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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  • Thrash Cardiom,

    I'm not a cyclist and do drive. I am very aware of cyclists and do give them a wide space when passing, don't pass until its safe and so on. However, I think some cyclists could also be a bit more aware of traffic. On a number of occasions I have been happily tootling along on our local state highway doing the speed limit when I round a corner only to find a bunch of 6 or so cyclists riding 3 or 4 abreast and suddenly having to reduce speed very fast. The cyclists usually are all geared up and look like they are training - there are no signs warning of a cycle race, no chase cart etc. This is not safe behaviour on the cyclists part.

    In the below Herald article is a photo show two cyclists riding two abreast against the flow of traffic with one clearly in the car lane. Is this safe behaviour let alone legal riding (and I am aware cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast).

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10688860

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    I have always found buses to be much more aware of and courteous to cyclists than cars - there are plenty of bus/bike lanes in Christchurch and I always felt safe in them, definitely safer than in the car lanes. Also, buses are far, far more predictable, because their stops are marked and their doors face the footpath. Makes a difference.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    @ Thrash, both cyclists in that photo are on the footpath. The cars you see are parked, the road is about 3-4 metres to the right of the roadside cyclist.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom,

    @ Yamis. Ok. Fair enough then.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    I'm kinda in both camps on this issue. I think cyclists could do a bit more at times to protect themselves, especially in certain areas. Out beyond Massey is quite a popular area for cyclists to train on the open roads so I always take care getting past them due to the speeds they are I are going at. In suburban areas I think cyclists need to be off the road at every chance they get purely because a lot of our roads are unsuitable for sharing at the moment. It's good to see more cycle lanes being put in and things made safer for road sharing like yellow lining more areas of road adjacent to cycle lanes but they can't do it to every street in the country.

    I rode a bike on South Korean streets for years and they have twice the accident rate and twice the fatality rate per capita of NZ so I am always loathe to hammer NZ drivers. I tended to go for rides in the evening so I could use the footpaths at every opportunity. I've been to enough countries to know that we aren't the worst drivers in the world. Not even close.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Deceiving photo though Thrash. I saw what you saw when I first had a look. Then just noticed the faint edge of the footpath and put the rest of it together.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom,

    It’s good to see more cycle lanes being put in and things made safer for road sharing like yellow lining more areas of road adjacent to cycle lanes but they can’t do it to every street in the country.

    The local district council recently put cycle lanes on most streets in the main towns in this district. The amount of venom directed at both the Council and cyclists because of this is incredible.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The key point in that Herald story is that Cycle Action Auckland highlighted the "pinch-point" created by a new median barrier on that stretch of road four years ago. It's tragic that only now are the four parking spaces being removed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Yamis,

    I’ve been to enough countries to know that we aren’t the worst drivers in the world. Not even close.

    Some numbers to put the debate in context can be found here, here and here. {Warning - some biggish pdf docs]

    I find it fascinating (in a horrified kinda way) that our road death rate (death’s per 100,000 population) is worse than many low income countries and worse than just about every country in Western Europe, yet at the same time we seem to have a relatively low death rate relative to the vehicle population. See especially Figures 2 and 3 of the third link.

    So we aren’t the worst drivers in the world but given our status as a developed nation (arguable for many reasons, I know) we are clearly a long way from where we ought to be.

    On a slightly different note, it just struck me that one way of looking at this is the imbalance in the way we as road users view rights and obligations. We have a right to be on the road but with it comes obligations to give consideration to fellow road users. We seem to be pretty hot about the first and crap on the second.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Petra,

    In 19th century newspaper articles, use of the comma, is, generous and seem, ingly random. I am led to wonder, if, perchance this, has something to do, with ladies in, strapped and squeezed too, tight bodices causing breath, shortage whilst reading.

    Rotorua • Since Mar 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz,

    I have this mental image of Victorian ladies all passed out due to excessively rapid breathing ironically induced by reading "bodice-rippers".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Yeah but, have we not given up the 2 lanes in order for the bus to move along at a pace, stopping and starting, of which I often see is not what the cyclist should be up against. Otherwise why have the bus lane? I wish everyone was considerate of everyone else on the road. What I find dangerous is where a bus will stop for passengers embarking, cyclists pull out to pass said bus ending back in traffic which always makes me cringe at the sight of sudden little cyclist sandwiched in between, but no footpath space either. I always give way to cyclists. It's not hard and I can't see any point in frustration behind the wheel until another person puts my life at risk, then I use the horn. Loud and proud.
    Maybe you don't have fastest bus drivers that Auckland should be claiming, then again a bunch of your buses have just been ordered off the road for things like no back door opening or no bell working (which I found amusing) :)
    But also, take off the ipods/ mp3players when cycling/ driving. Mind total distraction. You are not in your own little world. You're on tarseal on the planet, that is proving time and time again that it requires good concentration. jmo.
    Not expressing myself well, brain malfunction.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    In 19th century newspaper articles, use of the comma, is, generous

    Especially the ones before the “and”. There could be random ones ‘cos the papers have been OCRed and I did a quick edit of the ’translation’.I probably missed some…a lot…many…r n gets read regulary as m. f as t etc etc annoying but I think it an amazing tool to search the old papers for history. Discovered my Greatgrandfather’s wife before my GGmum “cut her throat with her own hand” in all it’s gory details in there as well. Never seen such lucid accounts these days.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1588 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Wellingtonians! here is a two wheeled event. The launch of the first part of the Great Harbour Way ride, with the lovely Celia Wade Brown. Departing from under the Queens Wharf sails at 10 am Sunday 21st Nov, destination Seatoun ferry wharf.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 821 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    One question living in China has raised in my mind is this: How the hell can New Zealand ever have incidents of road rage? Even Auckland's congestion moves much more smoothly and with far less trouble than regular rushhour traffic on any of Beijing's main roads. And I was in Auckland last February, so my impression is not totally out of date.

    For all its faults, and there are many (you think NZ driver training is poor? My brother in law got his licence without ever learning how to open the bonnet, boot or petrol cap, let alone learning basic terminology or even what a lane is. And then consider that somewhere in the region of half of Beijing's drivers have had their licence less than three years), China's drivers, even the arrogant, selfish ones who invade cycle lanes to try and jump queues, understand and respect the fact that they share the roads with cyclists, tricyclists, and similar vehicles with small petrol or electric motors. Still, China's roads were built for cyclists, mass car ownership is a very recent phenomenon, and there are still huge numbers of people who commute by bike, so the set-up is vastly superior to New Zealand's. Only the smallest roads don't have cycle lanes, and the cycle lanes are wide. I have to say that there have been only a very few times involving stupid behaviour by a driver (every country has its idiots) that I have felt in any danger cycling in China.

    Who was it who said something about cyclists just "popping out" of traffic? I believe this is largely because Kiwis generally don't consider bikes to be a proper part of the traffic mix and numbers of cyclists still aren't that great (though apparently growing, which makes me happy). When people change their attitudes towards cycling and numbers of cyclists reach a critical enough mass, cyclists will become more visible because people will generally expect them to be there. Of course, I'm not denying that stupid behaviour by some cyclists is a part of the problem, I'm just saying that the presence of a cyclist seems to be a big surprise for far too many NZ road users, be they pedestrians or drivers.

    And I love bus lanes and cycle lanes. Bus lanes take the buses out of the congestion, which can only improve public transport outcomes, which can only encourage more people to take public transport, which encourages further development of public transport. Creating a dedicated safe space for cyclists can only have a similar effect.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Who was it who said something about cyclists just “popping out” of traffic? I believe this is largely because Kiwis generally don’t consider bikes to be a proper part of the traffic mix and numbers of cyclists still aren’t that great (though apparently growing, which makes me happy). When people change their attitudes towards cycling and numbers of cyclists reach a critical enough mass, cyclists will become more visible because people will generally expect them to be there.

    I would emphasize that part of “considering bikes to be a proper part of the traffic mix” is actually being aware and on the lookout for cyclists. [Edit: Ahead of cyclists reaching the critical mass - we gotta learn to walk before we run,no?] Here in Wellywood the potential for cyclists to move into the middle of the lane is very high given that a large part of our road network is narrow and winding.

    It seems obvious (but not to some) that the roads here are not suitable for driving at 50 km/h all the time. It’s just a little extension to that in acknowledging that cyclists may slow traffic speed down further where it is simply not safe for motor vehicles to overtake cyclists. Personally, that doesn’t seem a big ask to me (I’m lazy – ahem – old enough to not want to rush anywhere) but I can see that this would irritate huge chunks of the car-driving population – especially the ones that seem to have trouble wearing their baseball caps round the right way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    My brother and a cycling mate are embarking on a 1500 km journey across South America from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso today. Previously, they cycled across the United States on Route 66 - over three holidays, I should say - and when he was back in NZ for a while, did the whole length of the country from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island. He has also cycled extensively in Europe - said the most dangerous place was France (he thought he might not survive it).

    When he worked in Wellington, he cycled to and from work every day. He lived in Broadmeadows.

    He's very fit.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Bryan Dods, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    take off the ipods/ mp3players when cycling/ driving

    I agree. Why impede one of the senses when involved in a high risk task.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Bryan Dods,

    The trick being in getting people to realise that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    But also, take off the ipods/ mp3players when cycling/ driving. Mind total distraction.

    I agree too. Actually, hasn't it also been established recently - sadly, with the death of a young pedestrian - that it's not an altogether safe thing to do around roads? Almost on a par with talking on the phone, texting.....

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Bryan Dods,

    Are there many training programmes for riders in NZ? Have any readers attended them? Did they raise awareness?

    Many car drivers carry bad habits from when they were taught to drive by bad drivers. They never rise above that level, possibly because they are unaware that there are higher levels.
    Surveys show 85% of car drivers believe they are above average standard.

    Because riding a bike can be learned young and self-taught it is possible that there are riders that have a similar belief in their ability.

    If bikes are on the road with other users it could only be of benefit to all if they had to pass a certain level of competence before they went out to tangle with the steel monsters.
    I know it sounds like it would take away a freedom but it is a lot more dangerous out there than having a pedal around a park.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bryan Dods,

    Bryan, that would only work if the problem was the way cyclists use the road. Either put up some evidence that everyone else is wrong about that being false or perhaps try another angle will you.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    How dare those freeloading non-road-user-charge-paying primary schoolkids presume to bike to school on the same roads that are the natural domain of Bryan’s scrotum-tightening steel monsters.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Bryan Dods, in reply to Sacha,

    "everyone else" - I used to use that with my parents as a teen.

    If the driver/rider apportionment for accidents is about 75/25 as stated earlier it might indicate to some people that there is a problem with the way some cyclists use the road.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Matthew gives statistics that show cyclists don’t even cause their own deaths.
    They’re almost perfect then – except for an ability to discuss the issue without getting emotion involved.

    Have a nice weekend people. Oh!, and happy cycling.

    “everyone else” – I used to use that with my parents as a teen.

    Nice to know that you've kicked that last one. Once you're over the passive aggression on stilts thing you'll be quite the role model.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

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