Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

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Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby batata » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:20 pm

Hi all,
I wanted to get views on how safe cycling the Pacific Highway through the North Shore of Sydney is. I cycled there for the first time today and got hit by a car, around Roseville. It was a gentle "hit", from behind and only with its wing mirror, but I'm still pretty upset as I was very lucky not to get knocked off.

I've been told a lot of people cycle there. It seems to me a pretty dangerous road - it seems to change from 2 to 3 lanes and then back to 2 constantly, which squeezes cars towards bikes. I'm not a very experienced cyclist, probably done ~2,000kms over the last year, so I'm trying to figure out if it's just a road for more experienced cyclists or whether I was just unlucky

Thanks!
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by BNA » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:17 pm

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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby trailgumby » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:17 pm

You were indeed fortunate. I got sideswiped by a passing car couple of years back (deliberately) and it didn't end so well. So I'm not as brave as I used to be.

Riding big (google Theory of BIG for detail) helps a lot to keep you safe, but it has its limits (such as when you encounter someone minded to do you harm, as I did). Unless there is a T3 or bus lane, the traffic is slow (like the Spit and Military Roads in peak hour, where it is virtually a car park) or you can maintain 30km/hr on the flat... I'd be looking for low traffic routes, say in parallel streets wherever possible.

What suburbs are the start and end points for your commute?
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby Sydguy » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:23 pm

You must claim the lane and have a bright flashing red light on the rear of your bike if your going to tackle arterial roads.

You are 100% correct in saying the Pacific Highway is a joke of a road, most lethal in Australia I heard some news show saying.

Lane changes and all kinds of crap, I would avoid it like the plague and I cycle on Parramatta Road and other similar roads.

Again depends on weather, time of day and what speed you can maintain but ride large and a bit agressive. You don't want people to see you as an easy target.

Post your start/finish locations and I am sure some kind person will know a safer route.

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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby ft_critical » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:01 pm

I commuted by Pac Hwy for a year or so. But I stopped. It was not an incident in particular, but I remember cycling fast down from Chatswood, to the intersection of Pac and Boundary Road. The road was shockingly cut up at the time; it was pouring rain, it was dark, it was windy, and it was 7pm. I looked behind to see if it was clear to merge out of the lane that was ending and I couldn't see anything but the blur of car headlights in the water on my glasses. I stuck out my arm and merged. It was pretty reckless.
Some mornings I would try to ride a bit slowly, but the intimidation of holding up traffic always drove me to ride too fast.

Anyway, after a racing crash where I had to ride slowly I explored alternatives. So, riding down past Roseville Station, Boundary road, Archer St, quickly down Mowbray to Tindale St, Sheppard rd, Weedon and meet the bike path all the way through to West St Cammeray.

It really annoys me that there is this attitude of we have a right to be here. I don't think you have a right to be on a major arterial without a bike lane or hard shoulder in rush hour at 30kmh less than traffic where there are alternatives. Alternatives that are good for both drivers and cyclists.

I still cycle on the Pac, but only early in the morning or on the weekends. For a novice, I recommend against it. Get a map and find an safe alternative. The differences in commute time are marginal.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby sogood » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:11 pm

Recall seeing a road rider riding north on Pacific Hwy during winter evening peak hour last year. It was dark with heavy rainy at the time and I was behind in my car. At the time I thought the guy was completely mad, and I still do as I could barely make him out.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby Ozkaban » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:11 pm

I only ride on the pac hwy in a group. And even then it's a long way from peak hour. Simply wouldn't commute on it. Same goes for. Pennant hills rd.

Any road with lots of traffic and no kerb lane/shoulder/some way to get out if the way us just not worth it in my book.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby trailgumby » Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:18 pm

ft_critical wrote:I looked behind to see if it was clear to merge out of the lane that was ending and I couldn't see anything but the blur of car headlights in the water on my glasses. I stuck out my arm and merged. It was pretty reckless.

I've had commutes like that home from the CBD and from Sydney Olympic Park. Nasty. Those situations, where you just can't judge safe distances and closing speeds, are the ones that scare me most. So I usually just stay off the road if I find myself in that situation, pootle along on the footpath, slow right down before crossing side-streets, and forget about maintaining any kind of pace.

From SOP that turns my 90 minute commute into 2hrs+ but better to be late getting home than become the late Trailgumby.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby queequeg » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:02 pm

ft_critical wrote:
It really annoys me that there is this attitude of we have a right to be here. I don't think you have a right to be on a major arterial without a bike lane or hard shoulder in rush hour at 30kmh less than traffic where there are alternatives. Alternatives that are good for both drivers and cyclists.

I still cycle on the Pac, but only early in the morning or on the weekends. For a novice, I recommend against it. Get a map and find an safe alternative. The differences in commute time are marginal.


I cycle the Pac hwy between Lane cove & Nth Sydney every day. I have no issues. I average around 35km/h and I am mostly in T3 lanes, which I have completely to myself. There are a few of sections where the T3 lasts for 200 to 400 metres, and for those ones I just avoid using it and claim the centre lane instead. That way I don't have to deal with a crazy merge when the lane ends.

The Pac Hwy has a 60km/h speed limit and does not fall into the same category as roads like Pennant Hills Rd, Mona Vale Rd, Ryde Rd, Lane Cove Rd etc. In terms of alternatives, even for the short segment I use, the alternative route is the Gore Hill Bike Path. It is almost 2km longer than using the Highway. I used to go this way every day, until I moved 10km further away from work and found that the "quiet backstreets" route was 32.5km, versus the more direct route of 25.5km. For the short segments of "busy" road I use, they are all multi-lane. I used to hug the far left of the lane and I constantly got shaved. Now I claim the lane and very rarely get any issues. You need to act like you belong there, signal attentions and be predictable.
Last edited by queequeg on Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby queequeg » Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:10 pm

trailgumby wrote:
ft_critical wrote:I looked behind to see if it was clear to merge out of the lane that was ending and I couldn't see anything but the blur of car headlights in the water on my glasses. I stuck out my arm and merged. It was pretty reckless.

I've had commutes like that home from the CBD and from Sydney Olympic Park. Nasty. Those situations, where you just can't judge safe distances and closing speeds, are the ones that scare me most. So I usually just stay off the road if I find myself in that situation, pootle along on the footpath, slow right down before crossing side-streets, and forget about maintaining any kind of pace.

From SOP that turns my 90 minute commute into 2hrs+ but better to be late getting home than become the late Trailgumby.


+1 Today was a classic example. I used the Pac Hwy from Nth Sydney to Lane Cove, since the rain was only light and the traffic was very light. Once I got to North Ryde though, it really started to bucket down. I went to use my usual route through Epping and under the M2, but as suspected the Tunnel was flooded, so I had to use the official M2 detour. I took it easy, then when I joined Pennant Hills Rd I went up onto the footpath for the trip up to Castle Hill Rd. I'd normally ride New Line Rd, but I bailed half way down and took the back streets through to Cherrybrook. Too much rain and I didn't feel like doing a fast run with all the slippery conditions.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby batata » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:11 am

OK, thanks for the views, very useful. I'll stay away from it, at least until I get my experience / confidence / average speed up.

If I do go on it I'll 'claim the lane', though.
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby KonaCommuter » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:11 am

I’m in Brisbane so I can’t comment on that specific road however from what I read here it certainly sounds like it’s an inappropriate road to cycle on.

A big +1 to every comment suggesting that you find an alternate “safe” route even if it takes longer. But I hear you re: roads changing the number of lanes they have constantly
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:43 pm

Refreshingly simple responses to the OP's request without everyone else's personal pet issues prevailing. OP finding the advice useful and apparently not simply posing the question in order to get self-justification for some opinion already held.

oops. I've just ruined it. :oops: Perhaps this thread should be pinned as an example of us at out best and most useful.

I hope the extra kms are a dream to ride. :D
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Re: Hit by a car on Pacific Hwy in North Shore of Sydney

Postby zero » Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:47 pm

batata wrote:OK, thanks for the views, very useful. I'll stay away from it, at least until I get my experience / confidence / average speed up.

If I do go on it I'll 'claim the lane', though.


I ride all of the main 60km/hr roads around the city and some of the 70s. No real drama so long as you are visible and make it clear you are occupying your lane. If you are riding properly, then its safer overall IMO, because most right turns are controlled, there are turnbays for right turns when you need to right turn yourself, and there are physical dividers between you and oncoming traffic.

The traffic also gets grouped up by the traffic lights, and what will often happen to me is I spend my time in the no cars space between the groups. On the very same trip a car driver will wind up claiming the road was busy, whilst I claim it was empty :)
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