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Solution to “Scofflaw Cyclists”

By Sgt.Bungers 21 May 2010 39

The Scofflaw Cyclists of the Inner North post last month stirred up a mass of debate in this forum… as does any discussion regarding cyclists in this city.

My response was simple. Build an intersection that legally requires motor vehicle operators to get out of their vehicle and push it for 5 metres, and you’re likely to get a bunch of motor vehicle operators breaking the law as well. A cycle route cannot suddenly turn into a pedestrian route (pedestrian crossing), just because it intersects a road. That’s bound to create a situation where people are riding their bikes where they shouldn’t be.

Enter the Dutch way of doing things.

In this video we have a bike path intersecting bus lanes and tram lines in Utrecht. Utrecht is a city of 300,000 people, a similar size to Canberra. The intersection serves over 20,000 vehicles (including bicycles) per day. Look how it simply… works. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if all riders were legally required to dismount.

According to the post, 33% of all trips in Utrecht are made by bicycle. Currently in Canberra, 2.5% of trips to work are made by bicycle. Measly by comparison. Imagine how much Northbourne Ave would be freed up in peak times, if there were a proper dedicated bicycle route down the median strip, and even a quarter of motor car users switched to bicycles. Especially when you take this picture into account, which shows the space that 60 push bikes, vs 60 motor vehicles, vs 60 bus seats, take up.

With proper alternative transport, those who hop out of their cars, are likely to save time… if not… they’ll certainly save money, and their health will improve. If 33% of car drivers in Canberra switched to alternative transport (when we finally get a proper alternative transport solution in place)… current road infrastructure will be significantly freed up, speeding up travel time for those who must drive.

So why is it that so many Canberrans are so opposed to bicycle solutions and other alternative transport? Why is it that any post about people who ride bicycles in this forum seems to stir up a hatred so deep, with arguments so illogical, it can almost be compared to race “debates” in Cronulla?

What’re your thoughts?

What’s Your opinion?


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Solution to “Scofflaw Cyclists”
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Postalgeek 12:02 pm 31 May 10

dvaey said :

Postalgeek said :

BenjaminL said :

On the other hand if Cyclists agreed to pay rego, then that would would mean extra funds for infrastructure such as these grand ideas. Oh but wait, you guys don’t want to do that, you just think it should be free. ok.

Well, who would’ve thunk this tired old load of tripe still had legs. Prove to me that not a single taxpayer dollar goes towards infrastructure and roads, and I’ll believe your assertion that cyclists don’t contribute towards roads.

Pending your indisputable evidence, I’ll say that anyone who pays tax, which is pretty much everyone, has paid for roads.

Thats not the argument. The argument is that those who dont pay for the privellige, shouldnt use (or at the least, not complain about) it. We have 3 cars registered at this address. If I also rode a motorbike which was unregistered, firstly its illegal, and secondly Id be in no place to complain about motorbike rights on the road.

You can perceive whatever argument you want, but feel free to join our argument whenever you want. When someone makes the spurious claim that cyclists don’t pay for the road, and I assert that cyclists fund roads through taxes, then that is entirely consistent with the argument.

dvaey said :

Maybe the better question to you, is can you prove to us any way how a cyclist, who pays taxes but uses an unregistered vehicle on the road, is different to an unregistered car driver (who also pays taxes but has not paid registration)? They both feel they have a ‘right’ to be on a ‘public’ road which they pay for with their taxes.

Well Dvaey, if you can’t see the difference I don’t know what can I say. arescarti42 makes most of the points I would make. If you want proof, maybe I can drive an unregistered car at you and you can ride an ‘unregistered’ bike at me, and maybe the differences might become apparent in the closing meters before the impact.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, you go get me some stats concerning the casualties and damage generated by bicycle riders, and I’ll have a look at the casualties and damage caused by cars on the road, and we’ll compare the two numbers and see if there’s a difference.

dvaey said :

Its no wonder drivers have a dislike for cyclists, you flaunt the law, pay nothing above your general taxes for the privellige to use the road system, and yet always seem to be complaining about wanting more rights and more restrictions on cars who actually DO (under threat of legal penalty) pay to use the roadway youre complaining about.

Who’s ‘you’? You saying all cyclists flaunt the law? Well I can just as easily say it’s no wonder people dislike car drivers because you ignore red lights (those cameras aren’t there to catch cyclists), pedestrian crossings, stop signs, giveways and double lines. You speed excessively, fail to indicate, and drive defective cars, and that’s when you’re registered. In effect, if there is a road rule, you break it. You block traffic and drive slowly in overtaking lanes. You mow down pedestrians and animals. You speed in school zones and you drive into daycare centers and crush small children, not to mention fleeing police and T-boning families. You expect massive swaths of land and homes to be bulldozed so you can get to the mall a bit faster and find a car spot. And then you destroy the roads funded by the tax payers. You smash into the lights and barriers, and you grind potholes in the road. And then you bitch and cry when you see someone else with almost zero profile or impact use the road. And you think they should pay the same as you?

And I do pay rego to use the road system. I pay rego for a great big FO TD 4WD that I’d be happy to drive in front of you in the right-hand lane, and to occupy that last parking space at work. Only I don’t. Instead it sits in the garage, and I take the bicycle instead. I’m sorry, but it seems so totally myopic and moronic to resent ‘unregistered’ cycles using the shoulder of the road when it means clearer roads and more parking spots for those drivers who whinge and complain.

Registration does stuff all to reinforce compliant behaviour on the road. Maybe the better question to you is why, when I read threads about driver behaviour in Canberra, do people never argue registration as the solution? Surely rego is the problem. Maybe we need bigger number plates. Poster size. The bad drivers must surely be unregistered? No, instead rabbit on about police presence, or red light cameras, or some other insanely expensive form of enforcement. When it comes to bicycles, suddenly registration is the magic bullet. And of course it’ll be so easy and practical to apply. But having said that, if rego is all that it takes to silence the critics, then bring it on, but it won’t shut them up.

Governments know what the real problems of the roads are. Cars. Not bicycles. That’s why cars are penalised. You can close your eyes to reality if you like, but your fuel bills will grow. Your parking fees will grow. Your rego will grow. Tolls will be introduced. There will be more traffic and less parking spots. In the meantime cyclists and public transport will continue to receive greater concessions and you’ll get angrier and angrier.

Out of interest, tell me that Medicare has never contributed to any of your medical bills, or do you have some perverse sense of entitlement to Medicare because your taxes support it?

la mente torbida 2:16 pm 28 May 10

Okay, here I go

I ride my bike 7 days a week…from this viewpoint, I find the majority of motorists/cyclists/pedestrians/dog walkers in Canberra, on the whole, are reasonable and considerate and we all share the common facilities amicably.

I also catch buses 3 to 5 days a week and find Action bus drivers, on the whole, courteous and friendly.

I also drive my car a few days during the week and again find the majority of motorists/cyclists/pedestrians courteous and considerate.

To the few motorists/cyclists/pedestrians/etc that don’t fall into the above category, I let it go and get on with life – they only annoy me for a few seconds.

OpenYourMind 6:47 pm 27 May 10

Dare I enter so late, but the question I guess that has to be asked is why do we have vehicle registration at all? I guess the main reason is that car drivers are very efficient at crashing into other cars, people, childcare centres, cyclists and other things and therefore need to be checked and monitored for the safety of other people and also to contribute to an insurance pool to cover damage for said endeavours. In a similar way, I pay $110 annual family membership for Pedal Power, partly to provide 3rd party person insurance.

So, I guess if a reasonable and easy registration system which included 3rd party person was in place for my bike, I’d consider registering my bike. If nothing else it would shut the traps of all those damn whiners that challenge my legal right to ride on the road based on some twisted concept regarding registration and what it actually pays for.

Thing is more bikes are sold each year than cars. This has been a constant for some years now. Trying to even get a percentage of these bikes registered would be a challenge and would probably create huge administrative burden, give little benefit to the community and create a policing burden where now exists now.

The other thing that’s missed in this discussion is that our Government actually does see the benefit in having more cyclists. It reduces our road congestion, makes for a healthier population, means building less car parks, reduces pollution etc. etc. If anything it would be to the advantage of our Government to pay each of us to register and ride our bikes.

Finally, if you haven’t done so and have the means to, try riding to work. I know the days that I drive my car for whatever reason, I see other bike riders and long to be back on my bike.

arescarti42 12:07 am 23 May 10

dvaey said :

Maybe the better question to you, is can you prove to us any way how a cyclist, who pays taxes but uses an unregistered vehicle on the road, is different to an unregistered car driver (who also pays taxes but has not paid registration)? They both feel they have a ‘right’ to be on a ‘public’ road which they pay for with their taxes.

Some more fundamental differences:

-The difference in wear on the road surface between 100kg of cyclist and 2000kg of car
-The difference in cost to government in providing parking space (e.g. a bike stand vs acres of asphalted carpark).
-The difference in infrastructure outlay and maintenance (e.g. a 2 metre wide bike path vs 4 lanes of grade separated freeway).
-The difference in road space taken up by a car versus a bicycle.

I guess the main retort to that argument is that vast majority of money spent by the government on the road system is to accommodate motorised traffic. I would argue that cyclists don’t really require any more infrastructure expenditure than pedestrians, unlike cars which require freeways, traffic lights overpasses etc. Thus why should a cyclist have to pay any more than a pedestrian?

dvaey 6:00 pm 22 May 10

Postalgeek said :

BenjaminL said :

On the other hand if Cyclists agreed to pay rego, then that would would mean extra funds for infrastructure such as these grand ideas. Oh but wait, you guys don’t want to do that, you just think it should be free. ok.

Well, who would’ve thunk this tired old load of tripe still had legs. Prove to me that not a single taxpayer dollar goes towards infrastructure and roads, and I’ll believe your assertion that cyclists don’t contribute towards roads.

Pending your indisputable evidence, I’ll say that anyone who pays tax, which is pretty much everyone, has paid for roads.

Thats not the argument. The argument is that those who dont pay for the privellige, shouldnt use (or at the least, not complain about) it. We have 3 cars registered at this address. If I also rode a motorbike which was unregistered, firstly its illegal, and secondly Id be in no place to complain about motorbike rights on the road.

Maybe the better question to you, is can you prove to us any way how a cyclist, who pays taxes but uses an unregistered vehicle on the road, is different to an unregistered car driver (who also pays taxes but has not paid registration)? They both feel they have a ‘right’ to be on a ‘public’ road which they pay for with their taxes.

Among the differences are that the car (bike, etc) is required by law to meet certain safety criteria, including clearly displaying identification plates and having insurance in the event of any incident or accident. Maybe the police should start setting up roadblocks on cyclepaths, to ensure cyclists are all riding safe bikes and are carrying suitable safety equipment such as lights, helmet, etc. Its no wonder drivers have a dislike for cyclists, you flaunt the law, pay nothing above your general taxes for the privellige to use the road system, and yet always seem to be complaining about wanting more rights and more restrictions on cars who actually DO (under threat of legal penalty) pay to use the roadway youre complaining about.

J Dawg 11:56 am 22 May 10

arescarti42, I’d rather trust the ABS data over your “rectange and population” method. Maybe you should find a source for your claims. ABS says the population density is 440 people, perhaps you should take this up with them?

phototext, you’re one to speak, implying (or trolling) that I break the law when you would have no idea. And I wasn’t referring to you, my comments were general comments so maybe you should seek clarification next time before just assuming that I am trying to put words in your mouth (I’m not that stupid).

phototext said :

If you are going to make stuff up, you should be prepared to cop to it and accept you are wrong in good grace when someone points it out.

Maybe you should take your own advice?

phototext 11:18 am 22 May 10

“I’m sorry, what did I make up??? My opinion?? My opinion that despite personal beliefs about laws you should accept the consequences? Wow, sorry, I didn’t realise I couldn’t make up my own mind about an issue.”

No, you decided (made stuff up) what my personal belief was without anything to base it upon. Sheesh. Perhaps you should read through the thread and show me where it is I stated that people should not face the consequences for breaking ANY law.

“I would accept a ticket for running a stop sign or speeding, cyclists (and everyone for that matter) should be prepared to face the consequences for breaking ANY law, despite your personal belief about it!!”

If you are going to make stuff up, you should be prepared to cop to it and accept you are wrong in good grace when someone points it out.

arescarti42 10:06 am 22 May 10

J Dawg said :

It says the population density of Canberra (not the ACT) is 440 people per square km. Close to wikipedia’s 428.6. I’d say wiki was pretty much on the money.

Now you actually are making stuff up. The site you link says that the population density of the Canberra SD (i.e. statistical division, not Canberra) is 440 people. The map on that site shows that the Canberra statistical division takes up the entire north eastern corner of the ACT, which among other things includes the Kowen pine forest and an area stretching 10km south of Canberra’s most southern suburb Banks.

It seems pretty clear to me that the statistical division is definitely not the same as the city, the area of the city must be smaller than the statistical division, and thus the density of the city must be higher than 440 people.

Horrid 3:10 am 22 May 10

All the usual myths, misrepresentations and stupid suggestions I see:
1. The tired, worn out myth that cyclists don’t pay to use the roads- endlessly regurgitated, as I have observed before, by the ignorant, the stupid, and the liars in the apparent hope that if you repeat the same lie endlessly it will become truth.
2. The moronic suggestions that because a minority of cyclists disobey the rules, all should be punished (which of course they would never apply to drivers).
3. The crazy idea that we should waste millions of dollars on registration systems for bicycles- money that could be spent better on a thousand different ways to improve road safety- to catch people doing the wrong thing on a method of transport that kills an innocent 3rd party perhaps a couple of times per decade.
Why can’t they just admit that they are bigots and that this is the sole reason for always attacking cyclists?

J Dawg 11:44 pm 21 May 10

arescarti42 said :

Also, if you care to take a look at the ACT planning and land authority spreadsheet that the Wikipedia article references, you’ll notice that 471km^2 of the 814.2km^2 total is comprised of rural areas, bushland and plantation forestry, which I would argue is not part of the city and is irrelevant in calculating density.

Reliable enough for you?

No.

Within a few mins of searching I found this: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3218.0~2008-09~Main+Features~Australian+Capital+Territory?OpenDocument#PARALINK1

It says the population density of Canberra (not the ACT) is 440 people per square km. Close to wikipedia’s 428.6. I’d say wiki was pretty much on the money.

phototext said :

That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

“despite your personal belief about it!!”

Now you’re just making stuff up.

Ummmmm last time I checked having an opinion or calling someone out on a ‘fact’ isn’t trolling, directly going after someone for a reaction (such as “you must always obey the law then”) is.

I’m sorry, what did I make up??? My opinion?? My opinion that despite personal beliefs about laws you should accept the consequences? Wow, sorry, I didn’t realise I couldn’t make up my own mind about an issue.

phototext 9:06 pm 21 May 10

“(Damn, I really shouldn’t be feeding the trolls…)”

That’s the pot calling the kettle black.

“despite your personal belief about it!!”

Now you’re just making stuff up.

arescarti42 7:58 pm 21 May 10

J Dawg said :

Oh that’s cool, when it comes down to it I’d rather believe arescarti42 rather than wikipedia because wikipedia must be wrong because arescarti42 said it was. Seriously, if you want to go claiming wikipedia is wrong and then suggest your own figures are more accurate, you had better bring reliable sources with you.

…..consider the following. A rectangle 40km long by 20km wide has an area of 800km^2. Now, look at any map of the ACT and it is fairly obvious that Canberra is less than 40km at its longest, and substantially less than 20km at its widest. Thus wikipedia must be wrong.

Also, if you care to take a look at the ACT planning and land authority spreadsheet that the Wikipedia article references, you’ll notice that 471km^2 of the 814.2km^2 total is comprised of rural areas, bushland and plantation forestry, which I would argue is not part of the city and is irrelevant in calculating density.

Reliable enough for you?

J Dawg 6:52 pm 21 May 10

phototext said :

Which means you always stop at a stop sign and drive at the speed limit?

If I did I wouldn’t try to justify it. I never said that you aren’t allowed to break laws or that you shouldn’t, but if you do you should realise that it IS the law and you can’t justify breaking it. I would accept a ticket for running a stop sign or speeding, cyclists (and everyone for that matter) should be prepared to face the consequences for breaking ANY law, despite your personal belief about it!!

(Damn, I really shouldn’t be feeding the trolls…)

phototext 5:26 pm 21 May 10

“Personally, I really don’t care whether you follow the law or break it, but if you are going to break it please don’t try to justify it. The law is the law, it applies to everyone.”

Which means you always stop at a stop sign and drive at the speed limit?

J Dawg 4:15 pm 21 May 10

arescarti42 said :

Wikipedia is frequently wrong about areas and population densities. The Canberra urban area is conservatively more like 300-400km^2, and the urban density more like 900-1100 people per Km^2. Still, most parts of Utrecht appear to be less than 4km away from the centre, unlike Canberra where I’d be confident saying more than half of the population live in the vast swaths of suburbia more than 10km from the city.

Oh that’s cool, when it comes down to it I’d rather believe arescarti42 rather than wikipedia because wikipedia must be wrong because arescarti42 said it was. Seriously, if you want to go claiming wikipedia is wrong and then suggest your own figures are more accurate, you had better bring reliable sources with you.

Now, in this, as in any other cycling thread, we have cyclists trying to justify that breaking the law is okay “because the law is stupid and some place in Europe does it better.” By that logic, I should drive 180km/h down the Federal Hwy because they have autobahns in Germany. But I don’t.

Personally, I really don’t care whether you follow the law or break it, but if you are going to break it please don’t try to justify it. The law is the law, it applies to everyone.

arescarti42 3:47 pm 21 May 10

harvyk1 said :

According to Wikipedia, Canberra’s area is 814.2km2. Utrecht is only 99.32km2. Also the population density in Utrecht is 3068 people per km2, whilst Canberra is only 428 people per km2.

Wikipedia is frequently wrong about areas and population densities. The Canberra urban area is conservatively more like 300-400km^2, and the urban density more like 900-1100 people per Km^2. Still, most parts of Utrecht appear to be less than 4km away from the centre, unlike Canberra where I’d be confident saying more than half of the population live in the vast swaths of suburbia more than 10km from the city. That is the real reason that cycling is not a realistic option for most people here.

I do believe however that with some political will we can make public transport an actual transport option rather than a social service for people who can’t drive.

Cletus 3 3:41 pm 21 May 10

By the way, the issue is that the law is there for a reasonable reason. Allowing cyclists to go slowly over crossings is reasonable as well, but in practice it is a grey area and is harder to enforce or to judge (how slow must a cyclist go in order to give the motorist sufficient time to react? do you really think that you know the right answer to this? how about all the other cyclists?)

Now I think most people are pragmatic. If you really do take extra care over the crossings (and most do), then not many will care if you don’t dismount. And I’m sure coppers generally turn a blind eye (or might give you a caution). Really the same situation with jaywalking laws. There for a good reason, but if you’re careful and use common sense, it’s usually not a problem.

The problem are the cyclists who speed across the crossings (which does happen), not giving motorists enough time to react, which puts everyone in danger. This would be like jay walkers who expect cars to give way to them when crossing the road — abusing the knowledge that nobody really wants to hit another human being with their car for some slight convenicence to themselves.

Cletus 3 3:34 pm 21 May 10

Sgt. your “response” to the discussion is moronic, arrogant, and shows you completely misunderstand the issue. I suggest (from that, and other posts from you on the subject) that you are one of the 1%er cyclists giving the rest of them a bad name.

Postalgeek 3:27 pm 21 May 10

BenjaminL said :

On the other hand if Cyclists agreed to pay rego, then that would would mean extra funds for infrastructure such as these grand ideas. Oh but wait, you guys don’t want to do that, you just think it should be free. ok.

Well, who would’ve thunk this tired old load of tripe still had legs. Prove to me that not a single taxpayer dollar goes towards infrastructure and roads, and I’ll believe your assertion that cyclists don’t contribute towards roads. Pending your indisputable evidence, I’ll say that anyone who pays tax, which is pretty much everyone, has paid for roads. In fact, not only do tax-paying cyclists pay for roads, they also contribute to the Medicare funds that countless lazy slobs drain due to weight-related ailments.

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