Over the years I have had too many conversations about, rules, regulations, laws etc... when it comes to cycling. I have read 1,000s of blog articles, news reports and so on about the merits of cycling, the attitude of drivers vs cyclists and so on... My experience has been that arrogance, self righteousness and pigheadedness are not the exclusive domain of car drivers. If you're a pedestrian on any of Darwin's shared cycle/footpaths you will find that some cyclists can be even bigger arseholes than the majority of drivers when it comes to their sense of entitlement on what they perceive as 'their road'.
Quite a while back I wrote a blog post that discussed roadmanship; at the time I thought I'd continue to write about such things but the reality is, I don't have the time or the energy to devote to producing any deep study or reflection on the subject. These days I'm flat out just getting to work and performing my parental duties, but, all the same issues still irk me! Besides that I've discovered that I'm actually lazy. ;)
As a cyclist and someone who would like to see much more acceptance of bicycles as a legitimate form of transport I am often dismayed by the crazy shit I see cyclists doing on the road. (OK I've made a few mistakes on the road and have been grateful to survive.) I am not talking about minor maters like failing to dismount to cross a road. There are a lot of road rules that make no sense and I believe that with a strong sense of self preservation, a clever defensive cyclist can assess the potential for danger and choose the path of least hazard regardless of what appears to be the rule. Helmets are a good example. The NT has quite sensible helmet laws. Children must wear them all the time, adults can choose not to wear a helmet when cycling on the bicycle paths but must wear them on the road. I'd prefer no laws on helmet use for adults but can live with what we have here. It makes sense and common sense dictates that even if the police aren't too interested in busting people for not wearing helmets on the road I wear one whenever I ride on major roads. There are signs along one of the local bike paths that instruct cyclists to dismount before crossing the road. This makes no sense and is potentially more hazardous so I do not comply! However there are some activities that defy logic. One of these is riding against the flow of the traffic!
|WHAT NOT TO DO! (Giddy Goanna, Bikes Busses and Roads. Book 4, 2000 Giddy Goanna Ltd..)|
I don't know if this happens so much in the other states but here in Darwin I regularly see people cycling on busy roads against the traffic. I admit there are times when crossing a road or switching paths I have found it necessary to travel a short distance in a contrary direction to the rest of the traffic. For example there a section of road inbound on the Stuart Highway where the bicycle path ends a few hundred meters away from the Post Office in Winnellie, it's crazy, that there's nowhere to go except onto the verge and into oncoming traffic, I have ridden it a few times and it's always hair raising! For me this is an exception. What I am talking about in this post is something else. It's about the large number of people in Darwin who seem to think that riding against the traffic is the norm. It is my belief that riding against the traffic is extremely dangerous and creates all kinds of danger on the road including potential head on collisions with other cyclists but so many cyclists in Darwin seem oblivious to the danger.
What spurred this post was seeing yet another wrong way cyclist on my way to the Airport recently. I saw a young woman cyclist cross the road on the opposite side of the road to me and was confounded by the way she rode. She was heading in the same direction as me but was riding against the traffic. She rode boldly along the side of the road, not on the dirt but on the road toward oncoming traffic. The traffic was not going fast but the combined speed of car and bike increased the danger enormously. I watched the cars coming towards her and flinched at the thought of the impact. The cyclist peddled on oblivious. I have seen it so many times before... why do they do it?
I have discussed the practice (issue for some) of riding against the flow of traffic with a few people, cyclists and drivers, and have had some curious responses to my questions about safety. Perceptions seem completely contradictory to each other, yet none of the people I've spoken with have offered any logical argument either way... What has become most obvious to me is that generally people don't seem to be interested in thinking about these things they just want people to stay the f--k out of their way.
Now I've written a swag of words and still haven't made my point so I'll label this 'Post 1'and try to follow up another time.