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The greater danger faced by cyclists in Canberra

By Tim Gavel 24 September 2018 42
Stromlo Criterium circuit. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Stromlo Criterium circuit. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Cyclists returning to the Stromlo Criterium circuit after the winter hiatus from racing will be confronted with the stark realities of the dangers associated with competing in the upcoming criterium season.

Forget about the perils of cycling versus cars on the roads. No, public enemy number one within the cycling community which races on the Stromlo Criterium are kangaroos.

Having almost been cleaned up a couple of times over the years with kangaroos coming from the bushes onto the track at dusk, I can vouch for the danger.

Kangaroos appear to be increasing in numbers near the Stromlo Criterium circuit. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

Kangaroos appear to be increasing in numbers near the Stromlo Criterium circuit. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

The numbers appear to have increased considerably because of the drought; the lure of green grass on the running track is enticing. To get from bushes to the cross-country track they have to go through the criterium circuit, thus creating a problem.

The increased numbers of the kangaroos has led to a sharp increase in the numbers of crashes involving cyclists at speed, either crashing into roos or crashing to avoid them. Organisers have been forced to send wranglers down to the bottom of the circuit to persuade the grazers to stay put, while in many cases races are slowed down.

So what is the solution?

Parts of the Tuggeranong Parkway have a fence to limit the number of kangaroos creating mayhem with cars. By all reports, it has led to a sharp decline in the number of collisions between cars and roos.

Why not a fence around the criterium circuit?

A campaign driven by Canberra’s cycling community is gathering momentum to encourage the ACT Government to at least have a look at the problem, with the hope that a fence will be built.

At this stage, it is unclear how much it will cost but the priority should be the safety of cyclists using the track.

Possibly clouding the issue are the original plans for Stromlo Park, which included a longer criterium track and a 15 to 20-kilometre closed circuit road course within the park.

An extension of the cycling tracks appears to be off the agenda so the focus can be on the existing facility.

There have been some concerns that a fenced track would imply that it will be exclusive and not open to the casual rider outside times in which it is being used for competition.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim is to ensure the safety of all cyclists, not just those competing in races.

To my way of thinking, the solution appears to be obvious.

Signs at Stromlo Criterium warning about kangaroos. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Signage at Stromlo Criterium. Photo: Tim Gavel.

The erection of the safety warnings is a start as it indicates that the government also understands the dangers presented by kangaroos at Stromlo Park.


What’s Your opinion?


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42 Responses to
The greater danger faced by cyclists in Canberra
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TimboinOz 5:14 pm 28 Sep 18

The sense of entitlement among cyclists in this town is manifest! The fault of a green-dominated government. The two are obviously ignorant of physics (relative kinetic energy levels).

Another way to quickly confirm their sense of entitlement is to walk on the shared walking tracks, where you will rarely hear a bike bell, IF they have one (it is the law to have one and USE it).

You will also regularly experience the dangers of the relative disparity of kinetic energy between person+bike doing 20k/h plus and a person doing 6K/h. 20K squared is 400 and 6k squared is 36.

IME VERY few cyclists on these paths seem aware of or to care about this disparity NOR there limited ability to avoid us walkers.

To me the parallels in risk profiles between roads with vehicle and cyclists, and the shared paths and trails including Mt Stromlo make the Government’s policies and penalties re cyclists and vehicles on roads, seriously and morally questionable.

Just one weekend’s patrolling by the ACT Police’s bike squad on our shared paths and in our nature reserves would net a whole bunch of fines, charges and court appearances, on cyclists. And about time, too!

    bmewzed 4:31 pm 13 Nov 18

    The description of shared paths as “shared WALKING paths” pretty much sums up the objectivity of this person’s point of view. Doesn’t this display a sense of entitlement? It’s very true (and rather obvious) that people walk at a slower speed than a bike normally travels. Does that suggest that all bikes must travel at walking pace? No, the simple solution is the same as that adopted by reasonable people on the road. Keep to the left and don’t behave erratically. Absolutely, cyclists should warn of their approach from behind (as I always do) with a bell. Often this seems to be taken as an act of provocation by walkers. You can’t win can you? People on bikes are told by motorists to get off the road. Strangely, those same motorists seem to be on the shared paths telling the bike riders to vacate that space as well! Ah….now I know where the idea for mountain bikes came from!! Oops, it seems we have to give way to the ‘roos there as well.
    ; )

mtb_rider 8:06 pm 26 Sep 18

The roos are also further up the hill in the MTB trails. Please extend your fence to include all these trails too. Thanks!
Oh… and an openable roof that can be closed during magpie season.

Matt Donnelly 10:42 am 25 Sep 18

I don’t want to pay for that and, judging by the comments below, many other Rioters don’t want to pay for it, either. If the campaign to fence-in the track is such a popular one then a GoFundMe page is all you need to achieve your goal. Best of luck!

Greg Haughey 9:05 am 25 Sep 18

Why are you riding at dusk? We motorists know that this is when kangaroos are most active and avoid driving at this time or slow down. Cyclists should do the same.

Lorraine Adrian 8:52 am 25 Sep 18

Well, Tim...where would you like the Roos to go when you’ve fenced it off? And, contrary to most Canberra cyclists riding at dusk or at night, of course you wear reflective clothes and backpacks to avoid being wiped out?

Anthony Markert 3:21 am 25 Sep 18

Something to think about if planning a cycling holiday in ACT as am I.

local1 10:41 pm 24 Sep 18

What’s that Skip? They should build a roo-path?

chewy14 9:06 pm 24 Sep 18

Clearly it’s time to put a speed limit on the track to protect these animals and ensure safety for the kangaroos.

Michael Doyle 7:55 pm 24 Sep 18

👍 Frankly, I remain in two minds on this topic.😃

Ben Broadhurst 6:57 pm 24 Sep 18

We need fences to keep cyclists off our roads!

John Mackay 6:49 pm 24 Sep 18

Magpies are a much bigger problem for me.... no injuries yet but they frighten the life out of me!!!...one hit my helmet 4 times today 😬😬😬

Alan Rose 6:47 pm 24 Sep 18

Build a wall and make the roos pay for it

Capital Retro 6:29 pm 24 Sep 18

By all means build a fence but make sure Canberra’s cosseted cyclists pay for it.

Claire de Lune 6:18 pm 24 Sep 18

Ride more slowly for your safety, the general public (foot traffic) and animals...

Peter McDonald 1:41 pm 24 Sep 18

Don’t ride at dusk. Simple.

Doug Heffernan 1:13 pm 24 Sep 18

Ask the Roos to take a 1.5 mtre gap when passing you.

Aldith Graves 11:22 am 24 Sep 18

Roos are always a problem at dawn & dusk. Drivers & cyclists should know this & drive & ride accordingly...No need for fences surely

Jane Skillicorn 10:47 am 24 Sep 18

Hey Tim, don't go cycling or driving from when dusk is approaching and beyond in the Bourke area. Pending nightfall hearlds the arrival if wall-to-wall immovable roos!

julie hart 9:44 am 24 Sep 18

Dear Tim,
I noticed your article re kangaroo danger to Canberra bike-riders, which was picked up on ABC TV this morning. Having been waiting for news of the arrival in Canberra of 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner -International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons ICAN. Melbourne based ICAN set out early in September, on bicycles, headed to Canberra with the Nobel Peace Medal in one of the riders back pack. The group was due in Canberra last Thursday, in time for the UN’s International Day of Peace on 21st September. Have they arrived safely please? I haven’t seen any news coverage of the event, and I don’t have a facebook account.
Sincerely, Julie

    Tim Gavel 2:30 pm 26 Sep 18

    Julie
    I can tell you that the medal arrived safe and sound in Canberra last week. I officiated at a function on Friday at the Canberra Peace Bell where the medal was displayed.

Tanya Sargeant 9:28 am 24 Sep 18

People whine about cyclists being on the roads but don't want them to be able to safely ride at Stromlo?

    Chele Forest 9:55 am 24 Sep 18

    To be fair, it used to be a forest that all canberrans and roos could use. If we keep stealing their land from under them, where else do we expect the roos to go? Maybe we need to start looking at how people are impacting on the safety of the roos and not the other way around

    Tanya Sargeant 11:12 am 24 Sep 18

    Chele Forest is not safe for them to be hit by bikes either, so maybe we should fence for their safety as much as the cyclists. We have national parks so we don't need to give back the city just yet.

    Peter McDonald 1:44 pm 24 Sep 18

    Chele Forest yes, buy a bail for the Roos to keep them away from the roads and cycle ways.

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