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Bad cyclists

How to give law-abiding cyclists a bad name…

Every city with a sizeable cycling population likely has one ride popular amongst the Strava set, the wannabe neo-Pros and resident/visiting elite riders. Here in Brisbane it is, apparently, the Zupps ride, a fast-paced 90km hit out departing the northern suburb of Aspley for Burpengary followed by a loop of the Redcliffe peninsula, before returning, via Nundah, to the starting point at the car dealership from which the ride takes its name.

The numbers participating in the ride vary depending on weather conditions (regardless, the ride still will take place every Sunday from 6.30am) or if regular riders are otherwise engaged in a real race somewhere else in southeast Queensland. Several years ago I took part in a number of Zupps rides with up to 100 other cyclists. Yesterday, at about 7.10am, whilst on the train to work I saw a bunch of about twenty riding north on Narangba Road passing the Dakabin rail station. From the speed they were going it can only have been Zupps, despite the route being popular among other bunches in the area.

The etiquette of the riders has been called into question on many occasions before. Previously I have criticised the attitude of the ride leaders and some others in the bunch towards compliance with the state road rules; apparently, red traffic lights on busy Gympie Road through Strathpine and Lawnton do not apply to cyclists before 7am!

Yet, despite the call by Queensland cyclists for respect, consideration and tolerance by drivers and the recent enactment of a minimum passing distance to provide an appropriate safety barrier between bicycles and motorised vehicles, there are some who, by their flagrant inability to ride safely and within the law, damage the reputation of those who do not take part in the ride and so do nothing to promote the hobby/sport.

This was never more obvious than at about 8.30am on Sunday at the intersection of Barclay Street and Adams Street in Deagon. Having received numerous complaints over several months of poor riding behaviour in the locality on Sunday mornings as well as generally poor driving behaviour by some motorists towards cyclists, particularly with regard to the safe passing distance legislation, officers of the Queensland Police Road Policing Task Force deployed on an operation to monitor and target errant cyclists and motorists. Knowing well the locations cyclists would be likely to break the road rules, the officers attended and observed in this instance numerous cyclists in the Zupps bunch ride straight through the intersection without complying with the visible stop sign and stop line.

Well done. Now not only do many motorists think cyclists wilfully flout the law but so do the police and we can be sure of an increased police interest in the area in the months to come.

The non-compliance with the recognised law on this raised some discussion Australia-wide on what is and what is not required to avoid falling foul of the law with there being some confusion as to whether the Queensland Government had agreed to the trial/ implementation of the “Idaho Stop” rule, effectively permitting cyclists, and only cyclists, to treat “stop signs” as “give way” signs. Proposed in the recent review of cycling law (which heralded the 1m rule) the motion was discarded as it would treat motorists different to cyclists, particularly at a time when cyclists were seeking a higher degree of equality with motorists.

In essence, the existing law remains the same: cyclists (and motorists) are required to come to a complete stop before crossing the stop line and then proceed if/when the road is clear for them to do so. Contrary to what some cyclists believe there is nothing in the Queensland Road Rules which requires ANY VEHICLE to stop at a stop sign for a prescribed time before proceeding. Likewise there is NO REQUIREMENT for cyclists (or motorcyclists) to place at least one foot on the ground whilst stopped.

Different states have different interpretations on this but in Queensland, to avoid copping a fine, you only need to stop before the stop line. Nevertheless, at least one Facebook discussion on this incident generated numerous comments from misinformed locals and interstate migrants alike indicating a poor knowledge and worse interpretation of the law on this matter.

One local cyclist, during the discourse and chastisement of myself (who unbeknownst it him has a higher than average knowledge of the road rules), proudly declared his cycling pedigree and imparted his and his ancestors’ opinion that stopping at stop signs is an unsafe practice.

I’ll wager it’s safer than blowing through such an intersection in a bunch (or by yourself) and ending up as a bonnet adornment of the P-plate Commodore speeding in the street you are entering.

Your call mate…

Nobody is perfect!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect.  No, it’s true!  (But please don’t tell my wife and destroy her perception).  I swear too much and have bad habits too numerous to mention but none of them, now I’m middle-aged, include driving or riding in a manner that is likely to cause danger to others or myself.

My commute to work is about 28km of a few rolling hills and one nasty one towards the end, with both pedestrian crossing and traffic intersection lights on the ascent and, in Spring, a particularly aggressive magpie.  But the first part of the journey isn’t too bad.  There have been a few occasions where cars and trucks have come too close for comfort but none like there was this morning.

The incident which increased the heart rate above 135bpm at about 6.50am yesterday occurred on a roundabout at Petrie (ignore the date/time stamp on the recording).  Travelling south in Beeville Road the road widens from one lane plus a parking lane to two lanes (with no parking lane), the left most of which is signed for traffic to exit on Dayboro Road towards Strathpine.  The right lane is for traffic going straight ahead into a housing sub-division or right on Dayboro Road towards Youngs Crossing Road intersection or past there to Dayboro.  Approaching the roundabout Beeville Road bends slightly to the right and as it widens to two lanes I checked back and saw a silver four wheel drive a short distance back, still climbing the hill.  I signalled my intent to turn right and – for reasons of safety – positioned myself in the left lane whilst continuing to signal right with an outstretched arm letting traffic on the roundabout pass in front.  I then moved onto the chevrons to the left of the edge line and continued to ride towards Dayboro Road still with my right arm signalling my intended course.  So, considering I had signalled heaps more than many other cyclists tend to do I was a bit shocked to find the silver four wheel drive, a Mitsubishi Pajero Queensland registration 692ITY drive straight in front of me into the Petrie-on-Pine estate.  But as he/she had signalled their intent (note flashing indicator) to turn into this road then their wanton disregard for other traffic can be forgiven.  Apparently.  But as my name is not Jesus I decline to forgive and so you shall have your 15 minutes of fame.

Some forty minutes later, and still marvelling at my good fortune of almost meeting the courteous Pajero driver, my disappointment in the attitudes of some Brisbane road users continued.  On Old Northern Road/South Pine Road at Everton Park, just after the intersection with Dargie Street, the traffic starts to back up to a standstill.  For some unknown reason drivers are unable to position their cars on the road to allow cyclists to pass safely on the left, so many cyclists, myself included, pick the safest option which is to ride between the two lines of traffic (see, I told you I wasn’t perfect!) until the space on the left increases .  Unfortunately, just after the intersection with Stafford Road the entire scenario is replicated on the approach to where South Pine Road becomes Wardell Street.  This is a long, straight stretch with an appalling road surface and camber on the left of the southbound lanes.  The road passes Mt Maria College and so is in a school zone.  Now traffic is so heavy here that speeding is not an issue but right outside the main entrance to the school is a pedestrian crossing controlled by traffic lights.  So you would think that when riding along through stopped cars and trucks, which are stopped because the lights were RED, that you would err on the side of caution and stop too or at least slow to a crawl pending their change to green.  But, no!  Apparently if you are a cyclist then that ridiculous rule shouldn’t apply to you.  So a big round of applause to Mr “Lend Lease” for doing the wrong thing at a red light and giving Brisbane drivers more anti-cyclist ammunition.  And a dollar to the swear jar for me for calling him a fuckwit.

But it didn’t end there.  A bit further on Mr “Lend Lease”, like me, took an exit to a back street next to the Enoggera train station.  Due to a blind corner at the bottom of the off-ramp the intersection is controlled by a stop sign.  The big question for users of this intersection during the morning rush hour is whether there is a police officer on the other side, just out of sight, but in possession of a video camera filming the evidence before he issues the $300 fine.  Lucky for Mr “Lend Lease” there wasn’t since he (and the driver following) made no attempt to stop.

I eventually caught up with Mr “Lend Lease” when he stopped for the lights at the Samford Road / Enoggera Road intersection (this one is a bit busier and so perhaps he didn’t feel so brave).  I told him he was doing some wonderful things to enhance the reputation of Brisbane cyclists in his disobedience of the red light and the stop sign and called him a tool (no more money for the swear jar!).  I must have hit a nerve because he reacted and told me in no uncertain terms to worry about myself.

And their lies the root of the problem because I do worry about myself when riding, especially during rush hour.  All the time.  I worry that some cranky motorist who has seen other cyclists ignore the road rules will give me less room because, well, I must be a road-rule flouting cyclist like Mr “Lend Lease”.  I worry that some cyclist-hating driver will report his sighting of the behaviour of those Mr “Lend Lease” types and give fuel to the anti-cyclist vitriol published ad nauseum in the Courier Mail.  I worry that my wife and kids will one day receive a visit from a workmate with the news that I won’t be home for dinner.  Ever.  But I also worry that one day I might be the one that has to deliver similar news to the family of cyclists like Mr “Lend Lease”.

P.S.  Unfortunately there appears to be an issue in the uploading of videos 2 & 4 in that the sound is out of synch to the files held on my hard drive.

P.P.S.  If you are a manager from Lend Lease (offices at Waterfront Place in Brisbane) and you recognise this fool as one of your employees I most strongly recommend you “educate” him in setting  the right example when riding on the road.  Alternatively you could recommend he doesn’t provide such negative advertising to your brand.


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