Wednesday 24 March 2010

that's ASL, you A*S***L*

Here's an Advanced Stop Line. The idea behind it is that it gives cyclists space to wait at the traffic light, and gives them a head start on the cars waiting at their stop line. This greatly reduces the risk that a cyclist will be knocked over by a car turning left at the junction, as quite often happens when a cyclist is cycling alongside a car, or the car simply overtakes and swings left without warning.

Here's a useful guide to how they are designed and marked. As you see, it is usual practice to paint the box red and have a big picture of a bicycle on it, to give a clue to the motorist as to what it's all about.

But this ASL is on Whiteladies Road, one of the main routes into the centre of Bristol, renowned as a Cycling City, where motorists respect cyclists and share the road with them on equal terms; not only that but it's on the National Cycle Network, part of the prestigious Route 4 (London to Fishguard).

So obviously it doesn't really need the visual aids, as everyone knows what to do.

Everyone, that is, apart from the occasional simple country folk who have come up to the city for the first time, and aren't used to our fancy ways. Like these chaps in the van, who managed to occupy half the cycle lane and stop right on the ASL. I banged their mirror with my shoulder as I squeezed past (it wasn't deliberate, but hey), and they honked their horn at me, drove alongside, wound down the window and shouted that I ought to have to take a test.

They didn't specify what sort of test, though. Name the root vegetable, perhaps. After all, I've already taken tests in driving, motorcycling, flying aeroplanes and steering ships.

I in turn caught up with them at the next junction, and knocked on the window.

It was wound down.

"You were in the advanced stop box", I said. "It's for bicycles."

It helps to be polite. It's a hearts and minds thing.

"No, t'aint!" said the driver, incredulous that I should be so ignorant of the rules of the road as applied to White Vans.

And off they went, in haste for whatever it is that they get up to. Delivering sheep or something.

It was a normal sort of day in town. Here are some students stepping out into the traffic to avoid this van, whose driver had had a sudden urge to eat a sarnie and have a scratch.

And here's someone.... well, work it out for yourself...


  1. I regularly get honked at and hooted at by white van drivers and young bloods in hot hatches. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I'm not driving fast enough, or I've dithered for a split second, or they just hate Honda drivers. Maybe because I'm just in their way. God knows what will happen when I switch to the Volvo. I wouldn't dare to take them on, mounted only on a bicycle. You ARE brave, Dru.

    I ALWAYS park responsibly. too. But then I'm odd in many ways.


  2. You're braver than me too, both for tapping on the window and telling them, and for cycling in the UK full stop!


  3. I've noted what an ASL is and told Rob too, ready for next time. I think I'd feel better at the lights as a driver with the cyclists safely in view like that. You are brave to take these oiks on. What is it about white vans? It must be something international, the colour attracts all of the plouks.

  4. It's aggression like that from other road users (cyclists included!) that's made me stop cycling in town, I walk everywhere nowadays. Which is a shame, but I hate it so much when something bad happens because it brings out my aggression too.

  5. -start carrying some bristol cycling campaign leaflets, say if they appreciate our bicycle facilities, could they consider joining.

    -remember to use full reg# without spaces in for google to index the vehicles properly across web sites.

  6. I don't know about brave; it's fun riding around town, and usually not too dangerous if you ride defensively. I continue to live in hope of a culture shift, where cyclists are not perceived as barely (if at all)tolerated invaders of car space. But sometimes that seems a bit optimistic...

    Point noted, Steve. Sorry, I dropped off the radar a while back; I thought of proposing posting this entry on BT, but wasn't sure if it had the right tone...

  7. When sheep needs delivering they just needs delivering.
    Rain, shine, bicycles, wildlife - nothing gets in the sheep-deliverers' way - you've got to admire their single-mindedness.
    I am often open-mouthed at just how narrow some peoples' single-mindedness can be.
    Like right now, I am.

    ps please be careful tapping on windows. Some single-minded people can be a bit unaware of others' needs. This is all part of their single-mindedness.

  8. Kind of like pizza delivery, but woolier. I got delivered to college by my father in the van that had previously contained sheep for market. So I smelled quite sheepy for ages. It's a nice smell, but hard to ignore.
    A good point, regarding single-mindedness. I shall try to keep my mind sufficiently broad to remember that.