Filtering and overtaking

Many bikers crash because they rush an overtaking manoeuvre and fail to judge the speed of the other vehicles or leave it too late before a bend. Make sure you give other drivers time to see you.

If your overtaking manoeuvre is going to mean you are still on the wrong side of the road over a blind crest or bend, you risk a head-on crash. Over the last few years there have been several crashes like this where the rider has been killed. If in doubt, wait.

Some car drivers will helpfully move over to let you pass, not realising that you don’t need the help or that it’s the wrong time. Don’t feel pressured into overtaking when it suits them. They may not be reading the road ahead or can’t see what you see.

If a driver is making it difficult to overtake, take your time and ride past when they can’t put you at risk. If someone does let you through, even if you didn’t need the space, always thank them, otherwise they might not bother next time.

Some drivers find a closely following rider very distracting and it puts them under pressure, which may lead to them making a mistake that results in a collision. When you want to overtake a car, it’s less off-putting to the driver in front if you keep some distance behind, rather than ride on their bumper.

If you want to overtake a large vehicle that you can’t see round properly, it can be useful to have a check of the road ahead on the nearside. That lorry or van may be about to swing out to overtake a cyclist or pedestrian. This can also help you to anticipate which way the road ahead curves.

When filtering past a line of slow or stationary traffic, don’t overtake too fast. No more than 20mph is a good rule of thumb. The driver who you think has seen you, the one who decides to turn right, changes lanes or U-turns without warning, will have more time to see you if you don’t overtake too fast. A 20mph impact is more survivable than a much faster one.

“When it comes to villages and town centres, particularly with schools around them, for me the only option is staying at the mandatory speed limit and keeping your wits about you. The risk factor here when going any faster is too high. Apart from us bikers keeping the excellent reputation we deserve, the consequences of wiping someone out doesn’t bear thinking about.”

(Niall Mackenzie,