely”: what was the driver planning to do had the cyclist not “pulled out”?  Given that this is a two-lane two-way road with oncoming traffic occupying the opposite lane, and given that the cyclist was always there ahead in the truck’s lane, and given that the truck was approaching the cyclist at a higher speed than the cyclist was travelling right up until those final seconds, what was the driver’s intended speed and position in the road at the time where they are instead shown honking their horn in the video?

Given that we can not turn back time and replay things in this hypothetical changed situation, and given that there is no legal definition of “safely”, it is impossible to say that the driver would not have proceeded “safely”.  I’m simply curious to know how, and how the video proves it.

Given the nature of the situation, the Jack of Kent comment rules will have to apply to this post.

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6 responses to “Cyclist comes out of nowhere

  1. If they are selling this as a device to provide evidence in the case of collision, it would be helpful to have higher definition. It is really not clear to me if the cyclist looked and signalled. On the other hand, it does show the driver’s speed and it is notable that it indicates that the driver accelerates as the cyclist first comes into view. When film starts the vehicle is shown as travelling at 37mph, this rises to 44.2 mph before having to brake as the cyclist changes position on the road.

    If Google Street View is correct and current then the diver had recently passed from a 30mph limit into a 40mph limit.

    If this were shown in court, I would question why the driver was accelerating when approaching a vulnerable road user and there was oncoming traffic approaching.

    Given that Highway Code rule 162 states:-
    Before overtaking you should make sure:
    * the road is sufficiently clear ahead
    * road users are not beginning to overtake you
    * there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.

    And rule 163 states:-
    Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should:
    * not get too close to the vehicle you intend to overtake
    *give vulnerable road users at least as much space as you would a car

    In this case, with oncoming traffic, I would not have considered it safe to overtake, so why else was the driver accelerating, apparently to more than the speed limit?

    Speaking from my own training as a driving instructor, had a driver driven like that on a driving test, I think they should have been failed, as the intended manoeuvre was potentially dangerous.

  2. In the very first part of the video (what came earlier, I wonder?) the speedometer in the video says that the truck is accelerating, from 37mph to 44mph, before slowing to 40.2mph before finally slowing down to a safe following speed. According to Google, the local speed limit is 40mph, “compulsory”:

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Southampton+Solent+University,+East+Park+Terrace,+Southampton,+UK&hl=en&ll=50.925538,-1.405488&spn=0.004551,0.008594&sll=51.353023,-1.128794&sspn=0.008777,0.015278&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=50.925606,-1.40549&panoid=aJ1vJyALaL0cbm7Mu4fRnQ&cbp=12,354.65,,1,7.75

    So what we have, if the speedometer and Google are correct, is evidence of a truck speeding, on a promotional video, no less.

    I read also, that on a single carriageway, over 7.5 tonnes max laden weight have a speed limit of 40mph, no matter what. We don’t know if the truck in the video is that size, but 7.5 tonnes is not a very large a truck.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_speed_limits_in_the_United_Kingdom#Types_of_speed_limit

    I have a similar video of my own from the cyclist’s POV, where I am passing right-turning (in the US traffic) on the left, and the car behind me in turn honks, because I was interfering with their grand plan to pass both me and the turning traffic. The overuse of horns gets really tiresome.

  3. Enough said about “he came out of nowhere” (aka straight ahead) – what impressed me was the cyclist’s sprint speed. He has evidently been reading John Franklin!

  4. I don’t really have a point to make, just that I’ve cycled on this road (The Avenue) a number of times as a student in Southampton, and made that same right turn. Because the road is so wide and straight – sometimes I’ve seen cars overtake other cars *despite* oncoming traffic in the other lane – I think many drivers don’t pay much attention to cyclists. They barely have to adjust their road position to pass them with room to spare. Coupled with that, the 40mph limit is often flouted. When I made this right turn, I’d usually pull over on the left and wait for a gap to complete the manoeuvre if there was anything even some distance behind me and oncoming traffic in the other lane (as I certainly didn’t want to get caught stationary in the middle of this road with traffic, including plenty of HGVs and buses, undertaking me at speed – learnt through experience). Eventually I’d avoid The Avenue entirely and cycle on the (slow but much more pleasant) shared use paths in the adjacent common – fortunately there’s an underpass that takes you under The Avenue towards the university.

  5. Thanks for the many many comments submitted in response to this post. Unfortunately I felt unable to post anything about the specific scene depicted that was anything other than a bland statement of fact, given the limits on free speech in England and Wales.

    Comments are now closed, but you can continue to comment on the YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgFiKHHOCoE.

  6. Pingback: AWWTM: Cyclist comes out of nowhere | Joe D