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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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Illogical bicycle laws
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mjconley 2:45 pm 10 Aug 15

Good enough for vehicles to give at least 1 metre from cyclist when passing, then good enough for cyclist to give at least 1 metre from pedestrian when passing, mark

paulh 12:53 am 23 Oct 14

The answer is…

– Roads are primarily for cars. Cyclists may use the roads, but they should travel single file, keep to the left, and be careful of cars. Car drivers should be cautious of cyclists. The ACT Government shouldn’t encourage cyclists onto the roads by building bike paths on the roads as that places cyclists in a dangerous environment and is therefore irresponsible.

– Bicycle paths are primarily for cyclists. Pedestrians may walk on bike paths, but they should travel single file, keep to the left, and be careful of cyclists. Cyclists should be cautious of pedestrians. The ACT Government shouldn’t encourage pedestrians onto bicycle paths by creating shared paths as that places pedestrians and cyclists in a dangerous environment and is therefore irresponsible.

– Foot paths are primarily for pedestrians. Cyclists may ride on foot paths, but they should travel single file, kept to the left, and be careful of pedestrians. Pedestrians should be aware that cyclists may use a foot path.

– Car drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians should not use a road, bicycle path, or foot path while talking on a mobile phone, wearing ear plugs, or while, in any way, being distracted from the traffic around them.

wildturkeycanoe 2:06 pm 12 Oct 14

BlackChariot said :

Please watch this video on Youtube:

http://youtu.be/G4qgzsaNN7s

You’ll notice that bicycle riders and vehicle drivers ALL share the road over there in Amsterdam. It’s a way of life and the city has grown up with the bike. I don’t see any road rage in the video, nor do I see anyone wearing a helmet either! Canberra has a lot to learn here and I think we all need to grow up!

This is Canberra, that is Amsterdam. Your point might be well accepted for the Civic center where everybody has to go slow, but we are talking about roads where the difference between the speeds of cyclists and cars is above 40km/h. That’s where the danger lies.
As for the posts about giving cyclists room, how can you give room on a road such as Cotter Road or Lady Denman Dr when it is impossible to give 1.5m because the road simply isn’t wide enough when cyclists pedal along the center line, using up the ENTIRE lane, three abreast? The only option for the driver who has slowed to 20km/h, is to not give 1.5m of space or go onto the gravel verge on the other lane to get back to the designated speed limit. I still consider these guys a hazard and a mobile road block, who should be using the cycle lane provided.

rommeldog56 8:36 am 12 Oct 14

BenjaminRose1991 said :

I should somehow get this into the Assembly. Much safer and simpler for everybody. Would go something like this:

“It is legal for a cyclist to ride on a road with a posted speed limit greater than 50 km/h if there is no access to a either a pedestrian footpath or bike PATH within 20 metres of the side of said road. It is illegal for a cyclist to ride on a road regardless if the posted speed limit is 80km/h or higher.”

I’d throw this in there somewhere too:

“Cyclists are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe position on the left hand side of the road. Drivers of road vehicles using the road should treat a cyclist on a road as a POTENTIAL road hazard and should use another lane (if available) if the cyclist is NOT maintaining a safe position on the road.”

Some good, logical and common sense comments/suggestions. Probably why they have no hope of getting up in the attitudinally stuffed and poor ACT Gov’t decision making, of today !!!

Aeek 11:12 pm 10 Oct 14

I saw a guy riding a hand cycle recently. Current laws he is supposed to dismount but why would anyone use a hand cycle if their legs aren’t stuffed? Stopping, anyone can do – including roller bladers pushing a baby stroller.

BlackChariot 4:22 pm 10 Oct 14

Please watch this video on Youtube:

http://youtu.be/G4qgzsaNN7s

You’ll notice that bicycle riders and vehicle drivers ALL share the road over there in Amsterdam. It’s a way of life and the city has grown up with the bike. I don’t see any road rage in the video, nor do I see anyone wearing a helmet either! Canberra has a lot to learn here and I think we all need to grow up!

BenjaminRose1991 12:13 am 10 Oct 14

I should somehow get this into the Assembly. Much safer and simpler for everybody. Would go something like this:

“It is legal for a cyclist to ride on a road with a posted speed limit greater than 50 km/h if there is no access to a either a pedestrian footpath or bike PATH within 20 metres of the side of said road. It is illegal for a cyclist to ride on a road regardless if the posted speed limit is 80km/h or higher.”

I’d throw this in there somewhere too:

“Cyclists are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe position on the left hand side of the road. Drivers of road vehicles using the road should treat a cyclist on a road as a POTENTIAL road hazard and should use another lane (if available) if the cyclist is NOT maintaining a safe position on the road.”

tim_c 4:38 pm 09 Oct 14

I wouldn’t be too worried about it – Roads ACT can’t even determine distances between parked cars and fixed objects (ie. whether or not a car is parked illegally: within 3m of double unbroken lines) – they’re even less likely to be able to make an assessment of the distance between two moving vehicles.

Maya123 12:24 pm 09 Oct 14

What’s difficult with giving the person on a bike room? Why do some local people when driving have such a mental problem with this? I don’t have a problem with giving room when I’m driving. It’s not difficult driving sensibly.
I have cycled in Europe and the European drivers had no problems with going wide around me, even if it meant waiting for traffic coming the other way and then going over into the other lane. I found the European drivers in regard to cyclists, polite and patient. Now, their regard (lack of) for pedestrians attempting to cross the road, that’s another story.

Rustygear 10:31 pm 08 Oct 14

I like the idea that cars have to stay at least 1m out from me on busy roads. I have to cycle because I got diabetes. I’ve got nothing to do with lycra. I just need to maintain my health. I am glad that the govt is making improvements like this for the public safety of people like me. In all my years of car driving I’ve kept at least a metre distance from cyclists when at speed, or else slowed down. It is not inconvenient – it is simply an attitude of ‘safety first’, just like at work. Having it legislated is a good thing.

Bosworth 12:14 pm 02 Oct 14

Why won’t other people simply do what I want?

It’s Simple !

wildturkeycanoe 7:14 pm 01 Oct 14

Jivrashia said :

What is this I don’t even…?

If there’s a dedicated cycling lane (A) then how are any cars in their own lane (B) be considered as OVERTAKING the cyclist/vehicle in lane A?

The fact that the cyclist in lane A is right on the line between lane A and B, means that any cars coming from behind in lane B have to merge into lane C to give the cyclist 1.5 metres. Isn’t it a relief we don’t have to give any other vehicles the same buffer zone or the roads would have to be widened?

Jivrashia 10:48 am 01 Oct 14

What is this I don’t even…?

If there’s a dedicated cycling lane (A) then how are any cars in their own lane (B) be considered as OVERTAKING the cyclist/vehicle in lane A?

Cycling_ute_driver 10:26 am 01 Oct 14

@ #24 Hatter64,

Nobody does ride down Majura. There is no cycle lane, and you’re all texting whilst driving.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 10:10 am 01 Oct 14

davo101 said :

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

These rules are what happen when we (as in, road users) can’t show some common sense and courtesy to one another. If we were all (drivers and cyclists alike) just a bit more sensible and considerate, these rules wouldn’t necessary.

Begone voice of reason! Do not darken this thread with your talk of sense and consideration.

This morning I saw a group of 3 lycra-clad blokes riding along Parkes Way at about 25km/h in peak hour (causing chaos), then turned off into the city to see a bunch of cars stopping at the pedestrian crossing in front of the convention centre to let some people cross, only for a cyclist to come whizzing up the middle and almost hit the pedestrians.

On the same trip in I also saw motorists lane hogging, and some serious tailgating by a young chap in a commodore on the Monaro highway.

The problem with our rules, and these proposed changes, is that it takes away the elements of personal responsibility, common sense and courtesy. Witness the people on RiotACT who proudly lane hog because they aren’t breaking the law.

We need to think more.

davo101 8:53 am 01 Oct 14

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

These rules are what happen when we (as in, road users) can’t show some common sense and courtesy to one another. If we were all (drivers and cyclists alike) just a bit more sensible and considerate, these rules wouldn’t necessary.

Begone voice of reason! Do not darken this thread with your talk of sense and consideration.

tuco 6:42 am 01 Oct 14

tuco said :

“Fluffy said :”

” I wonder. If a bunch of pedestrians started walking on the highway and demanding that cars make changes (e.g. driving very slowly past them, giving them a buffer zone, et cetera), would people think it is a good idea? Or would people think they were really silly for deliberately placing themselves in a dangerous situation without the protection of a car around them?”

“You’re new at this whole “framing a logical argument” thing, aren’t you?”

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem

How did my phallus get involved in this?

wildturkeycanoe 5:49 am 01 Oct 14

Fluffy said :

2012 National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior: http://www.nhtsa.gov/nti/811841

Hit by car: 29.

Fell over: 17.

Rider error: 13.

Rider error + fell over > hit by car.

Rider error + fell over + hit by car = 59.

Remove riders from roads: cyclist injuries halved.

It is also worth noting that a quarter of cyclists had BACs over 0.08 (in Australia the limit is usually 0.05). If we increase the number of cyclists and total distance travelled by them as suggested in the article linked below, we would have a very large number of drink riders out there, compounded by increased cyclist traffic density, causing a seriously large number of injuries and fatalities.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3986796.ece

It should also be noted that for all the whining about rights and protections, cyclists actually have more rights than motorists and pedestrians.

Pedestrians:
– Can travel with right of passage on: footpath; pedestrian crossing; shared (ped/bike) path.
– Can at any moment switch from/to: footpath.
– Has/wants/will get special rights above and beyond other users of that medium: No.

Motorists:
– Can travel with right of passage on: road.
– Can at any moment switch from/to: road.
– Has/wants/will get special rights above and beyond other users of that medium: No.

Cyclists:
– Can travel with right of passage on: footpath (where they are actually more dangerous to pedestrians than cars are to riders – see below); pedestrian crossing; shared (ped/bike) path; road.
– Can at any moment switch from/to: footpath; shared path; road.
– Has/wants/will get special rights above and beyond other users of that medium: Yes.

But this has gone way off track. The fact remains: the proposed change, approved for trial, causes the logical problems addressed in the opening post.

—–

“For example, the speed and mass differential between a car and a cyclist appear to be substantially greater than that between a cyclist and a pedestrian. This is illusionary. The kinetic energy of, say, a 1500 kg family sedan car in a 50 km/hr zone compared to a 50th percentile cyclist’s kinetic energy of a riding at around 30 km/hr in the same direction is a ratio of around 44 to 1 in favour of the car. On the other hand, the kinetic energy ratio between the same cyclist still travelling at 30 km/hr and a 50th percentile pedestrian walking at normal speed [9] of say 5 km/hr is around 48 to 1 in favour of the cyclist, i.e. the car-cyclist kinetic energy differential is similar to that of the cyclist-pedestrian ratio.” – Pedestrian-Cyclist Collisions: Issues and Risk. Grzebieta R.H., McIntosh A.M., and Chong S. 2011. Centre for Research, Evidence Management and Surveillance (REMS), Sydney South West Area Health Service.

Nice one Fluffy. Good to see somebody doing some research and finding the facts that support our case. If only the end of the age of entitlement applied to cyclists as much as it did to healthcare, welfare and taxation our roads would be a better place. Unfortunately our P.M is of the lycra brigade so it won’t happen in this electoral term.

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