posted 4 years ago

Driving Instructors Can Help Bring Motorists and Cyclists Together

Driving instructor teaches why cyclists sometimes ride in the middle of the road.

Driving instructors have an enormous influence on the next generation of drivers. Getting a family member to teach road-craft is a famously bad idea. This is because of the almost inevitable arguments but also because “amateur instructors” likely won’t know what modern driving examiners are examining. There are also rules in place that too few people know about, such as the fact a qualified driver is not allowed to use a mobile phone while in the passenger seat.

Yet picking up bad habits isn’t restricted to those who get their nearest-and-dearest to teach them to drive. Despite it being – cough – 25 years ago I remember vividly one of the key how-to-drive learning points from my professional driving instructor. He told me I had to accelerate up to the speed limit as soon as possible. I know he was trying to teach me to do what other drivers do but two mistakes don’t make a right – the speed limit is a maximum, not a target. Now, perhaps he book-ended his instruction with advice to first look out for other road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists, but I don’t remember it – I’ve just retained the advice that you are expected to floor it as soon as you get into a car.

How to pilot potentially fast and definitely heavy machinery in places where there may be squishy humans is a key life-skill, and therefore driving instructors are important people. Their advice is taken as gospel. It’s important that they should be emphasising empathy for all other road users. Drivers may eventually accelerate out of every corner like a F1 pro, because, sadly, that seems to be a Clarksonian norm, but they certainly shouldn’t be taught that’s the “right” thing to do.

Advice on how to share the road with squishy cyclists and pedestrians should be given much more prominence by the 42,000 approved driving instructors in the UK, also known as ADIs. And I’m glad to say I’ve been able to help with this. I produced a short film starring a driving instructor who teaches driving instructors, and he has handed down some sage advice to those he teaches. Blaine Walsh runs, an online resource of 300+ information-dense videos for those wishing to become driving instructors (or brush up on their driving skills). The video is available to watch below. It also stars Michael Frearson, director of the Association of Bikeability Schemes – Bikeability is “cycling proficiency for the 21st century”, a teaching scheme based on the National Standard for cycle training.

Blaine starts by stating the “two tribes” mentality is unhelpful and inaccurate, and that the road is a resource for everybody, not just motorists. He also discusses why cyclists sometimes ride in the middle of the road, a subject that’s had a staggering 88,000 Facebook-likes on this very site. Michael goes on to demonstrate the so-called “primary position” while riding his bike, and explains that a cyclist “riding in the middle of the lane” isn’t “getting in the way” of a motorist, he or she is a road user that got to that particular roadspace first and so has priority. Blaine explains that “priority” is the preferred term because “right of way” is a loaded phrase, often used to push aside other road users.

When the video is published – for free – on Blaine’s website it has the potential to reach 20,000 driving instructors who, in turn, could influence 300,000+ learner drivers. It would be good to think that at least some of these new drivers will pick up on the advice to “share the road” rather than assume that cyclists are “in the way.”


Carlton Reid is the executive editor of and the author of Roads Were Not Built For Cars, a best-selling history book that shows how motoring was created by cyclists. He drives a Nissan, slowly but safely.

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Yes cyclists should be the same as drivers. ; road taxed, insured, Mot'd hi visible clothing, and multi lights. Also, road law breaches on a cycle are transferred to their driving licence if they shoot thru light, or ignore the laws I as a driver have to adhere too.

As an experienced cyclist and semi-professional motorist I can appreciate the views of the other whichever I am doing. I have often 'high-sided' on a bike to help motorists see me and respect priority, but I refer to some who ride with obvious disregard for others as 'persons using bikes' rather than 'cyclists'.

David, overtaking may not be a right but neither is holding up traffic.Here in Scotland there are many signs instructing slow drivers to pull over to allow overtaking, especially on single track roads with passing places. Most cars do but groups of cyclists do not very often.Recently a tourist was fined and banned for not doing so because he was holding up a midwife trying to get to a remote cottage to assist with a difficult birth. This is as it should be. Groups of selfish cyclists should be aware that there may be a doctor or similar trying to get to a patient or similar in the queue behind them.

@Gary Knight "What annoys me as a motorist is when a cycle track is provided alongside a busy A road many so called professional cyclists don't use it" They're not supposed to, most UK cycle tracks (Sustrans & many others)are for cyclists who intend to ride at less than 15mph, those intending to ride faster are supposed to use the road instead. "professional" cyclists will be going above 15mph most the time

Overtaking is not a right. There is no advice in the code on where to overtake, there is lots on where not to overtake. Motorists are not very good at overtaking so should it be banned? As to instructors; my daughter were told about right of way, a poor attitude.

I can perhaps see the idea behind cycling in the centre of the road to prevent dangerous overtaking. But on the other hand it may encourage the motorist stuck behind a cyclist for a long time to take just such a risk when he becomes frustrated. I have ridden a bike myself although not for awhile now so like many of the writers on here have experienced both sides. I a cycle track or lane is available I always use it. It's there to keep me and other road users safe. What annoys me as a motorist is when a cycle track is provided alongside a busy A road many so called professional cyclists don't use it and endanger themselves and other road users by cycling on the road when there is no need to. After all you don't see motorists driving on the pavement just because they don't fancy driving on the road provided. Why is it that some cyclists wear that ridiculous lycra clothing just wear ordinary clothes for goodness sake. It doesn't make you aerodynamic you're already riding a machine with the aerodynamics of a house brick.

Motorists should give cyclists room-I agree. However cyclists should also give motorists room.I travel regularly on the A815, a twisty road alongside Loch Eck in Scotland where overtaking is difficult for long distances.On weekends especially during fine weather quite large groups of cyclists, often cycling clubs, ride 2-3 abreast with a large queue of cars etc following who can't overtake without taking a risk.Yet the cyclists make no effort to pull in and allow overtaking. This is selfishness on the part of cyclists and happens all too often.

I agree those pesky cyclists should be charged vehicle tax,as it's based on emissions that would work out at £0....Doh! Just how dense are the replies to this article? They show complete naivety eg all cyclists must wear helmets, yes I'm sure that will save me after you have hit me with a 2 ton vehicle at 50mph! Helmets will only protect upto 15mph and are for light impacts. Insurance, owners of houses are covered by home insurance, the question is have you heard of a cyclist killing a motorist or a pedestrian? No neither have I, if your car gets scratched because you were impatient and couldn't wait to get past that's your fault, claim off your own insurance! You are all so dim that you have not thought about the fact that for every cyclist that means one less car on the road freeing up the roads for improved journey times. Before you ask I have 2 cars and pay £600 in tax and fully insured for my cycles and have never killed a motorist with my road cycle!

The roads would be a safer and more pleasant place if people were generally more polite. The behaviour on the roads is merely a reflection of society in general. Some motorists are thoughtless, selfish, over-competitive pig-ignorant people and so are some cyclist and some pedestrians and the chances are they are like that everywhere to some extent whether at home, at work or on the roads. The cure isn't just different sort of driving lessons but a different sort of upbringing and basic education...

I am keen cyclist and driver and it would appear that the person who wrote the article can do neither. When he drives he has no consideration to other road users by not keeping upto speed limits and when he cycles he tries to get in everyones way. No wonder us cyclists get a bad name.

there are good and bad on both sides problem is car drivers have to be responsible and pay there fines cyclist do what they want and demand road space when the modern day demands they should be regulated and licenced and insured oh and be reponsible for there own actions

I still remember from 50 years ago, my Police driving instructor saying "Don't insist on your right of way - one day you'll be dead right!

I use a cycle quit a lot and I don't think most car driver are to bad I think that you have to read the road and we have to get out of the habit of this road tax it is not road tax it is vehicle tax we all pay for the roads though council tax

When cyclist have to take a test before getting on the road,have to wear a helmet, and treat both pedestrians and other road users with courtesy there will be no change. But the politicians wont even make it mandatory for them to wear helmets.

Shear and utter arrogance by Michael Frearson, director of the Association of Bikeability Schemes. To block other roads because YOU believe it would be dangerous is just wrong - equates to sitting in the outside lane as your speedometer says you are doing 70mph on a motorway. Not to mention deliberately not using a cycle lane, not bothering to look properly coming out of a side road and worse cyclists forcing pedestrians off the path. The video only reinforces a motorist (and pedestrians) view that cyclist are just out of control and we need the current laws enforced for cyclists and new ones to prevent the primary position unless you have very good reason such as turning. Ok I'm biased at the moment having been hit by cyclist in London who thought it was her right to cross a pedestrian crossing on red, just weaved her way her way through the pedestrian crossing till her bike hit me - no apologies just a look of get out of my way am a cyclist! Now if a motorist did that they would be heading for a ban - and rightly so. I use the roads as a pedestrian, cyclist and motorist, and I'm ashamed at the quality of cycling today - made only worse by the arrogance of people like Michael Frearson.

Great - now who is going to teach the cyclists; Not to cycle through red lights; Not to cycle the wrong way in one way streets; Not to swap between the road and the pavement as the mood takes them; Not to use a gap in stationary traffic that they wouldn't dream of using in moving traffic; To use hand signals so that their intent to turn left/right is clear to those who aren't mind readers. Any ideas anyone?