A vicious cycle(ing)

A few months ago, in Melbourne, a pedestrian was killed by a cyclist while crossing the road. It was early on a Saturday morning, when the local cyclists were out on their morning ride.  A friend told me that the cyclists on this ride are notorious for not obeying the road rules;  they effectively think of it as their one time of the week when they are in charge of the roads. But I couldn’t find any newspaper coverage to confirm that that whats actually happened in this case.

I think this is deplorable. But the terrible thing about it, as an occasional cyclist, is the reputation it gives all cyclists. Unfairly, all cyclists are blamed any time a cyclist does something stupid like this. So whenever you see a cyclist breaking the rules, instead of thinking (if you would if was a car), “what an idiot”, most (many) people think, “bloody cyclists, they never obey the rules.”

So then motorists and pedestrians think that cyclists deserve what they get, the powers-that-be don’t take into account the needs of cyclists when they set roads up (because they don’t deserve it), cyclists decide that the only way that they can ride is to disobey the road rules, and the whole thing gets worse.

I’m a boringly law-abiding person. I even dismount when I’m crossing at traffic lights or on the pavement. But when I cycle through the streets of central Sydney, there’s at least two places that I regularly disobey the rules because it enables me to avoid scarily busy streets. So I’m caught in the vicious cycle too – it’s inescapable.

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There was an interesting article in the New Yorker a week or two ago about cycling in New York – very similar issues there.

  2 comments for “A vicious cycle(ing)

  1. December 9, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    In Germany, both cars and pedestrians are expected to be considerate of cyclists. Cyclists rule. I don’t know if it is enscribed in law, but when you’re on the roads, or pavements for that matter, you’re expected to have “cyclist awareness”. I think it’s because the whole society cycles, from the tiniest kids to the most ancient of grannies, that drivers and walkers are respectful. My kids have been taught to leap to the right when a cyclist tinkles their bell (not regarded as rude here, just a mere warning). That way, no-one gets knocked over and cyclists get on their way unimpeded.

  2. December 10, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    I also disobey the rules in one or two regular places in order to keep myself safe. other than that, I’m extremely rule-obedient as a cyclist as I’m very aware that others are ready to criticise.

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