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Women are being abused on Canberra roads, and you can help stop it

By Anne Treasure - 12 September 2016 35

woman cycling

“I haven’t had any sexual harassment, but have been called a c*** more than once – while obeying road rules,” says cyclist Susanne Gardiner.

In Australia we’d like to think that our streets are safe for riding bikes, but a different story emerges upon speaking to women who ride on Canberra roads.

“I’ve ridden bikes for commuting in Germany, London, Shanghai and here, and whilst you get overlooked and cut off everywhere, I’ve only had the name-calling here [in Australia],” Ms Gardiner says.

Canberra has the highest proportion of women bike riders of any city in Australia. Pedal Power ACT, the largest cycling organisation in the territory, confirms this fact with nearly half (46%) of members identifying as female.

Have you ever abused a cyclist?

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International cycling participation studies indicate that cities with higher rates of cycling participation by women have higher rates overall. Making female cyclist feel safe and welcome on the roads is therefore extremely important.

A recent article from the US has described the abuse that women cyclists experience while cycling on Philadelphia streets. They are often forced to choose between putting up with harassment and abuse, or breaking the law and running red lights to escape catcalls and invective.

Canberran Megan Baker-Goldsmith, who describes herself as a “very confident and experienced cyclist”, uses a helmet-mounted camera in an attempt to insure herself against aggressive behaviour while cycling on Canberra roads.

“I work to correct the behaviour,” Ms Baker-Goldsmith said. “If it’s a professional driver or someone in a company car I report them to their employer. If it’s just a regular person, I show them that being aggressive and nasty won’t get them what they want.”

“If someone abuses me at a red light for being a cyclist, or a woman or not having a model-like physique, I point out my helmet mounted camera, and suggest they smile for it. You’re on camera so if you escalate the behaviours good luck in court.”

Most drivers agree that people who ride bikes should be treated like any other road user. And yet, bike riders are often threatened by the greater weight and speed of other vehicles on the road.

Canberrans enjoy living in a modern city that embraces active and healthy modes of transport like cycling. The fact that Canberra is known as a bike-loving city speaks to our self-regard as a youthful, energetic and progressive place to live.

But to maintain our city’s reputation as a dynamic city in which cycling is easy, safe and fun, we each have to facilitate this every time we encounter cyclists while driving on Canberra roads.

Pedal Power ACT is holding an Election Forum on September 27 for Canberrans to put questions about cycling in the ACT to politicians and candidates. Everyone is welcome to come along and let our potential new Government know that cycling and active travel is important.

Anne Treasure is a communications consultant living in Canberra. She is currently working with Pedal Power ACT and Capital Cycling.

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35 Responses to
Women are being abused on Canberra roads, and you can help stop it
1
dungfungus 8:36 am
12 Sep 16
#

It must be difficult to be a communications consultant and commute by bicycle.

How does one text or Twitter on a push-bike?

2
Acton 8:53 am
12 Sep 16
#

Nice photo of you.

But I can’t see if you are wearing a helmet.

3
dungfungus 9:51 am
12 Sep 16
#

Acton said :

Nice photo of you.

But I can’t see if you are wearing a helmet.

And hanging a string-bag off the handlebars isn’t exactly being a role model for safe cycling.

4
gooterz 10:43 am
12 Sep 16
#

The irony of having a cyclist report someone whilst not having any rego and are free from having themselves reported. There isnt enough content in this article for anything excluse to women cyclists. Just seems women is used for click bate into another rant about someones experience while cycling.

5
rommeldog56 12:34 pm
12 Sep 16
#

gooterz said :

There isnt enough content in this article for anything excluse to women cyclists. Just seems women is used for click bate into another rant about someones experience while cycling.

Looks like it.

From the OP “Most drivers agree that people who ride bikes should be treated like any other road user. And yet, bike riders are often threatened by the greater weight and speed of other vehicles on the road.”

Not sure what exactly that comment from the OP is trying to explain – is it that most drivers are wrong in treating cyclists like any other road user ? Where does the assertion that “most drivers agree that people who ride bikes should be treated like any other road user” come from ?? Did the OP mean to say “like any other vulnerable road user” ? All drivers I know are scared witless of hitting any vulnerable road user, including cyclists.

The whole OP sounds like its an add for the pedal power election forum.

6
dungfungus 1:15 pm
12 Sep 16
#

gooterz said :

The irony of having a cyclist report someone whilst not having any rego and are free from having themselves reported. There isnt enough content in this article for anything excluse to women cyclists. Just seems women is used for click bate into another rant about someones experience while cycling.

Land rights for female cyclists!

7
I am a Rabbit™ 3:34 pm
12 Sep 16
#

““I haven’t had any sexual harassment, but have been called a c*** more than once – while obeying road rules,” says cyclist Susanne Gardiner.”

Literally the first sentence of the article contradicts the impression that the author is trying to convey with the title… Could we see some quality control and have the article renamed to what it should have been from the start, which is “Cyclists being abused on Canberra roads, and you can help stop it”?

8
Masquara 8:22 pm
12 Sep 16
#

Why isn’t the poll specific to whether people have abused female cyclists?

9
Maya123 11:48 pm
12 Sep 16
#

I have had words shouted at me while cycling and had things thrown at me, even while riding on a bike path, from a car passing on the nearby road, so one doesn’t have to be on the road to offend some drivers. Your existence is enough. However, I have never felt this was because I was a female. Rather it was because I was on a bike, and the illogical, unthinking hatred of those who cycle, that a small number of people who drive cars have, regardless of whether the person was male of female. In fact, reading other people’s incidents with these small number of drivers, I had formed the opinion I might have suffered less abuse because I am female.
However, all the abuse has come from males. I can’t think of any females who have shouted abuse at me. I’m not saying that some female car drivers don’t shout abuse, etc; only I have never experienced it. To balance this out though; in my experience, it is more likely it will be a male driver who will wave me though at an intersection; than a female driver.

10
Maya123 11:52 pm
12 Sep 16
#

gooterz said :

The irony of having a cyclist report someone whilst not having any rego and are free from having themselves reported.

The difference there is the amount of damage that a person on a bike can do to a car, and a car can do to a person cycling. If a person cycling does something dangerous and silly, they are more likely to come out the worst, while if a car driver does something dangerous and silly, the person on a bike is likely to come of worse.

11
JoueurBoy 6:13 am
13 Sep 16
#

Gooterz she is just doing her job (and quite well too actually) as a communications consultant and getting free press to promote the presentation at a pub in the city on Tuesday night.

12
JoueurBoy 6:27 am
13 Sep 16
#

dungfungus said :

It must be difficult to be a communications consultant and commute by bicycle. How does one text or Twitter on a push-bike?

Ha ha. Love the whit. I suspect Siri and the soon to be obsolete white cored ear buds.

Dungfunus where is your picture flexing your muscles? People will not recgonise you without it. My profile did not carry over with the upgrade so decided on a new name. 🙁

13
dungfungus 8:13 am
13 Sep 16
#

Maya123 said :

gooterz said :

The irony of having a cyclist report someone whilst not having any rego and are free from having themselves reported.

The difference there is the amount of damage that a person on a bike can do to a car, and a car can do to a person cycling. If a person cycling does something dangerous and silly, they are more likely to come out the worst, while if a car driver does something dangerous and silly, the person on a bike is likely to come of worse.

Yes, cyclists in Canberra are slow-learners.

14
Dr_Hoon 1:10 pm
13 Sep 16
#

Canberra drivers are seriously terrible. There are so many deliberately anti-social drivers that tailgate, overtake dangerously, are inconsiderate to other road users and so on.

(Most seem to be driving larger 4WD vehicles kitted out as if they are going to be heading off on a two week expedition. They are actually just going down to Westfield, which may feel like two weeks until you find a park, but all the ‘outback’ paraphernalia indicates the fragility of the masculinity in question.)

I look forward to the day when video footage can be uploaded to a policing site to dob in the worst offenders. Get them off the road.

15
User777 1:40 pm
13 Sep 16
#

I don’t agree with the premise of the question, I am an equal abuser of all cyclists LMAO

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