Over the last number of years I have both driven to work or cycled. Also, like a lot of folk I do the park and ride option – and have the pushie on the carrier, park in the Triangle or somewhere else where I don’t have to pay the exorbitant parking fees that keep Stanhope and his crew in the manner to which they are accustomed.
On that wise, whenever the redoubtable Chief Minister is doing his regular blether session on Chief Minister talkback (or rather Chief Minister dominating the airwaves, interrupting and not answering the question) he never ever indicates that he will give up his free parking and, well, you, know, lead by example, when the Parliamentary Triangle becomes a further source of $$$$ to his administration.
But I digress. Firstly let me say that there is a harmony on the roads between on-road cyclists and motorists. There are those cyclists who seem determined to die under the wheels of a car, and those few drivers perfectly happy to facilitate that outcome. Every morning I see the Armstrong wannabes weaving in and out of moving blocks of traffic – the cars are going 60-80kmh – the cyclists seem to want to do the same speed – largley by coming into congress with the cars – and they will achieve that speed, albeit for a short period of time before being turned into a piece of corned silverside. It is but a matter of time. But how often do we see the cyclists blame the drivers and vice versa? I have news for both groups – for the most part it is the two wheeled road users that are to blame -at least on my observations of relative behaviour in the last 5 years.
Me? I don’t ride on the roads as I don’t have suicidal tendencies. Nor am I so arrogant to presume that I can or should hold up traffic, ride three abreast or indeed as part of a pelleton blocking one lane of a 3 lane road and expect cars to take the evasive action. And you know, the overwhelming majority of drivers do, without complaint except for an imprecation perhaps, through clenched teeth. There is an expectation, it seems, that cars should make emergency lane changes to accomodate cyclists. For mine, the cyclists should be single file and be prepared to give way or pull over rather than have a less manouverable, heavier and faster vehicle swerving about.
And how often do we see lanes blocked by joyriding cyclists, all lycra’d up and pedalling like hell with grim determination and an aura of absolute entitlement and invincibility?
I was taught as a safety issue to not ride 2 (or more) abreast on the roads. Yet there is a couple in the Belconnen area who seem to think it fine, in peak traffic, to regularly ride in the Oh So Sexy lycras 2 abreast and basically block traffic. Not only is this selfish and arrogant it is downright dangerous, not only to the cyclists but other road users. Has it occurred to these people that only the car behind them can see them – the one behind that car probably can’t – it is a tragedy waiting to happen.
So I stick to the cyclepaths and the shared footpaths. A lot of other cyclists do the same. And apart from those pedestrians who seem to think it OK to walk along in the middle of the path with the earphones in and therefore incapable of hearing a bell until the last minute – and then upon hearing it jumping to the right instead of the left- the pedestrians are a pretty good lot – even though they have to put up with the antics of an awful lot of fellow cyclists who behave on the shared paths toward pedestrians a bit like a Commodore full of bogans behaves toward a cyclist on the Parkway – appallingly.
Scarcely a day goes by without my witnessing a cyclist passing so close to a pedestrian (who is keeping to the left, let the record show) that you’d swear if he had a car door he’d open it for 1o points. Then there are those oncoming cyclists who want to get past an annoying pedestrian and cross to the right and almost collide head on with pedestrians (or indeed cyclists) coming in the opposite direction. One such intrepid came within a foot of wiping out 2 kids from a family who were keeping to the left and the father had to snatch the kids out the way. The cyclist gave them a mouthful as he went by. And I see this at least every other day in one form or another.
I’ve even had one cyclist dismount and want to go a knuckle dance with me after he yelled at me and my then young kid to “get out of the effing way” on a shared path. This idiot would have to have been at least 65 and would walk around in the shower to get wet. I managed to persuade the silly old fool to get back on his bike and act his age. He was wearing the full lycra thing too. Maybe it is the lycra that does it – constricts the blood flow to the Commonsense Sector of the brain….maybe a neurosurgeon could tell us.
What rankles the most is that the behaviour of these morons makes life hard for the minority that are trying to do the right thing. You know, the ones who don’t run red lights, who don’t block lanes, who make eye contact with and give a cheery wave to drivers who let us cross roads and who otherwise ride with courtesy and consideration for our fellow users (mind you we are probably the same people who in cars indicate before changing lanes, don’t tailgate or speed and otherwise stay out of drama).
At the end of the day it comes down to manners – and having observed for a fair period now – every morning and afternoon, the behaviour of the cyclists is by far the worse. Most of the drivers on the morning and evening run are pretty good – although there is the odd one who does the weaver bird trick, tailgating and carrying one – but they are outnumbered by the two wheeled variety.
Do we ever see much enforcement? Nope. Wonder if this has something to do with the voting predilections of members of the various cycling groups around the place?
I have come to the conclusion as a result of 5 years observation that cyclists are a bit like lawyers and bank managers - its only 99% of them that give the rest a bad name.