Downhill wrote:Different cities have different hazards. We don't have to worry about tram lines or hook turns in Perth. Nor do we have the problems with the deep gutters found in cities with high rainfall. On the other hand, Perth is a relatively young city that hasn't yet been choked by ribbon development and urban infill. Most of the road expansion around Perth has taken place within the last 20 years, which means the roads are generally in better condition and usually have wider, well paved shoulders. In my opinion this means that drivers don't move as far to the right when overtaking. They generally expect cyclists to stay out of the way.
Brisbane drivers too, and wide well-paved shoulders are in short supply on my commute. I guess I should qualify that: there are wide paved shoulders here and there. Generally, they are full of rubbish, or parked cars, or they disappear 200 metres up the road, leaving you trying to merge at the top of a hill or something .
I suspect that road conditions may have less to do with it than you think. I have this situation on my commute which I think illustrates the point nicely. There's a two-lane road that goes through a cutting. No shoulder at all: the road is right next to a rock wall. There's a nice big drainage grate, a heap of plants and whatnot, and I turn left about 150m down the road.
Staying left doesn't work.
One, I need to come right to get around the drainage grate. Keeping left and nipping out at the last is a bad idea. So I move over early in order to be visible, be predictable and all that.
Two, if I stay far left, the only place I have to go is right: out into traffic. Woe betide me if anything unexpected happens.
Three, it's a two-lane road. Traffic is usually light at the times I ride on it. Avoiding a cyclist who is taking the lane is easy: change lanes. Failing that, poke along for 150m. That'd take, what, 30 seconds?
I have noticed that staying left invites dicey overtaking, both from cars and (joy) from buses. Staying left doesn't make people give me more room when overtaking. If anything they give me less. How much room do I have when a motorist overtakes me there? As much room as I claim. So I take the lane. It gets me the odd bit of engine-revving and verbal abuse, but I'll take that over being the soft squashy bit between a bus and a rock wall when there's nowhere to go.
The point is, I won't stay out of the way by riding through rubbish on the shoulder, or riding in the doorzone or otherwise taking unnecessary risks. No decent human being should expect me to risk life and limb to save a few seconds on their commute. Yet here I am, in a position where it's self-evidently dangerous to hug the gutter and I'm still expected to do exactly that. That's why I contend that the expectation to stay out of the way has nothing to do with road conditions and everything to do with motorists' sense of entitlement, which has built up over decades.