Probing the polls: dragway racing and perennial cycling pressures

Genevieve Jacobs 20 January 2021 50
Dangerous driving

Do cyclists get a fair go on Canberra’s roads? Photo: File.

Although Summernats was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, streetcars continued to make the news.

ACT Policing worked closely with car clubs for authorised ‘Clayton’s cruises’, but police were later forced to close streets when impromptu gatherings became public safety risks in Braddon, Fyshwick and Eaglehawk.

Police seized a number of vehicles, including one apparently belonging to a P-plater, and have identified the person they believe is responsible for smashing the rear window of a police vehicle during a night of illegal burnouts and anti-social behaviour.


READ MORE: Police seize more vehicles after last weekend’s hoon behaviour


Car club organisers who had worked hard on building strong relationships with police and the Transport and City Services directorate expressed their frustration at drivers who disrupted traffic and created concerns for public safety. But others said the behaviour was inevitable given the cancellation of Summernats and the longstanding lack of a dragway in Canberra.

We asked, Would a dragway stop illegal behaviour in streetcars? A total of 1021 readers participated.

Your choices were to vote No, the community won’t reward bad behaviour from people who should know better and this received 35 per cent of the total, or 355 votes. Alternatively, you could choose Yes, it’s a sensible way to meet the car community’s needs. This received 65 per cent of the total, or 666 votes.


READ MORE: Does the cycling community get a fair go in Canberra?


This week, we’re wondering whether Canberra cyclists get a fair go in the community.

Tim Gavel’s editorial on the perennial issue stirred some strong responses as he argued that safety, or the lack of it, has become a significant issue in Canberra and that many cyclists say they’ve observed an increase in aggression from motorists in recent years.

Bike retailers say that sales have gone through the roof during the pandemic and, Tim said, “this means more cyclists are on the road facing ever-increasing safety risks, despite the improvement in bike paths around the city”.

“Bike paths have also become more dangerous as the popularity of motorised scooters increases, and more scooter-riders start using bike paths.”

Barney Voveris said: “What do they want the roads and cycle paths all to themselves the next thing that will happen is that you won’t even be allowed to overtake a pushbike you have your bike lanes and you can’t even stay inside them so stop whinging all of you peddle pushers you are lucky that you don’t have to pay for rego or insurance for using the roads maybe you should, and that might stop you from carrying on.”


READ MORE: A cycling master plan will be good for cyclists, pedestrians and road users


And Margy Duke wrote: “It’s the arrogance that I’ve had enough of … I’m sure not all cyclists are that way, but I’ve sure had my share of them. I’ve had the roof of my car punched and slapped numerous times for stopping to give way. One incident a cyclist in Yarralumla slapped my car and yelled at me because I stopped at a roundabout to lawfully give way and that inconvenienced the rider, I’ve been yelled at and sworn at for obeying car road rules, I’ve had my car kicked by a cyclist for the same. On and on and on …”

But Adrian Hobbs countered: “I cycle. I also pay registration on 3 vehicles. So I reckon I have 3 times as much right to be on the road as most people.”

Cyclist Jonny Ivan said: “I use the bike paths, that is what they are for, they are safer. [I] see too many bike riders on the road breaking the law.”

Our question for this week’s poll is:

Do cyclists get a fair go on Canberra’s roads?

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50 Responses to Probing the polls: dragway racing and perennial cycling pressures
Kilgarah_says Kilgarah_says 8:00 pm 22 Jan 21

Antill Street in Watson in general (and especially when they enter the street near the BP Servo/ roundabout on the Federal Highway is the worst road for cyclists. There needs to be a cycle lane built before someone gets hurt. The road is narrow enough as it is with not much room to give a cyclist 1.5 metres with unbroken white lines so when there’s cyclists on the road you have to brake and stay behind them at times as you can’t overtake at your leisure especially when cars, trucks or buses are coming towards you in the other lane. When there’s a group of cyclists it’s worse again! I shudder each time I’ve seen young children on the road with no parents in sight over the years riding their bikes to school. Thankfully I see less now but even seeing 1 child is a huge concern and either their parents don’t know or they don’t realise how dangerous it is until one day it will be too late…

Hugo Young Hugo Young 5:59 pm 22 Jan 21

Really don't get the constant cycling stories The RiotACT. These don't do much but fan the flames of the already contentious debate.

Lorraine Fisher Lorraine Fisher 3:08 pm 22 Jan 21

And all over Australia there is a distinct lack of hand signals by cyclists.

    Claire Perry Claire Perry 12:10 pm 29 Jan 21

    Lorraine Fisher they only need to signal turns or changing lanes to the right.

charlieg charlieg 11:45 am 22 Jan 21

The cycle ways are good as far as they go, but along eg Limestone Ave there’s nothing. Ideally there’d be a separated path alongside every main road. People should be able to travel comfortably by whatever means they choose.

And to gently counter the @evil cyclists” issue, I’ve been cut off, knocked off my bike, hit, narrowly missed, more times than I can count. Any one of these could have been fatal — as much as people who harbour antipathy towards people on bikes, bikes just don’t cause a meaningful number of deaths or injuries. The same absolutely can’t be said of cars, which by their very nature are incredibly dangerous.

Lynette Furness Lynette Furness 10:58 am 22 Jan 21

The thing about canberras roads is that they have cycle ways all ove no real need to use the roads

    Hugo Young Hugo Young 8:19 pm 22 Jan 21

    Lynette Furness if cycle ways = shared paths maybe? Would you drive on a narrow, circuitous road with roots pushing up the surface and patches of gravel or take a direct wide road to your destination. I'd invite you to use these "cycleways" to get a first hand experience. If you are travelling longer distances on a bike the road are a much for efficient option than these paths.

    Claire Perry Claire Perry 11:42 am 29 Jan 21

    Lynette Furness where is the direct cycle path between civic and woden?

Jackie White Jackie White 10:41 am 22 Jan 21

Just yesterday, in Civic, when I was stopped at a red light, a cyclist zoomed up in between the cars , shot through the red light and went on his merry way. Seriously, why do some cyclists think this is ok? If they use the road, they surely MUST have to obey the road rules.

    Adam Jovanovic Adam Jovanovic 8:19 pm 22 Jan 21

    Jackie White Yup ive seen a few in civic not wearing helmets either, good luck to your skull being cracked instead.

charlieg charlieg 10:36 am 22 Jan 21

This myth that cyclists don’t pay for the roads is nonsense. Car registration doesn’t even nearly cover the cost of driving – the space it takes up, the maintenance, the parking, etc etc. cyclists do no damage to roads. Canberra’s spoiled car drivers need to slow down, pay more attention, and realise that a city filled with car sewers serves nobody well. The idea that Canberra, the home of the empty six lane freeway, favours cyclists rather than car drivers demonstrates an amazing lack of perspective.

David Brown David Brown 9:24 am 22 Jan 21

No they don’t get a “fair” go. They are treated way more generously than motorists; the people who actually pay to use the roads.

    Karl Brown Karl Brown 12:56 pm 22 Jan 21

    David Brown except for toll roads, no one "pays" to use the road.

    Its totally free (other than the taxes I pay) for me to drive to work.

    David Brown David Brown 2:09 pm 22 Jan 21

    Karl Brown Clearly it is not identifedbut where do you think registration, sales tax on insurance, petrol tax etc goes? It goes to government. Eventually governments build and maintain roads. So motorists pay much more than push bike riders for the use of roads.

Jill Worrell Jill Worrell 7:09 am 22 Jan 21

My beef with cyclists is the shared footpaths especially near and around the High Court/Lakeside. Downright dangerous for pedestrians, children and dogs trying to use the foot (yes FOOT) paths, with cyclists racing past without even the courtesy of ringing a bell so you can get out of their way fast...coz you have to be fast or risk being run over. Makes a walk around the lake very unpleasant.

    Jackie White Jackie White 10:39 am 22 Jan 21

    Jill Worrell Agree. The cyclists who show the courtesy of ringing a bell and few and far between.

    Les Mitchell Les Mitchell 12:58 pm 22 Jan 21

    Jill Worrell I agree. A lot of cyclists do travel too fast on shared paths. If you want to ride fast then use the roads and ride sensibly or accept the wrath of drivers.

    Hugo Young Hugo Young 8:21 pm 22 Jan 21

    Jill Worrell It's not just a foot path, you can legally ride on them.

    James Messervy James Messervy 10:08 am 23 Jan 21

    Jackie White most people have earphones in and wouldn’t hear a foghorn, let alone a bike’s bell.

    Jackie White Jackie White 10:09 am 23 Jan 21

    James Messervy and many do not. Is that an excuse? Don’t bother ringing a bell on the chance the person won’t hear it?

    James Messervy James Messervy 10:10 am 23 Jan 21

    Jackie White no, I always ring my bell or call out.

    Jackie White Jackie White 10:12 am 23 Jan 21

    Thank you. I never walk around the lake with headphones precisely because of the risk of collision with a cyclist

Ric Stumpf Ric Stumpf 5:00 am 22 Jan 21

It’s a respect thing. I drive heavy vehicles and give cyclists huge space, but then at the lights they shoot up the inside and freak out when I don’t have the option to give them the 1.5 metre space. They play a very dangerous game as I have limited view. A little respect my way would save us all some stress.

Leona Lang Leona Lang 2:04 am 22 Jan 21

Honestly it would be great to have dedicated cycle paths... it's quite scary (to me) to ride on roadsides but sometimes there's no alternative way.

Dedicated paths would also reduce cyclists on roads which would be a win for car drivers too

When I drive near a cyclist I'm paranoid they might make an unexpected move and I'd hit them...(though it hasn't happened yet)

    Karl Brown Karl Brown 7:35 am 22 Jan 21

    Leona Lang and it probably never will.

    Adam Jovanovic Adam Jovanovic 8:17 pm 22 Jan 21

    Karl Brown And you will probably never be in an accident so no need to wear a seatbelt then

Gloria Altinger Gloria Altinger 1:46 am 22 Jan 21

Pay rego and insurance to be on the roads.

    Karl Brown Karl Brown 7:29 am 22 Jan 21

    GloriaAltinger does your opinion also apply to new electric cars who wont be paying rego?

    What about backhoe and grader drivers? They don't pay rego, just a nominal fee to cover TPI.

    Trev Graham Trev Graham 11:28 am 22 Jan 21

    totally agree. bikes should have insurance and rego, they can cause accidents, damage vehicles, knock pedestrians over, collide with pets and currently there is no easy means of compensation or even tracing who the rider is or where they come from. additionally they should have lights to a standard and an audible means of warning particularly pedestrians when approaching from behind.

    Karl Brown Karl Brown 12:55 pm 22 Jan 21

    Trev Graham so can pedestrians, should they be registered?

    Trev Graham Trev Graham 12:58 pm 22 Jan 21

    Karl Brown yeah right - time for your medicine and a nice cup of Milo.

    Adam Jovanovic Adam Jovanovic 8:16 pm 22 Jan 21

    Karl Brown What do you think a birth certificate is? pedestrians are already registered since birth

    Kirby Haines Kirby Haines 9:23 pm 22 Jan 21

    lol sure, costs 10x in admin what it would recover in revenue. Where do you draw the line? Are you going to insist some gormless 9 year old pay rego? No? What age then?

    Trev Graham Trev Graham 10:26 pm 22 Jan 21

    Kirby Haines i think any regs could apply to 16 up. not sure a full rego is appropriate for bikes but some small compulsory insurance and a method of identifying the rider of the bike. The same problem applies in the uk and nothing has been done here either but the problem is real and its getting worse especially on shared pedestrian/cycle ways which in my opinion is a stupid thing anyway as bikes get quicker and the riders get more aggresive. inner city riders too think the road laws dont apply to them, crash red lights, hang on to the back of trucks, ride full tilt accross controlled crossings and are causing accidents then just riding off. not saying car drivers are saints either but at least they can be held to account.

    Kirby Haines Kirby Haines 10:41 pm 22 Jan 21

    Sure but you haven't addressed the issue of admin costs vs revenue. Every time any government has looked at this it has failed that test. And enforcement... do we really want scarce police resources pulling up child cyclists only to find they are not over 16? That's even if they have ID, most in that age cohort do not. At the end of the day it is a Darwinian equation. Cyclists are uniquely vulnerable compared to other road traffic. You make a mistake, you're dead. I agree with you in terms of shared facilities. Stupidest idea ever. The Europeans have figured that out and invested in it. But in UK and AU, government has decided that non motorised traffic doesn't matter...

Mat Barber Mat Barber 10:11 pm 21 Jan 21

I'm happy to give them space and be courteous when they're doing the right thing. When they ignore signs that they just exit the road at a certain point and they continue on it, that's when they get the horn.

    Karl Brown Karl Brown 7:36 am 22 Jan 21

    Mat Barber bike riders can ride on the road and the foot/shared path legally.

Jennifer Gee Jennifer Gee 9:43 pm 21 Jan 21

I drive a car, ride a motorbike and ride a pushie. I tend to stay on footpaths/cycle paths and not ride on the road. I give way to pedestrians and cars on my pushie. The cycle paths r good but need quite a bit of fixing up - some of the paths have lifted to the extent u ride over them - and lose stuff out of my carrier basket! I understand why many cyclists ride on roads - cycle paths need a lot of maintenance and can ruin expensive bike wheels

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 9:25 pm 21 Jan 21

Think it's time (unfortunately) that cyclists have their own lane that's barricaded like Sydney.. im sick of them riding through a construction zone to say the least

Peter Major Peter Major 9:16 pm 21 Jan 21

get them off the roads.

    Robert Knight Robert Knight 9:20 pm 21 Jan 21

    Peter Major too right. Invest in a comprehensive network of cycle paths all across the city.

    Andrew Dale Andrew Dale 9:21 pm 21 Jan 21

    Cyclists are allowed to come within 1.5m of me, or at least they often do when I'm stopped, but I get fined if I do it to them. Love it, NOT

    Kosta Amanda Contis Kosta Amanda Contis 10:12 pm 21 Jan 21

    Andrew Dale gets my blood boiling

    Hugo Young Hugo Young 5:55 pm 22 Jan 21

    Andrew Dale 10 kilo bike vs multi tonne car, mate. A bike may scratch a car, but a car can kill a bike rider.

    Adam Jovanovic Adam Jovanovic 8:14 pm 22 Jan 21

    Hugo Young More the reason to ride on footpaths and not roads.

    Hugo Young Hugo Young 8:29 pm 22 Jan 21

    Adam Jovanovic I'll be sure to suggest to my cycling club that we start running groups rides on paths. A group of 15 people travelling over 30km/h shouldn't be a problem, right?

    Peter Major Peter Major 9:35 pm 22 Jan 21

    Hugo Young Ride in single file and comply with ALL road rules, do not impede the flow of traffic and there are minimal problems. I'd also advise to stay in 60kph zones

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