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Illogical bicycle laws

By Fluffy - 27 September 2014 78

Canberra has introduced new laws regarding bicycles on roads:

Cycling safety advocates have welcomed a planned trial of new minimum passing distances for drivers overtaking bike riders on ACT roads.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell announced the trial of mandated minimum distances, requiring drivers to leave one metre when passing in speed zones of up to 60 km/h and 1½ metres in speed zones faster than 60km/h.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/cyclists-welcome-tighter-rules-for-motorists-overtaking-bikes-20140925-10lvyz.html

So let’s just visualise this for a moment:

newbicyclelaws-152x300

  1. So in lane A, heading north, we have a bicycle.  As cyclists like to do in Australia, this cyclist is riding on the very edge of his lane, as close as possible to all the cars.
  2. In lane B, also travelling north, we have a line of cars.
  3. In lane C, travelling south, we have another lane of cars.

Now what usually happens if a car is travelling slowly in lane A is that the cars in lane B are free to pass by at a higher speed in lane B.

But with this new law,the cars in lane B would have to swerve right by one and a half metres, which would put them into head-on collision with the southward moving cars in lane C.

The average cyclist on a flat road travels at around fifteen kilometres per hour.

Therefore, with all car traffic prevented by law from passing the cyclist, all cars, trucks, and buses on the road must reduce their speed to fifteen kilometres per hour.  The whole line of traffic is stuck going very slowly simply because one person chose to ride his bicycle in the left lane of that road.  On a road with a normal speed limit of sixty kilometres per hour, that means it is going to take four times as long for all those people to get where they need to go.

One cyclist at work who felt a very strong emotional attachment to this issue opined that it’s the fault of the drivers for choosing to take that road, and that if they wanted to drive at sixty kilometres per hour on a road with a speed limit of sixty kilometres per hour, well, it’s their own fault for not choosing a road without cyclists on it.  If they had any sense, he argued, they would have used their powers of prognostication and chosen some other road.  This assumes that people should not normally be permitted to drive close to the speed limit.

Now, according to the laws of the Australian Capital Territory, a bicycle is most definitely a vehicle.  It must be made clear that if a vehicle is obstructing traffic by driving well below the speed limit for a given road, that driver is committing an offence:

125 Unreasonably obstructing drivers or pedestrians

(1) A driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or a pedestrian.

Offence provision.

Note Driver includes a person in control of a vehicle — see the definition of drive in the dictionary.

(2) For this rule, a driver does not unreasonably obstruct the path of another driver or a pedestrian only because:

(a) the driver is stopped in traffic; or

(b) the driver is driving more slowly than other vehicles (unless the driver is driving abnormally slowly in the circumstances).

Example of a driver driving abnormally slowly:

A driver driving at a speed of 20 kilometres per hour on a length of road to which a speed-limit of 80 kilometres per hour applies when there is no reason for the driver to drive at that speed on the length of road.

So that cyclist riding along at 15 kilometres per hour in a sixty kilometre per hour zone is actually breaking the law.

One might suggest “There is a reason: a bicycle is slow.”  That very same argument could be used if someone drives a really crappy old car which barely moves.  Someone is driving along at 15 kilometres per hour in a sixty zone because their car is a piece of junk.  They are still in a vehicle, and still blocking the road for everyone else.  The fact that the driver’s vehicle of choice is slow – indeed too slow to be on that road – is not the fault of all those other drivers.

So if we have cyclists insisting that bicycles are vehicles, and should be perceived as vehicles by all other vehicles and therefore deserve the rights of all other vehicles in traffic, should they not be held to the same laws as other vehicles?

But wait!  Cyclists are also overjoyed at their new right to drive their vehicles over pedestrian crossings?  But if they’re vehicles… that does not make sense.  Could it be they want the benefits of having it both ways, yet want to avoid any responsibility to other motorists?

The aforementioned cyclist I know, when confronted with the logical problems with this situation, decided to abandon logic and simply demand “Why are you taking the drivers’ side anyway?  You don’t even drive!”  Well, that’s true.  I’m not a car driver.  What that means is that I have no particular bias in this matter, and am an impartial observer.  If anything, one might expect me to sympthaise with cyclists, given that I used to ride a bicycle to work until I was hit by a car.  But sympathy and emotional reflexes do not change the logic of the situation.  Nor does declaring someone a partisan of one side or another change the facts and logic.

What we have here is a law which will ultimately mean one person choosing to ride a bicycle on a road has the right to block traffic and screw over everyone else who has chosen to use that road.

What’s Your opinion?


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78 Responses to
Illogical bicycle laws
rommeldog56 9:46 am 28 Sep 14

Does this new ACT Gov’t law apply only where there is one of those silly bike only lanes painted on a road or does the 1 or 1.5 metre exclusion zone also apply to roads that dont have a bike lane painted on them ?

miz 8:22 am 28 Sep 14

My biggest beef with the proposed new laws is allowing cyclists to cross pedestrian crossings without dismounting.
Cyclists constantly indicate that they are aggrieved about a lack of regard for them from car drivers, yet do little to consider pedestrians (except to consider that they are a nuisance who get in their way) even though pedestrians are the most vulnerable of all. Bikes are in some ways more dangerous to pedestrians than cars are to cyclists because you can’t hear bikes coming up from behind.
Pedestrians don’t have active, petulant lobby groups and just expect general courtesy on shared paths and PEDESTRIAN crossings. Yes, that’s right, they are called PEDESTRIAN crossings because they are for people to cross on foot. It is a legitimate expectation, from both the pedestrians’ and approaching car driver’s perspective, not to be dangerously startled by cyclists zooming across a pedestrian crossing as if they were a pedestrian.
It just makes me so mad that the government is bending over for this incredibly selfish and entitled lobby group, who already have access to bike (shared) paths and those stupid strips on the side of the road, yet the government seems to have a complete disregard for the need of pedestrians (that is, everyone except cyclists) to feel safe on bike paths, footpaths and pedestrian crossings.

Limestone_Lizzy 12:13 am 28 Sep 14

Thanks Fluffy, masterful reducto absurdum
But why stop there, what about cyclists on footpaths? They would place you in the other lane too!

Fluffy said :

The average cyclist on a flat road travels at around fifteen kilometres per hour.

Great use of facts.

Fluffy said :

So if we have cyclists insisting that bicycles are vehicles, and should be perceived as vehicles by all other vehicles and therefore deserve the rights of all other vehicles in traffic, should they not be held to the same laws as other vehicles?

Hells yes! except for trucks having different laws, or vintage cars having different laws or motorbikes having different laws.

Or even those pesky buses with their own give way zones! What is up with that? A personal force field? Who do they think they are? Moses?

Fluffy said :

Nor does declaring someone a partisan of one side or another change the facts and logic.

Lol. I heard that 68% of facts are made up anyway

Fluffy said :

What we have here is a law which will ultimately mean one person choosing to ride a bicycle on a road has the right to block traffic and screw over everyone else who has chosen to use that road

+1
Sweet as bro! I like the way you built up to that one

Seriously though, please give room to bikes you over take on account of them being pretty vulnerable and bring on strict liability!

Alderney 11:31 pm 27 Sep 14

The average cyclist on a flat road travels at around fifteen kilometres per hour you say?

I used to average 30 km/h from Calwell to Woden. On the flat it was more like 45. And I don’t consider myself to have been particularly quick.

Kinda puts a dent in your argument, don’t you agree?

Postalgeek 11:27 pm 27 Sep 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

In order to pass, a car must go to the opposite lane and THEN another 1.5 metres, placing them in the gravel on the wrong side of the road.

Glad to see you have a firm grasp of this law.

Remember too that you are legally required to maintain acceleration and have a head-on with an oncoming vehicle instead of slowing and passing the bicycle when it is safe to do so.

laraeddy 10:21 pm 27 Sep 14

#3 – Justin, sadly, I think you will be proven correct !

But as the eternal optimist, a couple of thoughts:

– the OP took the worst case scenario, but OK it happens – as it does with all sorts of slow vehicles – get out of Canberra and be caught behind a big tractor on a windy road, or old bus, or tired semi on a coastal run. It’s called having a licence and learning to deal with the circumstances that confront you when, on the odd occasion, they do;
– on the comments about travelling in the RH side of the lane (which, frankly, I have VERY rarely seen a cyclist do) – this is exactly what you are told, very clearly, to do riding when a motorbike. Why ? Because if you ride on the LH side, car drivers will not see you/try and run you off the road, and if you ride in the middle, you will end up, especially in the wet, sliding off from all the oil that cars drop in the centre of lanes.

As I understand it, the whole idea of giving bikes some clearance comes from the Amy Gillett Foundation (http://www.amygillett.org.au/) – for those who don’t know, Amy Gillett was a young (29yo) Australian national representative track cyclist and rower who was killed while on a training ride in Germany by a driver who lost control of her car and cleaned up six riders – Amy was killed, the others had a range of very serious injuries.

Really, is slowing down for a few seconds that much to ask in comparison ???

JC 8:42 pm 27 Sep 14

I can handle the passing law, but not the law that allows bikes to turn right across a pedestrian crossing. As it is now it can be quite hard to see bikes coming along a bike path who then wizz out across a crossing (never mind of course they are meant to dismount). But with the new laws it is possible a bike will without much clear warning just hook it across the path of vehicles who are expected to stop. Silly silly silly this one.

Postalgeek 7:13 pm 27 Sep 14

So in lane A, heading north, we have a bicycle. As cyclists like to do in Australia, this cyclist is riding on the very edge of his lane, as close as possible to all the cars

An inane generalisation from the very start. I wonder if anything fresh will come out of this thread….computer says no.

wildturkeycanoe 6:24 pm 27 Sep 14

This new law obviously means that on roads such as Lady Denman Drive, Cotter Road and any single lane road with speed limit over 60km/h, no vehicles can pass a cyclist who is legally using their allocated lane. In order to pass, a car must go to the opposite lane and THEN another 1.5 metres, placing them in the gravel on the wrong side of the road. Dumbest rule ever, next to the the rule that says they are allowed on the road at all. How about any of the narrow streets in suburbs, where parked cars on the kerb place a cyclist around a metre from the center line? Do cars coming the opposite way also have to give a metre of clearance or must they stop and reverse until the road becomes wider, in order to let the cyclist through safely?
Pedal power has gone too far in my opinion and cyclists aren’t looking after their own safety anymore, they are simply forcing their “rights” upon the rest of the community and instead of courtesy they are displaying arrogance, which will eventually end up going badly for them. If I was to assert my “rights” according to law when driving, instead of having a bit of care for my fellow road user, I don’t think I’d make it through a day without forcing vehicles off the road and suffering some serious panel damage.
Why do cyclists insist on riding to the extreme right of their allocated cycle lane, if not on or over the lane separator? It only places them in harm’s way and serves no other useful purpose whatsoever.

gooterz 6:13 pm 27 Sep 14

Do red light camera catch cyclists?

Grail 6:13 pm 27 Sep 14

That’s an awful lot of work you went to to criticise this new law without even reading it. What if it turns out that the 1m gap is only required when passing a bicycle in the same lane?

And what if it turns out that “no reason for the driver to drive at that speed on the length of road” doesn’t apply when a vehicle has reason to be driving at a low speed (because, e.g.: it is incapable of achieving higher speeds)?

And what if it turns out that riders of bikes and motorbikes and scooters don’t fall into the same category as drivers (i.e.: of cars and trucks)?

dannybear 4:08 pm 27 Sep 14

Have you gotten a tape measure out and measured one meter in relation to your vehicle? It really isn’t that large of a space and I’d be hesitant to overtake any type of vehicle in a space smaller than that.

justin heywood 3:29 pm 27 Sep 14

I predict this thread will be a long one.

Cerdig 2:54 pm 27 Sep 14

The root of this and many other stupid impositions by the ACT Government comes down to the fact that Corbell really needs to go!

Fluffy 2:36 pm 27 Sep 14

It should also be noted that a bicycle should rightfully be considered a vehicle which occupies that entire slot in its lane, so it is legally acceptable for a cyclist to ride at the very edge of the lane closest to all the dangerous traffic. However, in addition to the cyclist thereby electing to ride in the most dangerous position, there are two other related points to consider:

1) That places the 1.5 metre buffer zone smack in the middle of the next lane, as already discussed, preventing all traffic from passing.

2) If a cyclist is anywhere but at the very edge of a lane which is more than 1.5 metres wide, no other cyclist can pass that cyclist in that lane, because bicycles are vehicles and must leave 1.5 metres of clearance. If the lane is 1.5 metres wide or less, no other cyclist can pass at all. Does this mean there can no longer be any road bicycle races, because none of the bicycles can bunch up together or pass each other?

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