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Commuter or Day Tripper?

By rosebud 15 November 2008 67

Cycling on the roads can be a very risky business – hoping cars don’t clip you as you ride along, avoiding potholes that could send you A over T, and taking Canberra’s round-abouts-of-horror.

I have a big pink girls bike with three (count them, three) gears, and am someone’s mother, so I tend to travel on the footpaths. This too has its own hazards, like embarrasement at being passed by ‘real’ bike riders on the road who look like they could be in the Tour de France (gaudy gear and all), unintended dirt bike expeditions avoiding walkers/prams/wheelchairs, and tripping over raised broken concrete caused by tree roots.

Does wearing loud lycra pants and riding on the road make you a commuter and therefore under the rules of the road? Does pretending to be a MILF (and who can tell under helmet and large dark glasses) and setting a cracking pace of slow on the footpath, absolve you?

Sometimes, I ride on both – what happens then?

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Commuter or Day Tripper?
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london 2:47 pm 09 Mar 15

idiots riding on footpaths, across roads and zebra crossings should be stopped. They have no regard for anyone walking and think they have the right of way. No insurance means others are having to take on their responsibilities. Typical attitude of people living in canberra. If adults want to ride bikes and there is a cycle path they should be required by law to ride in it and off footpaths. About time for ACT GOV to grow up!

tylersmayhem 10:37 am 19 Nov 08

The zero care factor by some people (work colleagues, police and the driver of the car that hit me) has demonstrated the difference in the level of acceptance and perceived rights.

I think that perfectly sums up one of the most important issues Dr. Evil. It is a dangerous mindset, and one that just has to change!

dr.evil 9:23 am 19 Nov 08

Cycling on the roads is a risky business – so match where you ride with your level of skill.

Users of the road have to obey the rules of the road. Some road users don’t – and that will annoy most people that are obeying the rules. We remember the ones who break the rules and rarely applaud someone doing something right…”bravo, nice lange change there old chap”.

I ride everyday and mix it up with road, bike path, foot path and dirt – the route all depends on when I get out of the house and when I want to be at work. So I guess the time it takes me to get to work is a factor for me. Note that when I ride with my 4 year old on a trailer bike 1-2 days per week I always stick to bike or foot path – it is the safer option.

The rego thing – I am a taxpayer with 2 cars and I am pretty sure I don’t want to be hit up for another periodical payment. Also, I am not convinced that the amount of money raised from bicycle registration will fund anything worthwhile – especially after the costs of administering and policing it are accounted for. However, if rego is all it takes to provide cyclists with unquestionable use of the roads I could be for it – although I doubt if attitudes of road users will change much.

The only thing that is bugs me at the moment is that as a cyclist I believe that I have not received the same treatment as the majority of road users would have after being hit by a car. The zero care factor by some people (work colleagues, police and the driver of the car that hit me) has demonstrated the difference in the level of acceptance and perceived rights.

Northbourne Ultimatum 12:51 am 19 Nov 08

In countries where bikes are only considered transport then people wear normal clothes and they usually don’t ride particularly fast. In Australia a lot of cycling is for sport and exercise. The cyclists you see commuting in lycra are most probably those combining exercise with their commute.

It’s not only that the cycle paths take too long to get to the destination often there cycle paths abruptly end or aren’t there at all. It is a relatively swift form of transport, when the roads are busy it’s faster for me to ride to work than it is to drive – and infinitely more pleasant.

Pedal power do not lobby any harder for on road cycling than they do for cycle paths. Look through their Election Submission for example, there is equal weight given to both. Pedal Power represent the interests of a diverse membership that includes the lycra-clad competative road riders through to Sunday bike path cruisers.

I often hear the complaint about drivers being stuck behind a bike taking up the whole lane yet every day lots of cars pass me without a problem. Some drivers do slow down, but most often they’re driving large vehicles or are less competent drivers.

This complaint about cyclists impeding traffic is often stated as if the cyclists are doing something wrong by riding along the road when really it’s perfectly legal and some riders just don’t ride as courteously as others. The road is there to share, cyclists and drivers both have a right to use it but some are more selfish about it.

People are quick to suggest that cyclists leave earlier instead of using the most direct routes to their destination. If bikes are consistently slowing your commute by car, you could consider that advice too.

tylersmayhem 11:12 am 18 Nov 08

I was thinking about this post more last night. I think licensing and registration could be a good idea. Yes I do. With licensing and registration, perhaps as cyclists, we would then have improved cycle paths and lanes. I think a bit importance should be placed on improved awareness for cycles, and get formal legislation in place to make cycle awareness as part of gaining a drivers license or P plates. With this would come formalisation of road rules for cycles and a level of support for cyclists.

The bottom line is, if this makes way for motorists to respect cyclists more, and prepared to have a few seconds more patience when giving way to cycles at the lights, then so be it. I see it a shame that some motorists cannot exercise an extra 5-10 seconds patience for a fellow Canberran who chooses to cycle. Especially when the amount of cycles who choose to ride on or on the side of the road is few and far between.

I do find it hilarious when I pass people who look like their about to go in the freakin’ tour de france and they’re only going from Belconnen to Civic or something stupid like that. I suspect that a lot of people wearing lycra are doing it because of this consumerist imperative to always have the gear for the activity (ooh, I’m going to cycle, I simply must buy all the lycra clothing and the shoes and the blah blah blah)

On a final note, I’ve also thought of a quick way to maybe determine the “wank” factor of “full racing kit” cyclists. If they are fully kitted out and riding on a cycle path, yes…possibly Jim might be on to something. If they are in a cycle lane on on the side of the road, then they are quite likely very serious cyclists who could be training or simply riding big distances. End of the day, who REALLY cares?

New Yeah 9:47 am 18 Nov 08

Once more on lycra…

I’ve been to places where the bicycle is a serious mode of transport used by many (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Portland, much of China and SE Asia) and nary a person actually wears lycra.

The broader benefits of bike riding occur when people use the bike as transport (ie car substitute) and not just for fun, as they do in the places listed above. Feeling that you need to wear lycra just to hop on a bike is a bit silly – generally you don’t need to do that just to ride to work/school/the shops/church/the pub/your mate’s house – your civvies should do the trick.

Perhaps Canberra’s lycra culture is actually an impediment to getting more people on bikes? Do people see it as either too naff, inconvenient or intimidating and therefore stay off their bikes?

Jim Jones 9:01 am 18 Nov 08

joeyjo said :

On the topic of lycra:

You might not see how it is necessary if you don’t ride, or if you only ride occasionally, but when you get a few kms up, you will discover that your body really can’t cope with normal clothing rubbing against it for that long. And then you will learn to love lycra, even if you still cover it up with ordinary shorts over the top.

I usually ride for 2 hours a day – sometimes if I have time I’ll duck out for an hour long jaunt at midday as well. My body ‘copes’ fine without lycra.

I do find it hilarious when I pass people who look like their about to go in the freakin’ tour de france and they’re only going from Belconnen to Civic or something stupid like that. I suspect that a lot of people wearing lycra are doing it because of this consumerist imperative to always have the gear for the activity (ooh, I’m going to cycle, I simply must buy all the lycra clothing and the shoes and the blah blah blah) even though it’s pragmatically unnecessary (and makes tubby people look like barely contained jello sacks).

I’m not saying that lycra is always stupid (I often get passed by cyclists travelling at dizzying speeds wearing lycra, and most of the time it’s very apparent that they are serious long distance travellers). But really, the bulk of people who are wearing lycra on the Canberra bike paths are lying to themselves.

bugmenot 6:43 am 18 Nov 08

I don’t understand the argument that cyclists make about the already established cycle paths taking too long to get to their destination… you’re on a bicycle, you’re not exactly on a swift form of transport to begin with. What’s an extra couple of minutes?

I remember back in the day, I regularly rode my bicycle all over the Belconnen/North/City areas on the cycle paths. Was never an issue arriving late, it took as long as it took. If I was time pressured, I’d drive the car. Likewise, if I ride to work today, I do the entire trip on cycle paths, only hitting a road when I was crossing it.

Why do Pedal Power lobby so hard to get cyclists onto the streets, when they should have been lobbying for repair to the existing cycle paths?

I get both sides of the story, but I’m in support of cars getting the roads and bikes sticking to the cycle paths.

And remember, lycra is a privilege, not a right…

Davo111 12:16 am 18 Nov 08

ricketyclik said :

3. The crotch doesn’t wear out (like cotton shorts or trousers when riding a bike in them regularly),

I checked my crotch and it’s not worn. Does this mean i’m riding the bike wrong?

PsydFX 11:29 pm 17 Nov 08

Northbourne Ultimatum said :

I encourage all drivers to use the fastest and most direct route possible as long as they obey the road rules. As a cyclists, I will continue to do the same. Please keep in mind that our vehicles don’t follow exactly the same set of rules and you shouldn’t assume that I’m breaking the law just because I’m doing something that would be illegal in a car. Unfortunately there will be some cyclists who do break the law – try not to hold the rest of us accountable for their actions, they annoy us too. – North

Far too many times have I been stuck behind a cyclist who is taking up a whole lane travelling well below the speed limit, and then I get stuck at a red light I would have otherwise been able to get through – and then for fun part, I get to watch the guy that’s holding me up go through the red right, and if I’m real lucky it all repeats itself next set of lights.

joeyjo 11:04 pm 17 Nov 08

On the topic of lycra:

You might not see how it is necessary if you don’t ride, or if you only ride occasionally, but when you get a few kms up, you will discover that your body really can’t cope with normal clothing rubbing against it for that long. And then you will learn to love lycra, even if you still cover it up with ordinary shorts over the top.

New Yeah 10:36 pm 17 Nov 08

Katie said :

… I ride down Limestone Av towards Anzac parade and I use the footpaths along this road every time. I have come to know where the tree roots, pot holes and other hazards (including overgrown hedges) are and can mostly avoid any mishaps.

However I continue to be amazed by the number of residents who reverse out of their driveways at a million miles an hour without looking and with too much speed to stop the car. Their hedges already take up the footpaths forcing me onto the nature strip and block the drivers view of oncoming footpath traffic. I have nearly been hit too many times to count…

Tru dat. Cars appearing from behind hedges are a real hazard. Yes, you can avoid them easily but to do so you have to ride really slow and that is not always practical. I feel that the danger posed by cars on the road is much less than that of cars reversing out of hedge-ridden driveways.

Plus, the hedges on Limestone are so old and gnarly that if you given them even the slightest of scrapes you will end up with some decent emo damage on your arms.

Loosen up New Yeah, you might enjoy it ;~)
Hehe, I am pretty loose – not wearing lycra does that for you!

Northbourne Ultimatum 9:45 pm 17 Nov 08

I encourage all drivers to use the fastest and most direct route possible as long as they obey the road rules. As a cyclists, I will continue to do the same. Please keep in mind that our vehicles don’t follow exactly the same set of rules and you shouldn’t assume that I’m breaking the law just because I’m doing something that would be illegal in a car. Unfortunately there will be some cyclists who do break the law – try not to hold the rest of us accountable for their actions, they annoy us too. – North

Bungle 8:08 pm 17 Nov 08

If you go to the front page of news.com.au at the moment you’ll see a nice pick of one of canberra’s drivers enforcing their ‘right of way’.

PsydFX 7:47 pm 17 Nov 08

tylersmayhem said :


On a final point about the whole “why do cyclists choose to ride on the road instead of using the bike path”: I think the closest comparison I can’t draw for motorists is, why do you choose to take the parkway, main road or arterial road? It gets you from A to B in the fastest and most direct way…and sharing the road SHOULDN’T be a problem!

Well actually the fastest and most direct way for a car driver would be to use the road and should you, say, get a red light, switch over to the footpath to cross a different road, then go on to use the slip lane if traffic is congested and then push your way infront of someone further up the queue of traffic – being sure to show your aggression to the person who is obviously not happy about being forced to let you in.

tylersmayhem 4:35 pm 17 Nov 08

I was driving along the road, with right of way, and in excericsing my right of way that meant the cyclist had to wait to cross the road. He got a bit fired up at me for causing him such an inconvenience, haha.

Yeah, that’s not cool Holden! It’s those types that give us a bad name as cyclists.

so using the roads is just not an option. Why put yourself in possible conflict or worse, danger? Just leave 20mins earlier and enjoy the sunshine.

On a final point about the whole “why do cyclists choose to ride on the road instead of using the bike path”: I think the closest comparison I can’t draw for motorists is, why do you choose to take the parkway, main road or arterial road? It gets you from A to B in the fastest and most direct way…and sharing the road SHOULDN’T be a problem!

Katie 4:29 pm 17 Nov 08

I ride to work a few times a week. I ride down Limestone Av towards Anzac parade and I use the footpaths along this road every time. I have come to know where the tree roots, pot holes and other hazards (including overgrown hedges) are and can mostly avoid any mishaps.

However I continue to be amazed by the number of residents who reverse out of their driveways at a million miles an hour without looking and with too much speed to stop the car. Their hedges already take up the footpaths forcing me onto the nature strip and block the drivers view of oncoming footpath traffic. I have nearly been hit too many times to count.
The stop signs on the roads that intersect with Limestone av (Quick st, Chisolm st, Cowper st etc) are also more often than not ignored by drivers which has lead to many a close call.

Holden Caulfield 4:22 pm 17 Nov 08

Cracking first post by Northbourne Ultimatum. Well done!

I used to be much more anti-cyclist than I am now. I figure I was spending more energy getting fed up at the relatively few times cyclists do something that bother me than I would be if just chilled out for the few seconds it takes to deal with most motorist-cyclist interactions.

I’ll hold my own if required (example to follow*), but I’m happy to live and let live. Life is too short as it is to worry about quasi-problems like this.

*I thought it was a bit cute the other day on my drive to work when a cyclist was on a bike path, approaching the kerb, and hoping to cross the road and continue on his merry way along the bike path. I was driving along the road, with right of way, and in excericsing my right of way that meant the cyclist had to wait to cross the road. He got a bit fired up at me for causing him such an inconvenience, haha. So I got a bit fired up in return an pointed out that there was no fornicating pedestrian crossing and that I was perfectly within my rights to continue my progress.

I’m not sure what planet he has been on, but I can’t think of too many situations where a car with a clear case of right of way is ever going to make way for a cyclist. There may be a few cases, but this was clearly not one of them!

tylersmayhem 4:04 pm 17 Nov 08

I thought I’d never say it Jim – but well said mate, and in so many less words than anything I’d be able to come up with. Spot on!

Just leave 20mins earlier and enjoy the sunshine.

I think that’s a good attitude to have, I applaude you.

Or perhaps we could all just “share” the road together, and not get bent out of shape moaning about who gets what and when?! I imagine if as cyclists we paid to get registered and licensed, road only on the bike paths (if they were designed for commuting, not leisurely Sunday afternoon peddles), and didn’t wear lycra – the motorists who seem to hate cyclists would STILL find something to moan at cyclists about – “they don’t pay ENOUGH in rego and licensing”, “why are WE paying for bike lanes that THEY get to use, but WE never use” etc etc.

Perhaps it’s better to just leave it at what Jim and Northbourne posted 😛

lauzy 4:00 pm 17 Nov 08

I agree with Northbourne Ultimatum & tylersmayhem and have *very little* more to add.

I am a work commuter of the ‘cycle chic’ variety 😛 — I like wearing clothes that are as close to civvies as possible on bike journeys, ride at a fairly leisurely pace & my bike is ok but not fancy.

I’m not personally a fan of the lycra thing but 2 thumbs up to you kooky lycra-wearing-bike-aficionados. No really. Cycling is great – enjoyable to ride to and from work, far easier to ride a bike for your small shopping errands than drive, good for you health, environment, etc. What’s not to like? (Actually – I’ll tell you what’s not to like, angry car peeps zooming past you super close, just to make the point that you don’t deserve to be on the road)

I’m only sad that we don’t have an amazing bike culture like in Amsterdam, or more recently Paris with their Velib bike hire system.

In conclusion: Go Bikes!

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