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Thoughts of a Driver/Cyclist and Pedestrian

By TheObserver - 21 January 2010 52

Over the last number of years I have both driven to work or cycled.  Also, like a lot of folk I do the park and ride option – and have the pushie on the carrier, park in the Triangle or somewhere else where I don’t have to pay the exorbitant parking fees that keep Stanhope and his crew in the manner to which they are accustomed. 

On that wise, whenever the redoubtable Chief Minister is doing his regular blether session on Chief Minister talkback (or rather Chief Minister dominating the airwaves, interrupting and not answering the question) he never ever indicates that he will give up his free parking and, well, you, know, lead by example, when the Parliamentary Triangle becomes a further source of $$$$ to his administration.

But I digress.  Firstly let me say that there is a harmony on the roads between on-road cyclists and motorists.  There are those cyclists who seem determined to die under the wheels of a car, and those few drivers perfectly happy to facilitate that outcome.  Every morning I see the Armstrong wannabes weaving in and out of moving blocks of traffic – the cars are going 60-80kmh – the cyclists seem to want to do the same speed – largley by coming into congress with the cars – and they will achieve that speed, albeit for a short period of time before being turned into a piece of corned silverside.  It is but a matter of time.  But how often do we see the cyclists blame the drivers and vice versa?  I have news for both groups – for the most part it is the two wheeled road users that are to blame  -at least on my observations of relative behaviour in the last 5 years.

Me?  I don’t ride on the roads as I don’t have suicidal tendencies.  Nor am I so arrogant to presume that I can or should hold up traffic, ride three abreast or indeed as part of a pelleton blocking one lane of a 3 lane road and expect cars to take the evasive action.  And you know, the overwhelming majority of drivers do, without complaint except for an imprecation perhaps, through clenched teeth.  There is an expectation, it seems, that cars should make emergency lane changes to accomodate cyclists.  For mine, the cyclists should be single file and be prepared to give way or pull over rather than have a less manouverable, heavier and faster vehicle swerving about.

And how often do we see lanes blocked by joyriding cyclists, all lycra’d up and pedalling like hell with grim determination and an aura of absolute entitlement and invincibility?

 I was taught as a safety issue to not ride 2 (or more) abreast on the roads.  Yet there is a couple in the Belconnen area who seem to think it fine, in peak traffic, to regularly ride in the Oh So Sexy lycras 2 abreast and basically block traffic.  Not only is this selfish and arrogant it is downright dangerous, not only to the cyclists but other road users.  Has it occurred to these people that only the car behind them can see them – the one behind that car probably can’t – it is a tragedy waiting to happen.

So I stick to the cyclepaths and the shared footpaths.  A lot of other cyclists do the same.  And apart from those pedestrians who seem to think it OK to walk along in the middle of the path with the earphones in and therefore incapable of hearing a bell until the last minute – and then upon hearing it jumping to the right instead of the left- the pedestrians are a pretty good lot – even though they have to put up with the antics of an awful lot of fellow cyclists who behave on the shared paths toward pedestrians a bit like a Commodore full of bogans behaves toward a cyclist on the Parkway – appallingly.

Scarcely a day goes by without my witnessing a cyclist passing so close to a pedestrian (who is keeping to the left, let the record show) that you’d swear if he had a car door he’d open it for 1o points.  Then there are those oncoming cyclists who want to get past an annoying pedestrian and cross to the right and almost collide head on with pedestrians (or indeed cyclists) coming in the opposite direction.  One such intrepid came within a foot of wiping out 2 kids from a family who were keeping to the left and the father had to snatch the kids out the way.  The cyclist gave them a mouthful as he went by.  And I see this at least every other day in one form or another.

I’ve even had one cyclist dismount and want to go a knuckle dance with me after he yelled at me and my then young kid to “get out of the effing way” on a shared path.  This idiot would have to have been at least 65 and would walk around in the shower to get wet.  I managed to persuade the silly old fool to get back on his bike and act his age.  He was wearing the full lycra thing too.  Maybe it is the lycra that does it – constricts the blood flow to the Commonsense Sector of the brain….maybe a neurosurgeon could tell us.

What rankles the most is that the behaviour of these morons makes life hard for the minority that are trying to do the right thing.  You know, the ones who don’t run red lights, who don’t block lanes, who make eye contact with and give a cheery wave to drivers who let us cross roads and who otherwise ride with courtesy and consideration for our fellow users (mind you we are probably the same people who in cars indicate before changing lanes, don’t tailgate or speed and otherwise stay out of drama).

At the end of the day it comes down to manners – and having observed for a fair period now – every morning and afternoon, the behaviour of the cyclists is by far the worse.  Most of the drivers on the morning and evening run are pretty good – although there is the odd one who does the weaver bird trick, tailgating and carrying one – but they are outnumbered by the two wheeled variety.

Do we ever see much enforcement?  Nope.  Wonder if this has something to do with the voting predilections of members of the various cycling groups around the place?

I have come to the conclusion as a result of 5 years observation that cyclists are a bit like lawyers and bank managers – its only 99% of them that give the rest a bad name.

What’s Your opinion?

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52 Responses to
Thoughts of a Driver/Cyclist and Pedestrian
Mike Bessenger 11:13 am 22 Jan 10

I could go on for hours in response to this article. But I can already see the the response’s from the OP are going to be one sided and immature. So I won’t bother.

Sgt.Bungers 11:08 am 22 Jan 10

Your post demonstrates why we need shared spaces as opposed to streets, roads and shared paths. (As I’ve said before, not on main roads, but on residential and city streets.)

Your post also demonstrates the elitist attitude that many people poses as soon as they get behind the wheel of a car. Calling cyclists “arrogant” for “holding up traffic”, is a perfect example. Bicycle riders do not hold up traffic, they are part traffic. IMHO, any driver/rider of a motor vehicle who expects not to be held up by someone if they’re not in a car, is arrogant and selfish.

On high speed roads, on road cycling is a bad idea. It is dangerous. Despite this, ACT Gov has implemented on road cycling on high speed roads as it was cheap. Even in the most cycle friendly countries in the world, bicycle riders are not permitted on high speed roads. Instead of on road cycling, a direct, viable cycle route must be available for cyclists to utilise alongside or near main roads, rather than the scenic, indirect bike paths Canberra tends to have.

Yet in Europe’s bike friendly cities, with high speed motorways where cyclists are not permitted, when a driver turns onto a residential/surface street, the speed limit is 30km/h, there are ample cycle facilities that give priority over cyclists. Cycle facilities that were built for cyclists, not just tacked onto a road that was designed for people in motor vehicles to travel at high speed as we have here. Traffic lights are synchronized for cyclists riding at 15km/h so they don’t have to stop. No more riotact posts about cyclists red light running! People choosing to drive cars in these areas must cope with this. This is the norm. Road rage is low. Not in Canberra though.

Australia, Canberra in particular, is stuck in the motor vehicle golden age. It is unsustainable, we cannot continue building cities and suburbs that completely rely on the car. It causes problems. We are officially the fattest country in the world for a reason.

The fact that people are expected not to utilise their own residential streets, unless they are in a car, so as to keep the street clear for people in cars to travel at 50km/h, is IMHO, disgusting. Yet, I will sound like a lunatic for suggesting this, as we’ve become so accustomed to it in Australia.

Australia is still building roads, and we are still using roads, with a 1950’s attitude. Look at Dunlop. A new suburb, with wide open streets. Sticking to 50km/h requires concentrating on the speedo. The fact that the ACT Gov is still building open, wide residential streets, despite overwhelming international evidence that wide open residential streets are dangerous, is nothing short of downright ignorance. This MUST change.

Slowing drivers down further in residential streets, by designing streets with all road users in mind, is not just about safety, but also community. A quote from the living streets page on wikipedia:

“For much of the twentieth century, streets were designed to ensure traffic flow, but it has become apparent that streets have many social and recreational functions which are severely impaired by fast car traffic. The living street is an attempt to design for all the functions of streets.”

Plenty of photographic examples of shared spaces from around Europe can be found here:

Also read:

For anyone thinking I must ride a bicycle, I don’t. I would love to, however the agressive, backward, bogan, anti-bike attitude adopted by too many Canberran motorists and city planners, means cycling is not a viable option for me.

TheObserver 11:08 am 22 Jan 10

Talking about yourself there Clown Killer? A troll is someone who tends not to focus on the issues but aims to be offensive to provoke a reaction. Either engage sensibly or get back in your box, eh?

Hacktually when driving I do try to show cyclists the courtesy, as a fellow road user that I would expect if on two wheels or four. Unfortunately there are far too many (and on my observations they ARE a majority) of cyclists who treat other road users, and pedestrians (to whom they are legally obliged to give way) with (aggressive) contempt. And I will not shrink from saying so.

colourful sydney rac 11:02 am 22 Jan 10

Can someone give me the gist of this manifesto? is it a 1000+ word troll? if so I admire the dedication but I believe that trolling should be short and sweet to catch a good fishie.

icantbelieveitsnotbu 11:01 am 22 Jan 10

Clown Killer said :

Another mindless troll. Learn to drive and the cyclists wont be an issue.

and cyclist could learn to obey the road rulesand cars won’t be an issue… All in all, i’m a bit over this topic on here.

canucksfan 11:01 am 22 Jan 10

Glad to see you have the obvious answer Clown Killer. I have spent nearly 20 yrs driving and cycling on the roads of Canberra and although not to the extreme (99%) views of THEOBSERVER, have to agree that I am a lot happier with the attitude and thoughtfulness of my fellow drivers as opposed to fellow cyclists.
Firstly Most drivers obety the road rules as they had to read a book and pass a test. For some reason when getting on a bicyce ‘some; people either forget or seem to think these rules do not apply to them.
I agree with THEOBSERVER regarding the pelletons that are becoming increasingly more abundant on our roads and highways. An incident from an early morning mid August last year comes to mind when driving north on Barton Highway and wanting to turn left into Ellenborough through the light fog i noticed a large group of cyclists also travelling north. Maybe 50 of lycra clad cyclists, not the athletes but the ones who think wearing the lycra will make them look like athletes. This ‘pelleton’ was travelling at about 15km/h single file down the bikelane and even though i saw them and slowed down accordingly i had to brake in the left lane of the highway and wait about 1 minute to let them all go past. I know 60 seconds is not a long time but at 6am on a foggy morning noone wants to be sitting still on an 80km/h road. I used my emergency lights and l;uckily there were no other cars but any vehicle that might have come bustling over the rise would have had to do one of those drastic manouvres THEOBSERVER was talking about. I like that i can ride on the side of the road as these lanes are a lot more direct than the paths but i also understand that if i am going up a long hill and crossing a exit lane i either put in the extra effort to get across it faster or i slow right down or even stop to let the cars past. I have a mirror on my bike and notice that so many of the Canberra riders who use the roads don’t. I think they should be made mandatory as some cyclists need to be more aware of what is going on around them.

troll-sniffer 11:00 am 22 Jan 10

I hereby sniff at Clown Killer whose comment did not add one iota to the discussion at hand.

Holden Caulfield 10:38 am 22 Jan 10

I encountered a pedestrian on the road this morning, in the left lane walking in the same direction as I was driving. She was 1-2m away from the kerb and had headphones plugged in that, presumably, affected her hearing of the traffic around her. Which might explain why she didn’t hear me approach. Either that, or she did hear me and felt it was still okay to be walking on the road in the way of approaching vehicles.

So, never mind the trolling by the OP, even though I might agree with most of it, haha, I think we all need to realise that the world has a certain number of dickheads intent on making a nuisance of themselves, no matter what the situation happens to be. Best be prepared to deal with such folk on a daily basis and be ready to have a nice deep sigh and relax a little…

spinact 10:32 am 22 Jan 10

To sum up, most people suck.

There are way to many people out there who need to pay more attention to what’s going on around them, need to take responsibility for their own actions and generally just need to take a chill pill

outdoormagoo 10:22 am 22 Jan 10

One such intrepid came within a foot of wiping out 2 kids from a family who were keeping to the left and the father had to snatch the kids out the way. The cyclist gave them a mouthful as he went by.

I had one of these such morons actually run into my son as we were walking around the lake (on the left side of the path and my son and wife actually walked off the side of path to make room for him to pass)and then jump off his bike and proceed to have a go at a seven year old. When my wife said ‘Excuse me’ he had a go at her and pushed the pram out of her hands which contavined our 10 week old daughter.

I am 6’4 and 115kg and fiercely protective, so needless to say, I got my back up and he proceeded to push me twice then try and punch me. Well about 45 seconds later his bike was in the lake and he followed it not long after that. Of course, I was just giving him a hand to get to his bike.

I also must congratulate bike manufacturers, those bikes are really light. It flew for about 3 metres before it hit the water, but that Lycra wasn’t the best thing to go swimming in.

Clown Killer 10:04 am 22 Jan 10

Another mindless troll. Learn to drive and the cyclists wont be an issue.

TheObserver 9:18 am 22 Jan 10

Hey Snarky – you actually COUNTED the words? Get a life man…..

And Braddon Boy – I am talking about the ones that I have watched -whether it means all I don’t know – but I would give a fair guess that there are a fair whack of them.

Having said all that I do agree there are a large number of cyclists who do try to do the right thing – and I have seen them too. But the moron fringe are becoming ever more.

H1NG0 9:06 am 22 Jan 10

Best cyclist post ever. It sums up the attitude of cyclists in Canberra perfectly.

Snarky 8:31 am 22 Jan 10

TheObserver says “Over the last number… (plus another 1111 words)”

Bit windy in here this morning, eh?

Braddon Boy 8:17 am 22 Jan 10

I’m sure this post will bring up the same arguments regarding the rivalry between cyclists and drivers that we have all seen far too often on this site.

I’d just like to say, before the slinging match starts, that I think your observation of MOST of the cyclists acting like idiots is a little unfair.

I will agree that there are a higher proportion of moron riders on the roads than drivers, but I think they are still far and away the minority. All I can say is, it’s probably just a case of noticing the bad apples then extrapolating that to the entire population. I’d go as far to say that it’s only about 15% of riders that have a death wish and flout the laws.

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