open letter to cycling advocates

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open letter to cycling advocates

Postby jules21 » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:28 pm

Cycling advocacy is still in its infancy.

This isn't a criticism of those who have put themselves forward to advance the cause of all cyclists. I thank them for that. However, with apologies to those who have made hard-fought gains on my and others' behalves, much remains to be done.

I could wax lyrical for pages, but I won't.. here at least. I will keep it relatively short and simple (edit: I might have failed on that) - when it comes to the cycling cause, there is an elephant in the room. It's unwieldy name is "the embedded cultural tendency for Australians to view cyclists as second class road users". It is a problem principally as it leads motorists to threaten our safety.

This deep-seated attitude pervades all areas of society, from the working classes to the rich, from children to adults to the elderly, from non-working parents to private motorists to commercial vehicle operators to politicians to bureaucrats and even to the police.

It is not solved by building cycling infrastructure, nor introducing new laws alone. It can only be solved by attacking the root cause - the culture of viewing cyclists as inferior. Having spent a lot of my time reading, viewing video footage and speaking with cyclists about their negative and dangerous encounters on the roads, and in particular - the predominant response to them by non-cyclists - I have concluded that the rules for cycling on our roads can be summarised in two simple parts:
1. The plethora of states rules and policies ostensibly put in place to advance the cycling cause and safety of riders, and
2. The unwritten rule, which is that these are mostly just lip-service to appease cyclists, who in practice hold a lower road user status than is otherwise stated.

First and foremost on my list of organisations which have failed to uphold cyclists' rights and adopt rule #2 above is the police. I have read far too many accounts of indifferent police responses to incidents of aggression or gross negligence by motorists against cyclists. Previously, it was reasonable to conclude that there may be two sides to any story. However, in recent years, the advent of the video camera and sites such as this and YouTube have proven to me that there is a systemic attitude or belief amongst the police that cyclists are not protected by the road rules.

It is a curious thing that in the many discussions, analyses and studies of cycling safety - by public organisations at least - the role of police is almost never mentioned. Their failure to act in what seems to be so many and often apparently deliberate acts of dangerous driving towards motorists does more than merely deprive the victim-cyclists of the satisfaction of revenge. The cost is in reinforcing the culture and assumption of impunity by drivers of their actions.

Motorists know that and feel validated - many believe their actions are not daring or rebellious but instead righteous and unofficially sanctioned. This represents an abject failure in law enforcement. To me, this is the highest priority for cyclists. I am mystified as to why it seems to be completely off anyone's radar.

Surely the time for change is overdue.

- Jules
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by BNA » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:21 pm

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby high_tea » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:21 pm

Hear hear.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Howzat » Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:08 pm

This is on the money Jules21. Are you a member in your local cycle advocacy group? If not, you should be.

I think lots of us would like to see this codified with strict liability laws placing the assumption of responsibility on the driver of the larger heavier vehicle in all accidents, unless proven otherwise. No more stories of drivers getting $100 fines for putting cyclists in wheelchairs.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby The 2nd Womble » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:21 pm

Timing
SCA has started involving itself more with policing issues, and the bat channels are open in Queensland at least.
Yesterday I finally received a written response from the Qld Police Commissioner's office as a follow up to a phone conversation regarding the recent "apparent" speight of attacks on the GC which have been reported everywhere except to the police.
They and we are encouraging everyone to report incidents as a matter of priority through 2013. If cyclists don't feel that the police will take their reports seriously, then a call to Crimestoppers will ensure that the incident is followed up on as procedure demands it. The police are practically begging that cyclists start voicing their concerns more often. Down the road the flow on effect from actually reporting crime rather than ignoring it or whining about it on here will be beneficial to all including the police themselves. The letter will be made available on SCA's FB page tomorrow.
We are hoping to convince the police to attempt to change their "culture" so that you and I can walk into a cop shop and know the officer we speak to will do what he/she can to help.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Dizz » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:26 am

jules21 wrote:... This deep-seated attitude pervades all areas of society, from the working classes to the rich, from children to adults to the elderly, from non-working parents to private motorists to commercial vehicle operators to politicians to bureaucrats and even to the police....


Jules - you should add cyclists to that list.

I have said it here before; if you consistently exercise proper lane control (that means most of the time you will be just left of the centre of the lane when riding alone and the whole lane when riding two or more) then you will never encounter a genuine close call and you can easily mitigate the actions of the occasional idiot that wants to do more than blast their horn.

In short, every single day that I ride; I see cyclists needlessly endangering themselves by inviting motorists to make bad decisions and then they come here, moping about some close call or getting knocked off their bike.

If cyclists across this country would just grow a pair and exercise proper lane control you would not have to lobby for anything. The powers that be would be scrambling to build those silly Bike Lanes that the timid Gutter-Huggers so desperately want and I would begrudgingly be forced to use them.

I love cycling and have been actively riding on Australian roads for over 40 years but most cyclists today are clueless. We have never been respected and we will never get respect in this country but you can dramatically increase your safety on the road!

So as a hardcore road using cyclist, let me tell you who I find most objectionable. Yes, it’s probably you. Every time you relegate yourself to the status of Gutter-Hugger you endanger me just that little bit more. You and your inappropriate timid road usage, reinforces the motorists mindset that we are scum and that we belong in the Gutter.

Wake-up people the solution to your woes is within your power, it always has been.

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby The 2nd Womble » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:27 am

And riding halfway across the lane at all times is not just as objectionable? There's a lot of scope for responsae riding in between those two boundaries you elude to? About 4-5 feet to be exact. Surely I misinterpreted your post.
I myself am also a very experienced rider and have ridden on roads daily that included heavy traffic, Army convoys, B-Doubles and Triples, and never saw fit to effectively block the lane because I felt I had the right.
What constitutes a gutter higher in everyone's opinion? Is it anything within a metre or so, or is is actually riding in the gutter channel? There's a big difference to many if us who don't consider ourselves cowards and we seem to manage just a well.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby The 2nd Womble » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:38 am

I and probably most of the forum also find your accusation for the current state of our roads to be on the nose. Many experienced cyclists are just as useless when it comes to road sharing, something which you haven't seemingly grasped the concept of. How is your position any less arrogant than those you see fit to come on here to "whinge about"?
Personally I find your belief that riders MUST take a whole lane if two abreast laughable. Are you actually implying that cyclists have no other recourse than to ride alongside each other and so far apart at all times? There is nothing wrong with dropping in on a wheel as a gesture of good will to other road users. Try it some day. The 95% of motorists that would rather do anything to avoid risking a fellow Aussie's life will appreciate the consideration and start giving it back further down the road.
If you're thinking I'm a lone wolf in my objection to your views, jump to our FB page and we'll see what other experienced riders make of it.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby il padrone » Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:43 pm

Dizz wrote:I have said it here before; if you consistently exercise proper lane control (that means most of the time you will be just left of the centre of the lane when riding alone and the whole lane when riding two or more) then you will never encounter a genuine close call and you can easily mitigate the actions of the occasional idiot that wants to do more than blast their horn.

In short, every single day that I ride; I see cyclists needlessly endangering themselves by inviting motorists to make bad decisions and then they come here, moping about some close call or getting knocked off their bike.

If cyclists across this country would just grow a pair and exercise proper lane control you would not have to lobby for anything.

+1

Dizz wrote:I love cycling and have been actively riding on Australian roads for over 40 years but most cyclists today are clueless. We have never been respected and we will never get respect in this country but you can dramatically increase your safety on the road!

+1 and more.

Appropriate rider education, for all, at school together with a requirement for x00 hours of bicycle experience before the learner's permit test would be a very good start.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby ozzymac » Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:11 pm

Hi,
Everyone advocating to take your lane, ride near the centre line etc.

Doesn't it depend on the type of road you ride on?

The only types of road around here that I get to use are either narrow one and a half vehicle wide rural roads and the last 20kms of the New England Hwy.

Both these types of road I don't think you would last long sitting in the middle of the road.

And what makes these roads even worse is that there isn't any type of shoulder either.

So, am I riding wrong in staying to the left in these circumstances?

Cheers

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby il padrone » Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:14 pm

Ride left, but use a rear-view mirror and do the wiggle* when truck/car is 200m back.

* wiggle is a deliberate veering wide in the road to make the approaching driver think you are a bit erratic. They'll be persuaded to overtake wider. It works.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby ruscook » Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:29 pm

il padrone wrote:Ride left, but use a rear-view mirror and do the wiggle* when truck/car is 200m back.

* wiggle is a deliberate veering wide in the road to make the approaching driver think you are a bit erratic. They'll be persuaded to overtake wider. It works.

The wiggle works :-)

I use it on the motorbike when approaching cars waiting to come out of side streets, garages what have you.

Movement makes you visible. Being a bit erratic increases the chance they'll watch you.. As long as target fixation doesn't occur, you're safer :D
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby jules21 » Sun Jan 20, 2013 3:43 pm

Dizz wrote:I have said it here before; if you consistently exercise proper lane control (that means most of the time you will be just left of the centre of the lane when riding alone and the whole lane when riding two or more) then you will never encounter a genuine close call..

Dizz, i agree on the importance of lane position, but it is often grossly overstated as a defence against aggressive driving. if someone wants to shave you, they will. taking primary position may reduce the risk in some circumstances, but it will not stop someone who is intent on shaving you. they will shave you no matter where you are in the lane.

but my 'letter' was about taking action against these types of motorists, not the range of other legitimate cycling safety issues, one of which you have pointed out.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Dizz » Sun Jan 20, 2013 5:54 pm

jules21 wrote:…but my 'letter' was about taking action against these types of motorists, not the range of other legitimate cycling safety issues, one of which you have pointed out. ....


Yes, and I do sincerely apologise if it seem as though I have digressed as that is not my intent. Further, I absolutely agree with your fundamental premise....

jules21 wrote:...when it comes to the cycling cause, there is an elephant in the room. It's unwieldy name is "the embedded cultural tendency for Australians to view cyclists as second class road users"....


Jules, I could not agree more and I have said so, in previous posts. However, in my initial post what I was trying to get across was that cyclists are the greatest culprit in this “culture” and if we could just get cyclists to ride on the road in the same manner that a motorcyclist occupies a lane; it all goes away, I know it does because that’s how I ride and I don’t experience any of the close calls that fill the pages of these forums.


Just look at this quote from Womble…

The 2nd Womble wrote: ...and never saw fit to effectively block the lane because I felt I had the right...


This is a supposed cycling advocate who believes that my actions “effectively block the lane”. Obviously, they do not realise that when riding a bike on a public road, I am in effect operating a non-motorised vehicle and that a lane on the road is designed for a single stream of vehicles travelling in the same direction. Nevertheless, the “cycling Advocate” is adamant that I am blocking the lane with my vehicle; perhaps they are concerned that when the vehicle behind me applies their brakes that I may be affected by the asbestos or could it be that this is a perfect illustration of how pervasive the motor centric mindset really is. :roll:

Equally telling is the mindset that I am doing it “because I felt I had the right”. How ironic is it that a “cycling advocate” that doesn’t understand that I do it because it provides me with a far greater degree of safety than the alternative. And how dare I exercise my right to use a lane as the law prescribes, seriously Womble… what kind of advocate are you? :roll:

So Jules, when we talk about the “elephant in the room” we are definitely in the right room!




jules21 wrote:...It can only be solved by attacking the root cause - the culture of viewing cyclists as inferior....


Here again I could not agree more… But it starts with us not them!
Operate your bike as the non-motorised vehicle that it is and you will be shocked at how much clearance other vehicles will give you when they eventually get to overtake.

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby The 2nd Womble » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:37 pm

My apology Dizz. I did mean to say "need" and not "right". That gave completely the wrong impression. I do however think that blocking a lane on a rural road with speeds in excess of 80kph - where many of us ride and train - is as reckless as any advice you've given. It doesn't take a genius to point out that a motorbike can travel at any given speed. We cannot.
Maybe you should try highlighting your State advocate or the AGF while on the subject of "advocacy". They don't give a toss where you ride a long as you're alive long enough to buy some merch.
BTW I posted your initial comment on our FB wall. Surprisingly it stands at around 50/50 so far. Most of those who do agree made their point more politely than yourself, and they tend to ride this way on roads with much lower speed limits unless in groups.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby il padrone » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:55 am

The 2nd Womble wrote: I do however think that blocking a lane on a rural road with speeds in excess of 80kph - where many of us ride and train - is as reckless as any advice you've given. It doesn't take a genius to point out that a motorbike can travel at any given speed. We cannot.

Speed does not enter into it really when it comes to road user obligations. On a rural road you must still claim the road space you need for safe travel. This will usually be about 20cm to the right of the white edge line if there is a sealed shoulder, or 40-50cm to the right if no shoulder. Plus judicious use of the 'wiggle' before traffic comes by.

On 80kmh roads (aka suburban main roads) I would be prepared to ride wider still.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby The 2nd Womble » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:14 am

il padrone wrote:
The 2nd Womble wrote: I do however think that blocking a lane on a rural road with speeds in excess of 80kph - where many of us ride and train - is as reckless as any advice you've given. It doesn't take a genius to point out that a motorbike can travel at any given speed. We cannot.

Speed does not enter into it really when it comes to road user obligations. On a rural road you must still claim the road space you need for safe travel. This will usually be about 20cm to the right of the white edge line if there is a sealed shoulder, or 40-50cm to the right if no shoulder. Plus judicious use of the 'wiggle' before traffic comes by.

On 80kmh roads (aka suburban main roads) I would be prepared to ride wider still.

IP the positioning you describe on higher speeds roads is about right IMO.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby jules21 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:29 am

il padrone wrote:Speed does not enter into it really when it comes to road user obligations. On a rural road you must still claim the road space you need for safe travel.

agreed. it is not cyclists' obligation to position themselves so that they minimise the odds of straying into the path of ballistic vehicles as they pass. the onus is on the latter to ensure it is safe to pass. it is this which some motorists are either ignorant of, or refuse to accept - that was my point in this thread and what needs to be changed.

i don't always take the lane, if there is sufficient room for motorists to pass safely (i.e. wide lanes). but it not unsafe to do so, in any circumstances - what is unsafe is the assumption or perception of a mutual understanding with motorists that cyclists must "get out of the way". this is what Dizz was arguing, which i agree with.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby human909 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:24 pm

I agree.

The way clear, blatant and deliberate threats to cyclists lives is atrocious. Close passing is MORE dangerous than discharging a firearm above somebody's head. However for one you would get almost certain gaol time. For the other police don't even care.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby InTheWoods » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:17 pm

Dizz wrote:I have said it here before; if you consistently exercise proper lane control (that means most of the time you will be just left of the centre of the lane when riding alone and the whole lane when riding two or more) then you will never encounter a genuine close call and you can easily mitigate the actions of the occasional idiot that wants to do more than blast their horn.


Sorry but that's rubbish. Watch some of my videos where I'm claiming the lane, and the motorist feels the need to teach me a lesson.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Aushiker » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:44 pm

Well said Jules and I have personally for the little it is worth raised related concerns in my local paper as well as raising these issues with my local member of the State parliament, with the Minister for Police, with the Police Commissioner, with the Office of Road Safety and with the RACWA. I have seen some change in Police attitudes and we seem to have a more constructive attitude being shown by the new chair of the Office of Road Safety here, but at times we step back more than we seem to step forward.

I do believe reporting issues to the police is important as is using a video camera. Even if the initial response from Police is not the best, it does into the database and the statistics slowly build up to show that there is an issue which at some point will need a constructive response.

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby casual_cyclist » Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:56 pm

Dizz wrote:
jules21 wrote:... This deep-seated attitude pervades all areas of society, from the working classes to the rich, from children to adults to the elderly, from non-working parents to private motorists to commercial vehicle operators to politicians to bureaucrats and even to the police....


Jules - you should add cyclists to that list.

I have said it here before; if you consistently exercise proper lane control (that means most of the time you will be just left of the centre of the lane when riding alone and the whole lane when riding two or more) then you will never encounter a genuine close call and you can easily mitigate the actions of the occasional idiot that wants to do more than blast their horn.

[emphasis added]
Incorrect. I have had close calls three time by vehicle operators passing far too close when I was riding exactly as you describe, just to the left of the centre of the lane. I am quite comfortable riding in this position, ride this way by practice and rarely have an issue. The most upsetting aspect of these incidents was that in all three cases the road was dual lane with the other lane clear (I checked at the time) and the vehicle operators involved were either too lazy or too ignorant to pass with a suitable distance between myself and their vehicle. In one case the vehicle was a bus and the bus driver basically drove me off the road.

To be fair, I should add that I have encountered more examples of vehicle operators giving me a lot of respect on the road. However, I agree that some motorists view bicycle users as second class citizens on the road.
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Dizz » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:15 pm

jules21 wrote:...what is unsafe is the assumption or perception of a mutual understanding with motorists that cyclists must "get out of the way". this is what Dizz was arguing, which i agree with.



That’s certainly true but it wasn’t really the essence of the point I was trying to make. Jules, I firstly want to say that I genuinely applaud your enthusiasm for wanting to do something but pointing the finger and blaming Police, Motorist, Legislators, etc… has always been a waste of time and it cannot result in any real world changes when the majority of cyclists are voluntarily choosing to engage in behaviours that invite motorists to make bad decisions.

In contrast, I do not ever invite a motorist to make bad decisions and as a consequence of my actions they don’t or perhaps more accurately they cannot. If I have decided for whatever reason; that a motorist is not going to overtake me then they will not get past without having a head-on or running directly over the top of me, not surprisingly they ALL choose to wait.

Then, when I deem it safe that a motorist can overtake without placing me at ANY risk, I will move over to the left a tad. It’s more a gesture, as opposed to any significant change in my position within the lane, from this new position I will continue to apply lane control to ensure that my safety remain optimised. Obviously, if the circumstances are such that I can relinquish lane control without compromising my safety, I do so without hesitation… but in reality that doesn’t actually happen very much, occasionally sure but not often.

What changes and why does it work? A couple of things happen when motorists HAVE to brake before being able to establishing if it's safe for them to overtake.
1. Their actions of apply the brakes is alerting motorist behind them that something is happing ahead that requires caution.
2. This in turn ripples back and creates a traffic calming effect.
3. And, when they do finally overtake, the differential speed between you and them by the time they are alongside is typical, only in the vicinity of 10-15km/hr.



In light of all this reconsider my initial post in this thread… It was bait and it didn’t take long for a CYCLIST to swallow the bait, hook line and sinker. And what my fishing trip revealed is that it is this “Motor Centric Mindset” that creates Gutter-Huggers… Oh, whatever we do, we mustn’t BLOCK motorists.

So to round out my point; it is obsessively pointless to blame others for your plight when the majority of cyclists are voluntarily choosing to endanger themselves, because of their “Motor Centric Mindset” Again, I applaud your enthusiasm but in my opinion it’s just a little misdirected.

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Aushiker » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:37 pm

Dizz wrote:In contrast, I do not ever invite a motorist to make bad decisions and as a consequence of my actions they don’t or perhaps more accurately they cannot. If I have decided for whatever reason; that a motorist is not going to overtake me then they will not get past without having a head-on or running directly over the top of me, not surprisingly they ALL choose to wait.


I just love simplistic solutions ...



or



or



and this example from another cyclist but posted in these forums in the Moron Motorists #3 thread.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlm4iAnaYFM&feature[/youtube]

Just some simple examples that IMO indicate life is not so simple.

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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Dizz » Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:59 pm

Aushiker wrote:...


Andrew


I'm sorry Andrew but you failed, to apply proper lane control.



Seriously with a head-on car coming from the other direction and the road ahead about to narrow you failed to take pre-emptive precautions to ensure that you could not be overtaken! So you are not fully competent at applying proper lane control.

I see these mistake every other day, so what's your point?
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Re: open letter to cycling advocates

Postby Dizz » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:03 pm

I didn't see the other videos before replying but nevertheless, it's not my fault if you are not proficient; it’s yours!
Last edited by Dizz on Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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