Saturday, February 20, 2010

It has been a terrible month for cycling in Brisbane. I am not writing about training or racing this time, I am just looking at what is happening on our roads at the moment.

To start, we had the local paper (not worth to mention the name here) publishing a few articles with clear intentions to further divide and, even worse, create more conflict in between two groups of road users.

Unfortunately, the journalists writing the stories and their bosses din't (and still don't) realise that stories of this type, published in a city where the "bikes shouldn't be on the road" culture coexists with a "lets not change the rules even to save more lives" attitude by the organisations that are in control of the roads, might harm people who for different reasons prefer to leave their cars at home and ride their bicycles.

Dramatic as it sounds, it is noticeable that drivers do react to stories like that by expressing their opinions when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. That is done by verbal abuse, the dispose of a cigarette butt or just a drive past, only centimetres from a cyclist’s exposed body. The Magda Szubanski fiasco proved this to be the case last year, when many cyclists were told to get off the road or be “doored".

It doesn’t help when motor vehicle associations try to advocate their ownership of the state’s roads on behalf of their members, when they should promote safe use of the roads to everybody instead. Fundamentally, they fail to realise that when one of their members “accidently” hurt another road user, they will have a long term physiological condition to deal with, therefore everybody looses.

That brings me, with lots of sadness, to the latest fatal incident in Brisbane, when a young cyclist was hit by a truck when commuting home after work. The driver might or might not have failed to obey the road rules, and might or might not have seen the cyclist, but he was obviously travelling at an uncontrollable speed for the traffic conditions at the time.

I wrote uncontrollable speed based on the fact that the cyclist was dragged under the truck for 30 metres after the impact, as stated in the Police report.

Thirty metres! What a horror!! Is that what takes to stop a truck approaching an intersection marked with a couple of give way signs? If the answer is yes, these heavy vehicles are travelling too fast on our roads. What if it was a school crossing?

Clearly, we are not trained well enough to handle fast cars (check the number of fatal crashes by speeding drivers in Australia) and we are driving heavy vehicles at speeds that won’t allow the drivers to stop in time when needed(see the opposition leader’s close call this week). These factors are causing a lot of accidents and hurting a lot of people in this country.

The rules have to change!

Safe riding!!

1 comment:

Dee said...

I figure peak oil can't come soon enough. Driving too fast will become unacceptable as it wastes fuel, and so speed limits will have to drop, way fewer people will drive...bring it on.

I was gutted by the report of the cyclist killed last week. Be careful out there.

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