I am aware this will become a bike vs car thread. So be it.
This past week, during my usual bicycle commutes to and from work, I had three separate but related incidents with cars.
1. Riding along Dudley St, Yarralumla, car swings wide to overtake me with a blind crest ahead, gets surprised when oncoming traffic appears over the crest, and veers left to avoid car, towards me. I swerve off the road to avoid being hit.
2. Riding along a nice, wide, straight bit of road in Aranda. Car overtakes me and immediately does a hook turn left, across my path. I have to hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting the car.
3. Scrivener Dam lookout entrance road has a Give Way sign where it crosses the bike path. I’m riding along bike path, truck fails to give way and almost barrels into me.
By themselves, these incidents are nothing special. These close calls happen often. I survive by assuming any particular car will do the most idiotic thing possible at any given point, and I take steps to avoid a collision before it happens. (I should point out that the majority of drivers are considerate, careful and even courteous drivers, but it only takes one idiot driver for me to lose my one life).
What makes this past week of interest is that in each of these three cases I managed to catch up to each driver at the next intersection and had a brief, and polite (at my side) chat. The chat entailed my simply asking if they recognised that their actions were contrary to the law, and even worse, life-threateningly dangerous to me, father of 3, husband of 1.
But that’s not the interesting bit. What really made this a stand-out week of close calls, was that in all three instances, the drivers replied “You don’t pay rego” but in more creative and colourful language.
Each time, I was gobsmacked by the banality of the drivers’ responses. They drove off, smug in their slapdown logic, before I could formulate a reasoned reply, but in case they are reading this, here it is:
Firstly, I do pay rego. Most cyclists do. I own 2 cars. I pay rego for them. I simply choose to ride a bike whenever possible.
But so what? What logic are those 3 drivers trying to use? Does paying rego somehow give you the right to break the road rules, and drive like a homicidal maniac? Does paying a few hundred dollars in rego somehow give you more rights on the road than other road users? Do they seriously believe that rego pays for the cost of building and maintaining roads?
Car registration pays only for the administrative costs of registering cars (thats why its called “rego”) and CTP pays for the medical costs of those people maimed by car crashes (rarely are they “accidents”). Roads are paid for from general tax revenue, such as income tax, rates, land tax and GST. These are taxes that we (cyclists included) all pay.
You own a car, NOT the road.
Maybe they think rego will make cyclists more accountable. True, some cyclists ride through red lights. I don’t. Those that do put themselves (but nobody else) at risk, and they are knobs. Paying rego won’t stop them.
Back to my original post heading. (Warning – sarcasm ahead): I would happily pay rego for my bike. This, as I understand it from the 3 philosophers I met this week, will finally give me the moral right to ride a bicycle on Canberra’s roads. It should also shut up the inane bleating of car drivers who’s only excuse for dangerous and inconsiderate driving is the claim that we don’t pay rego.