Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Expert strata, facilities & building management services

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?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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.

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
35 Responses to
Women are being abused on Canberra roads, and you can help stop it
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
G-Fresh 12:13 pm 31 May 17

As of the time of my post, 234/768 admit to having abused cyclists.

30% of people think it acceptable to hurl abuse at the most vulnerable road users.

Attitudes need to change. There needs to be an awareness campaign of the benefit that cycling brings to society and the grave consequences which all too often play out when one of these abusers lose control of themselves and act out their rage.

Jono 9:16 pm 17 Sep 16

BlowMeDown said :

The poll questions were cleverly framed to normalize having cyclists riding on roads. The missing option is:

No. I also don’t think cyclists should ride on the roads because it’s inevitable some will be injured or killed.

Essentially for the same reason it’s compulsory to wear set belts or obey speed limits. Legislators impose common sense rules to minimise risk because, no matter how well people drive or ride, events sometimes conspire to evade our best intentions.

Yet when it comes to cyclists on roads they’ve done just the opposite.

Surely if your intention is genuinely to reduce the road toll (and I would point to the studies that suggest that cyclists, even with the increased risk of an accident, live longer, healthier lives than the general population due to the obvious health benefits, but that’s another issue), why would your first target be cyclists and not motor cyclists?

In the ACT this millennium, by my count there have been 199 road deaths. 129 people in cars, 45 people on motor cycles, 28 pedestrians and 7 cyclists. If you’re genuinely trying to save lives and you’re going to ban a form of transport from the road, then there seems to be a stand out candidate there.

Maya123 4:45 pm 17 Sep 16

BlowMeDown said :

The poll questions were cleverly framed to normalize having cyclists riding on roads. The missing option is:

No. I also don’t think cyclists should ride on the roads because it’s inevitable some will be injured or killed.

Essentially for the same reason it’s compulsory to wear set belts or obey speed limits. Legislators impose common sense rules to minimise risk because, no matter how well people drive or ride, events sometimes conspire to evade our best intentions.

Yet when it comes to cyclists on roads they’ve done just the opposite.

If not riding on the roads, where do you think people should be able to ride their bikes when commuting to work or the shops, etc. The footpath, even when there is no footpath? But wait, I doubt it’s concern for the person on a bike here; likely you just don’t want them sharing YOUR road. It’s also likely you wouldn’t want them sharing the footpath with you either. Hence, bikes should not be let out of the back yard, where all the ‘toys’ should stay! Can’t waste money on bike paths either; anyway they’re toys. Did I get this right!

rommeldog56 12:07 pm 17 Sep 16

curmudgery said :

These drivers – and usually their passenger too – aren’t very bright. Weld any ten of them together and you still haven’t made a moron.

All the same, I’m very cautious around cyclists: they’re so unpredictable.

Yep – plenty of moron drivers around. As with those cyclists who ride, apparently legally, 2 or 3 abreast on the road so holding up the often freight train length of other road using vehicles behind them. You could probably “weld ten of them together” too as you say, and they wouldn’t constitute moron either.

BlowMeDown 11:58 am 17 Sep 16

The poll questions were cleverly framed to normalize having cyclists riding on roads. The missing option is:

No. I also don’t think cyclists should ride on the roads because it’s inevitable some will be injured or killed.

Essentially for the same reason it’s compulsory to wear set belts or obey speed limits. Legislators impose common sense rules to minimise risk because, no matter how well people drive or ride, events sometimes conspire to evade our best intentions.

Yet when it comes to cyclists on roads they’ve done just the opposite.

curmudgery 12:38 pm 16 Sep 16

Many will abuse a cyclist because they’re close and more likely to hear the abuse clearly. The abuse doesn’t have to be relevant or accurate – just ‘fun’. These drivers – and usually their passenger too – aren’t very bright. Weld any ten of them together and you still haven’t made a moron.

All the same, I’m very cautious around cyclists: they’re so unpredictable.

wildturkeycanoe 7:50 am 16 Sep 16

“while obeying road rules”
Translation – “Whilst asserting my rights even though it may endanger my personal safety or that of others”

dungfungus 4:35 pm 15 Sep 16

madelini said :

dungfungus said :

madelini said :

There needs to be consideration on both parts. There are some shocking drivers out there, as there are some appalling cyclists. There is a great level of animosity between the two groups, rightly or wrongly. As a pedestrian and a driver, I have received abuse from cyclists – this is also not okay. There are no innocent groups on our roads.

Clearly, there is not going to be a ban on cycling or on driving. There does need to be active education about how to share the road, and there needs to be less anger. That’s not conducive to anything.

Are you advocating frontal lobotomies for serial offenders?

No, but perhaps a vehicle ban – for both cars and bikes.

Under current regulations (or lack thereof) this would only apply to registered motor vehicles displaying a licence plate as the other things and their riders are not identifiable.

madelini 4:07 pm 15 Sep 16

dungfungus said :

madelini said :

There needs to be consideration on both parts. There are some shocking drivers out there, as there are some appalling cyclists. There is a great level of animosity between the two groups, rightly or wrongly. As a pedestrian and a driver, I have received abuse from cyclists – this is also not okay. There are no innocent groups on our roads.

Clearly, there is not going to be a ban on cycling or on driving. There does need to be active education about how to share the road, and there needs to be less anger. That’s not conducive to anything.

Are you advocating frontal lobotomies for serial offenders?

No, but perhaps a vehicle ban – for both cars and bikes.

dungfungus 11:27 am 15 Sep 16

madelini said :

There needs to be consideration on both parts. There are some shocking drivers out there, as there are some appalling cyclists. There is a great level of animosity between the two groups, rightly or wrongly. As a pedestrian and a driver, I have received abuse from cyclists – this is also not okay. There are no innocent groups on our roads.

Clearly, there is not going to be a ban on cycling or on driving. There does need to be active education about how to share the road, and there needs to be less anger. That’s not conducive to anything.

Are you advocating frontal lobotomies for serial offenders?

madelini 10:26 am 15 Sep 16

There needs to be consideration on both parts. There are some shocking drivers out there, as there are some appalling cyclists. There is a great level of animosity between the two groups, rightly or wrongly. As a pedestrian and a driver, I have received abuse from cyclists – this is also not okay. There are no innocent groups on our roads.

Clearly, there is not going to be a ban on cycling or on driving. There does need to be active education about how to share the road, and there needs to be less anger. That’s not conducive to anything.

Maya123 1:55 pm 14 Sep 16

Acton said :

Maya123 said :

Acton said :

Is Pedal Power at all concerned about the women, men, kids, elderly, drivers etc being abused and/or put at risk daily by cyclists who:

– weave between queued traffic;
– hold up traffic flow;
– ride through red lights;
– travel at high speed on pedestrian paths;
– try to set PBs irrespective of the danger caused to other road users;
– deliberately intimidate other path users by speeding past as close as possible;
– ride two abreast on a pedestrian path expecting the pedestrian to move over;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a slower car doesn’t pull over to the left, or right, to let them overtake;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a pedestrian strays in front of them;
– fail to understand their duty of care towards families with erratic toddlers;
– avoid identification and accountability for their actions:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/pedestrian-emily-greenwood-run-down-by-cyclist-20150105-12iii9

Wow, you must live in an alternative universe! As a pedestrian, driver and occasional cyclist I don’t live in your universe.

This illustrates the problem – cyclists who live in their own zoned out alternative space, unaware or unconcerned about the reality for others, even when presented with evidence. Emily Greenwood, the pedestrian knocked down by a cyclist, shares your universe. There are many examples of the risks cited, on this and other forums. They should not be disdainfully ignored.

“Re hazards jumping out in front of bikes; then there was the mother letting her toddler play in the middle of the path in peak hour. When I said to the mother her child was in the road of people on bikes, of whom there were a considerable number, being going home time, her response was, “But he’s such a little thing, you can go around him.” Some people’s attitude to the shared path continues to amaze me.”

Maya123 7:53 pm 18 Nov 14

http://the-riotact.com/registration-for-cyclists-how-about-a-smart-helmet/137156/comment-page-3#comments

“about the women, men, kids, elderly, drivers etc being abused and/or put at risk daily by cyclists”
Oh wow, are you that bad a driver that you get abused daily? I’m sorry if people on bikes put fear into you, that you as a driver will have your car written off, be maimed or killed, while the cyclist rides away unharmed. But wait, is that how it goes?
As someone who drives a lot more (these days) than cycles and also walks a lot more than cycles, I never have never faced this problem in the amount your indicate, but then I try to be courteous to other road users and when walking, stick to the left of the path. I don’t treat the road or path as my domain. It is shared. From the little trouble I have had with other uses, compared to apparently you, I have found it is those who appear to believe that they have more rights to be there then other uses that give the trouble. I can’t help but feel by your comments, that you are one of those.

Ezy 9:09 am 14 Sep 16

Acton said :

Is Pedal Power at all concerned about the women, men, kids, elderly, drivers etc being abused and/or put at risk daily by cyclists who:

– weave between queued traffic;
– hold up traffic flow;
– ride through red lights;
– travel at high speed on pedestrian paths;
– try to set PBs irrespective of the danger caused to other road users;
– deliberately intimidate other path users by speeding past as close as possible;
– ride two abreast on a pedestrian path expecting the pedestrian to move over;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a slower car doesn’t pull over to the left, or right, to let them overtake;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a pedestrian strays in front of them;
– fail to understand their duty of care towards families with erratic toddlers;
– avoid identification and accountability for their actions:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/pedestrian-emily-greenwood-run-down-by-cyclist-20150105-12iii9

What a ridiculous generalisation.

I will flip this around. All drivers use heroin, continue to break road rules, steal, hit and run, deceive the law and fall asleep at the wheel etc.

Oh, and here is my news article which backs up these claims.
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/victoria/no-remorse-just-selfpity-exnurse-gets-11-years-jail-for-killing-cyclist-20160913-grf4f9.html

Acton 8:32 am 14 Sep 16

Maya123 said :

Acton said :

Is Pedal Power at all concerned about the women, men, kids, elderly, drivers etc being abused and/or put at risk daily by cyclists who:

– weave between queued traffic;
– hold up traffic flow;
– ride through red lights;
– travel at high speed on pedestrian paths;
– try to set PBs irrespective of the danger caused to other road users;
– deliberately intimidate other path users by speeding past as close as possible;
– ride two abreast on a pedestrian path expecting the pedestrian to move over;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a slower car doesn’t pull over to the left, or right, to let them overtake;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a pedestrian strays in front of them;
– fail to understand their duty of care towards families with erratic toddlers;
– avoid identification and accountability for their actions:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/pedestrian-emily-greenwood-run-down-by-cyclist-20150105-12iii9

Wow, you must live in an alternative universe! As a pedestrian, driver and occasional cyclist I don’t live in your universe.

This illustrates the problem – cyclists who live in their own zoned out alternative space, unaware or unconcerned about the reality for others, even when presented with evidence. Emily Greenwood, the pedestrian knocked down by a cyclist, shares your universe. There are many examples of the risks cited, on this and other forums. They should not be disdainfully ignored.

“Re hazards jumping out in front of bikes; then there was the mother letting her toddler play in the middle of the path in peak hour. When I said to the mother her child was in the road of people on bikes, of whom there were a considerable number, being going home time, her response was, “But he’s such a little thing, you can go around him.” Some people’s attitude to the shared path continues to amaze me.”

Maya123 7:53 pm 18 Nov 14

http://the-riotact.com/registration-for-cyclists-how-about-a-smart-helmet/137156/comment-page-3#comments

Maya123 9:15 pm 13 Sep 16

Acton said :

Is Pedal Power at all concerned about the women, men, kids, elderly, drivers etc being abused and/or put at risk daily by cyclists who:

– weave between queued traffic;
– hold up traffic flow;
– ride through red lights;
– travel at high speed on pedestrian paths;
– try to set PBs irrespective of the danger caused to other road users;
– deliberately intimidate other path users by speeding past as close as possible;
– ride two abreast on a pedestrian path expecting the pedestrian to move over;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a slower car doesn’t pull over to the left, or right, to let them overtake;
– give the finger or yell abuse if a pedestrian strays in front of them;
– fail to understand their duty of care towards families with erratic toddlers;
– avoid identification and accountability for their actions:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nsw/pedestrian-emily-greenwood-run-down-by-cyclist-20150105-12iii9

Wow, you must live in an alternative universe! As a pedestrian, driver and occasional cyclist I don’t live in your universe.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site