British drivers have been shown up by their American counterparts, who are far more cyclist-friendly.
That’s the finding of the Portland-to-Portland riders, a cross-continental research trip designed to share best practice on transport that is concluding for its final leg tomorrow (Saturday July 12th).
According to team chairman Peter Murray, both car and lorry drivers are far more considerate in the US than in the UK.
He said: "We found that truck and car drivers gave us a wide berth when over taking (similar to France), when they were delayed behind the group on narrower roads there was far less dangerous overtaking and impatient revving up that is the norm in Britain."
Pouring cold water on the theory that the courtesy afforded to cyclists over the Atlantic was down to wider roads in the US, Murray added: "While in the western states there is plenty of space as we went further east roads got a bit tighter, but the courtesy remained. We noticed as soon as we started cycling in Ireland a very different and edgier relationship between ourselves and motorists and that has continued right up to London. On a narrow road in Wales a coach driver almost forced us off the road, annoyed at the few seconds delay we had caused him.
"US truckers seemed to be highly professional – in the light of the horrifying deaths caused by lorries in London, there must be some lessons we can learn."
In some US states there are laws that drivers shouldn’t overtake cyclists too closely. 21 US states have passed a ‘three foot rule’, while Pennsylvania has a ‘four foot rule’ – backed by high profile publicity campaigns.
Murray added: "The culture of antagonism between cyclists and motorists in London has to change. When we cycled around Portland Oregon, often seen as the US’s premier cycling city, it was not the infrastructure that impressed us so much and made cycling safe and pleasurable but the consideration and politeness of drivers.
"Over the whole trip across the States I only heard one trucker sound his horn – and then it was one of our cyclists that was at fault."
The research and charity trip Portland-to-Portland started from Portland Oregon on April 27th 2013. 4,000-plus miles later, the 15 core riders are being joined by 65 others for the final leg from Windsor to Portland Place, London – home of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Find out more about the ride here.