Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: I'm not a "f***ing cyclist". I'm Ruby's daddy, on a bike

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  • JLM, in reply to Deborah,

    I’d love to be able to buy a simple 5 or 8 or even 10 gear bike. Just spare me the 21 gears and complicated cogs and shifts and stuff that I can’t fix myself when something goes wrong. I don’t want to have to be a bicycle mechanic to get on my bike to go to the shop to get a litre of milk.

    You would love my Giant halfway folder. Took me a thousand km through Brittany, the Dordogne and Sussex with no problems. Mind you, I did have a mechanic on hand if I'd needed help.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Gio, I don’t want to get prissy but….here is your guys full paragraph:

    In the last ten years, just over 7,600 pedestrian were killed by motor vehicles while 29 were killed by cyclists. Over the same period, 364,000 pedestrians were injured by motor vehicles, almost 76,000 (or 21%) of them seriously while cyclists injured just over 2,600 with roughly the same proportion (22%) being considered serious.

    I can’t quite see where he gets the ratio of death to serious injury from but
    2600 don’t look so bad compared to the others on the injuring/killing fields. But cycist serious injuries are oly 0.7% of motor vehicle ped serious injuries.

    However Adiran Fitch has another article here about cycle deaths in London. 43% of the deaths are with “freight vehicles” turning left on top of the cyclist(s).

    I have been mulling over an idea….are there any advantages of putting cycle lanes in the middle of the road rather than the side? In those areas of the road roading engineers are keen on putting all these diagonal lines. “the Neutral Zone”.

    You could have safe islands like ped islands in the middle of the road for cyclists to cross lanes from.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1500 posts Report Reply

  • Kitt McGregor, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    On the footpath, the cyclist is the fastest and most dangerous thing around. It may increase their safety, but it often decreases everyone else’s, which isn’t really a net gain.

    Not when I’m doing it, as I’m not very fast. And I’m constantly on and off the footpath for all kinds of obstacles and reasons. As long as I get away with it I’ll do it. I’m not trying to justify anything, just describing how it is when one must adapt to raw necessity.

    For the most part people are surprisingly good about it, they’ll even apologise for being in the way, That’s my cue to say that I shouldn’t really be there. As I’m probably taking advantage of a general ignorance of the law that might not be a good idea, but it does rather seem to tickle people’s sense of magnanimity.

    BTW, in order to demonstrate his willingness to impartially enforce Council by-laws, back in the early 1900s the Mayor of Levin personally busted his own wife for riding on the footpath.

    I'm also very courteous when using the footpath.

    We could use a few of these signs around the place.
    BIKERS MUST YEILD TO PEDESTRIANS AT ALL TIMES - PLEASE GO SLOW
    As featured here:
    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-11-07-we-need-real-bike-paths-for-real-bike-transportaiton

    I suppose it's all relative - but yes, thanks, point taken - i'll be extra careful...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to JLM,

    I'm happy to put in a good word for Giant bikes, too. My first mountain bike was a Giant Yukon, pretty basic with no suspension and well before the invention of disk brakes .. I eventually gave in to the lure of these modern wonders, but there's really nothing wrong with the Yukon after almost 20 years of hard use.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 662 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I can’t quite see where he gets the ratio of death to serious injury from but
    2600 don’t look so bad compared to the others on the injuring/killing fields.

    Kitt asked how many pedestrians are killed or injured by cyclists, and there’s your answer: three deaths a year in the UK. He strongly seemed to imply that it never happens.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    Anecdata: the part of my bike commute that I feel least safe, and the part where I've seen the most accidents, is on a shared footpath. Specifically, the section between the bottom of the Ngauranga Gorge and Thorndon Quay (in Wellington). The path goes along in front of a lot of businesses, including one childcare centre; so in sections you have to slow down to 15kph in case a 3-year old suddenly darts out from behind a car. There's also a lot of potholes, because fixing potholes on a footpath isn't as important as fixing them in a proper road. There's also a lot of cars turning into or pulling out of the aforementioned businesses; going in to town, it's not so bad, because you're coming in the same direction as the motorised traffic and drivers reflexively look right to see oncoming obstacles. On the way out of town, it's pretty normal for people to pull out right in front of you while looking to the right to see any oncoming cars. About once a month I have to do a panic stop to prevent myself being creamed by someone pulling out of the Spotlight carpark and not looking for cyclists coming to their left. Then again, that's not helped by the fact that the sight lines for that carpark aren't great, because it was poorly designed, because someone presumably wasn't thinking about two-way cycle traffic when they designed the merge.

    I use shared footpaths because some parts of my commute are badly designed otherwise. But if, say, someone at the council offered to knock 1.5m off the footpath, extend the roadbed and mark it as a dedicated cyclepath, I'd love it. In general, roads are better designed for reasonably fast-moving (20kph +) traffic than footpaths are. Which is why I'm a bit worried about any push towards more cyclepaths; I think that we'd just end up with the same footpaths we currently have, with the same design issues, but with a small bicyle painted on them at 100m intervals.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    We could use a few of these signs around the place.
    BIKERS MUST YEILD TO PEDESTRIANS AT ALL TIMES – PLEASE GO SLOW

    In situ that sign looks pretty good. There are a lot of designated shared paths here in Chch that seem to work pretty well, but there are occasional stories of people on bikes behaving like the worst kind of driver, i.e. knocking over children and then insisting that it was the child's fault.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3564 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I think that we’d just end up with the same footpaths we currently have, with the same design issues, but with a small bicyle painted on them at 100m intervals.

    Are you sure you weren't a Milanese urban designer in a previous life?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    More on the Puhoi to Wellsford folly – Auckland Transport Blog quotes Rod Oram’s analysis in today’s Sunday Star-Times. He offers another angle on why we’d be better investing the money in public transport and urban cycle lanes (which these days in other countries tend to be more than a painted line on the footpath).

    The motorway will significantly distort development patterns, thereby blighting the region. It will help push urban development out to 85km north of Auckland’s CBD over coming decades.

    This will exacerbate Auckland’s weakness as a sprawling city, with dire economic consequences. Worldwide evidence shows lower density means higher infrastructure costs, favouring private over public transport and a weaker network effect. People living and working closely together generate greater wealth than those spread out.

    Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are trying to cope with growth. They have just elected mayors and councils who believe some of the solutions are more public transport and more compact urban forms.

    In contrast, the government has said bluntly it believes the opposite is true. It sees the future as a continuation of the past – more roads, more sprawl. And it is investing $11b to deliver that, not only straining government finances to do so, particularly between 2013 and 2018, but also grabbing funding from local roads and other forms of transport and skewing the analysis against them.

    Thanks to the Waikato Expressway and Puhoi to Wellsford motorway, urban and peri-urban Auckland will spread 150km from north to south in coming decades. Yet, there is no room to build any more roads through the Auckland isthmus. Thus the region has to have more public transport, particularly rail. But lower density induced by $3b of uneconomic road building makes the case for it even harder.

    The full Oram article delves futher into the spinning of the economic cases.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to JackElder,

    There’s also a lot of cars turning into or pulling out of the aforementioned businesses;

    For most of this year I was working at the Christchurch School of Medicine, which involved a bike ride to work turning right off Rolleston Ave, across a shared footpath/cyclepath, into the hospital driveway.

    Cyclists would come barreling down the cyclepath at road speeds. I'd wait for the road to clear, start to turn right, then have to brake suddenly - often in the middle of the lane I was turning across - because in the time I'd turned they'd come zooming up. Similar problem leaving; there was a stop sign, but even after you'd stopped and checked, people could show up out of nowhere. If I'd hit a fellow cyclist, it would have just been inconvenient; given the number of cars and trucks coming in and out of there, it was a recipe for disaster, basically because you had to look not only at the two-way traffic on the road but two-way, road-speed traffic on the footpath.

    I simply refused to use that cyclepath for my entire time there, because I felt a lot less safe with all the pedestrians around than I did on the road - and if I'd ridden at pedestrian-safe speeds on the cyclepath, my twenty-minute ride home would have taken forty. And that's sort of the thing: while it is entirely possible to be safe on the footpath, it goes a long way to negating the point of biking in the first place (i.e. being rather faster than walking).

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • richard,

    I am wondering if part of the animus toward cyclists is that (despite the rantings of the chap masquerading as a motoring journalist) most drivers are aware that if they did seriously damage a cyclist, there would likely be consequences, and they are trying to (psychologically, at least) establish a credible defense as “insurance” in advance of the hypothetical day they clip a cyclist as they drive to work.

    If you are a basically law-abiding person you stand very little chance of suddenly finding yourself in prison – but killing someone on the road is probably one of the ways to do it. But opening your door without looking does not feel like dealing drugs or burglarizing beach houses, and in one sense it isn’t: you may be able to go a good deal of time running a tinny house before getting caught, but you should know that you have stepped across the line long before the handcuffs go on.

    To most drivers, opening a car door on Tamaki Drive doesn’t feel criminal or even wrong (and perhaps isn’t actually criminal until someone gets hurt) so if you do find yourself in the dock as a result of doing this, it must be fault of the “idiot cyclist” you forced to swerve into traffic, and not something done by a fine, upstanding citizen such as yourself…

    Of course, the smarter thing to do would be to look before you opened your door, and give bikes more space on the road – but that must look like hard work to a lot of people.

    Not looking for New Engla… • Since Nov 2006 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    re. M.Laws:

    ...there is no practical solution, other than cyclists accepting that it is they who have the greatest responsibility to stay safe.

    This sounds a lot like the "don't blame the flies for being attracted to the meat" argument.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 204 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    [...] but there are occasional stories of people on bikes behaving like the worst kind of driver, i.e. knocking over children and then insisting that it was the child’s fault.

    Which proves that there are arseholes on bikes, just as there are arseholes in a cars and, for that matter, arseholes on foot. I was in the city yesterday, and got (quite literally) knocked off the (narrow) sidewalk in High Street by an alleged lady who found her conversation with her gal pal much more important than other pedestrians. Oh, and I was the one who got the cover of 'Fuck You' for not being considerate enough to jump in front of a car. Bitch.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    This sounds a lot like the “don’t blame the flies for being attracted to the meat” argument.

    Or the Lisa ad from ALAC.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    who found her conversation with her gal pal much more important than other pedestrians

    Every now and then when I'm feeling grumpy I take pleasure in not diving out of the way of the gaggle of usually three or four ladies chatting who have decided the footpath is theirs and theirs alone. Since I'm not small, most folks bounce off me when they collide with me. It's petty and beneath me but it is fun.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3425 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Are you sure you weren’t a Milanese urban designer in a previous life?

    With this dress sense?

    Which proves that there are arseholes on bikes, just as there are arseholes in a cars and, for that matter, arseholes on foot

    Indeed. The sad fact of it is, there are a lot of assholes out there, no matter what form of transport they use.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Mark Bracey of Cycle Action Auckland on the Cycling in Auckland blog:

    Unfortunately, my faith in the Auckland Council to create a safe cycling environment for us has been seriously undermined from years of inaction. In my mind, I don’t think it is too strong to suggest that the Council and some of its employees are criminally negligent and directly responsible for Jane’s death.

    Cycle Action made recommendations to the council in 2006 about the part of Tamaki Drive where Jane was killed. No action was taken. A council engineer would have signed off on this dangerous stretch of road knowing full well that squeezing in extra carparks and the way the road was designed would create pinch points and endanger the lives of cyclists. Leaky homes anyone?

    Earlier this year, Cycle Action fought tooth and nail to get the council to recognise the need for safety improvements to Tamaki Drive near Nga Pipi Rd intersection. These were done with lots of arm bending and sweet talking. Duress, I think it’s called. I remember being told by (a non-cycling) council engineer at a meeting earlier this year that the introduction of a T2 lane on Tamaki Drive would not undermine cycling safety once the foliage next to the curb had been removed. NEGLIGENT! These people are paid big money by us. And what do we get? Have a heart, please!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman,

    I am a cyclist. I had a learner driver’s licence once, but it expired a decade ago. I seldom take the bus. So hopefully I can say this without being taken for a rabid motorist: some people on bicycles are idiots. Not suicidal idiots, not idiots who deserve to be injured, just idiots.

    It should not need to be said that traffic lights apply to cyclists. So do stop signs and give way laws. So does the rule about not passing on the left. Basically, if it’s possible to obey a law, it applies to you.

    It is illegal to ride on the footpath unless you are a postie or a child. This is a sensible law for the protection of pedestrians, some of whom are elderly and some of whom are blind. It is a law that applies to cyclists.

    It is likewise illegal to ride without a helmet. This means you actually put it on your head and do it up. It is not a magical talisman that protects you when you hang it on your handlebars. This law may be imperfect, but it still applies to cyclists. If it helps, consider your helmet a patriotic display of pride in your country’s public health system.

    When you weave in and out of parked cars, you are not providing a convenience for drivers, you are just confusing them. Ride in a straight line, far enough out to be safe from unexpected doors. If you get in someone’s way it is because they don’t have room to pass you safely. This is not your problem unless you are a road engineer.

    When you are on a shared path, you sometimes have to slow down. Some pedestrians are fools, and don’t have enough common sense to keep left. Some of them will be startled to see a bicycle, even though there are signs explaining that this is a possibility. Assume that they are foreigners, it’s easier that way.

    When you’re going to change lanes, you indicate. When you’re going to turn, you indicate. Just because motorists don’t do it, doesn’t mean it isn’t the law. It applies to cyclists, just do it.

    Hardly anybody is actually trying to kill you. Thus, your main safety concern is making sure that nobody kills you by accident. Your two main strategies are being visible and being predictable. These are more important than being convenient. If anyone sounds a horn at you, this means they are aware of your presence, and you have succeeded.

    You are legally permitted to give a thank-you wave after you have held people up. This is a good idea, because some drivers are idiots and require your help to conceive of the notion that you might have an agenda other than personal animosity. Fostering this notion is a gift to other cyclists.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    In my mind, I don’t think it is too strong to suggest that the Council and some of its employees are criminally negligent and directly responsible for Jane’s death.

    More precisely, the members of the former Eastern and Bays Community Board, who chose political convenience and personal preference over safety and blocked the proposed change. I personally find it ludicrous that they had any say in the matter whatsoever, but even the Ken Baugley is reported as having said that E&BCB were the reason this wasn't fixed in '06.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3910 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    you are not providing a convenience for drivers, you are just confusing them

    This. Remember some of them are easily confused. Be predictable. Really try to do the thing the car drivers expects you to do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3425 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    This law may be imperfect, but it still applies to cyclists.

    One of the reasons that cyclists (and motorcyclists) are rather free and easy with traffic laws is because they are designed with cars, and more or less only cars, in mind.

    What is sensible behaviour for a car is often bloody daft for a cyclist, or motorcyclist.

    Descending a steep hill with only one hand on your brakes because you have to hold the other one out as your turn signal, for example?

    Not saying cyclists should unilaterally declare themselves outside the law, but it might be nice if other road users acknowledged this and made allowances. And those making the laws and designing the roads.

    In my experience, cyclists and motorcyclists tend to have an extremely acute sense of their own vulnerability when it comes to cars. Behaviour that might result in a minor fender-bender between two cars can result in serious injury or death if one of those cars is swapped for a two-wheeler.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    The community board had to address the concerns of the community and very few support removal of parking spaces on Tamaki Drive. There are lots of very popular beaches and people need to park their cars. If there are too few carparks people will park illegally or park on narrow residential streets or not come - two of these things are bad for road safety and the other one is very bad for the community.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Descending a steep hill with only one hand on your brakes because you have to hold the other one out as your turn signal, for example?

    I believe that's the little known "stick your appropriate leg out" alternative sub-rule.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6207 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Angus, certainly representative of classic thinking for that particular community - that the only way to get somewhere is to drive one's car and demand a park for it only a very short walk from one's objective. Else social order and the economy would surely collapse.. :)

    Local knowledge is valuable for some decisions but to ensure fairness and respect for evidence, some policy and standards do need to be set at a broader level and implemented consistently and sensitively across the region. That tension seems likely to continue when you look at the pressure to delegate substantive decisions to the new council's local boards but their lack of leverage over Auckland Transport and the Auckland Council.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Rich Lock,

    What is sensible behaviour for a car is often bloody daft for a cyclist, or motorcyclist.

    Descending a steep hill with only one hand on your brakes because you have to hold the other one out as your turn signal, for example?

    Oh granted, I was being more than a little glib there. There are certainly situations in which obeying the letter of the law is unreasonable, and sensible people ought to exercise good judgement. Occasionally the law adjusts to account for these situations, as with the recent change that removed the requirement for cyclists to indicate at roundabouts the same way drivers are supposed to.

    But consciously recognising situations where the law isn't a good fit is one thing. Acting as if it never applied to you in the first place is quite another. And it's the latter I see from other cyclists every day. Grown men riding on the footpath. People failing to indicate where the hell they intend to go. Dogs and cats living together without cycle helmets on.

    Honestly, the world would be a better place if everyone would just listen to me and the Book of Rules.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

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