We’ve never known anything like it. Our website went into meltdown at the weekend with universal outrage at the Surrey Police decision to target cyclists in the Box Hill area for ‘antisocial cycling’.

Anyone deemed guilty of inconsiderate riding now faces a £1,000 fine after police received complaints that cyclists had been causing cars to slow down!

A couple of months ago several cycling and triathlon clubs in the South-East were contacted by police and warned against riding in groups and blocking the road.

Then last week, police handed out leaflets to riders warning them of the massive fine for riding without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. Instead of harrassing bike riders, police should be happy that cyclists are doing them a favour by inadvertently slowing traffic.

Roland Townson sums it up perfeclty on our website: “Drivers are actually complaining that they are being forced to slow down, not that cyclists, who have every right to be there, are behaving badly. Therefore the police should try to educate car drivers on the need to drive at safer speeds on these busy roads. The fact that they are stopping the cyclists, rather than drivers, shows they do not understand the problem.”

Certain drivers simply don’t like the idea of sharing the roads. They complain, but there is little they can do to stem the rebirth of cycling.

Robert Garbutt is editor or Cycling Weekly

Related links

Surrey Police go after ‘inconsiderate’ cyclists

  • yvonne haigh

    I live in a small no through road. Close to schools and many children live on our road. Unfortunately it is also a cycle path. Unfortunately we have had a huge increase of cyclists using this route. Unfortunately the majority of them chose to use the pavement not the no through road. Most of them, especially the ones wearing all the cycle gear do not slow down or seem to think that a pedestrian may walk out of their front doors and collide with them. I am very concerned about the small children who live in our street.

  • Mimi Wade

    Today a cyclist bashed very hard on my window. It scared me to death. He was the most aggressive man I have encountered so far. I have no recollection of him being anywhere near me until he almost smashed my window with his fist. He then swore at me and was incredibly foul mouthed and enraged. I am fed up with the abuse motorists suffer from cyclists if you are in their way or they cant ride as they want to on the road. It is time for them to be taxed , insured and registered. It is the only thing that will stop this abuse that drivers now suffer constantly. It is shameful that these thugs are allowed to vent they way they do, safe in the knowledge they can actually get away with it. The last time this happened, a cyclist was weaving in and out and then hit the driver’s side of my car and scratched it – and he abused me! It has to stop.

  • Brian noyce

    I would just like to point out that when a car driver is alone in the car which is nearly all the time they are effectively driving two abreast, since the passenger seat is empty, it is cars that take up all the roadspace

  • colin evans

    It’s illogical to talk of a ‘war’ between motorists and cyclists. How many cyclists are not motorists? Very few. I’ve been a cycling enthusiast all my life. I watched Reg Harris race at the old Fallowfield track in Manchester. My wife and I cycle for fun, she using a vintage Raleigh Ladies’ Classic. We would encourage anyone to use a bike rather than the car. Yet we are constantly exasperated by the behaviour of cyclists on the narrow roads and lanes around us, particularly at weekends when large groups emerge for their weekly ‘club’ excursion. Many dominate the road by riding two or even three abreast. The majority do get into single file and allow other traffic (yes, cars) to overtake safely when they realise that there is someone trying to pass. But a sizeable minority don’t move over. It’s not only inconsiderate, it’s potentially dangerous.
    I wonder what sort of car drivers they are.

    Cycling is booming. Great. The biggest increase is in males between 26 and 40 (so I believe). Official stats reveal that they are prepared to spend large amounts on gear. I wonder if there is also a burgeoning arrogance in this sector, a machoism which makes some of them deliberately provocative in their use of the roads. I hope not. Cycling doesn’t need that.

    I repeat. I’m a cycling nut. I watched Reg Harris race at the old Fallowfield stadium in Manchester and, as a journalist, reported on time trials and many other events in the North-West during the 1970s-1980s. I think it’s wonderful that the sport/recreation is blooming and there is no need for conflict on the roads if everyone behaves properly. Magazines like yours have a responsibility in getting the message over.

  • JM

    Many of these cyclists need to grow up. I would be in favour or an even heavier fine, it should be at least £5000 and the confiscation of their beloved bicycles for such reckless and antisocial behaviour.

    I believe that ultimately the only way to get the issue resolved and crack down on these morons is to introduce a mandatory test (two parts with the same structure as the driving test) and force cyclists to be insured.

  • Mike p

    £1000 fine for a cycling offence (obstruction) seems somewhat over the top. Especially when compared the the paltry £60 fine for using a mobile phone when driving. I believe that the penalty for using a mobile when driving in the Isle of Man is £1000; that is what it should be here.

    I suspect that the vast majority of cyclists are also car drivers, so it shouldn’t be difficult to realise the effect you may be having on other drivers when you are cycling in a particular manner. Unfortunately, there are many drivers of all types of vehicles who don’t give a damn about anybody else on the road (also many incompetent drivers) and we face severe risks from such people. The police would be well employed by making concerted efforts to remove such drivers from the roads.

  • Jonathan R

    I am frankly baffled by the instant self-righteous outrage on the part of the CW Editor. As pointed out by the first commentator above, the Surrey Police position is entirely fair and sensible. Of course motorists must be allowed to pass freely where it is safe to do so; any decent cyclist would assist them to do this, and in return expect not to be put at risk by motorists. At the same time, where overtaking is clearly unsafe, cyclists and motorcyclists are often encouraged to ‘take possession of their lane” to prevent being squeezed. On small roads, motorists should expect to come up behind cyclists travelling slower than them.

    What’s the big deal? RG needs to clarify exactly what he is so indignant about.

  • Jane P

    I live on Boxhill ride a bike and drive a car. However the recent behaviour of some of the cyclists that use our roads is beyond me. On the same day as one of the serious accidents mentioned I came head on with a cyclist who was overtaking 2cyclists riding abreast on a blind bend. I hate to think of the outcome if I had not braked very hard. Plus I also agree with some of the language used. It’s easy to say everyone swears but quite frankly when Iam out in my garden I don’t what to hear it constantly at the week end.
    On the other side of the coin I have had near misses myself with drivers feeling they have all of the road and don’t need to give me room as a cyclist.
    A little consideration would go a long way. Everyone has a right to enjoy the countryside so please let’s learn to respect each other and not turn it into a war that requires police intervention.

  • Mike Norman

    I do visit Box hill in my car and there are plenty of cyclists and motorists who ashow consideration to each other. I have had problems with a couple of cyclists going up the hill who took enough of the road so a to prevent any overtaking not giving and form of signal to go into carpark entrance at the top and then deciding to pull out across my path causing to break sharply to avoid knocking him over. When I gave a horn warning all I got was abuse. It would have easy to just knock him over. Box Hill is for everyone not just one group. I also agree that 20 MPH is plenty fast enough for going down the hill. Would it not be better if cycle time triald ordanised these meets ar the hill if marshalled properly there not be these problems

  • chris woodford

    A simple point a car has no nervous system hence it feels no pain when struck; however notwithsstanding a cyclist has, said nervous system and will feel pain and suffer short or long term nay even terminal damage. now this simple fact should persuade any cyclist no matter what he/she may gain in terms of compensation to avoid conflict in any form as the motorist always wins

  • Amoeba

    In my experience as a driver and a cyclist, motorists seem to believe they have the right to bully cyclists. They over-take at pinch-points e.g. where a cyclist is passing where a vehicle is parked and they show zero consideration for cyclists and pedestrians. Motorists also pass too close at speed; follow cyclists at dangerously close distances; pull out in-front; overtake and immediately either stop or turn left; and so-on.
    Even women bully cyclists, when they have 50 to 200+ horsepower engine output.

    Many motorists also believe in the myth of ‘Road-Tax’ too. [BTW, it’s not ‘road-tax’, it’s vehicle excise duty, and it’s not a licence to use the road, it’s a licence to pollute, which is why low-emissions, band ‘A’ cars pay zero.

  • Max

    As a mountain biker who regularly cycles and drives on roads in this area, I’ve noticed a tremendous increase in road cycling in the last few years. Many of the ‘newbies’ appear unsure of how and when to ride singly or two abreast, and perhaps cycling mags have a part to play in their education.

    There are places round here where riding one abreast on a narrow road invites drivers (many of whom really aren’t very good at it) to overtake in places where they can’t see for their own stopping distance. The more formal cycling club rides appear often to ride fast in tight 2 abreast formation, which forms an object with the footprint of a big truck, which car drivers appear to respect and understand how to, and how not to, overtake. What I see a lot now is 6-10 riders in a straggly long single line, but without sufficient space betweeb riders for a car to safely overtake one at a time. Maybe you could run an article on riding in a group for safety?


  • Mark D

    I’m concerned by the comments of the two residents below. Why do they want to overtake the cyclists? I often see cyclists travelling at around 20mph which is ample speed for a car around these parts. Riding more than two abreast isn’t illegal and in this instance, if it prevents impatient motorists from overtaking then it can only be a good thing.

  • Downfader

    @Bob Franklin – if it is serious enough to be reported and they do nothing then please forward it to the press as other cyclists have done. The more we hammer the nail the harder we drive the message in.

    @Miss Fitt and Miss Ladell – if you’re driving then get a roadhawk camera system.Or if you cant afford it use bluetack and a normal camera. MD80 clones cost about £15 now too. Small and unobtrusive cameras can be used to highlight genuine problems as I said above.

    Unfortunately swearing is common – I do myself swear I’ll admit. I try and control it around kids, etc. Luckily swearing is pretty mild compared to what some people get up to.Sticks and stones as they say…

    With riders being 2 or more abreast, whilst technically not illegal some clubs will use it as a tactic to stop a dangerous overtake when a) they are riding at or near the speed limit, or b) there is oncoming traffic and overtaking would be dangerous for one cyclist even. It should also be remembered that overtaking 2abreast is quicker and easier than a single file as the line is longer in most circumstances

  • shaun finnis

    Unfortunately even cyclists are not all good! we have a minority who can be a bit abrupt with other road users and with all club runs ive been on it is considered courteous to not ride 2 abreast when a vehicle is approaching. If the police so wish to clamp down on these people fair enough if they believe the cyclist is being inconsiderate, as long as they also fine the inconsiderate car drivers who have lost the ability to indicate their intentions and driving recklessly. We all have a right to use the road sensibly so lets all have equal rights and when someone does something wrong book them!

  • Bob Franklin

    After reading this article and comments as well as last weeks “outrage feast” I cant help but think it strange that only one police officer responded (I will not make snide comments about them not being able to read & write) is it a case that only one police officer in the whole of surrey is actually a cyclist or “thinks bike”. As to the use of inappropriate language unfortunately that is a reflection on today’s society and NOT a cyclist thing! most people I overhear use the f word or worse.
    On the subject of bad drivers I recently invested in a helmet camera (all singing/dancing HD etc) and reported an incident with Surrey police I have as yet not recieved a response from them, cannot wait for thier excuse as to why they won’t prosecute this time.

  • Daphne Ladell

    I live in the village of Box Hill; in fact my house fronts the road. For months now we have had to put up with cyclists regularly riding 3/4 abreast, this makes it impossible to overtake and if we try to overtake take them in our cars, the abuse we get is vicious and completely unnecessary, for example; Fingers Up, extreme language, which is not called for. They act as if they own the road, will not give way to other traffic as if cars should not be on their road !

    There have been some very bad accidents, in particular one that was very recent, a cyclist went over the white line on Tott Hill / Leech lane Headley on a bend and was hit by a car, coming in the opposite direction.

    Another issue to be considered, Foul language; I was out gardening in the front of my house on Sunday, a resident and her 2 grandchildren stopped to chat to me, a cycling club went past (they were a club, as they were all dressed the same) shouting to each other and every other word was ‘f***’ or ‘f******’. One of the grandchildren asked their Granny ‘What did f****** mean’. Is their any need for this ?

    On a last note, the villagers are looking forward to the Olympics Cycle event, next year, At the recent test event the villagers were out cheering on the cyclists, but disappointed to the lack of visitors to the village. We do have some extremely good viewing area’s. The road through the village is straight for nearly 2 miles and some of the best views of the race can be gained by just standing on the pavement, or just outside the village where there is another mile of grass verge.

  • Amanda Fitt

    i would like to point out as a resident of Boxhill that when the trial race for the Olympics occured that the villages of Boxhill were out in force supporting the event, many of the villagers were involved in making sure the race was a success. On an average weekend we see many cyclist following the route around boxhill and up and down the Zig Zag road, and i am sure the majority of cyclist show good road sence, but there is a small majority who have no regard riding two or more abreast, some have been abusive, one particular morning i was standing at the end of my drive talking with a neighbour with her small children when a group of cyclists came past swearing and cursing, the children heared this and were questioning the words they heared. You could say this happens in all walks of life but the majority of cyclist are grown men, and this behavouir is unexceptable in any shape of form. So its not just motorists that can cause situations.

  • Mark

    To be fair – the comments on the Surrey Police site here: http://www.surrey.police.uk/olympics/ridingroute.asp

    seem sensible and are aimed at motorists AND cyclists.

    Let’s not get carried away here – yes this seems a spectacularly ill thought out piece of “road safety enforcement”, but there are some decent points that SOME cyclists could take on board.