Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: I'm not a "f***ing cyclist". I'm Ruby's daddy, on a bike

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  • Russell Brown,

    I'm struck by the number of red herrings that get thrown into this argument: bicycle WOFs (even though there's no evidence that that poorly-maintained cycles are a significant factor in cycle accidents) and licences (even though nearly all adult cyclists already have drivers' licences).

    But the fact is that in the awful Morrinsville crash, which took three lives, the driver cross the centre line. At the place where the fatal accident happened on Tamaki Drive, there has been an average one cycle crash a month for the last two years -- six of them resulting in serious injury. It really does seem it was only a matter of time before someone was killed there.

    And now, finally, the parking spaces have been removed.

    Blathering on about how cyclists need to watch themselves, are arrogant, should be licensed, shouldn't ride four abreast (I've never personally witnessed that, but whatever) just doesn't seem very relevant in these cases.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I noticed a back of the bus billboard t'other day .
    It showed 1.5 meter measurement indicated with arrows , a picture of a bike, and the words (suchliketotheeffectof) 'Take care, we are all sharing this road. ."
    None of the "This is mine, all mine fuck off outta my way "
    Felt it was a very effective, simple, cheap, campaign. Only seen the one bus but. Guess then that's not too effective. :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin M,

    Greg, you have brought the human element to this debate. If every person on a bike and every driver of a car looked into the eyes of each other they would see a person, one who has much the same dreams and aspirations as them and suddenly they become somebody not just a motorist or cyclist. How often is it that we see someone across a room and either like or dislike them based on their look, body language or dress? Once we meet them our impressions are often changed. Generalisations are a curse and an impediment us all.
    I have not met the young woman who crashed into us, but she wrote a heartfelt apology, explained her situation and revealed a small part of her life, she is not the evil motorist many some “cyclists” would like to portray her as; she’s a good person who simply made a mistake, one I’m sure she has learned from and hopefully one she has passed onto her friends.
    It’s not the law that needs changing it’s our attitudes and the way we dehumanise people we don’t know. What we need to do to stop this senseless carnage is think about what we are doing and realise that our actions could kill one of our loved ones not a stranger on a bike or in a car or riding a motorcycle. It’s simple!!think before you act, understand the risks and act accordingly.
    Opening a car door? look, look look then open
    Turning out of a side street? look, look, look then turn
    Driving down the road? keep left
    Riding more than two abreast? call forward and police your group
    Tight roadways? call forward for single file
    Think about your situation and act accordingly. Peer pressure on both sides of this argument will bring about the changes we need to protect the one’s we love. That’s the New Zealand I once lived in.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2010 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Sofie, that campaign's been going on for a while. I used to get a bit of a giggle from cycling along behind buses that had those signs on them.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    So did anyone abuse you whilst accompanying the signage? You could have just pointed to the back of the bus. Sorted!
    :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Does anyone else use the footpath for short commutes around town?
    Surely the safer option?

    Except for the pedestrians, of course.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    it’s a shame if future peoples are going to see cycling as a rather specialised recreational activity involving lots of special gear rather than just … transport.

    Actually, it's rather hard to buy a bike that's "just ... transport." They all seem to come with masses of unnecessary gears, no mudgards, and very little space to attach a basket or a carrier. I'd love to be able to buy a simple 5 or 8 or even 10 gear bike. Just spare me the 21 gears and complicated cogs and shifts and stuff that I can't fix myself when something goes wrong. I don't want to have to be a bicycle mechanic to get on my bike to go to the shop to get a litre of milk.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    General cyclist education would be a good thing, but it should take place in schools rather than testing stations.

    "Back in may day" - Hackneyed but. I remember regular (at least yearly) visits to primary school in the 60s of the Traffic Officer and his trailer of bikes and peddle cars. He would unload it, we would help set up the raod course, stop signs, give way T and X intersections. Would be given the road code basics and told to carry out all those things you were shown on bike and car. It was fun. I still recall flashes of it in certain road situations so it seems to have inoculated me at least. It went the way of the warm milk and apple. Out the door.

    It is hard to justify such "preventative" measures when there is no data to support it. Read "Deaths" for data. This argument is used when ped crossings are wanted, stop signs demanded, wider roads begged for. So, 5 deaths and a final 6th one to rid car parks confirms the "mode of operation" still works.

    I can't help think that compulsory driver instruction should be taught in highs chool with a nationwide qualified instruction system. curriculum and driver qualification. As I have said in other places, I would bet my house that results would be seen within 10 years.

    It is a Public Health issue and should be treated as such

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    More politics. Our current Minister of Transport and his colleagues also de-prioritised and de-funded safety programmes in general, along with maintanance of both local roads and existing highways (noticed more potholes?) and of public transport investment to match demand and population growth.

    Why? To provide budget for their beefy highways of National Party significance, so lucrative for construction companies and trucking firms. Let’s hope at least some voters think about that next year.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I’d love to be able to buy a simple 5 or 8 or even 10 gear bike. Just spare me the 21 gears and complicated cogs and shifts and stuff that I can’t fix myself when something goes wrong.

    You can, but they tend to be imported and expensive. My local shop, Rode, sells a steady stream of "classic" Euro-bikes to women who feel just the same as you, and can afford the bike they actually want.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Michael Laws’ column contains some of the usual reflexive conjuring of facts:

    Sadly, this will prove an exercise in irrelevance because there is no practical solution, other than cyclists accepting that it is they who have the greatest responsibility to stay safe. And to stop pissing off motorists with their claims that they enjoy the same road rights as everybody else.

    It’s one of those cases where they might be right, but they also might be dead. Noiselessly zipping around built-up areas, and expecting every other road user to keep an eye out for you, is an insane expectation. So is riding two, three or four abreast and expecting the traffic to somehow congregate. In short, too many cyclists are arrogant prats.

    You know, I drive plenty, and I never experience this. I have never seen cyclists riding three or four abreast in front of me, and they generally seen eminently concerned with their own welfare. This is just a talking point with no data to it.

    OTOH …

    There is also something practical that John Key might do too. Instead of creating a $50 million national cycle tour that virtually no one will use, put the dosh into creating defined, visible cycleways in the city. Where people – and cyclists – actually are.

    This is a very salient point. Shortly before Key announced his national job-creating cycleway, his government cut funding for urban cycle paths. It was not a coherent approach, at all.

    Laws, a middle-aged fitness cyclist himself, is rather more reasonable when he’s part of the story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Just spare me the 21 gears and complicated cogs and shifts and stuff that I can’t fix myself when something goes wrong. I don’t want to have to be a bicycle mechanic to get on my bike to go to the shop to get a litre of milk.

    It's really not that complicated, and the added ability to control speed v. effort is really important for anyone doing decent-length rides. I biked to uni and/or work every weekday for five years, and a couple of times when I was restricted to eight gears by gear issues, it was a bitch. Learning to fix them takes a little more effort, but no more than, say, learning to change a tyre or check your oil.

    If it's that much of an issue, I'd check the second-hand market for bikes with fewer gears - they are out there - but really for any sort of riding on the road a 21-gear massively improves your efficiency and ease of riding. You certainly don't need to be a mechanic just to get on the bike - if changing gears is that much of a hassle, just pick a setting you like and leave it there!

    I do entirely take your point about pedestrians, however. All this "cycle on the footpath!" stuff is all very well - *if* you want to go about five kilometres an hour or stick to very pedestrian-light zones with particularly wide footpaths. I've nearly been bowled over by cyclists, or nearly hit them turning into driveways. On the footpath, the cyclist is the fastest and most dangerous thing around. It may increase their safety, but it often decreases everyone else's, which isn't really a net gain.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And on a happier note: I rode over to Onehunga this afternoon, via the SH20 cycleway, and came back via War Memorial Park and the creekside reserves it leads to. It was bloody great.

    Also: stopped at Dressmart and bought some sunglasses at the Adidas outlet store, at a third of retail price. Yay.

    I'm convinced they make me look more like Dan Carter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall, in reply to Petra,

    Never had those issues cycling in London, Germany or Holland. Even in London(!) people cared about you on the busy city road.

    I cycle 100+ km in and around London every week and aside from the odd jerk who decides to turn into a side street without indicating, most drivers are simply resigned to sharing the road with bikes. Aggressive drivers are few and far between. It seems Auckland is just beginning this transition to road sharing but it is absolutely inevitable. Already I see many more cyclists on the road than I remeber 3 years ago.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    On the footpath, the cyclist is the fastest and most dangerous thing around. It may increase their safety, but it often decreases everyone else’s, which isn’t really a net gain.

    Not when I'm doing it, as I'm not very fast. And I'm constantly on and off the footpath for all kinds of obstacles and reasons. As long as I get away with it I'll do it. I'm not trying to justify anything, just describing how it is when one must adapt to raw necessity.

    For the most part people are surprisingly good about it, they'll even apologise for being in the way, That's my cue to say that I shouldn't really be there. As I'm probably taking advantage of a general ignorance of the law that might not be a good idea, but it does rather seem to tickle people's sense of magnanimity.

    BTW, in order to demonstrate his willingness to impartially enforce Council by-laws, back in the early 1900s the Mayor of Levin personally busted his own wife for riding on the footpath.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So that was you, Russell! Is that why you didn't answer when I said "Hi Dan!"?

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    That’s a political problem.

    Not it's not -- the problem is that if you're going to be a suicidal cyclist, make sure you're part of a cluster in a slow news week. Really seems to be the only way to make anyone give a shit.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sacha,

    Politics is resolution of competing influence and needs to allocate resources and attention. Sure, media helps.

    But goodness knows how keeping a solid median strip and 4 roadside carparks was regarded as more important than addressing repeated injuries to legitimate road users since 2006. Wonder what Kelly Tarlton’s were asked to contribute to the demand their (profitable) nearby business created?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Lisa Black, in reply to Kevin M,

    Thank you, Kevin. I can only hope I would be as generous-hearted were I ever to find myself in the same horrible situation.

    When I first read the Herald headline of "Driver devastated - life ruined" or some such my first thought was - why are they focussing on her? But of course, as you say, this is all of our problem. Giving the driver's perspective negates that them/us view, especially, I would think, for non-cyclists.

    I hope there are no lasting effects from your run-in.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2010 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Lisa Black, in reply to Deborah,

    Deborah - fixing bikes is for the most part exceptionally easy. The only kinds of gears you can't easily fix yourself are the internal hub gears, and they practically never get anything wrong with them. They just sort of go until they die.

    Buying a new bike from Rode for around $2000 is still likely to be cheaper than a year of public transport, and given that one of my bikes is approximately 25 years old and the other around 80 years old I think it a damn good investment. (Admittedly the 80 year old is in need of a partial rebuild, but I probably will be by that age too).

    BTW, I highly recommend step-through frames. You can wear pretty much anything while riding them, ball-gowns included.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2010 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Kitt McGregor, in reply to Deborah,

    | Does anyone else use the footpath for short commutes around town?
    | Surely the safer option?

    Except for the pedestrians, of course.

    Tell me... just exactly how many pedestrians have been injured/killed by bikes?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2010 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Laws, a middle-aged fitness cyclist himself, is rather more reasonable when he’s part of the story.

    Sorry, he's still toad, the wet sprocket to me...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    How many pedestrians have been injured/killed by bikes?

    Bikes don't kill people,
    people kill people...
    just like cars don't kill people,
    people in cars kill people...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Kitt McGregor,

    Tell me… just exactly how many pedestrians have been injured/killed by bikes?

    You mean worldwide? It’s rare but it happens. Actually in terms of injurying it’s not all that rare. (I don’t consider 2,600 injury-causing accidents in a year in the UK alone, a fifth of which involving serious injury, to be negligible.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Mmmhhh… except it was every ten years. So, roughly 260 a year, with 50 serious injuries and 3 deaths. To answer your question.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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