In my cycling life in Canberra I’ve been verbally abused by a dozen motorists while on the road. I’ve had a number of others furiously toot the horn at me, but I’d like to optimistically believe that they were just saying hello. So in 8 years of riding, I’ve had 12 or so motorists actually yell instructions or abuse at me. Now, I don’t want to generalise and get into stereotypes, but this is my experience… every single one of those motorists was male, between 20 and 50 and driving a ute. I’m not sure why.
I was out on the weekend riding around Tuggeranong. I’d ridden up Drakeford Drive from my home in Bonython before cutting across east on Sulwood Drive. Those hills along Sulwood really got my lungs working and I was mighty pleased to get to Erindale Drive at the other end. I turned right at the roundabout and hurtled down Erindale Drive. There weren’t many cars on the road so I made the call to take the roundabout at Sternberg Crescent.
I took the roundabout at around 35kph and I was aware that there was a vehicle behind me, but in the right-hand lane as I approached the intersection. The motor vehicle was a big 4WD utility and it drew alongside me in the middle of the roundabout. The passenger window was open and I heard the driver yell out, “Get off the road you f***ing idiot”
Do these people not understand that in yelling abuse at a cyclist on a roundabout there’s a serious chance you will startle the rider to the point that they lose control and have an accident?
I just don’t understand what is achieved by this bullying and intimidation.
After a spending a long time hosting talk radio in Canberra I know that there is a large section of people who don’t believe that a cyclist should ever been on the same road as a car, but I don’t get it.
I’ve been back riding regular kilometres since mid-January, including some commuting to and from the city. I feel so much better for it and I’ve managed to lose 5kgs in the process. If 5% of the population followed my lead and did the same, the results would be remarkable.
- There’d be less car traffic on the road which would enable those loud mouth motorists to get to where they were going earlier. And
- You’d instantly see pressure relieved from the health system. When you move more on a regular basis you become healthier and our economic reality is that health spending is biggest single budget item.
I’d have to concede that some cyclists do some stupid things and give the rest of us a bad name. I make a value judgement on the approach to every roundabout regarding whether or not I’m going to take the roundabout on the bike. I factor in the level of traffic, the visibility and the time of day before choosing whether to tackle the intersection on the bike or as a pedestrian. Far too often I see riders blindly choose to take a busy roundabout because it’s their right. If you get crunched by a truck on your way to work, it won’t matter who was right and who was wrong.
A bit of common sense and common courtesy wouldn’t go astray in these matters from both sides. Will we ever stop fighting this cyclists v motorists war?