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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.

wildturkeycanoe 9:29 pm 26 Apr 17

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.

Dondon 6:27 pm 26 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

There is nothing shown on that jersey showing it is a West Coast jersey. Who are West Coast incidentally?

I don’t go running.

I used to wear rugby boots when I was training – it’s a bit difficult to practise rucking with sand shoes.

I used to ride a bike everywhere in everyday clothes, no problems. If I turned up for work in a “pixie suit” I would have been fired. In those days we shared the road with cars, no problems.

And my mother is dead and I don’t live in a basement.

West Coast are a team in that sports ball game called AFL. The colours and the logo identify who they are.

You wore rugby boots, so you should understand the clothing specific requirement then.

You don’t really need to wear cycling clothes for say a 20 minute ride, I wouldn’t anyway. If you are riding for an hour or more then I would wear pixie gear. During the week I am either hitting the gym or going for a longish ride. On the days I gym, I just wear normal shorts and shirt, on the long ride days I am in cycling clothes because I have already ridden 40 odd kms before getting my bag from home and then riding to work.

Amazingly most work places now have these areas called change rooms, they even have showers. So I can shower and get into my suit before a day of being a corporate drone. I can’t say I have seen anyone spend the day working in cycling clothes, that would be weird.

These days bikes can also share the road with cars (in fact my previous post didn’t say they couldn’t so would be great for you to quote where I did). Most of my riding I don’t have an issue. I’ve have encountered incidents with drivers, they have been pretty rare luckily, there are special snowflakes on both sides of the fence in that argument. I find riding predictably and not being a jerk tends to have me problem free.

Mark Parton MLA 2:29 pm 26 Apr 17

bikhet said :

I think part of the reason we often hear of cyclists being verbally abused is because only cyclists are in a position to hear the abuse – pedestrians too, but they are rarely on the roads with the traffic. I think that the the drivers who swear at cyclists also swear at other drivers, but the drivers can’t hear them as they have the windows wound up and the radio playing, or the kids screaming, or …

It’s all part of the symptoms of self-entitlement people are showing – my needs matter and you don’t have any needs for me to take into consideration.

As for the scum who physically abuse other road users, well, they’re just scum.

I’d never really thought about this, but I daresay you are quite correct. Some people just need to ‘have a spray’.

Mark Parton MLA 2:26 pm 26 Apr 17

carnardly said :

Instant said :

I have seen so many poor examples of cycling on roads that I’m surprised cyclists don’t get abused more often. And I’ve yet to see a cyclist write an article about the pedestrians who are routinely startled and almost run over on a daily basis by inconsiderate, arrogant cyclists.

everyone going down Adelaide Avenue at night has lights and a lid on and rides safely and predictably. They have to if they want to survive. I also pass through half a dozen sets of lights at woden and at any red light either morning or night there are cyclists lined up in the bike lanes along melrose drive.

people don’t seem to notice the ‘good’ ones out there.

there are plenty of us

However, the druggies around civic or the ‘free spirits’ that wander around the ANU are a law unto themselves. Good cyclists hate those too. No lights. No lids and often no idea. I expect many of them are organ donors in the making.

Re pedestrians – i ding my bell probably 20 metres behind EVERY pedestrian i come up upon.

About 10 metres behind i ding again and call ‘bike passing’.

many give an acknowledgement wave. many don’t move. some groups split like scattering sheep and run in each direction. some turn around and say ‘i don’t have to get out of your way’ but in significantly more colourful language. For those people, i’m not expecting you to get out of the way. I’m just letting you know i’m coming so you don’t have a heart attack. By far the greatest percentage of pedos don’t even hear me as they’re plugged in and oblivious to their own surroundings.

These are the ones i trust the least as many will leap like a started gazelle when they are finally aware you’re there.

Sometimes a cyclist can’t win. I and my friends and fellow commuters have yet to hit anyone in decades of riding. hell maybe there’s something wrong with me…?

Agreed. The vast majority of cyclists I see on the roads are doing the right thing, particularly on my commutes to and from the city. I’m not all that courageous at tricky intersections. I’m much more likely to stop completely and assess the situation before proceeding.

In regards to bike/pedestrian paths you are so right that many are wearing headphones and are oblivious to a bell. I must say that around Lake Tuggeranong I certainly don’t have any problems. Everyone is sensible and courteous.

bikhet 12:28 pm 26 Apr 17

I think part of the reason we often hear of cyclists being verbally abused is because only cyclists are in a position to hear the abuse – pedestrians too, but they are rarely on the roads with the traffic. I think that the the drivers who swear at cyclists also swear at other drivers, but the drivers can’t hear them as they have the windows wound up and the radio playing, or the kids screaming, or …

It’s all part of the symptoms of self-entitlement people are showing – my needs matter and you don’t have any needs for me to take into consideration.

As for the scum who physically abuse other road users, well, they’re just scum.

carnardly 12:15 pm 26 Apr 17

Instant said :

I have seen so many poor examples of cycling on roads that I’m surprised cyclists don’t get abused more often. And I’ve yet to see a cyclist write an article about the pedestrians who are routinely startled and almost run over on a daily basis by inconsiderate, arrogant cyclists.

everyone going down Adelaide Avenue at night has lights and a lid on and rides safely and predictably. They have to if they want to survive. I also pass through half a dozen sets of lights at woden and at any red light either morning or night there are cyclists lined up in the bike lanes along melrose drive. people don’t seem to notice the ‘good’ ones out there. there are plenty of us

However, the druggies around civic or the ‘free spirits’ that wander around the ANU are a law unto themselves. Good cyclists hate those too. No lights. No lids and often no idea. I expect many of them are organ donors in the making.

Re pedestrians – i ding my bell probably 20 metres behind EVERY pedestrian i come up upon. About 10 metres behind i ding again and call ‘bike passing’. many give an acknowledgement wave. many don’t move. some groups split like scattering sheep and run in each direction. some turn around and say ‘i don’t have to get out of your way’ but in significantly more colourful language. For those people, i’m not expecting you to get out of the way. I’m just letting you know i’m coming so you don’t have a heart attack. By far the greatest percentage of pedos don’t even hear me as they’re plugged in and oblivious to their own surroundings. These are the ones i trust the least as many will leap like a started gazelle when they are finally aware you’re there. Sometimes a cyclist can’t win. I and my friends and fellow commuters have yet to hit anyone in decades of riding. hell maybe there’s something wrong with me…?

dungfungus 9:54 am 26 Apr 17

Dondon said :

dungfungus said :

Mark, why is it that some riders (like you) choose to wear those “pixie suits”?

Are you emulating professional riders? Do you get paid for advertising the names on the clothing?

And don’t try and tell me that lycra is comfortable – if this were the case everyone would be wearing it for all occasions.

Dungfungus, I have to ask, do you have sight problems? The reason I ask is the photo obviously shows the author actually wearing a west coast jersey.

Next question, when you run do you wear running shorts and shirt and running shoes or do you wear your jeans and polo shirt with leather shoes. I mean unless you’re trying to look like Deeks, Freeman or some other professional sports person surely every day clothes are fine.

I use to wear rugby boots, shorts and a training jersey when training on the paddock for rugby. Does that mean I was trying to emulate a professional rugby player.

Alternatively, maybe wearing specific purpose designed clothing for that activity actually makes things a bit more comfortable. However I don’t think you are really into doing much except trolling on the internet from your mum’s basement so you wouldn’t realise that.

There is nothing shown on that jersey showing it is a West Coast jersey. Who are West Coast incidentally?

I don’t go running.

I used to wear rugby boots when I was training – it’s a bit difficult to practise rucking with sand shoes.

I used to ride a bike everywhere in everyday clothes, no problems. If I turned up for work in a “pixie suit” I would have been fired. In those days we shared the road with cars, no problems.

And my mother is dead and I don’t live in a basement.

Instant 8:45 pm 25 Apr 17

I have seen so many poor examples of cycling on roads that I’m surprised cyclists don’t get abused more often. And I’ve yet to see a cyclist write an article about the pedestrians who are routinely startled and almost run over on a daily basis by inconsiderate, arrogant cyclists.

Postalgeek 8:10 pm 25 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

And don’t try and tell me that lycra is comfortable – if this were the case everyone would be wearing it for all occasions.

I hear muumuus are quite comfortable. I guess that means everyone will be wearing one for all occasions now, over their pyjamas, which are also comfortable.

carnardly 8:02 pm 25 Apr 17

wild turkey has been anticyclist as long as the pope has been catholic.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4427142/Cycling-work-halves-risk-heart-disease-cancer.html was in the news last week. Obesity is costing us BILLIONS according to the AIHW report for 2016, but people here complain about a bit of paint and the cost of a few bike lanes around the place. Start off at 5 kms, or 10. Ride at a safe pace and within 3 months your risk of a heart attack will decrease significantly.

But there are different types of cyclist and not all of them are the lycra hoons. Yes you will get racers that can ride at 40 kmph and want good roads to do so. These guys keep up with traffic and ride between 6 and 7.30 in the morning and are generally off the road once drivers seem to demand the roads as their own during peak hour. At the other end of the scale you have people who are happy to pootle and are quite comfortable riding round the lake and shared paths at weekend. Then you have the sporting/fitness cyclists that might do a bit of triathlon, dabble with races, or utility cyclists that are hard core commuters to work.

Each has different needs and will ride differently.

There IS no war between cyclists and drivers. People should put their egos in their pockets and respect that that dude on a bike is also someone’s husband/brother/wife/sister/daughter/friend

I ride as safely as possible, wear bright coloured clothes (simply for visibility – no logos on me), lights at night and still have duckheads and idiots MGIF (must get in front) or SMIDGAF about you and push in or cut me off without so much as a second thought. I also ride on roads with on road bike lanes as the paths aren’t quick or efficient for where i want to go. I don’t hold up other drivers but get sworn at somewhat regularly. Paths also aren’t generally lit in many areas. Food has been thrown at me plenty of times. Empty soft drink cans bounce. Full ones hurt. I have been called all sorts of names on the canberra drivers farcebook page simply cos i am a cyclist and have chosen that method of transport. I have saved thousands over the years in petrol and parking fees and i’m not a fatty. While people moan about their tax dollars and cyclists paying rego, why should my tax dollars go to the retrofitting of bariatric ambulances and floors in the hospital to cater for lardarses?

I could be your child’s teacher, your local GP, the person that teachers your kids swimming on the weekend. But i’m ‘gettoffthefriggingroadyaf##ken##nt’ simply as i am on my bike. Somewhere along the line, most kids learn to ride a bike and have fun doing it. Do they lose that completely once they get a licence to drive a vehicle? Seems like it.

It’s bloody sad really…

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