Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fear of Cycling

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  • MikeStead,

    Yes. Dedicated, separated space is critical. As is repeal of the helmet law. This is an unavoidable reality. And timely for this study to show just how much more danger Kiwis are in, in their own homes or on the sports field. Why aren't rugby helmets compulsory, eh? Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for concussion or disability that could have been avoided?

    (Note: I really am not after answers, it was just a single example to highlight the irony of a study where the activity that's 500x safer is the one that's got a helmet law).

    Outside Londinium. It's n… • Since Mar 2017 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Williams, in reply to MikeStead,

    And parking. Sometimes - often - there isn't anything convenient to attach your bike without creating an obstruction. I recently popped into the French Bakery in Petone (bread imported frozen from Paris). No space on the pavement so just parked my bike on the curb in the traditional manner. A minute later, emerging with my freshly baked baguette, I was yelled at by a women saying 'you are parking in my car park'. I had inadvertently taken up one of the rare vacant spaces on Jackson Street. The ensuing conversation is irrelevant - suffice to say it was unconstructive - but it got me thinking about notions of 'car parks' and bikes. So I checked the Transport Act. True enough, bikes are classified as vehicles (as anyone who's been pulled over for a DIC of a bike knows). I then emailed Lower Hutt Parking folks who confirmed that indeed they are 'vehicle parks' not 'car parks'. But added the following telling comment :

    "My only caution is that if you use a car park, you may infuriate a motorist who could take out his/her frustrations on your cycle, pushing it out of the way to make way for their vehicle. (That sort of thing can happen when there are no parks vacant). "

    As a car driver (as most adult cyclists probably are), his point rings true, but why can't I be infuriated also that a car has taken up my space. Time to bang on a few roofs (a highly effective way of expressing your displeasure at car drivers I learned in London years ago - it scares the bejesus out of them).

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Green, in reply to Bob Williams,

    Attachment

    Re parking... 15 bikes + 1 scooter in one car park. Happy for anyone to use this for the purposes of advocating for better bike parking.

    Waitakere • Since Jul 2008 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Great post, Russell! I share your astonishment at the speeds people travel on local streets, even when there are kids on bikes all around… likewise, the gratitude when someone slows down or gives way or even just makes eye contact. Bike-friendly streets are just friendlier in general.

    With my Bike Auckland hat on: if anyone’s keen on local projects to make things more bike-friendly, we’re running a free workshop this Wednesday about how to pitch bike-friendly projects to your Local Boards in a way that makes it easy for them to say yes :-) More info here.

    The timing is just right – Local Boards are finalizing their budgets and priorities over the next weeks and months. And it’s amazing how much money (esp transport budget) just gets left on the table if there’s no decent project to tie it to.

    The workshop will be run by the very wise Richard Barter, former chair of the Puketapapa Local Board and the visionary who got Roskill’s exemplary greenways up and running.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1470 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    My partner bought an e-bike at the beginning of this year and we've been cycling a lot, her on the e-bike and me on my road bike, usually single file. For the most part it's been great. As I experienced two years ago when I spent a lot of my long service leave cycling around Auckland most drivers in Auckland are really good around bikes.

    The bike paths are getting better every day and even the fairly useless green painted paths are helping define space for bikes. Then there's the doofus who decided that because the green paint had been painted over the dotted yellow line on Mt Abert rd opposite Owairaka Ave then it was obviously now an acceptable parking space - sigh.

    The problem is the 1 in 500 driver (number pulled out of my head but feels about right). Like the little blue car that decided to overtake us down a hill in the rain on a narrow road with a blind corner ahead - and yes a car came round the corner forcing him to cut in on us. Never mind that we were doing over 50 kph in the rain anyway and waiting a minute behind us would have given him a perfectly safe passing zone.

    It's that guy, the one that swerves into you as they pass or stops at the lights completely covering the green paint. Those are the ones that make cycling scary - it doesn't matter how experienced you are on the bike they threaten your life.

    And I just don't get it, every time we ride to work it's one less car and one more parking space for them - you'd think they'd like us on the road not try and kill us or just scare us with their one tonne metal sledgehammer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Great North Road in heavy traffic, past Waterview. Guy honks, overtakes me, hits the queue at the lights. Again, he honks, overtakes, hits the queue. Happens a third time. Only this time, he pulls over on a broken yellow line. Gets out of the car. Holds the door open, and stands holding it, blocking the entire left lane. My mind is racing. What is this? Is he going to try and clock me a roundhouse to the jaw? Does he wish to tell me something? Doesn't matter, the light goes green. I surge past him with a million other cars. But if the right lane was blocked with traffic, I'd have had nowhere to go. And he knew it, too.

    Some folks got it all messed up, I reckon.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It’s that guy, the one that swerves into you as they pass or stops at the lights completely covering the green paint.

    Must have been the same one that – on a regular basis – turns left _just_ in front of me, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I’m moving forwards. In fact, seemingly oblivious to everything.

    It’s real easy to get angry at that guy.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 396 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    I reckon it's a symptom of bullying. They are not having a good life, so they make themselves feel better by picking on someone smaller than them (ie car versus bike). I don't understand how people can be so oblivious to their own behaviour, but there it is. I don't commute by bike, because my homeward journey involves risking my life travelling westward along Jervois Rd, with 2 narrow lanes, lots of cars, and some of them entering and leaving car parks and side roads (sometimes without indicating). The safest way is to take the lane (and I always get my speed up over 40kph when I do so), but the occasional car driver takes real exception to this. My life (and health) is precious to me, so I am not willing to risk it on a daily basis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 590 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin McCready,

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    I have to confess I haven't worried too much about car doors since I was 14 (I'm now 57). I ride to take up my lane and block other traffic when I need to. It's in the road code: “it is acceptable to move further out into the path of traffic to prevent other users from passing you.” Most drivers these days are accepting of my riding style (as opposed to 5 years ago). Change is coming!!

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 109 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper, in reply to MikeStead,

    Rugby helmets wouldn't actually help with concussion. Watch the movie Concussion with an excellent performance by Will Smith to see how even wearing helmets in American Football still leads to severe brain damage for many players. For rugby, the introduction of compulsory mouth guards has led to a sharp reduction in concussions.

    Since Jul 2008 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Sam M,

    I ride a lot in traffic around West Auckland and into town. To be honest, I am not so scared of the cars that buzz too close or give me a hard time (though they do give you a fright at the time). It's the ones that just don't see you that will kill you. My closest calls have all been cars that simply pulled out in front of me from side streets or driveways leaving me no-where to go.

    I'm also with Russell - I find riding to be cathartic (not sure if that is the right word) in that I concentrate hard and actually arrive home feeling pretty good about everything! I also agree that being a driver helps knowing what drivers are thinking and likely to do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Sam M, in reply to Chopper,

    I thought I read somewhere a few years ago that research suggested helmets in rugby actually made things worse because they caused the players to believe they have more protection than they actually did and so they took less care of their heads...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    I agree. It is about being assertive and where it might be dangerous to stay to the left, I move out into the lane until I consider the danger has passed and it works well.

    As an aside, I was for Copenhagen-style bike lanes a few years back, but as a car-less cyclist living in Melbourne, I find the Copenhagen-style bike lane on La Trobe Street to be more dangerous than ordinary streets. Pedestrians spill out onto the cycle lane with no consideration that there might be a cyclist coming. People cross it without looking, while talking on their mobiles. Almost every time I use it I have a near miss. I'm now more for the ordinary streets with a cycle lane to the right of the parked cars, or a dedicated cycle path well away from streets.

    Since Jul 2008 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    As I experienced two years ago when I spent a lot of my long service leave cycling around Auckland most drivers in Auckland are really good around bikes.

    And imo, it's getting steadily better – it's worth saying this out loud. I've been pleased and surprised a few times lately.

    Otoh, my current bugbear is drivers who think it's okay to pull into (and block) a cycle lane while they wait to turn left at an intersection, or who roll forward into the stop-box at the lights. C'mon, people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Like the little blue car

    More often the tradie in a great big ute, in my experience.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22182 posts Report Reply

  • Ali Stafford-Bush, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I cycle into the city 4 days out of 5 - early in the morning but then in peak hour traffic going home. The ones that don't seem to want to share the space with bikes (from my experience over the last 10 years of work commuting) are the buses - my god, how close can they get to you!
    The other thing that is necessary to get people onto their bikes is a supportive employer - we have showers, towels, and a lock up cage for bikes - makes it a no brainer!

    auckland • Since Mar 2017 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Sam M,

    My experience is that it is the rule rather than the exception that the front car will stop inside the green cycle box at intersections. I always make a point of riding out and stopping in front of the car to claim my space.

    The worst intersections are those that split from one lane to two for the intersection and then converge back to one lane on the other side. Cars racing to get one or two places ahead give me the s&ˆts. Blockhouse Bay Rd / New North Rd / St Jude St is the one of the worst for this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    I cycle to work when I'm working in town and yeah, you do have to keep your wits about you. The cycleways are good and have greatly improved my cycling experience since I started riding to work in 2011. Bring on the Ian McKinnon Drive cycleway ! I often ride that way and while the cars are usually pretty good, there are those pesky drains that you have to ride around which is enough to get too close to the cars' "lane".

    Never mind that we were doing over 50 kph in the rain anyway and waiting a minute behind us would have given him a perfectly safe passing zone.

    Exactly, it's really no skin off their nose to bide their time and then accelerate when the way is clear. Once I was driving south along Highway 25 in Coromandel in that narrow and windy bit just south of Manaia. There were a couple of cyclists up ahead who were keeping to the left,but I refused to overtake until I could do so with an absolute clear view. This took a couple of minutes, and the cyclists were getting stressed that I wasn't overtaking since many drivers are less risk averse.

    As is repeal of the helmet law.

    I don't know about this, I've fallen off / been knocked off my bike enough appreciate having even an imperfect protection between my head and the road.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 520 posts Report Reply

  • AThrift,

    Whilst we're at it I can attest that Wellington car drivers are good with bikes; I go up and down Brooklyn Hill every day. Some of the best drivers are lorry and truck drivers (thank god). I always wave my thanks when cars and trucks are considerate, I like to think this is driving their behaviour (pun intended).

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    As is repeal of the helmet law.

    I don't know about this, I've fallen off / been knocked off my bike enough appreciate having even an imperfect protection between my head and the road.

    This has been explained in two previous threads.

    We probably shouldn't go there again but absolutely wearing a helmet is a good idea even if they are a bit less useful than we think.

    It's the law that is the problem. The law has unintended consequences and it's trivial to show that it raises the likelyhood of having a car v bike accident.

    It wasn't a bad idea to try a law but it had a negative effect and should be repealed because it does more harm than good.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Morgan,

    Keep up the good work Russell. Useful analysis of the Fear of Cycling by sociologist Dave Horton at http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/09/fear-of-cycling-01-essay-in-five-parts.html
    "Most people seem finally to have realised that cycling is ‘a good thing’, but many still don’t cycle. So what stops them getting on their bikes? Explanations typically focus on physical factors such as climate, hills and infrastructure. Emotional barriers to cycling are easily overlooked, but are also massively important. Chief among these emotional barriers is a fear of cycling."

    Wellington • Since Jun 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Regarding good drivers. I tweeted the other day about a police car that modeled perfect driving around cyclists through what can be a confusing intersection on Mt Albert Rd.

    Hopefully as people see good drivers give cyclists appropriate space and consideration more drivers will learn how to do it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Sam M,

    it is the rule rather than the exception that the front car will stop inside the green cycle box at intersections

    I had the amusement the other day of a cop car being stopped at the lights when I pulled up in the next lane. Passenger side cop says while I'm still moving "you going to stop for the red light?" (you can tell I was barely moving, he got that whole sentence out while I was still in earshot). My offence? Stopping with my front wheel over the white line. My second offence: asking what his driver said when he made the same remark to them. Passenger in the back seat, also a cop, saw the funny side and shut him down. Cops here are the most flagrant scofflaws of the lot, complaining is pointless but they're also very ready to dismiss any complaint by a cyclist about anything.

    Also, it's no skin of the motorists nose if you fall off your bike and slide off the road or under their car after they overtake and pull in or hit the brakes. What are you gunna do - scratch the paint a little bit?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1014 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It’s the law that is the problem. The law has unintended consequences and it’s trivial to show that it raises the likelyhood of having a car v bike accident.

    Have you got a link handy ? The wiki page doesn't seem to mention this phenomenon.

    It’s the ones that just don’t see you that will kill you.

    I've actually seen a passenger open a car door as the cyclist ahead passed to the left of the station car (waiting at lights). He did it on purpose purely to give the cyclist a fright (I don't think he was trying to actually hit the cyclist). Nonetheless, it was very dangerous.

    Unfortunately for this arsehole, there was a cop car behind him, and I was quick to engage the officer to deal with this situation. IIRC he got a $150 fine for being a dick.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 520 posts Report Reply

  • Jon Campbell,

    Speeds are one thing, driver attitudes and aptitudes are another, especially in heavy and slow moving traffic and in bad weather.

    This morning for example... it was wet and dull (mind you, meteorological conditions are largely irrelevant for the final example)
    1. Car pulls into the Clear Way/ bus lane outside Satya in Mount Eden Road right in front of me... brake, turn, eyeball the driver who at least apologises
    2. The car two-cars in front of her then does the exact same thing, pulls into the bus lane to pass another car, almost hits me. Yes, I have blinking, high lumen lights and a fluro jersey.
    3. Whilst waiting at the lights to turn right from Newton Rd into Upper Queen, at the most right-hand point of the lane, basically the most vulnerable point you can be in, a taxi drives past in the right hand lane. Yes it's a straight ahead / right turn lane, but FFS, he was millimeters from me!

    I used to be a firm believer in sharing the road rather than separated routes, but all I can say is Lightpath was dearly missed during its closure! Separated is absolutely better...

    Auckland • Since Mar 2017 • 1 posts Report Reply

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