Interpretation, or Ignorance?

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

Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby DentedHead » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:25 am

I had a mate over last night, and during the course of conversation, road laws and cyclists came up. He is of the belief that "unless doing 40+kph" a cyclist MUST give way to traffic while riding on the road, (ie, hug the gutter when a car needs to pass). This is due to his interpretation of the law regarding slow moving vehicles obstructing traffic. Now, in this case, we were talking about a single lane of traffic in each direction, so as I understand it, the right to claim a lane doesn't apply. My understanding of the relevant law is that it is somewhat relative to the vehicle in question. Eg, a motor vehicle traveling at 20kph is "abnormally" slow, and could be considered to be obstructing traffic, while 20kph for a bicycle is not "abnormally" slow. While on a single lane each way (again, as I understand it) a cyclist is required to keep as far left as practicable, is there in fact a requirement to literally move out of the way (even if it means gutter-hugging, or moving off the road completely)?

We tried to find the relevant legislation last night, but had no luck.

Cheers,

Dent.
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by BNA » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:57 am

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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby InTheWoods » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:57 am

What state are you in?

Eg. in Qld:

125 Unreasonably obstructing drivers or pedestrians
(1) A driver must not unreasonably obstruct the path of another
driver or a pedestrian.
Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.
(2) For this section, a driver does not unreasonably obstruct the
path of another driver ora pedestrian only because—
(a) the driver is stopped in traffic; or
(b) the driver is driving more slowly than other vehicles
(unless the driver is driving abnormally slowly in the
circumstances).
Example of a driver driving abnormally slowly—
a driver driving at a speed of 20km/h on a length of road to
which a speed limit of 80km/h applies when there is no reason
for the driver to drive at that speed on the length of road


Note the use of "in the circumstances". The circumstances of a bicycle are that they are slower than cars when the traffic is flowing.

If riding legally 2 abreast, it would be polite to create room for an overtake where such an overtake would be safe, even though you don't "have" to.

253 Bicycle riders not to cause a traffic hazard
The rider of a bicycle must not cause a traffic hazard by
moving into the path of a driver or pedestrian


Don't move into the path of another vehicle. Riding along a road and having a car come up behind you needing to overtake is not moving into their path.

129 Keeping to the far left side of a road
(1) A driver on a road, other than a multi-lane road, must drive as
near as practicable to the far left side of the road.
Maximum penalty—20 penalty units.
(2) This section does not apply to the rider of a motorbike.
(3) In this section—
road does not include a road-related area.


On a single lane road, yes you need to ride as near as practicable to the far left side. This does not mean you have to ride on the shoulder (see (3)) or in a dooring zone.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby DentedHead » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:16 am

InTheWoods wrote:What state are you in?



Victoria. Is that legislation specific to QLD?

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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby InTheWoods » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:40 am

DentedHead wrote:
InTheWoods wrote:What state are you in?



Victoria. Is that legislation specific to QLD?

Dent.


It is, but they are both based on the Australian Road Rules so are very similar in most respects.

I think the link is http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domin ... orised.pdf
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby DentedHead » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:02 pm

Awesome sauce. I found the relevant legislation. Seems I was right, so long as "being a cyclist" is considered a reason to travel slower than the rest of the traffic.

Hell, the legislation doesn't even say it needs to be a "good" reason. Taken literaly, any reason will allow you to drive at 20 in an 80 zone... seems to me that particular bit could use some clarification.


Cheers,

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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby jules21 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:45 pm

there is no requirement for cyclists to keep left:
16 Who is a driver
(1) A driver is the person who is driving a vehicle (except a motorbike, bicycle, animal or animal-drawn vehicle).


merry xmas!
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby high_tea » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:55 pm

Ah, but s19 states that a reference to a driver includes a reference to a rider unless otherwise stated.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby jules21 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:59 pm

high_tea wrote:Ah, but s19 states that a reference to a driver includes a reference to a rider unless otherwise stated.

yeah you're right, well done.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby wellington_street » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:12 pm

DentedHead wrote:Hell, the legislation doesn't even say it needs to be a "good" reason. Taken literaly, any reason will allow you to drive at 20 in an 80 zone... seems to me that particular bit could use some clarification.


It's very difficult to be any prescriptive than that as even 'good' or 'valid' or 'practical' are meaningless. There's just too many scenarios where you may need to drive slower to list them all.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:27 pm

jules21 wrote:
high_tea wrote:Ah, but s19 states that a reference to a driver includes a reference to a rider unless otherwise stated.

yeah you're right, well done.



This sort of thing annoys me about a lot of legislation. [A] says something that [F] directly contradicts.

It is not unreasonable for a bicycle to be travelling at 20ish.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby il padrone » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:41 pm

Depending on the circumstances it may be quite reasonable for a cyclist to be travelling at 9kmh. I have done this eg. climbing a steep hill with 25kgs of camping gear. I do not expect that I am required to leave the road if a car comes up behind me (but I do keep to the left as much as is practical and safe).
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby high_tea » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:48 pm

wellington_street wrote:
DentedHead wrote:Hell, the legislation doesn't even say it needs to be a "good" reason. Taken literaly, any reason will allow you to drive at 20 in an 80 zone... seems to me that particular bit could use some clarification.


It's very difficult to be any prescriptive than that as even 'good' or 'valid' or 'practical' are meaningless. There's just too many scenarios where you may need to drive slower to list them all.

Yup. The other thing to bear in mind is that the example is, stricly speaking, not part of the statute. It's extrinsic material and as such can only be used to resolve ambiguities in the actual statute. So in-depth analysis of the example isn't likely to shed very much ligh.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby il padrone » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:00 pm

DentedHead wrote:I had a mate over last night, and during the course of conversation, road laws and cyclists came up. He is of the belief that "unless doing 40+kph" a cyclist MUST give way to traffic while riding on the road, (ie, hug the gutter when a car needs to pass).

Your friend seems to have the dented head :roll:
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby DentedHead » Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:40 pm

Well, he's getting his info from a source he trusts, a relative of his that has been cycling for years, and he believes this experienced cyclist knows more about it than a relative new-comer to cycling like myself. I tried to explain that I'd looked into the road laws regarding bikes given the unusual nature of my trikes, but I've often confessed my search-fu is pretty weak.

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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby Xplora » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:31 pm

Bone up on your cycling laws... you can't have no idea about your rights if you want to play with the smokeboxes. It's absolute vital that you know your stuff because if you were to be involved in an incident of some kind, you can push your case on the police much better. That incident doesn't have to be an accident.

All the things your mate reckons have ZERO basis in law. The experienced rider is stating practicality, not statute. The driver friend should be able to manage a better legal reference than "some bloke I know who has ridden a bit on the road". If that was the basis of our road rules, we might as well abandon the licence test for L platers.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby DentedHead » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:03 pm

Xplora wrote:Bone up on your cycling laws... you can't have no idea about your rights if you want to play with the smokeboxes. It's absolute vital that you know your stuff because if you were to be involved in an incident of some kind, you can push your case on the police much better. That incident doesn't have to be an accident.


Couldn't agree more. I saved a copy of the 2009 legislation so I'd not have to search for it again for that reason. We (my mate and I) are both wargamers, and there's a saying among wargamers regarding rules disputes: "Page and paragraph, or Show me how to do it right". I figured it applied.

Xplora wrote:All the things your mate reckons have ZERO basis in law. The experienced rider is stating practicality, not statute. The driver friend should be able to manage a better legal reference than "some bloke I know who has ridden a bit on the road". If that was the basis of our road rules, we might as well abandon the licence test for L platers.


I agree here too, but the rider apparently expressed the "opinion" as law, and my mate believes him on the basis of his long experience riding. I emailed him the relevent sections of the statute this morning. Education is KEY!!! :D


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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

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

Xplora wrote:Bone up on your cycling laws... you can't have no idea about your rights if you want to play with the smokeboxes. It's absolute vital that you know your stuff because if you were to be involved in an incident of some kind, you can push your case on the police much better. That incident doesn't have to be an accident.


I'm not sure I'm excited about this attitude. Sure it is a great idea to know the road rules properly if you are riding or driving on the road. However it seems a bit negative if you are preparing for an accident. :?

Knowing your 'rights' won't keep you safe. Safe cycling had numerous facets most of which are un related to road rules and some of which may even breech some. To keep it short, safe cycling involves making yourself visible, giving yourself space, behaving in a way that makes other people give you space, avoiding risky areas such as door zones and most importantly the ability to predict other road users actions (legal or illegal)
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby DentedHead » Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:47 am

I'm not sure I'm excited about this attitude. Sure it is a great idea to know the road rules properly if you are riding or driving on the road. However it seems a bit negative if you are preparing for an accident.


True, but I'm a firm believer of "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst". I'll also ride "illegally" if it's safer to do so (ie, there's a few places here in Ballarat where I slow to walking pace and ride on the footpath. It's ilegal, but safer than being on the roads at these places, mainly due to the busyness of the roads, the parking causing blind spots etc).

Knowing your 'rights' won't keep you safe.


Also true. However, if I do know the actual laws, at least I can try to educate friends and family on their many misconceptions...


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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby wilddemon » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:06 am

DentedHead wrote:
... at least I can try to educate friends and family on their many misconceptions...


I tried this a couple of weekends ago when my wife's family came for xmas cake and coffee. Her uncles started with the baloney and I mostly managed to keep my cool but you could see they were ticked to be getting schooled about it. Considering they are family I have reviewed my cycling rules and rights dispersion policy: If it's close friends or family I'm only willing to discuss road rules and cycling with you if you are currently informed on the road rules regarding cycling, and if you're not, here are the relevant links...
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby jules21 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:11 am

the ignorance of people saying "you cyclists are crazy, you don't look where you're going you just have a deathwish!" hello genius, why would we cyclists, who easily can be killed with an 'error' as minute as moving a few inches off our line, ride like that? it's just an excuse for poor driving.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby WarbyD » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:47 am

jules21 wrote:the ignorance of people saying "you cyclists are crazy, you don't look where you're going you just have a deathwish!" hello genius, why would we cyclists, who easily can be killed with an 'error' as minute as moving a few inches off our line, ride like that? it's just an excuse for poor driving.


I dunno.. there are plenty out there who I sometimes think have a deathwish! Haven't actually started cycling myself yet so am very ignorant of many of the road rules (both the official and "unofficial") but have been paying ALOT of attention to cyclists on/around roads lately so that I can get some idea of what is expected and how they act in various situations (pulling up at lights, riding in traffic, hand signals etc - it has been very educational to simply pay more attention) and I saw a great example of one I would consider as having a deathwish this morning on my way into work..

Female cyclist riding along a fairly busy road in Perth, turning right at a roundabout. All kitted up and on a rather impressive looking bike so she certainly looked the part, but as she approached the roundabout and moved from the shoulder to claim the lane she gave a very weak signal (her hand barely left the bars - would have been easy to miss) and moved across without even a slight rearward glance. No mirror on the bike and there were plenty of houses and 2 sidestreets (one each side of the road she was on) within 50-100m behind her - so plenty of opportunities for a car to have entered the lane since whenever she had last checked.. She wasn't exactly belting along, so had a car been travelling along at or near the speed limit then I believe it entirely plausible that something could have easily occurred. Thankfully, there wasn't a car (I was coming from the other direction but was in slow moving traffic so had plenty of time to watch her - particularly as I would have had to give way to her at the roundabout)

When changing lanes in my car I ALWAYS check blind spot before moving across - it amazes me that someone on a bike wouldn't take a moment to do the same to protect themselves...
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby gorilla monsoon » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:59 am

Just because you didn't see a mirror does not mean she didn't have one. Bar end mirror, Zefal spy mirror or mirror on the inside of her sunnies.
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby jules21 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:01 pm

WarbyD wrote:Female cyclist riding along a fairly busy road in Perth, turning right at a roundabout.

Warby, this is what's called anecdotal evidence. i have lost count of how many stupid things i've seen cyclists do. but for the most part, cyclists are paying pretty close attention to whatever is going on around them. have a look at drivers next time you're out and about - they're texting, half asleep, reading the paper(!) drivers don't check before changing their position on the road, they assume that unless there are marked lanes, they're occupying the whole side of the road. if i rode my bike like that, i'd be pretty dead in short time. it's a giant double std - they think it's normal for them to drive around oblivious to what's going on, while if a cyclist moves off their line slightly they've got a "deathwish".
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby WarbyD » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:06 pm

jules21 wrote:
WarbyD wrote:Female cyclist riding along a fairly busy road in Perth, turning right at a roundabout.

Warby, this is what's called anecdotal evidence. i have lost count of how many stupid things i've seen cyclists do. but for the most part, cyclists are paying pretty close attention to whatever is going on around them. have a look at drivers next time you're out and about - they're texting, half asleep, reading the paper(!) drivers don't check before changing their position on the road, they assume that unless there are marked lanes, they're occupying the whole side of the road. if i rode my bike like that, i'd be pretty dead in short time. it's a giant double std - they think it's normal for them to drive around oblivious to what's going on, while if a cyclist moves off their line slightly they've got a "deathwish".


No argument at all from me on any of this! I was just providing the previous as an example of why some motorists believe cyclists have a deathwish as it was one I witnessed just a couple hours ago and was still fresh :)

Even as "just another motorist" myself I've pretty much always been of the mind that 90% of motorists (especially in Perth!!!) switch off as soon as they get behind the wheel.. MANY people out there who should never have been let loose in 1.5t (or 2, or 3) of steel kiiling machine.. Part of the attraction of cycling for me is the opportunity to limit the amount of time I need to spend interacting with other motorists!
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Re: Interpretation, or Ignorance?

Postby WarbyD » Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:09 pm

gorilla monsoon wrote:Just because you didn't see a mirror does not mean she didn't have one. Bar end mirror, Zefal spy mirror or mirror on the inside of her sunnies.


Fair point and I retract my previous "no mirror" in favour of a "no mirror that I could see" .. Either way, it still goes some way towards explaining why motorists get the impression that some cyclists have a deathwish - Was an easy example and not intended to cause any great debate ;)
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