Cyclist says some drivers do not take enough care

A keen cyclist who travels roughly 200 miles a week during the summer months on his bike has spoken about his experience on the road.

Andy Aitken has spoken after conerns have been raised about the safety of cyclists using main roads.

Mr Aitken, from Lerwick, is a keen sportsman who belongs to the Shetland Triathlon Club and the cycling group Shetland Wheelers.

He says the majority of motorists treat cyclists well – but some are prone to pass too close when they overtake people on their bikes.

“Generally, most of the time that you’re on the road, you do feel safe,” he said.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the drivers out there you’re never really aware of, which is how it should be.

“But there are a ‘select few’ who are passing too close to you, overtaking you and not giving you enough space.

“The worst ones are when you have got a car coming towards you on the other side of the road and a car squeezing between you and that oncoming car.

“It’s a bit hairy – you can almost reach out and knock a wing-mirror off yourself. That’s not how it should be. The car overtaking should at least be straddling the centre-line to get past you.”

Keen cyclist Andy Aitken. Photo: Kevin Jones

Mr Aitken stressed those were in the minority, and added cyclists had a duty to use the roads responsibly too.

But he said Tuesday night time trial events which were run at a time when traffic-flow was on the up during Total’s gas plant construction, had to be re-organised following concerns about possible incidents.

“It was pretty horrible”, he added.

“When you’re out and a car, van, or bus does pass too close, you do wonder if it’s just ignorance that they’re doing that or if they know they are passing too close.”

Mr Aitken said he had taken to making non-aggressive gestures to passing motorists who drove too close to him while he was out on the road.

“Usually I’ll put a hand up and gesture at them. It’s not aggressive, it’s just putting the point across. You just hope they’ll learn if they do something wrong once maybe they won’t do it again.”

Meanwhile, the Shetland Place Standard consultation, which started last year, has revealed the extent to which cyclists and walkers feel unsafe on the roads.

Participants were asked to rate particular issues on a scale of one to seven, with ratings of one signifying displeasure and a need for improvement.

Around a fifth of the people who responded to the “moving around” topic on roads gave the lowest possible rating.

Key issues highlighted by the respondents included feeling unsafe due to traffic speed and driver behaviour and a need for improved pavements and verges.


Add Your Comment
  • Matthew Simpson

    • March 24th, 2017 12:26

    I’ve been interested in getting into cycling for a while but I’m always worried that something will end up happening to me. I’ve noticed while driving how close other drivers get when overtaking bikes and it looks pretty scary to be on the receiving end of.

  • Wayne Conroy

    • March 24th, 2017 15:10

    There is an easy solution… wear a camera and record your journeys. When someone drives too close to you or put you in danger inform the police. Job done.

    Just remember… there are two sides to every coin. As well as witnessing many idiots driving far too close to cyclists in their vehicles I also often witness many cyclists making drivers irate by their inconsiderate use of the road (and pavements). As a driver who has always tried to be considerate towards cyclists, patiently sitting behind them for miles on occassions and always given plenty of space, I personally get upset by the cyclists who think its ok to hold up a large procession of cars by driving in packs or side by side when on a road that can be difficult to pass them in a car. Ok you are allowed to cycle side by side but please also consider the car drivers and give them a chance to pass safely too. When towing something or in a slow moving vehicle I frequently pull in to allow faster vehicles to pass. If more cyclists did the same and also showed consideration for the car drivers maybe there would be a lot less dangerous moments out there? Just a thought…

    Would also be nice if some of these idiots would also remember to slow down in their vehicles as they passed pedestrians, especially in the countryside. If possible treat pedestrians the same as cyclists on the road… Give them plenty of space and slow down/take care as you pass them. As well as forcing people onto verges, into ditches and the dangers of stones chips these fools can make walking along our country roads a dangerous prospect. And remember even while on the verge off the road nobody likes a vehicle going 60mph a couple of feet away from them – A little consideration goes a long way!

  • Donnie Morrison

    • March 24th, 2017 15:21

    Perhaps Mr Aitken should attempt to alter the mind set of some of his fellow cyclists who treat motorists almost with contempt. Last June I was on the main road almost at the north junction on the Tingwall straights when a cyclist ( ? on a time trial) approached from the side road, slowed down – looked at me and then pulled out just yards ahead forcing me to swerve violently – thankfully there was no oncoming traffic.
    It would also appear that some of Mr Aitken’s fellow cyclists have no concept of the purpose of passing places on single track roads, expecting other road users to either give way to them or remain behind.
    Shetland welcomes many touring cyclists – they seem aware of the highway code and treat other road users with consideration – something that is sadly lacking in some of our light flashing lycra clad locals.

  • Shuard Manson

    • March 25th, 2017 22:15

    I wonder how many motorists died/injured to Inconsiderate cyclists as opposed to Inconsiderate motorists versus cyclists?

    • Wayne Conroy

      • March 27th, 2017 8:26

      Really Shuard? Of course less motorists are going to die or be injured than cyclists. It doesn’t change the fact that inconsiderate cyclists can annoy drivers and the stupid drivers amongst them tend to do stupid things in their anger which can seriously endanger lives.

      People often do very silly things when they are angry/annoyed. Does it make it acceptable? Certainly not. Could some of these dangerous situations be avoided if some of the inconsiderate cyclists were to be more considerate? Definitely. Are petty comments going to help? I seriously doubt it!

  • John N Hunter

    • March 27th, 2017 22:51

    Someone pointed out to me that Shetland has a brilliant resource available for cyclists if only an effort could be made to upgrade them. The redundant bits of old road that follow many of the main roads the length and breadth of the isles.


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