had enough

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had enough

Postby jules21 » Wed May 29, 2013 10:21 pm

in 2010, cyclist James Cross was killed when he was struck by a car door opened by Ms Ellen Richards and fell into the path of moving traffic.

Mr Richards elected not to cooperate with police enquiries, hiring a lawyer who successfully acted to delay police attempts to take a formal statement from her. when the investigating officer recommended she be charged with nothing more than the minor offence of opening a car door into traffic, she was overruled by a superior officer.

a coronial inquiry into the case made recommendations on reducing dooring risks, but yielded little in the way of understanding police policy on the matter, and more specifically why Ms Edwards was not charged in that instance. the police recently apologised for mistreating James' parents in the aftermath, by failing to pass on information in a timely or effective manner.

A Parliamentary Committee Inquiry stated:
"The Committee believes that some police members may not be aware that causing a hazard with a car door is sufficient to establish an offence under Road Rule 269(3)," the report said.

"Intent, recklessness, negligence and whether a person looked or did not look prior to opening the car door are irrelevant.

"Evidence provided to the Committee and the Coroner’s report from the Inquest into the death of Mr James Cross indicate Road Rule 269(3) is not being consistently enforced."


i personally know someone who was dismissed by a visibly irritated and openly hostile police officer when he attempted to report an incident in which he was doored, suffering severe bruising.

more recently, Richard Pollett was killed when run over by the back wheels of an overtaking cement truck in Brisbane. in this case, the police response was more encouraging - the driver - whose defence essentially amounted to "whoopsies!" - was charged with dangerous driving. unfortunately, he was found not guilty.

it seems clear (to me) that there was no conspiracy here - the defendant needed only raise doubt in the minds of jurors to compel them to acquit him. what is infuriating to me is the degree of protection afforded to motorists in such cases. for any action or outcome which is deemed serious enough to potentially involve the commission of a crime, law makers must determine the standard which may constitute evidence of the crime.

for driving, and as demonstrated in this case, the standard is set very low. prosecutors were unable to hold the cement truck driver to account for failing to avoid Mr Pollett, rather being forced to focus on proving he chose to imperil the rider's safety. only the cement driver really knows if that was the case or not, and obviously he was never going to admit it, if it was. it's a hopeless situation that empowers motorists to act with virtual impunity.

to reinforce this, cycling tips blog last week posted an article on passing distances and lane positioning. it included a video recorded by the author of a van passing within what he claimed was probably 10 cm of his handlebars.



the most stunning thing was a quote from Sergeant Arty Lavos, State Bicycle Operations Coordinator at Victoria Police, who said “The driver in the video has not really committed an offence”. say what? if that isn't an offence, then what is?

at a 2011 forum on the push for a safe passing distance law, VicRoads road user safety director James Holgate said :
‘‘there are some circumstances where one metre may not be enough, particularly on higher speed roads’’.

‘‘Drivers must overtake only when they can do so safely,’’ he said.


this seems reasonable to me, but appears to contradict the assessment of Sergeant Arty Lavos above. to make things more confusing:
Sergeant Bob Cerisara, of the Moorabbin Highway Patrol, said a colleague had recently fined a truck driver for getting too close when overtaking after the cyclist used footage from a helmet-mounted camera as evidence.


i could only think to describe the situation with two words, one being 'cluster'.

make no mistake, this is at a crisis point. change to laws and enforcement practices protecting cyclists must change. this isn't going away and the more incidents that occur, the more we learn just how inadequate the status quo is. it's time to get behind those who are working to drive change - SCA, AGF, etc.

i'm not saying what the answer is, but anything would be better than what exists now, which is effectively nothing.
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by BNA » Wed May 29, 2013 11:34 pm

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Re: had enough

Postby michael_w » Wed May 29, 2013 11:34 pm

Maybe a Critical Mass type approach? I know that can be taken as overly negative by the motoring public (and maybe many cyclists as well), but other than such a direct action campaign, what tends to get results in this day and age?

After all, my own recent accident from which I am still recovering was basically a SMIDSY. What really peeves me is that as a motorist you have to be REALLY UNLUCKY to be charged if you hit a cyclist.
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Re: had enough

Postby thecaptn » Thu May 30, 2013 7:46 am

Yeah protest rally.
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Re: had enough

Postby AndyTheMan » Thu May 30, 2013 9:27 am

The answer to getting more things done?

Collaboration, organisation and unity....

There are lots of cycling groups across the country, ranging from cycle clubs, to Bicycle User Groups, to touring cycling clubs, crits groups, triathlon clubs etc...

There are a lot of associated businesses/industries (courier riders, bricks and mortar stores, coaches etc)

There are lots of advocacy groups (Go! Alliance, AGF, BUG's etc)

There are lots of cyclists who are not a member of any of these groups (general, run of the mill, popping-down-the-shops-to-get-the-milk type of cyclists, and more serious ones too)

It simply needs a coordinated approach to advocacy.

Pick one or two key issues, get EVERYONE on board - every cycling organisation/store/club.BUG in the country. Then go hard with letter writing, articles in the media, petitions etc.

This is the same sort of action that gets 'minority' groups noticed in other areas.

I often use the Shooters and Fishers group in NSW as an example. The sporting shooters assocn (largest group of shooters/hunters) has 140,000 members. There are only 42,000 members in NSW. Yet, they wield enough power to have NSW state parliament open National Parks for hunting.... How does such a small group wield such power?

Well, they are organised, and they focus on one issue at a time.

Thats what we need in cycling.

In Sydney alone its estimated that more than 20,000 people commute to work on a bike each day (and growing), we can get 20,000 to do Spring Cycle each October and 10,000 to do the Gong Ride. Even small rides like 'Loop the Lake' in Lake Macquarie gets a good few thousand. For the last decade bikes have outsold cars EVERY YEAR.... Almost every house has a bicycle of some description (OK, I have 4.....) ....

Thats a damn lot of people who are either cyclists, own a bike, or have some knowledge of cycling.....

Get all those people focused on one issue/one topic and go hard.... that's what it will take.
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Re: had enough

Postby Mulger bill » Thu May 30, 2013 9:47 am

While I agree with every word Andy, I find the likelihood of such unity happening to be depressingly slim. Riding has so many forms from the hardcore roadie to the full faced and armoured freerider to nanna taking her Omafiets to the shops for a loaf of bread and a bit o' meat for the cat that it is a very tribal activity with great levels of suspicion between groups. Read many threads here and you'll find the same, reasonable discussion often rapidly degenerating into a slanging match attacking and defending the various tribes. Various cycling bodies nationwide can't even agree to a unified approach to something as simple as safe passing distance for Sheldons sake :( (No offence to you Dave. Keep on fighting the good fight)

Until we can all come together as "riders" and not "serious cyclists", "MTBers", "PoBSOs", "Commuters", "Hipsters" and Sheldon knows what else we will remain the annoying little subgroup of weirdos to non riders and the smarter of them WILL foster and play on these divisions to further their own ends.

United we roll. Divided, we're road pizza.
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Re: had enough

Postby silentbutdeadly » Thu May 30, 2013 9:53 am

United we roll. Divided, we're road pizza.


Eventually the community at large will get tired of pizza made from cyclists...just like they got tired of roadside sculptures made of P-platers, traffic lights, signage and vegetation.

The trick until then is to be the smartest/luckiest wildebeest in the herd...
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Re: had enough

Postby Howzat » Thu May 30, 2013 10:01 am

I think that's overstating the case Mulger... a bit like arguing that football can never be successful because people follow different teams.

Jules21 you're exactly right. The laws need to be clarified. This is the essence of the problem. Our laws need to be made clear enough so that personal opinion of is taken out of the matter, so that drivers know what is permissible and what is not, and so that police, judges, and juries can know when close passing or opening doors into traffic is against the law.
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Re: had enough

Postby jules21 » Thu May 30, 2013 10:25 am

Mulger bill wrote:Until we can all come together as "riders" and not "serious cyclists", "MTBers", "PoBSOs", "Commuters", "Hipsters" and Sheldon knows what else we will remain the annoying little subgroup of weirdos to non riders and the smarter of them WILL foster and play on these divisions to further their own ends.

this really gets me too, shaun. many of the hardcore racing, lycra loonie cyclists are just cyclists, full stop. they do their shopping on bikes (not their carbon race bike), commuting and even cycle touring. yet i often hear cyclists trying to convince people that they're not "one of those lycra riders". it's complete crap - we all face the same risks, essentially. the whole anti-lycra thing is just more prejudice, anyway.
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Re: had enough

Postby roller » Thu May 30, 2013 11:09 am

AndyTheMan wrote:How does such a small group wield such power?


they all have guns?
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Re: had enough

Postby InTheWoods » Thu May 30, 2013 2:06 pm

roller wrote:
AndyTheMan wrote:How does such a small group wield such power?


they all have guns?


:) Announcing new cycling safety advocacy group: Cyclists and Shooters
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Re: had enough

Postby human909 » Thu May 30, 2013 2:10 pm

Part of the problem is that the laws are currently ARE clear. At least as clear as they are in most legislation. However police don't enforce and juries don't convict because of empathy towards motorists and prejudice against cyclists. It is as simple as that. I see little difference between this and the US judicial treatment of "African-Americans 100 years ago.

If a truck runs over a cyclists while unsuccessfully attempting an overtaking maneuver then it certainly sounds like dangerous driving! Yet the jury didn't see it that way. A road rule requiring 1.5m will NOT change this.

The fact is that most non cyclists see cyclists as crazy risk taking loonies. As a result there is an attitude that when they get hit by a car it it the cyclists fault and no the motorists. The police treatment of cyclists supports this.
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Re: had enough

Postby darkelf921 » Thu May 30, 2013 4:54 pm

And if you don't do anything then it will never change. At least give support for organisations like SCA. Sign their petitions. With more people signing the petitions, the more the politicians will start to listen.

Only positive reinforcement will help change.
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Re: had enough

Postby Howzat » Thu May 30, 2013 6:04 pm

human909 wrote:If a truck runs over a cyclists while unsuccessfully attempting an overtaking maneuver then it certainly sounds like dangerous driving! Yet the jury didn't see it that way. A road rule requiring 1.5m will NOT change this.

Yes human909 it will change this. This is exactly what will be changed. What sure sounds like dangerous driving to you and me is, to recent evidence, just a matter of opinion to others.

But 1.5m is a measurement.

With that kind of law, you could prove that a 2.4 m wide truck on a 3m wide road is not allowed to overtake a cyclist.

No subjective judgement, no weighing-in-the-balance, and no matters of opinion required.
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Re: had enough

Postby human909 » Thu May 30, 2013 6:08 pm

Howzat wrote:Yes human909 it will change this. What sure sounds like dangerous driving to you and me is, to recent evidence, just a matter of opinion to others.

But 1.5m is a measurement.

With that kind of law, you could prove that a 2.4 m wide truck on a 3m wide road is not allowed to overtake a cyclist.

No subjective judgement, no weighing-in-the-balance, and no matters of opinion required.


Okay so they would have the cement truck driver dead to rights on breach of that road rule and he would get a ~$250 fine. Meanwhile the jury still decides the dangerous driving charge. To which they decide that, 'sure he broke the 1.5m rule but he wasn't driving dangerously'.

(Remember there mere breach of a road rule does NOT resulting in the death of somebody does NOT mean that the driving was dangerous.)
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Re: had enough

Postby Howzat » Thu May 30, 2013 6:37 pm

Mulger bill wrote:While I agree with every word Andy, I find the likelihood of such unity happening to be depressingly slim. Riding has so many forms from the hardcore roadie to the full faced and armoured freerider to nanna taking her Omafiets to the shops for a loaf of bread and a bit o' meat for the cat that it is a very tribal activity with great levels of suspicion between groups. Read many threads here and you'll find the same, reasonable discussion often rapidly degenerating into a slanging match attacking and defending the various tribes. Various cycling bodies nationwide can't even agree to a unified approach to something as simple as safe passing distance for Sheldons sake :( (No offence to you Dave. Keep on fighting the good fight)

Until we can all come together as "riders" and not "serious cyclists", "MTBers", "PoBSOs", "Commuters", "Hipsters" and Sheldon knows what else we will remain the annoying little subgroup of weirdos to non riders and the smarter of them WILL foster and play on these divisions to further their own ends.

United we roll. Divided, we're road pizza.

Having looked a little closer today, I think you're on to something. Not so much that cyclists are divided, but that cycling advocacy groups seem to want to fight each other. It's sound and fury with the SCA vs the Amy Gillett foundation and BQ vs some group in Cairns. Plus nothing can get any momentum without the anti-MHL guys trying to jump on.

So it looks like the plan is first the guillotines, then the revolution.
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Re: had enough

Postby jcjordan » Thu May 30, 2013 6:49 pm

Howzat wrote:
human909 wrote:If a truck runs over a cyclists while unsuccessfully attempting an overtaking maneuver then it certainly sounds like dangerous driving! Yet the jury didn't see it that way. A road rule requiring 1.5m will NOT change this.

Yes human909 it will change this. This is exactly what will be changed. What sure sounds like dangerous driving to you and me is, to recent evidence, just a matter of opinion to others.

But 1.5m is a measurement.

With that kind of law, you could prove that a 2.4 m wide truck on a 3m wide road is not allowed to overtake a cyclist.

No subjective judgement, no weighing-in-the-balance, and no matters of opinion required.

I have to agree.

Regardless if it 1m or 1.5m the failure to provide this would go towards proof that the vehicle had not provided adequate space.

In a criminal case the burden is to provide evidence which leaves no reasonable doubt. In the case in question this burden was not met and the driver was found not guilty.

I would be interested to see if the family goes with a civil compensation case. The burden is very different as it based on a balance of probabilities.

Which is why OJ Simpson was found not guilty but still had to pay the family millions in compensation.
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Re: had enough

Postby human909 » Thu May 30, 2013 7:15 pm

jcjordan wrote:I have to agree.

Regardless if it 1m or 1.5m the failure to provide this would go towards proof that the vehicle had not provided adequate space.


Except that is not what is needed to be proven!
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Re: had enough

Postby human909 » Thu May 30, 2013 7:29 pm

Mulger bill wrote:Until we can all come together as "riders" and not "serious cyclists", "MTBers", "PoBSOs", "Commuters", "Hipsters" and Sheldon knows what else we will remain the annoying little subgroup of weirdos to non riders and the smarter of them WILL foster and play on these divisions to further their own ends.


We don't need to be completely united but outright intolerance of other riders is no productive.

Howzat wrote:Plus nothing can get any momentum without the anti-MHL guys trying to jump on.

Nuf said.
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Re: had enough

Postby jcjordan » Thu May 30, 2013 7:31 pm

human909 wrote:
jcjordan wrote:I have to agree.

Regardless if it 1m or 1.5m the failure to provide this would go towards proof that the vehicle had not provided adequate space.


Except that is not what is needed to be proven!


The breach of the distance would help push the burden of proof towards a more favourable conclusion.

As it stands it is almost impossible to remove the doubt so will never get a conviction
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Re: had enough

Postby human909 » Thu May 30, 2013 7:44 pm

jcjordan wrote:The breach of the distance would help push the burden of proof towards a more favourable conclusion.

As it stands it is almost impossible to remove the doubt so will never get a conviction

You are continuing to confuse the road rules with the the charge of dangerous driving.

Don't get me wrong. I have no objections to the push for 1.5 passing laws. But the recent court case decision goes WELL beyond this. And one more road rule still won't add clarity to the recent court case. It still won't prove dangerous driving to the jury.
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Re: had enough

Postby ldrcycles » Thu May 30, 2013 7:52 pm

silentbutdeadly wrote:just like they got tired of roadside sculptures made of P-platers, traffic lights, signage and vegetation.


When did that happen? In my part of the world nothing has changed on that issue, they are still going out and getting 6 cylinders for their first car, hooning like there's no tomorrow and then killing themselves and any mates who are stupid enough to get in the car with them.

A lot more people are killed by that each year than are killed on bicycles, nothing has really been done to stop it, so i'm a little sceptical of things changing with regards to cyclists. I certainly support minimum passing distances and any other measure to improve the safety of cyclists, but I do doubt the political will is there.
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Re: had enough

Postby winstonw » Thu May 30, 2013 8:08 pm

so hands up all who still buy into Australia being the Clever Country.
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Re: had enough

Postby human909 » Thu May 30, 2013 8:18 pm

ldrcycles wrote:A lot more people are killed by that each year than are killed on bicycles, nothing has really been done to stop it, so i'm a little sceptical of things changing with regards to cyclists. I certainly support minimum passing distances and any other measure to improve the safety of cyclists, but I do doubt the political will is there.


But at least those responsible for killing others are brought to justice. (Unless 'others' are on a bicycle.)

ldrcycles wrote:When did that happen? In my part of the world nothing has changed on that issue, they are still going out and getting 6 cylinders for their first car, hooning like there's no tomorrow and then killing themselves and any mates who are stupid enough to get in the car with them.


This is a problem that has been occurring LONG before the invention of the motor car and goes well beyond cars. Young males lust for risk and rebellion. If not properly channelled or managed then it leads trouble, injury and death. Unfortunately our nanny country exacerbates the problem.
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Re: had enough

Postby ldrcycles » Thu May 30, 2013 8:53 pm

human909 wrote:
But at least those responsible for killing others are brought to justice. (Unless 'others' are on a bicycle.)


Again, not in my part of the world. Perfect example was a local P plater, horrific driving record, killed several people in a crash that any idiot could see was the result of ludicrous speed, the result was next to no punishment and people telling him he "shouldn't feel responsible". Several years on, nothing has happened, he has written off at least 2 cars since.

Enforcement of existing road rules is a joke, adding more rules won't help until something is done about actually enforcing them.
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Re: had enough

Postby Howzat » Thu May 30, 2013 9:10 pm

It's largely been through legislation (or "nanny" state interventions in freedom, if you prefer) that the road toll has been reduced. The introduction of seat belts, of RBT, of stricter safety standards for cars, of public education campaigns, and of radar traffic cameras have enabled the country to massively reduce the road toll.

It's hard to believe how deadly roads used to be. Forty of fifty years ago we had almost four times as many road deaths annually as we do today - and that's with fewer people, fewer cars, fewer roads, and putting in fewer miles.

With the right legislation, you bet we can change driver attitudes about sharing roads with cyclists - and make the roads safer yet again.
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