Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When "common sense" isn't

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  • Islander, in reply to Owen Watson,

    hat bit of metal above your head when you drive a car is utterly insufficient to prevent head injuries in the relatively common occurrence of roll-over accidents, yet I don’t see anyone advocating the compulsory fitment of roll-cages, nor the compulsory wearing of helmets in cars, not even ones with a higher chance of roll-over (SUVs and vans).

    There has been considerable agitation among drivers of SUVs and 4-wheeldrive vehicles for inner roll-bars.
    I drive a Mitsubishi Spacegear Jasper people mover.
    I was interested in this.
    Until I found out the cost (+$7000!*) and the fact that it didnt alter my insurance premiums…


    *More than the insurance value of my much-loved reliable 1987 vehicle-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Richard Wain,

    helmets don't stop death. You hit the road or a car with your head, you're fucked.

    Na. I hit a car side on (my fault, riding on footpath past driveways), went over the bonnet and landed on my head. Even with a helmet, I cut my eyebrow open and was out for a couple of seconds. Without a helmet, very probably worse. I doubt that mine doing its job was a statistical anomaly.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The thing about making hi viz compulsory, as opposed to recommended, is that it is a garment that is easy to lose or misplace. I have one for night riding but every so often I just can’t find it.

    As Jack observed, moving lights are much more likely to get driver attention. I think fluoro ankle reflectors would be better anyway.

    During the day, I am an upright tweedy commuter on an old-fashioned bike. I rarely get cut off and I generally shout “hello!” and then wave. Universally, the recipient is embarassed.

    I also have a loud and beautiful bell for warning pedestrians up ahead on shared paths.

    When we get better designed roads and cycleways, it’ll be all good.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2906 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    When we get better designed roads and cycleways, it’ll be all good.

    Tautoko to the max-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    As Jack observed, moving lights are much more likely to get driver attention.

    I'm quite amazed how bright my front and rear flashing LEDs are. They are not missable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17939 posts Report Reply

  • Kiwiiano, in reply to Felix Marwick,

    Felix Marwick

    At the time I didn't think my head hit the road that hard. However, when I checked the helmet 6 weeks later I got a hell of a a surprise to find a whacking great crack right through it.
    I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn't been wearing my lid.

    I worked in a Lab where helmets were tested and it is VERY clear that if you fall or get knocked off your bike you should replace your helmet. Over & over they demonstrated that even when the owner was convinced that hadn't hit their head, tests on the helmet showed they had and the helmet had sacrificed itself protecting their brain. More important it was FAR less able to protect them if they continued to use it and have another accident. It didn't matter how cheap or expensive the helmet was.
    Re the fears around helmets and hair: if you want to see messed up hair, check out the head injuries ward. Having 3/4 of your head shaved REALLY ruins your hair-do!

    ChCh • Since Nov 2006 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Kiwiiano,

    Actually, just check out any ICU (2 of my sisters work in them.)
    Your 'dignity' is nothing against any medical protocol there-in-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kiwiiano,

    It didn't matter how cheap or expensive the helmet was.

    Yes, they're designed for one impact only. The same goes for motorbike helmets, which is why you should never buy a second hand one, and be careful with the one you have. They stressed on my training course that it's foolish to leave it sitting on your bike when you pay for your gas, for instance, because if it falls off, it's become many times less effective (and they're bloody expensive). If someone knocks it off, and puts it back, you'd never know. Don't keep it up high, don't throw it around, or let things drop on it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kiwiiano,

    Re the fears around helmets and hair: if you want to see messed up hair, check out the head injuries ward.

    Yes, they're full of people who didn't wear helmets in their damned car! Hair, schmair!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8015 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to BenWilson,

    Actually, they’re also full of people who fell off ladders/had strokes & fell on the floor/whacked themselves against an overhanging branch/just had strokes let alone motor vehicle accidents- trust me! I’ve been in that place & space-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to BenWilson,

    Hair, schmair

    Yeah, I know.
    Irony.
    But-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick, in reply to Kiwiiano,

    No worries the helmet was replaced. And as for neurosurgeons, well should they ever need to shave my head it won't require a lot of effort. Male baldness has sorted that one out for them in advance.

    FWIW I've had two heavy bike crashes over the years. The one where I wasn't wearing a helmet resulted in a hefty concussion and me losing complete track of about 2 hours of my life. The one where I was wearing a helmet I was able to get myself off the road and out of harms way, albeit with an arm that was slightly worse for wear. From my own personal experience I favour wearing a helmet.

    As for hi-vis gear I ride with it, though I'm unsure as to how effective it is. I can't say I've noticed it having an effect on the number of near misses I have (as a rule at least 2 a week). I ride with four lights, two front, two rear, a reflective sash on my bag, a flourescent flashed jacket, and I've even put additional reflective tape on my bikes for added security at nights.

    And shit like this still happens. http://telly.com/LE76P (excuse the language)

    Hell, you can be lit up like a Xmas tree and visible to the astronauts on the international space station and someone will still come within a whisker of killing you.

    Having said that it's not all bad drivers. on the way to work today I saw a mtbiker going down the centreline overtaking traffic past the Wgtn Botanic Gardens. While there was oncoming traffic

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    When we get better designed roads and cycleways, it’ll be all good.

    Yes. Compare what transport funds are spent on now with what the public say we want.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    I have also advocated for a law change that means drivers who are convicted of hitting cyclists are required to ride a bike for a 6 month period

    Mandatory time in the saddle for all persons wishing to get a driver's licence would be a good start. Bring in mandatory retesting at renewal and enforce the cycling requirement for all renewals over a decade and you'd catch all the real menaces, too: the middle-aged folks who managed to get their licence from a cornflakes packet and are still assured of the high quality of their driving by dint of being over 25 but still a decade or two away from the age-related retesting.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    There's no longer age-related re-testing, that was scrapped some years ago. Just a medical.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3300 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    Wrongo. Medical tests, yes -but also, every 5 years after 80 (I'm just going by my mother's experience - it's maybe an AA test after the medical warranty-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Islander,

    Wrongo. Medical tests, yes -but also, every 5 years after 80 (I’m just going by my mother’s experience

    OK, med tests at 75 & 80, and every 2 years after that.
    These include eyesight, bloodpressure, reaction tests, and what I can only call a' compos mentos' test.

    I think every driver should have these every 5 years, actually-

    (I would point out that my mother has been driving for over 65years, and I've been driving for + 50.

    BOTH OF US LICENSED ALL THIS TIME-

    no-fault accidents between us = 3 (no injury or loss of life)
    traffic tickets between us = 8 (speeding) 1 no WOF (me)(I was v. poor at the time)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Helmet lights! I have a high-intensity led blinky on the back of my helmet, and use it day and night. That's common in Melbourne, rare in Sydney but very effective. IMO. Plus self adhesive reflective tape all over my bike and dynamo lights on the bike. Red tape one a white bike looks a bit sick but the whole frame lights up in headlights from any angle.

    But you know, the big change in how often I got hit was deciding to ride on the line between assertive and aggressive. Take the lane, move to the front, signal, make eye contact, don't yield to threats. I ride more like a cycle courier than most commuters do, and it works. Maybe people who spend 40 hours plus a week riding know a bit about staying safe?

    Also, helmets on 3 and 4 wheel recumbents are a joke. The sort of crash that will make me hit my head from there is going to be ugly regardless of helmet. Likewise in an infant carrier or kiddy trailer. And hi-vis? I wear a fluoro shirt, more than that no way. I'd rather wear a sidearm.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Also, people freqently drive into fire engines and ambulances, despite the reflective surfaces and flashing lights. In a visibility contest with a fire engine the cyclist is always going to lose. Which makes me doubt that the solution to "didnt see you is adding crap to the cyclist.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Islander,

    May I add-
    one of the gifts my mother gave me when I got my Licence, was an intensive “defensive driving course"- took 3 evenings of indoctrination over 3 weeks, with trained (as in traffic cop) other driver instruction. I would thoroughl;y reccommend it to any parent- any driver! -
    it taught me to concentrate on the road, my vehicle, the possible interactions by/between/random of other vehicles – and what might lurch onto the road – which certainly saved me when a cattle beast scrambled out of a ditch on the Cora Lynn station straight.
    There was an on-coming vehicle.
    I chose to drive as close as I could to the centre white line – and hit the beast with my left front side.
    I dont think the cattle beast survived,
    When I rang Cora Lynn station from Arthur’s Pass, I was disgusted by their response – they’d go check in the morning. O, and who was my insurer?
    As I had already reported it to local police (who confirmed a history of cattle roaming) I said, check it out with your friendly local cops-
    they never did.
    That’s all a long time ago – but that defensive driver course paid its way then.
    And several times later-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’m with Matthew. The idea is that they don’t pass you.

    I think the difference is in the study they went up to 1.25 metres from the curb, you guys are talking about riding fully in the middle of the lane.

    The authors do also talk about having room to avoid shit on the road and having somewhere to go if a car does come close.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    I never try to get to the head of a queue of cars at the lights. I just stay in the middle of my lane, and line up behind the cars already in the lane

    THIS

    Part of being a cyclist is not abusing the privilege. Yes you can sneak past a whole queue of cars, but doing so pisses each and every driver off. Yes you can burst off the front of the queue faster than anything other than a motorcycle but that also pisses each and every driver off. Why should they treat you like an equal user of the road if you don't behave like one? And in the end how much time did you save? Actually it can be quite a lot of time but the cost might be quite high if one driver decides to treat you like a road marking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3108 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to HORansome,

    ... but I can see that the high-viz recommendation seems to have an element of blaming the rider, rather than the appalling driving standards of most New Zealanders.

    Most? As in over 50%?

    I ride a bike now and then, but mainly drive a car and I'd say most people are pretty careful. If anything I'd say car drivers are a little more careful than the bike riders I see.

    The main problem is that our roads are not set up for shared use. A 2 thin wheeled vehicle with a person sitting on it with basically no protection whatsoever, and travelling at about 20k's an hour for the most part has to share a lane with a large metallic object travelling at 50k's+ trying to get home to watch Seven Sharp.

    It has SFA to do with our car driving/ bus driving/ truck driving culture. I've ridden a bike overseas and as long as you share heavily congested roads you've got the same problems EVERYWHERE. If the streets were flooded with cyclists would car drivers honestly go 50k's, then drop real fast down to 20k's, to carefully give them 1.5m, to boom back up to 50k's to slam the breaks on to get down to 20k's, to politely pass them, to boost back up to 50k's.... it's just stupid. There is no effing room and vehicles behind you are going to struggle to see this relatively small object in front of you that you've pulled the hand break for. The only safe way is to have separate cycling lanes, or else widened footpaths which are shared pedestrian, cyclist use. Otherwise, if you are riding a bike at 20-30k's an hour on busy roads, then suck it up.

    I ride a bike quite often for the record and I pick and choose when and where I ride because I don't wanna die :)

    I'm sick of the bitching and moaning about NZ's driving culture. You're basically saying that most people in NZ are uneducated, uncaring fuckwits. And we aren't.

    I've seen driving in dozens of countries overseas and I'd hazard an educated guess that we aren't even top 100 for shit house driving in the world. China was an exception when I was there but everywhere else in Asia it was every man for himself. I wouldn't get on a bike in most places in a sumo suit.

    ride on

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Yamis,

    I’m sick of the bitching and moaning about NZ’s driving culture. You’re basically saying that most people in NZ are uneducated, uncaring fuckwits. And we aren’t.

    Me too.
    There is a road problem and there is - big fat elephant- people from overseas wreaking mayhem (O! not mentioned much eh?) but actually, ANZ drivers are not all that bad-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Yamis,

    I'm sick of the bitching and moaning about NZ's driving culture. You're basically saying that most people in NZ are uneducated, uncaring fuckwits. And we aren't.

    I reckon it's partly to do with the 2 degrees of separation, more than any actual arse-hattery. And of course, roads designed in the 1950s that haven't kept pace with changing transport trends.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3897 posts Report Reply

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