21 April 2021

Cyclists get out of the way - there's an even more annoying mode of transport in town

| Zoya Patel
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Cyclists more annoying than scooters? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Photo: File.

There’s a well-known divide in Canberra between cyclists and motorists.

Many drivers can think of nothing more annoying than a group (herd? troop? swarm?) of lycra-clad adults riding three-abreast down major arteries of the city or heading up the highway, forcing cars to slowly loop around them while they mutinously plug on with their pedalling.

And cyclists are sick to death of irresponsible drivers wielding their cars like weapons, ignoring laws about sharing the road and driving with a minimum 1-metre gap between them and cyclists.

My views oscillate inconsistently, depending on whether I’m in my car or on my bike, but until we finally emulate the Netherlands and put separated bike lanes alongside every road in Canberra, the debate will rage on.

These past few months, however, I’ve found myself staring at the receding backs of cyclists on the road with wistful nostalgia, remembering the days when the only irritant on a footpath was the occasional slow-riding hipster on a cruiser, with most bikes the bane of motorists’ existence, not pedestrians. These days, it’s hard to walk in a straight line anywhere in Civic without almost getting mowed down by a scooter.

Electric scooters are probably the most annoying addition to our transport options I’ve ever encountered. Clearly, the popularity of scooters has accelerated faster than the enforcement of traffic laws because people are riding chaotically on roads and footpaths alike.

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Just this week I had to slam on my brakes as a young guy on an electric scooter zoomed down a driveway and onto the shoulder of the road as I drove past. He seemed to think that riding on the road was his remit by virtue of being on a wheeled object. I disagree.

And then, when walking the final block on the footpath to my workplace in Civic, a man riding a scooter whizzed directly towards me, riding on the wrong side of the unmarked-but-assumed line down the middle of the path, going at what looked like 60 km/h. I practically had to leap into another pedestrian to get out of the way.

These are just a few incidents of many, and I’m certain I’m not the only one suffering the side effects of scooter popularity.

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I accept that people seem to enjoy electric scooters. It’s not my bag, but I can appreciate that they’re convenient, take less energy than a bike or walking, and are small and lightweight enough to easily store in the office during the workday.

But can riders just follow the road rules, please? They do exist. Otherwise, we’ll have to add another party to the feud between cyclists and motorists – maybe now they’ll actually have something to agree on in their mutual distaste for the scooter mob.

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Some cars drivers cut in front of me to turn left; impatience can be dangerous.
Bike riders can be on the road one minute, then on the footpath taking a shortcut, then back on the road etc. In other words, they are in and out of your vision, sometimes before you can react. What I’ve seen of scooter riders, they appear to be more in and out of where you are walking and not so much on the road.
With the car drivers, mostly you can anticipate what might happen, not so much with bikes and scooters. (Although hard to see, a lot of bike riders don’t ride like idiots and act very responsibly.)
The interesting thing is that motorcycle riders can also be hard to see but they recognise the risk that they face and adopt a safety first approach.

You are very correct in your comment about how cyclists are in and out of your vision. I’ve found that the electric scooters scare the hell out of me more than any cyclist.

Capital Retro8:46 am 26 Apr 21

Having speed limitations on these scooters in areas like the Parliamentary area is akin to the “limp home mode” that many unfortunate people have on their diesel cars fitted with a DPF.

Haven’t seen too many cyclists behaving badly recently (apart from the odd one charging across a crossing) but on Northbourne have seen windscreen washer extortionists in moving traffic (thought they are not permitted at light rail crossings??) and an unhelmeted couple on a scooter weaving across three lanes of peak hour 60 kmh traffic in the twilight.

Ridden sensibly, scooters sound like a good idea and fun but they do tend to come up on pedestrians quite quickly which could cause anxiety and possibly falls for startled oldies in particular.

I use a scooter to commute to and from work everyday. I’m always aware of people sharing the bike paths that I use. I do find that most people I come across either have headphones in and don’t hear me ringing my bell or they are walking theirs dogs and taking up the whole pathway. I think there needs to be consideration from everyone on the pathways. But I do agree that some of people using the hire scooters are less considerate than the people using their scooters on a daily basis

While I see plenty of under-age and helmetless riding of scooters, I can’t say I’ve seen much irresponsible riding. My only real bugbear is them being left lying around all over the place, especially on or right next to footpaths. Having a blind person in my family I’m very conscious of the potential trip hazard they present.

This isn’t a Canberra thing by the way. I was in Adelaide recently and it’s the same there, scooters being left lying around all over the place.

The obvious answer is that the scooter providers need to come up with a better way to enforce riders returning them to designated locations, or get better at removing them quickly from unsuitable places.

HiddenDragon7:03 pm 22 Apr 21

“My views oscillate inconsistently, depending on whether I’m in my car or on my bike”

Quite possibly the most insightful thing ever said on this website – it’s like the E = mc2 of contemporary Canberra.

I agree that attitude is important. Genuine sharing and consideration works well. Legally, pedestrians have priority. I also agree that some shared paths are too narrow to share even with others using the same mode of transport. Some heritage areas have narrow footpaths from a time when bicycles were prohibited from using them. There are few ramps from the footpath to the road – just a kerb with no lip. These paths are hopeless for mobility scooters and prams yet alone scooters and bicycles.

Another stirrer article where we decide on a presumed common irritant. Isn’t the purpose obvious? And why respond except to vent? Oops! Just did!

Another exercise in hypocrisy. You all who voted Greens/Labor knew it was their policy to have escooters, which cause injuries, hospitalisations and near misses. As well as being dumped all ovrr the place wherever the rider pleases. So if you want to know who is at fault, take a look in the mirror. Meanwhile the scooter companies are laughing at your impotent rage.

ChrisinTurner1:38 pm 22 Apr 21

Cars kill people so let’s get rid of cars.

Capital Retro1:54 pm 22 Apr 21

Cars don’t legally drive on footpaths.

The need for cars is not a logical reason to allow dangerous and anti-social behavior by scooter hoons. Cars and bicycles are not discarded on verges and footpaths at the end of every journey. Cars are necessary for travel and bicycles are ideal for exercise and commuting. Scooters however, cater for the Fat (who don’t like to cycle for exercise), the Lazy (who don’t want to walk), the Rude (who intimidate pedestrians) and the Inconsiderate (who dump scooters).

I see plenty of cars left on verges at the end of the car trip, and they take up more room 😀

A parking fine is issued when a car is parked illegally. So laws should allow parking inspectors to issue parking tickets to the scooter company each time one of their scooters is found parked illegally.

” riding three-abreast down major arteries of the city”

I’ve never – never – seen cyclists riding three abreast. I can guarantee you haven’t either, unless it was a group of kids.

Two abreast, sure, because that is the recommended way for a group of cyclists to travel on the road. Recommended by the police, no less, to increase safety all-round.

You’ve never seen bike riders ride three abreast? Well, you are lucky. I saw a group of bike riders (about 40) who rode in a clump which took up the entire lane (about 5 a breast). With consistent oncoming traffic it made for a very slow trip til we could turn off the road. Admittedly, not in the ACT, but the meer fact that something is illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen

Andrew Leary10:34 pm 22 Apr 21

I have. I was riding out towards the Cotter past the Mt Stromlo turnoff. Coming in the other direction, towards Coombs, was a group of about 10 cyclists, In front, three abreast, were the leaders taking up the entire lane with the rest trailed out behind them. Cars backed up for half a kilometre or more creeping along at 30ks.
As I rode past in the other direction I couldn’t help but think, those D heads are the reason why motorists hate cyclists.

Leon Arundell8:38 am 23 Apr 21

It’s quite legal for cyclists to ride three abreast, provided either that one of them is overtaking, or that one of them is in an adjacent lane.

Capital Retro7:37 am 22 Apr 21

They were introduced and approved by the virtue signally government you voted for, Zoya so suck it up.

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