cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observations

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cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observations

Postby jules21 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 3:12 am

1. Respect. Euros don't use their cars to threaten others. I get the feeling this has less to do with being more humanitarian than us, than that such behaviour is just socially unacceptable. As in - you look like a tool, rather than that its unfair on others. Drivers all seem to give cyclists a wide berth, an exception being some taxi drivers.

2. Priority. Motor cars and congestion are as ubiquitous over here as in Australia. France and Italy are not the Netherlands. But cars are not given the royal treatment. They are restricted from roads in all the Italian cities I visited, and both countries make wide use of zebra crossings. Cars don't always stop for peas, but there is a clear understanding that hazards may appear at any moment - you can't drive at the speeds we do back home. There is a very different mindset - in which you may and in fact will need to stop frequently and for all sorts of obstructions. Australian drivers are infuriated by things Euros are resigned to - they wait patiently.

3. Segregated bike lanes. They have them in Paris, but they don't need them. It's safe to mix with traffic and often the bike lanes are on the footpath. As you can guess, you have to dodge pedestrians who do not respect the lanes. Amazingly, no one has gotten angry with me as I've threaded past them - in Australia such close contact can yield hysterical anger. I saw one lady cyclist (local) push a pedestrians out of her way. There was no anger - she gently let him know to move and he did!

4. Red lights. One of my favorite tricks they use here is to put traffic lights ahead of the intersection only. If you creep forward, you can't see the lights change - brilliant and so simple. They really do some things smarter than us.
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by BNA » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:16 am

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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby toolonglegs » Sun Nov 03, 2013 5:16 am

Yup... even though I don't love everything about living here. I do love riding here... accidents do happen but they are usually because of not paying attention and similar reasons, not because of aggression.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby human909 » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:24 am

Yet in Australia we have been yet to acknowledge the problem. When we do, we blame cyclists for not obeying red lights and having bells.

In reality the problem is aggression and simple lack of consideration of cyclist's safety. We now how a media feeding the hate and making things worse. :cry:
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby il padrone » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:10 pm

human909 wrote: We now how a media creating the hate and making things up. :cry:

Fixed that for you!
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby Strawburger » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:13 pm

My take on Europe vs Australia is this:

Europeans are more accustomed to living in close proximity to each other. They learn to share the spaces they live in from a very early age, including the roads. They understand the bigger picture and are less self centred.

Australians live in a spacious environment. They have a problem with the thought of someone or something sharing it, or dare I say invading their personal space (Australians have a large personal space envelope compared to Europeans). They like to protect it as much as they can (subjects can range from boat people to cyclists on their roads to their precious time). Smaller events don't link in to a bigger picture (ie inward thinking).

It's definitely a cultural thing and it will take a long time for any such shift to occur.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby malnar » Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:13 am

On the roads in France I saw levels of:
empathy
common sense
skill
confidence
tolerance
cooperation and
defensive driving
that we don’t have in Melbourne at least.

For example when driving a car and waiting to turn left (i.e. our right) across one lane of traffic I soon realised that if the oncoming traffic is doing less than about 20ks it’s fine to simply make your turn when the next gap of say 10m or more appears (it took some courage the first few times). The oncoming traffic watch for this behaviour & when it happens it’s not unexpected. They simply brake to allow the left turner to proceed . A ‘Thanks’ wave from the turner is good practice. Common sense. The left turning vehicle is on its way and within a few seconds the vehicle that braked has made up the time.

It seems one minute you’ll be doing a ‘favour’ for a fellow road user & the next you’ll be on the receiving end, and everyone seems to understand that.

This is in 50 k or less speed limit areas i.e. narrow windy streets in villages or suburbs.

In Melbourne if you were crazy enough to do that, the oncoming vehicle would be almost certain to crash into you even though they had enough time to avoid the collision by braking. It seems we have poor collision avoidance skills here.

The driving on the 130k/hr limit mortorways was also competent and cooperative.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby schroeds » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:03 pm

Maybe one distinction is that Australians kid theselves they live in a society based on values of equality and mateship. Europeans suffer no such delusions and just get on with communal living.

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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby winstonw » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:19 pm

So does that mean it's less safe to ride without a helmet in Australia than Europe? :lol:
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby iaintas » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:40 pm

I also found that cars traveling the opposite direction to the cyclist would move over to the left allowing cars overtaking the cyclist more room to do so (on country roads).

The only time I was right hooked/shaved in Europe was by a campervan that was being driven by Australian tourists judging by the Aus flag in the back window, ironic really!!!!!
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby simonn » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:56 pm

Strawburger wrote:MThey have a problem with the thought of someone or something sharing it


Australian sharing = I'm using it now, you can use it later.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby high_tea » Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:52 pm

I went cycle touring in France once, and I thought the drivers were just great - careful and considerate, without any exceptions that I can think of. Then I got talking to this Danish guy who told me that he refused to cycle in France because the drivers were crazy.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Mon Nov 04, 2013 8:56 pm

This irrational hatred of cyclists in Perth (and, I guess, Australia) is only a recent thing - I'd guess somewhere in the 1980s and when there was a high level of youth unemployment.

I remember quite clearly the starting point. The sudden rise of cycle couriers, largely in the CBDs. Like truckies, in order to make it pay the riders had to break all the rules, and they did. A hell of a lot of criticism focussed on riders unpredictably moving between pavement and road at speed.

There was also an element of rogue, cool street-culture and competition. But largely I suspect it came from the low rates that the customers (business) paid and the glut of riders that they could call on. That glut fed off the low cost of joining the pool of labor.

True to form, the media loved a new social phenomenon to pick over, promote and then criticize.

Notwithstanding the start there are many recent riders who do their bit to build on the dislike. Somewhere the focus moved to lycra warriors.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby winstonw » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:32 pm

have to add m2cw COC....

I lived and worked in the US a lot in the early 80s....where I did a lot of cycle commuting and touring....(ahhhh my beloved Schwinn Le Tour)...

I was based in Sydney on my return to Oz in those days. I tried valiantly to continue riding there on return visits....but I lasted around 3 rides.
I was seriously nearly wiped out three times....the first two were by a courier and a taxi in Sydney cbd...and the third by unmarked roadworks in Bondi Junction....the contrast between the US and Sydney was profound. Back then, the drivers in the US were on the whole much more considerate and patient than Australians. I realized then, that Australians TRULY are the white trash of Asia.....Australia truly is the Land of aggression, ignorance, and apathy. Only people who have lived and worked OS extensively are qualified to argue that point!!
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby jules21 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:42 pm

Winston - i regretfully have to agree. I travel in Asia a fair bit and they are far from perfect but Aussie intolerance is on another level. We are a highly insulated society.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby human909 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:53 pm

I agree that US drivers are VASTLY more considerate than Australian drivers.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby jules21 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:58 am

human909 wrote:Yet in Australia we have been yet to acknowledge the problem. When we do, we blame cyclists for not obeying red lights and having bells.

In reality the problem is aggression and simple lack of consideration of cyclist's safety. We now how a media feeding the hate and making things worse. :cry:


I think you're dead right human. The focus over here is on obeying arbitrary rules and 'entitlement' to the roads - the notion of a higher responsibility towards maintaining safety of yourself and others is notably absent - except in the context of obeying rules. We've got it fundamentally wrong.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby il padrone » Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:15 am

iaintas wrote:I also found that cars traveling the opposite direction to the cyclist would move over to the left allowing cars overtaking the cyclist more room to do so (on country roads).

In the towns and cities of Italy it was quite the norm, when entering a road, that if you had a gap in traffic of 20-50m you simply pull out into the traffic flow. Drivers just provide the space for such maneuvers, whether by cyclists or other drivers. Pedestrians simply walk straight across the road without a glance and drivers all stop for them.

This guy has it all wrong however. He's looking at the cars :|


You do not look at the cars, just look straight ahead and walk slow and steady*. If you are looking at them they assume you can see them and they can drive on; you will not walk out.

*This approach works at marked crossings and at any other place on the road.


Then there was the case of the full-size coach that was following me down this road into Firenze, as it got narrower, and narrower and narrower. It turned around a corner that I'd have thought was impossible for such a bus to negotiate, then I realised it was a regular PT bus service :shock:

The road culture there is so very, VERY different

iaintas wrote:The only time I was right hooked/shaved in Europe was by a campervan that was being driven by Australian tourists judging by the Aus flag in the back window, ironic really!!!!!

We had one occasion in 3 months of cycling, of a loud aggressive horn blaster, on a winding hill-climb road on Isola d'Elba. Some people have suggested the driver may have been an Australian :P
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby human909 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:36 am

jules21 wrote:I think you're dead right human. The focus over here is on obeying arbitrary rules and 'entitlement' to the roads - the notion of a higher responsibility towards maintaining safety of yourself and others is notably absent - except in the context of obeying rules. We've got it fundamentally wrong.


Thanks.

To some extent you can even seen this play out among cyclists and the insistence and ferocity of debate concerning obeying road rules. We've been brought up with an attitude of rules first, so much so that many forget about safety and consideration.

Others, and probably yourself, don't necessary agree with my lax attitude to them. But it is nice to occasionally see recognition that rules are not the most important thing, even in this forum many have argued as such. Of course we need some rules and they should be prosecuted with full force when an accident occurs. Unfortunately even this doesn't occur except for alcohol and speed.

That said, we do need to send the message that close shaves in NOT acceptable and will be enforced. If we need minimum passing distance rule to do this then so be it. In another forum yesterday there was a motorist proudly asserting that nothing was wrong with driving within millimetres of a cyclist as long as there was no contact. :evil:

What was even more frustrating was that he was right. (At least as far as law and enforcement goes.)
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby il padrone » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:31 am

human909 wrote:In another forum yesterday there was a motorist proudly asserting that nothing was wrong with driving within millimetres of a cyclist as long as there was no contact. :evil:

Such people (police included) don't seem to understand or be willing to acknowledge the basic difference between steel panels and flesh :evil:
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby human909 » Tue Nov 05, 2013 12:19 pm

il padrone wrote:Such people (police included) don't seem to understand or be willing to acknowledge the basic difference between steel panels and flesh :evil:


Oh they are definitely aware! They just consider that cyclist are themselves choosing to take the risk. So they don't need to adjust their behaviour.

This notion of cyclists being risk takers. I think this goes to the heart of many people's callous indifference. Most cyclists I don't think realise this. Consider your reaction to hearing of a BASE jumper died jumping off a building compare to a child pedestrian hit by an out of control car. Police are largely of the same opinion which is why you get so many comments about "you shouldn't have been there".


If you dare: Here are the comments:

Karnivor wrote:For a start, the safe passing distance ammendents havent been introduced yet, they have only been brought up as a POC.

You can pass them at a mm difference as it stands, if they are in a cycle lane and your in a standard car lane, or bus lane etc.


Karnivor wrote:I think alot of people don't give a showtime if they kill a cyclist, it boils down to

A: Should the cyclist of been there, regardless of the law
B: That cyclists know the risks already and be prepared to run the gauntlet.


Karnivor wrote:They are already the ones taking the risk by riding on high traffic roads, they should know that by slapping on the lycra that they are risking injury or death, both statistically speaking and in real terms. If they want to ride there are plenty of other places which are well away from cars/buses/trucks etc and are safe in that aspect.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby iaintas » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:30 pm

Well if that's the case, shouldn't he assume the risk of driving itself, largely more dangerous than cycling by many standards. I want to see him not get compensation if he is paralysed or severely injured in an accident, because he should be aware of the risk and take the responsibility of other motorists doing the wrong thing.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby il padrone » Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:05 pm

Pedestrians crossing the street Italian style. Despite the chaotic scenes, you'll notice that the drivers do all avoid the pedestrians.

il padrone wrote:Pedestrians simply walk straight across the road without a glance and drivers all stop for them.....
.....You do not look at the cars, just look straight ahead and walk slow and steady*.





As a pedestrian, once you get the technique right it's almost like there is an invisible force-field around you. That force-field is care. It's a bit like this when riding a bike as well - traffic may storm along up to a stop sign, but they will always stop for a cyclist; and give plenty of room when overtaking.

Some scooter-riders are probably the only slight aberration.
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby InTheWoods » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:47 pm

simonn wrote:
Strawburger wrote:MThey have a problem with the thought of someone or something sharing it


Australian sharing = I'm using it now, you can use it later.


Australian sharing = Thats mine
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby il padrone » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:30 pm



Catch the crossing interactions at 4:17-4:27 :shock:

Love the 5 yo city-biker 8)
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Re: cycling safety in paris, italy and australia - observati

Postby InTheWoods » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:10 pm

Sorry but watching that video started to make me cry.
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