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Get off the road you idiot !!

By Mark Parton MLA 25 April 2017 30

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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.

  1. 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
  2. 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?


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Get off the road you idiot !!
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sambo83 10:53 am 12 May 17

I drive, I also ride. I ride on cycle paths, the only time I ride on roads is if I have to cross them. Bikes have no place on roads with cars, they cannot maintain a speed fast enough to keep up with the traffic, therefore they are a hazard on the road both to the riders themselves and the drivers around them. ACT Government has spent millions on these bike lanes around the place yet we still have all the mamil’s out on roads like Naas road and Tharwa drive where it’s single lane, there are no shoulders and the corners are blind. Some bike clubs even organise for riding “meets” out there. Complete stupidity out of a sense of entitlement. if I’m coming around a blind bend and a cyclist appears on my left at the same time a car is coming the other way, if I have no time to stop who do you think is going to cop the full force of my bulbar? I tell you right now I won’t be swerving to have a head-on.

carnardly 2:27 pm 03 May 17

I’m a cycling enthusiast – and a regular rider – ie most days of the week. I don’t drink coffee. How many business folk drive to work and then buy a cup of coffee on the way in?

irony much…?

dungfungus 9:57 pm 01 May 17

vagabondo said :

My point is that the attitude comes from a poor culture that will only be addressed by leadership. I look forward to seeing if you attempt to provide some leadership on this issue.

*leadership* you’ve hit the nail on the head there. When will Chief Minister Barr and Health Minister Fitzharris show some leadrship and acknowledge the health/economic benefits of cycling and address the cultural/behavioural causes of the obesity epidemic? No, they shelter behind Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly who recently (and once again) highlighted how inactive most Canberrans are, and has also stressed the role of sugary drinks in exacerbating the problem.
It almost makes me pine for the days of Jon the Bold.
Go on Mark, prod them into showing a bit out leadership.

Most visible cycling enthusiasts are also big on the cafe scene. Coffee contains caffeine which is a dangerous drug of addiction. Most coffee drinkers have sugar in their brew so it then also becomes a “sugary drink”.

Poor culture indeed.

vagabondo 12:01 pm 01 May 17

My point is that the attitude comes from a poor culture that will only be addressed by leadership. I look forward to seeing if you attempt to provide some leadership on this issue.

*leadership* you’ve hit the nail on the head there. When will Chief Minister Barr and Health Minister Fitzharris show some leadrship and acknowledge the health/economic benefits of cycling and address the cultural/behavioural causes of the obesity epidemic? No, they shelter behind Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly who recently (and once again) highlighted how inactive most Canberrans are, and has also stressed the role of sugary drinks in exacerbating the problem.
It almost makes me pine for the days of Jon the Bold.
Go on Mark, prod them into showing a bit out leadership.

AngryIan 5:57 pm 30 Apr 17

Happy for bike riders to ride on the road. Also happy for them to have their own bike lane. I also am happy that they obey the rules and ride to the left hand side of their lane. not the middle and definitely not the right hand side and make motorised vehicles move tot he right to give them their 1m of space. If they say it is rough and might cause punctures then they should allow motorbikes to ride in that lane as well or get out then and clean up their own lane. Not ask the government to to it but they do it.
Should motorbikes be given the same space and privileges at lights and be safe by using bike lanes as well seeing as many on road bike riders travel far faster at light than stopped cars do.

Christia 5:06 pm 30 Apr 17

I’ve gotten used to Canberra cyclists but I will say I’ve had a couple of close calls with cyclists being real close to the line and no where for me to go. Kind of scary so now I’m always kind of paranoid driving anywhere near the bike lane.

wildturkeycanoe 7:53 am 29 Apr 17

Mark Parton MLA said :

Agreed. The vast majority of cyclists I see on the roads are doing the right thing.

It must be the time of day or the roads you take, but in my experience there are more “bad” cyclists than good.
Almost every time myself and my wife go driving around Canberra I will see things like cutting across in front of vehicles at intersections, riding across “Do Not Walk” signalized pedestrian crossings, riding through red stop lights, not wearing helmets [mainly around city centers and the ANU] and riding more than two abreast [usually out on the “rural” roads outside suburbia. No, this is not an exaggeration either. The main issue with the tights wearing riders is they seem to think that stopping for traffic is not applicable to them, that they can keep pedaling whilst all other vehicles come to a stop. They don’t pull up at traffic lights even though they are on the road, but instead become a pedestrian and cycle through the pedestrian crossing only to come out the other side back on the road again.
Now as a pedestrian, there is something I have noticed which is in my opinion unacceptable. Walking on a footpath that is barely a metre wide and having a cyclist come whizzing past with less than a foot between their handlebars and your elbow is begging for an accident to happen. Why do cyclists get a legalized safety bubble of a metre to a metre and half with a speed differential of around 30km/h, but pedestrians remain unprotected with the same speeds involved? Sure the recommendations in cycling guides suggest slowing down when passing a pedestrian, but who actually polices this? Nobody. In fact, only 201 people were fined for not wearing a helmet in a recent four year period. That is only one per week, even though you’d see several people doing this every single day. As for the “metre matters” law, only two fines have been issued since the law was introduced two years ago. For all the rules that are made to protect the “vulnerable” road users, there is certainly a lack of enforcement to make these rules an effective deterrent. A more proactive presence by the plod is required for any laws to be of use, but are there just not enough resources to do this? At least with dash cams, people are able to report bad driving to the police, but with illegal acts from cyclists there is no way to identify the perpetrator. It wouldn’t matter how good your camera footage was during your incident of being struck by a speeding bike, because you may only catch a glimpse of the cyclist’s rear end flying off into the distance. For simple identification purposes a number plate would provide some means of recourse. It wouldn’t need to be a costly exercise, simply a cheap registration exercise. The plate could even be home made if it met proper standards. But any impost or regulation of cyclists would be seen as an attack on their rights. What of the rights of victims who cannot identify the person who knocked them to the ground, or suffered a rear-ender due to slamming on their brakes to avoid running the unidentified cyclist over?
While road rules apply to bicycles as they do for cars, there should be a way to enforce those rules by identifying the operator of the vehicle.

Leon Arundell 7:53 am 29 Apr 17

I completely agree with Mark Parton and with carnardly. Time to celebrate!

bj_ACT 10:26 am 27 Apr 17

I think you have answered your own question on why you were abused.

“I was wearing a West Coast Eagles jersey”

Mark Parton MLA 8:15 am 27 Apr 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

I still stand by my thoughts on cycling being a “magic bullet” for obesity.
Australia has a population that is roughly 60% overweight and 20% obese by definition. Denmark, which is praised in the media as one of the cycling capitals of the world, has similar rates of being overweight. So where is the evidence that shows how a mass change of transport modality reduces the burden on hospitals?
A 2013 study in Denmark surprisingly showed that mortality rates were lowest in people who had a BMI of 27, which is technically in the overweight range. So statistics do not necessarily support your argument.
We have to consider diet as a large part of the problem, not just inactivity. Load ratings of modern bicycles also must be mentioned, as some are only rated to about 150kg, with seat posts being a weak link in designs. Not only that, but braking power too. Imagine cruising down Barry Drive into Civic and not having enough stopping power to pull up your eager mass to avoid riding into a pedestrian or the back of a bus.
The idea of encouraging cycling for health is good, but the practicalities need careful consideration.

Well, you keep considering it, I’ll just go burn another 700 calories on the bike. And I’ll be considering that I’ve dropped 6 kgs in the last 3 months, that I feel wonderful and that if my trend continues I’ll be back to my AFL playing weight in 3 months.

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