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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
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Helen 3:53 pm 01 Feb 10

With regards to the cyclist vs. motorist debate – there are bad apples in every bunch, the few spoil it for the many on both sides.

Slightly off topic, however…

Sgt.Bungers said :

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.

I would like to see these wide, open streets in Dunlop of which you speak. The only “wide” streets I have seen there would be Ginninderra Dr and Kerrigan Dr – one of which is 80km/h and the other 60km/h. In the area in which I lived, the roads are incredibly narrow – you cannot expect to keep all four wheels on the road while passing someone coming the other way, especially if they’re in a 4WD or van for example. Not only are the roads narrow, they’re fairly windy and it can be difficult to see around the corner. On such tight roads the only way to stay on your side of the road around a corner or through an intersection is if you go up the kerb – many people don’t bother and just drive straight down the middle, who cares if there’s someone else coming? If someone is parked on the “nature strip” you have to go onto the wrong side of the road – and if your neighbour is having a party you have to hope that the attendees know how to park properly or your whole street can become effectively blocked. When people move in and out the trucks block the whole street.
These types of streets are found in suburbs of a similar age – Amaroo, Nicholls, Ngunnawal, Palmerston – to name the few I’ve had experience driving around. Driving around older suburbs such as Holt, Spence, Macgregor feels like luxury due to the wide roads. It’s not a case of “sticking to 50km/h”, you’re lucky if you even get to 40km/h!

WalkTheTalk 3:11 pm 27 Jan 10

TheObserver, don’t take it personally. My intention (as perhaps those of others) was to label your comments (in summary – branding the majority of cyclists as poor) ‘trolling’. Others by extension, will perhaps label you a troll. To my mind continually or habitually trolling is what constitutes being a troll. I think you’ve got a little way to go yet.

Read the ‘Usage’ part (at the bottom) of this site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet) it gives a good summation of ‘trolling’.

I note that you take time to hit back at those who oppose your views but don’t actually reply to or argue with their position or points they make. Ergo it is the case that you too “cannot deal with thoughts that conflict with your own”.

Oh, and nice work pointing the finger at the moderators for the content of your post! Why should we take responsibility for what we write? If you have any issue/s with anything I’ve said here, please inform the moderators immediately, because apparently it’s not my fault.

I hope in your next post you actually take the time to address the real issues being raised by others in reference to your posts (ie. stay on topic and be open to the opinions/replies of others). In return you should reasonably expect the same.

Bosworth 1:23 pm 27 Jan 10

TheObserver said :

To those who called me a troll – bear in mind, ye wise Gen Yers – I originated this post – it had to go through review and moderation – thusly have a crack at the site owners/moderators if you have a problem and perhaps explain why you cannot deal with thoughts that conflict with your own.

lol

TheObserver 12:00 pm 27 Jan 10

To those who called me a troll – bear in mind, ye wise Gen Yers – I originated this post – it had to go through review and moderation – thusly have a crack at the site owners/moderators if you have a problem and perhaps explain why you cannot deal with thoughts that conflict with your own.

WalkTheTalk 10:31 am 26 Jan 10

Firstly, ‘Jim Jones’ at 29 – spot on mate! Anecdote vs fact – pure gold! +1.

This old chestnut. Always feel obliged to wade into this topic (after sighing loudly).

‘TheObserver’ – have you read the post on RA a month or so ago about the cyclist being hit by an apple thrown by a motorist (or any one of the tonnes of threads on this matter)? The points I made in that thread still stand. It boils down to the need for both motorists and cyclists to not only exercise their rights – but more importantly their responsibilities, when out and about.

We read that cyclists and motorists should do this, that and the other. In short, all they SHOULD do is treat each other with common courtesy (I know you state this above – but your point gets over-shadowed by your broad generalisations).

You seem to contradict yourself here as well. In your original post you close with your “99%” comment which you later claim is ironic. To many this comment is not clearly ironic, and to many it’s imflammatory (how you are surprised some people would find this so after you state the majority of cyclists behave poorly escapes me) hence the “troll” reference. Label a majority – expect a backlash.

Also, as you state you are a cyclist yourself – labelling the majority of fellow cyclists poor riders (or similar) is poor form. How many times have you made a mental note of good cycling behaviour? Few I’m sure.

If you only look for the worst in cyclists (or anything for that matter) that’s all you’ll see.

thy_dungeonman 10:05 pm 25 Jan 10

Every post I read on this site seems to think that the wearing of Lycra is as something to attack cyclists with even the casual cyclists. Cyclists who wear Lycra are not simply doing so becuase they think it looks good or becuase the professionals wear it. There are several reasons that I will list here so that henceforth people may understand why it is worn.

1.It soaks up sweat and breaths and the right type can also be warm if the weather requires.

2. It is aerodynamic and does not get tuck in parts of a bicycle.

3. It is padded and has seams that cannot be felt.

4. It is highly visible.

Know one can probably understand the benefits of Lycra without having rode a fair distance of more than a few kilometers, after riding 13km in jeans you would understand how much more comfortable it is. So please stop the Lycra hating, you might as well call cyclists stupid for wearing helmets or pedestrians for using prams rather than carrying their children. Also as a cyclist, pedestrian (a fast one too) and a motorist, I have to say that a fell the most marginalized while riding a bike. Pedestrians can go anywhere short of being stopped by a fence a road or a building, motorists have a massive network of maintained two-lane roads reaching the entirety of the city with plenty of signage and signals, whereas cyclists simply straddle half of the footpaths and a tiny strip of the road, caught between pedestrians and motorists, plus they are using the energy from their body to power their vehicles which makes navigation and traffic negotiation much harder than when driving a car or walking. This in no way excuses any of the rude behavior mention above, but it would be nice if people thought about the unique difficulties that cycling poses when sharing the roads/footpaths with them.

niftydog 5:46 pm 25 Jan 10

You all must live in a parallel universe because I very rarely see cyclists buzzing pedestrians, blocking lanes or running the crossing-gauntlet. I can’t even remember the last time I was significantly delayed or inconvenienced by a cyclist whilst I was driving.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen – there’s bad eggs in every walk of life – but some of you make it sound like it’s a daily or weekly occurrence which I find very hard to believe.

troll-sniffer said :

…the problem with the rule about cyclists demounting and walking across pedestrian crossings…
…I’ll bet you 70% are not aware of the rule…

Mate, you try jumping off your bike and walking across every crossing in morning peak hour and see how many friends you make.

Most car drivers are similarly ignorant about that and many other road rules.

godot64 9:30 pm 24 Jan 10

Grrrr said :

cleo said :

I just wish the cyclists would follow the road rules, and get off the bikes before going across a pedestrian crossing!

I just wish cars would use their indicators properly!

Sounds petty, doesn’t it? You might say it’s different but both can have lethal consequences.

Anyway, it’s a shame that so many people don’t know the road rules, let alone follow them. However, in the case of pedestrian crossings the rule for bikes is poorly thought out. There’s 3 schools of thought:

1) Yours. However, it’s pointless for cyclists to dismount to cross an empty road. If traffic is around, it takes longer for the cyclist to cross the crossing by foot, and cars are held up longer.
2) Middle ground: Cyclists stop at crossing and give way to cars, who may choose to wait for the cyclist.
3) Cyclist crosses regardless: Some jerk in a car asserts their right of way, but breaks the number 1 road rule – avoid collisions – by hitting the cyclist.

It would make sense for the road rules to be changed to 1) allow cyclists to ride across but they have to give way to cars, or 2) recognise that cyclists are in a way both vehicles and pedestrians and to give them right of way. Perhaps with a caveat about maximum speed of 10kmh within 10m of the crossing and on it, so cars have warning of the bike crossing.

I’m also in favour of bikes being allowed to treat stop signs as give way signs.

“And there in lies a large part of the problem. Bikes aren’t “in a way both vehicles and pedestrians”, except in minds of the deluded. They are vehicles, easily capable of speeds which have the potential to be lethal to rider and/or pedestrian alike. Cyclists wanting to have a bit each way is just stupid, blatant ignorance. As for the suggestion that stop signs shouldn’t mean stop for cyclists, wtf is that all about!? Are you totally deranged?”

“It’s reasoning like that that leads to cyclists riding through red lights, or riding far too quickly on footpaths in shopping and business areas or weaving in and out of traffic as it suits them. Before you judge me a troll, I don’t actually mind cyclists on the roads, although I give them a lot of room. But if they do something stupid, they will come off far, far worse than I will on my motorcycle with the protective gear that I habitually wear. However, I think way too many of Canberra’s cyclists are a real threat to pedestrians, even those of us that keep our eyes open and don’t use ipods. Frankly, many of Canberra’s cyclists are just really, really bad riders, so the basic premise of the Observer’s post is valid.”

tillyard 5:31 pm 24 Jan 10

outdoormagoo said :

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.

Are you joking?? That would’ve been hilarious! What a great story, I’d love to see that sort of outcome more often! That’s pretty frightening though, you can’t even go for a walk around the lake without troubles. They’d rather kill a young kid than move over slightly to avoid them.

imarty 8:57 pm 23 Jan 10

Re the above post by Grrrr, F#ck me dead, rational and logical thought on RA.
What next???

troll-sniffer 6:42 pm 23 Jan 10

I think you’ll find that the problem with the rule about cyclists demounting and walking across pedestrian crossings is one of education and signage.

If the government was serious about getting this road rule obeyed, they would put a sign at each end of every pedestrian crossing staing ‘Cyclist Must Dismount and Walk – Penalty $50’ or something similar.

You take a random sample of cyclists in Canberra and I’ll bet you 70% are not aware of the rule concerning the pedestrian crossings, especially the casual occasional cyclist and the visiting students etc.

Grrrr 10:16 am 23 Jan 10

cleo said :

I just wish the cyclists would follow the road rules, and get off the bikes before going across a pedestrian crossing!

I just wish cars would use their indicators properly!

Sounds petty, doesn’t it? You might say it’s different but both can have lethal consequences.

Anyway, it’s a shame that so many people don’t know the road rules, let alone follow them. However, in the case of pedestrian crossings the rule for bikes is poorly thought out. There’s 3 schools of thought:

1) Yours. However, it’s pointless for cyclists to dismount to cross an empty road. If traffic is around, it takes longer for the cyclist to cross the crossing by foot, and cars are held up longer.
2) Middle ground: Cyclists stop at crossing and give way to cars, who may choose to wait for the cyclist.
3) Cyclist crosses regardless: Some jerk in a car asserts their right of way, but breaks the number 1 road rule – avoid collisions – by hitting the cyclist.

It would make sense for the road rules to be changed to 1) allow cyclists to ride across but they have to give way to cars, or 2) recognise that cyclists are in a way both vehicles and pedestrians and to give them right of way. Perhaps with a caveat about maximum speed of 10kmh within 10m of the crossing and on it, so cars have warning of the bike crossing.

I’m also in favour of bikes being allowed to treat stop signs as give way signs.

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