Hope it hasn't shaken you up too badly GeeTee. I'm still on edge from my last road ride in Kent when some C*** in a white Audi convertible thought it would be amusing to buzz Katie and I at 60mph. An A road, clear in the other direction, and he passed literally inches from my right side. The first I heard was Katie scream as he passed her. Then jeering from him and his female passenger as I screamed at them.
here's always a lot of chat about how the roads in France and the Netherlands are better because of cycling culture and because of respect for cyclists. Is it not (also) because there's far less traffic on the roads?
Population density in the Netherlands is nearly twice the UK (463 vs 257). The driving in the Netherlands is just as bad as the UK BUT the roads are organised so that you don't come into conflict with motor vehicles. Pretty much any road where traffic is travelling at over 20mph will have a separate bike track. Small roads are closed to through traffic or made priority for bike (a country lane would be both slow and have bi-directional bike lanes marked and a single lane for traffic).
Rural France is lovely for cycling - and that does come down a lot to the less busy roads. (I've just come back from the south). The french drive terribly though - always too fast, always tailgate, always try to overtake even if you're driving at the speed limit. Don't anticipate other traffic.
BUT they do tend to leave more space when passing. Helped by clear equiv of highway code that says leave 1.5m of space rather than 'as much space as you would a car' (I pass cars with inches to spare officer, that's fine isn't it?)
Nice to see these signs both in France and Basque Spain:
Would have been a much better investment here than 'nicewaycode' shit.