It’S an issue that has people just as fired up as the Budget, and much like politicians, there’s a lot of hot air when it comes to cyclists.
Nothing gets motorists quite as fired up as someone on a bike.
Because apparently cyclists break road rules, speed, weave in and out of traffic and show irresponsible behaviour on the roads. We’ve heard it all before.
Here’s the thing. As a cyclist myself, I agree that we’re not all angels, but I’m getting fed up with the blame game that takes place on our roads everyday.
Arguments with drivers, while I’m in a bike lane, are a common occurrence.
In my personal experience I’ve experienced verbal abuse, threats and general harassment from motorists, all designed to distract and scare me.
So why society’s constant furore over cyclists?
I noticed a couple of things at the weekend which really got by back up — an article blasting all cyclists as Lycra-wearing, careless road users, and a Facebook page, Drivers for registration of bicycles, aimed at picking up everything that’s wrong with cycling.
Cyclists snapped speeding. One group was clocked at 48km per hour in a 30 zone proving some bike users do indeed speed.Source:News Corp Australia
As someone who just wants to use the road and get to work safely without the threat of conflict, I feel the need to get a few urban myths straight.
This cyclist is using the road and looks to be doing all the right things too.Source:News Corp Australia
1. Cyclists should stay off the road
Every state in Australia has laws dictating that cyclists can use the roads. If you want it changed, do something about it. Lobby your local MP, write to the relevant State Government authorities or find another way to change the law. Otherwise, deal with it.
2. Cyclists always use the footpath
For the record, it’s not illegal for cyclists to use the footpath as long as they are aged under 12 or riding with a child. Cyclists are also allowed to use it if it’s a designated shared path.
These paths are often marked and sign posted.
3. Cyclists shouldn’t ride side-by-side
It’s a myth that cyclists aren’t allowed to do this. In fact under NSW law, riders can travel a maximum of two abreast in a lane as long as they are not more than 1.5m apart. In Queensland a new law means cars must drive at least 1m from cyclists and more than 1.5 metres in faster areas. Check with your local transport authority if you aren’t sure.
4 Cycling benefits are overrated
The health benefits of keeping fit are well known, but did you know it also benefits the economy as well?
According to a Department of Infrastructure report released last year, each time someone gets on their bike for 20 minutes, the economy benefits by more than $21.
5. Cyclists cause accidents
Yes, cyclists do indeed cause accidents - that’s no dispute. But so does every other road user.
Here’s the thing; cyclists aren’t always at fault when it comes to accidents involving cars. In fact one study indicates cars are more commonly in the wrong.
According to the Centre for Automotive Research, in 79 per cent of cases the driver of the vehicle was deemed to be at fault.
6. Cyclists are a menace on the road
We’re not all perfect, are we, drivers?
While cyclists take risky moves in traffic, other roads users are just as guilty of earning the naughty title as well. Case in point.
7. Cycling isn’t dangerous
An alarming number of bike riders have been killed on the roads at a faster rate than in years past.
In its latest annual report, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found Australia and Canada were the only two countries out of 27 members to notch up an increase in cycling deaths between 2000 and 2011.
Cyclist deaths in Australia jumped at a greater rate than motorcyclists (up 6 per cent), but according to NRMA spokesman Peter Koury, this isn’t because cyclists are taking unnecessary risks but probably more due to an increase of cyclists using the roads.
8. Cyclists should pay registration
This has long been touted as a solution by the anti-cycling brigade to make bike users more accountable.
Bike registration is an option not even Australia’s peak motoring body agrees with.
The NRMA’s Peter Koury said it was difficult to enforce and there would be potential safety risks.
For example, the idea of displaying a number plate like you would on a vehicle caused concern about injuries or distractions.
“If we really want to see accidents involving cyclists drop we need more education, better use of cycle lanes and better separation of cars and bikes,” he said.
“We want to encourage people to use their bikes and registration won’t do that.”
9. Cyclists cause congestion
Unless cyclists take up an entire lane for the whole duration of their journey it’s unlikely they’re causing more congestion.
Overtaking a cyclist is no different to overtaking a parked car, so if it bothers you that much, I suggest avoiding main roads with cycle lanes.
10. Bike lanes are unnecessary
Far from being a pain, bike lanes make cycling safer. But according to the NRMA, they need to be in the right places.
Mr Koury said the organisation was happy to promote the separation of bike and car users but that lanes should be built in appropriate places and not on busy roads.
On the upside, the cost of a typical off-road path is about $1.5 million per kilometre, far cheaper than building billions of dollars in highways.