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Get a new bike from $50 per week

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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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.

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