20 January 2021

Probing the polls: dragway racing and perennial cycling pressures

| Genevieve Jacobs
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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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Kilgarah_says8:00 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…

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.

Should have proof read that one…

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.

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