Traffic controllers

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

Traffic controllers

Postby Red Rider » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:09 pm

On my commute home (green line) the council has been redoing the stormwater system under the road on The Strand, and at the same time installing islands and some bike lanes yay!

As I came up to the T-junction (blue circle) where the roadworks are happening, I put my arm out to turn right on it. There was one lollipop man and 2 others standing around. Then one of the 'traffic controllers' asks me which way I'm going, so I point again where I'm going (alongside the red line). The lane travelling the other way was being resurfaced (red line). So the man tells me to "go on the path buddy" (pink line), to which I tell him that cyclists 12 or over aren't allowed to ride on footpaths. He pauses to soak in this new piece of information. I decide that this man should not be in control of my safety and start to go along The Strand. He then says "Well I'm the traffic controller and I'm telling you to use the path." By this time I have to yell over my shoulder "I don't think you can make me break the law" and complete these intersections without a problem.

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I'm not sure if they can force people to break the rules. Is there a time in which it is reasonable to allow traffic controllers to instruct the public to use alternative routes that may contravene the law? In this instance, there was absolutely no reason why I couldn't use the road like all the cars were, like I do every day!
But then if I do go onto a footpath under their instruction, and injure a pedestrian, who is liable?

Besides this, if I were to go on the footpath there was no way I could get across the roadworks to continue on my usual route.
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by BNA » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:30 pm

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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:30 pm

The green line along the Strand was open to vehicular traffic? No signs forbidding bicycles? If so, then you can use it.

To the best of my knowledge, you are legally required to obey the lawful commands of a site traffic controller but making you use a footpath don't sound too legal to me.

One method I've used to shut these types up is to whip out your phone and start the voice recorder. Ask them to state their name and company then repeat the instruction. No way they can deny it if things go pear shaped.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby bigfriendlyvegan » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:20 pm

Mulger bill wrote:To the best of my knowledge, you are legally required to obey the lawful commands of a site traffic controller but making you use a footpath don't sound too legal to me.


To be a TC you pay $160 and sit through a one day course where you watch a video staring a 17yo Russel Crowe directing Kingswoods and Valiants on a country road. Yes, I'm serious.

You do need to obey the directions of the TC, but that doesn't mean you can't use common sense, as in this situation. It's really a matter of safety and your safety is your responsibility.

Having said all of that, we had a guy decide to ignore the TCs on Saturday and then drive through the barricades that we had further along, then proceed to almost take out a bunch of cyclists before he reached the next set of barricades, some security guards and the rangers who just happened to be around at the time. Sometimes the TCs know more about what's going on than you do and by ignoring their directions you could be putting someone else's life at risk by your actions.

Just some thoughts from a casual TC. I only TC for road races and criteriums, but I do have my full ticket.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby il padrone » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:24 pm

Were they requiring the drivers of motor vehicles to drive on the footpath?

No? Well that seals it - legally you are the same as a driver of any other vehicle.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby MarkG » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:32 pm

Couple pics of the OGE lads from today

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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby grantw » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:35 pm

I've been directed onto the footpath by the traffic controller at roadworks a couple of times now, both times it was clearly the best option as the road surface was heavily gouged plus it saved a wait for me.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby ldrcycles » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:28 am

As mulger bill said, you are required to obey any LAWFUL commands from a traffic controller, if it's illegal to ride on the footpath in your state (QLD it's fine) then he simply cannot tell you to do so.

My dad does TC and i have done the test (though haven't put it in to action yet) and there is absolutely nothing taught about cyclists, which is ridiculous given the rampant ignorance about the laws surrounding them.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby Alien27 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:05 am

I would have done what he directed. Often there is another traffic controller on the other end of the works in radio contact with your controller. They often use one side of the road for both directions of traffic and they might be sending a car from the other direction up your side of the road.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby Sweeper59 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:44 am

Many TCP's are prepared by people who DON'T have a cycling background, and forget to consider ALL road-users. However, as cyclist AND a Traffic Engineer who often prepares Traffic Control Plans for roadworks, I probably give more consideration to cyclists through my workzones than is generally required. Unfortunately, many road work sites involve narrow lanes and squeeze points, unsealed surfaces, loose gravel, obstacles (traffic cones, barriers etc), and it may be safer to ride on the footpath.

I'd be contacting the Council and having a conversation with the Traffic Engineer or Works Engineer, and reminding them that cyclists are legal roadusers (and ratepayers) and need to be considered at worksites.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby human909 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:42 am

While this is a humorous anecdote that I didn't mind reading, I don't see the need to follow it up with the council or to navel gaze into the deep legalities of being directed to ride on the footpath. Yes there are stupid people in this world and yes some of them end up holding traffic signs, i don't think this is news to anybody.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby m@ » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:30 am

ldrcycles wrote:As mulger bill said, you are required to obey any LAWFUL commands from a traffic controller, if it's illegal to ride on the footpath in your state (QLD it's fine) then he simply cannot tell you to do so.

He can, of course, direct you to dismount and walk on the footpath; maybe this is what he was getting at?

Personally I'd just do as directed; you'll be left without a leg to stand on if you come a cropper after ignoring the TC.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby human909 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:14 pm

m@ wrote:Personally I'd just do as directed; you'll be left without a leg to stand on if you come a cropper after ignoring the TC.


Because clearly a TC knows more about staying safe on a bike than you do. :roll: The faith that some people have in "Authority" in a fluro vest amazes me!

(My brother's mate spent one day being a TC for on a building/council work site. He had a sign with two options, STOP & SLOW. Yet he still managed to cause an accident on his first day and was fired following that!)
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby biker jk » Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:26 pm

Let me add that I pass a construction site on a regular basis where the TCs are thick as bricks and cause mayhem and safety problems. Many TCs are backpackers with little training or knowledge of Australian road laws, conditions, etc. while others are challenged to walk and chew gum at the same time.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby uppo75 » Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:22 pm

I'm in QLD and I was directed in exactly the same manner a while ago.
I pulled up to the stop sign guy and he said " Mate, use the footpath". I questioned why, starting to get defensive. :evil:
He replied" Well, you could sit here and wait for more than 5 minutes or you could go around the roadworks right now, by using the footpath" :oops:

I rode off to work silently scolding myself for being a w*nker. :roll: He was just trying to help me out.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby herzog » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:03 pm

ldrcycles wrote:As mulger bill said, you are required to obey any LAWFUL commands from a traffic controller, if it's illegal to ride on the footpath in your state (QLD it's fine) then he simply cannot tell you to do so.


How about when they direct you onto the wrong side of the road due to roadworks?

This is pretty common.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby WarbyD » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:06 pm

human909 wrote:
m@ wrote:Personally I'd just do as directed; you'll be left without a leg to stand on if you come a cropper after ignoring the TC.


Because clearly a TC knows more about staying safe on a bike than you do. :roll: The faith that some people have in "Authority" in a fluro vest amazes me!


Probably not - but I bet that TC knows a damned sight more than you do about staying safe around road construction and other civil works - in particular around the particular bit of work that he's been directly involved with for however many hours/days/weeks prior to you cycling up to that point.

It costs money to put traffic control in place - it isn't done just for laughs.

The faith that some people have in their own "authority" amazes me!
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby m@ » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:18 pm

human909 wrote:
m@ wrote:Personally I'd just do as directed; you'll be left without a leg to stand on if you come a cropper after ignoring the TC.


Because clearly a TC knows more about staying safe on a bike than you do. :roll: The faith that some people have in "Authority" in a fluro vest amazes me!

(My brother's mate spent one day being a TC for on a building/council work site. He had a sign with two options, STOP & SLOW. Yet he still managed to cause an accident on his first day and was fired following that!)

The TC is certainly in a position to know more about the traffic and road conditions than me—but that's not the primary reason I'd do as they say; if I'm reversed over by a truck or fall into a sewer I'd prefer to have the option to pursue compensation through court.

The TC may indeed be a knee-jerk reactionary, but if you ignore them and get hurt on a worksite IMO it's nobodies' fault but your own.

Also, you left out the part of my comment that indicated that I wouldn't ride on the footpath, but would walk around roadworks if directed to.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby il padrone » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:35 pm

m@ wrote:Also, you left out the part of my comment that indicated that I wouldn't ride on the footpath, but would walk around roadworks if directed to.

I'll come back to my question - are drivers of motor vehicles being instructed to walk their vehicles along the footpath around the roadworks?

Roadworks that are being made safe enough for drivers to drive past should also also be made safe enough for a cyclist to ride a bike past. If not why not?
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby WarbyD » Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:54 pm

That is not always going to be as simple as it sounds il padrone...

Often you will find (and I am sure that you have indeed come across these) that roadworks are made "safe" for MOST vehicle traffic with loosely compacted limestone in trenches, or that there will still be large variations in grade between areas of road which are in the process of being stripped / resurfaced.. There might be temporary ramps or covers in place over hoses, cables, etc on the surface.. any number of things which are perfectly fine for MOST vehicles but which will likely not be suitable for a road bike with 23mm tyres to ride over..

From a practical point of view the time, effort and cost involved in making the surface safe for all traffic to pass is simply not feasible all the time - Whether you like it or not, a contractor is not going to spend the time grading, filling, compacting, surveying, etc etc to bring a temporary road surface up to the standard required for your bike to pass over when there is a reasonable alternative (such as asking you to move onto the footpath and/or walk your bike past the works). It IS perfectly reasonable to ask a cyclist to dismount and push their bike a short distance to move around a hazard - it is NOT reasonable to ask a motorist to get out and push their car. The temporary inconvenience of cyclists is not going to be high on their list of priorities and as long as cyclists are a minority on the roads it is never going to be - Hopefully with the work of planners who are also cyclists (such as the gent who posted earlier in this thread) there will be more consideration given to accomodating cyclists during works, but it will never be the top priority.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby il padrone » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:02 pm

WarbyD wrote: The temporary inconvenience of cyclists is not going to be high on their list of priorities and as long as cyclists are a minority on the roads it is never going to be

This being the operative condition :roll:

I ask again - why not? We don't care about the well-being of some road users? I just see it as a symptom of attitudes that are pervasive throughout all aspects of our transport system, society and outlook on the care & concern for other people. "You're on a bike.... ah, you don't matter mate"

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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby WarbyD » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:12 pm

It's not that they don't care, it's that it really isn't practical to cater for everybody with temporary measures..

Like I said, as long as there is SOME reasonable alternative for cycle users then, honestly, what more do you expect? This isn't talking about permanent infrastructure it is talking about travelling through a construction area. During roadworks it is highly likely that there will be hazards present which pose a greater risk to bicycles than they do to cars - would you prefer that they told you to carry on and that it was your own problem if you were injured or your bike damaged travelling over or through something that your bike cannot handle?

If we were talking about a site where they had dug a trench through the sidewalk also (so there was no reasonable alternative available to cyclists) then I would agree with you that more should be done to cater for the cyclist, but in this situation? Sorry but I think you're being unrealistic..

(Caveat to all of this: If there is no reason that a bike couldn't reasonably travel through in the same way as the cars without causing a greater hazard to the rider or anyone else then I agree that the direction to move onto the sidewalk would be unreasonable)
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby UpDownUp » Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:42 pm

I believe the traffic controller has no legal power themself to direct you to do anything. In Victoria at least I understand their legal power comes solely from use of the slow / stop sign. Any gestures or verbal directions (other than to support use of the sign) are irrelevant.

See Vicroads instructions under "Law and the Traffic Controller":
http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rdonl ... 008901.pdf

I doubt any traffic controller can require you to do something dangerous. Even the police cannot require the public to do something dangerous - there was a recent Victorian case where the police directed people in their cars to move to block a freeway to stop passage of a oncoming car fleeing police. Police command apologised to the motorists directed to form this block, saying that human roadblocks were not police policy!

Practically speaking I imagine I would follow the controller's direction unless they appeared unsafe.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby ironhanglider » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:00 pm

I once got directed to proceed though an area of roadworks on a country road and found myself in 10-15cm of uncompacted gravel. I rapidly got bogged, spun my wheel and fell off due to lack of forward progress. Should I have expected a bicycle friendly route through the roadworks? A direction to walk? Or should I have sued someone for humiliation and embarrassment?

I just walked to where I could get traction, remounted and rode off.

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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:30 pm

herzog wrote:
ldrcycles wrote:As mulger bill said, you are required to obey any LAWFUL commands from a traffic controller, if it's illegal to ride on the footpath in your state (QLD it's fine) then he simply cannot tell you to do so.


How about when they direct you onto the wrong side of the road due to roadworks?

This is pretty common.

So is the row of bollards and witches hats to point you on the correct path for the circumstances. If the flaggie wasn't there then there'd be no need to travel on the wrong side of the road.
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Re: Traffic controllers

Postby il padrone » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:44 pm

herzog wrote:
ldrcycles wrote:As mulger bill said, you are required to obey any LAWFUL commands from a traffic controller, if it's illegal to ride on the footpath in your state (QLD it's fine) then he simply cannot tell you to do so.


How about when they direct you onto the wrong side of the road due to roadworks?

This is pretty common.

Not an illegal action on its own. It is perfectly legal to cross to the other side of the road to - overtake other vehicles, go around an obstruction, maneuver for a turn (big trucks) or when directed by police or traffic controllers. So long as there is no oncoming traffic.
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