Is it not enough that cyclists are apparently treated with contempt on the roads but have to hope and pray that justice prevails when matters in which they are a victim, by virtue of their cycling, go before a court?
Every time we clip-in and head out for a training ride, to simply get some exercise or just to catch the sunrise we are cognisant of the risks of injury riding alongside cars, buses and trucks. But, in the scheme of things, those risks are small, especially given the greater risk is from copping an earful of abuse.
I have been on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse when riding more times than I can recall, usually just because I am riding a bike or wearing Lycra (which seems to cause more angst in the motoring public if comments in The Courier Mail are anything to go by). From sledging to a frozen coke to the head to a punch in the kidneys from a passenger leaning of the car, I have had it all.
But I have never been put in the position where I had absolutely no control in avoiding being hit by a driver too stupid to be behind the wheel of a car.
Unfortunately, Jorge Alvarado was. Twenty-seven years old and a pro-cyclist in a new team on the US circuit he had everything to look forward to.
The sad story of his death, over two years ago, and the lack of justice served last week in San Bernardino county, California, can be found at the blog BikingInLA. Sadly reminiscent of the July 2005 accident that took Amy Gillett and severely injured a number of the Australian women’s cycling team, it seems the only people worldwide who don’t seem to understand are those foolish enough to street race on public roads and the judiciary that hear their pleas for mercy.
Sadly this level of justice is not restricted to other countries. The death of Ian Humphrey has shown miscarriages occur here as well.
Jorge Alvarado (and Amy Gillett and Ian Humphrey)…RIP.
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.
Last Saturday I completed the usual club ride followed by coffee and calories at CBD North Lakes (purveyors of the most excellent DiBella Coffee). The weather was perfect (once the sun came up and put some warmth into the morning) and for once I had visions of getting through the 80km without suffering the disdain of those on four or more wheels for those of us choosing two. I should learn not to have visions.
Riding back home (why am I always one of the last to leave?) I was approaching a roundabout, riding on or just to the left of the lane marker on Anzac Avenue, Kallangur, when I became aware of a truck approaching from behind. Now, I was riding at about 30-32kph and would find it easier to negotiate the roundabout close to that speed, much close than the truck would. So what does the dickhead truck driver do? Ease off the gas and allow me, who is ahead of him, to get through the roundabout into a position where it would be easy for him to overtake on the straight road following the roundabout? No! This…
About 500m later I caught up with the truck waiting at the lights on the intersection with Duffield Road. I rode past and as the lights changed wondered whether the truckie would turn off somewhere or pass me a bit further on. I should have known. Another 500m later he passed me again. Just as close as before…
Which just goes to prove if you are a truckie driving B-Double not only do you not need a big dick, you probably don’t have one. Unless it is on your head.
The comments by Shane Warne in mid-January that inflamed cyclists around Australia, and which drew comment on numerous blogs, first and foremost by Wade Wallace’s CyclingTips, apparently inspired a number of Warnie’s bogan Twitter followers to new depths of feral behaviour the moment they are passing cyclists in their Bogandore sedans (many resplendent with their red or green ‘P-plates’).
Reports from some cities in the days following the controversy highlighted intimidation of cyclists by car loads of youths, many slapping their hands on the sides of the cars and repeatedly shouting “Warnie”. From personal experience most acts of intimidation only occur on lone cyclists, those targeting us generally being too gutless to pick on more than one cyclist. And having been abused and had stuff thrown at me on numerous occasions, and more recently assaulted five minutes from home by a passenger of a white ute being driven by a grub from Burpengary – a grub who was at the time and still is banned from driving until mid-2014 – I decided it was time to invest in a little insurance. So I bought a camera.
I picked this one as the manual states it records for 2.5hours which is more than enough time for my commute with a bit to spare. In fact I could do the commute and a River Loop of Brisbane and still have a few minutes spare. I used it on the way into work a couple of days ago and although I got buzzed a couple of times it was nothing too heavy and there was no “Warnie” abuse. But on the way home, five minutes after leaving the office, I got buzzed by a truck. I just love the way he cuts in after passing then drives on top of the line at the edge of the road adjoining the bus stop emphasising his ownership of the road.
A short distance further on I witnessed the best driving through a red traffic signal I have seen for a couple of years. The intersection with Enoggera Road and Ashgrove Road at Newmarket is always busy with vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians and yet at 4.36pm Mr Pajero Driver makes no attempt to brake let alone stop as the lights turn amber. At this stage he is not in camera, the lights turning amber with the camera almost 56m away. When he is in camera and 15m away the lights turn red and he continues driving through the intersection. As I remark on the video, he is a fucking knob!
Ride safe people and watch out for fuckwits driving cars and trucks…