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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  • Kyle Matthews,

    If you're after a classic sit-up-and-beg, give Mamachari (http://mamachari.co.nz/) a go.

    To fix that link. Mamachari are good people (two friends of mine are part owners of the business, one works there).

    Part of the reason for buying into the business is that it's about recycling (the bikes are imported from Japan and then restored and sold) and sustainability. They also have a flat employment structure - all the employees get paid the same, and they choose their own job titles. One for example has business cards that read "Imagination Officer".

    If you want a simple, funky bike (they've only just recently got into selling them with gears as an option) for riding about town, go for it. They have resellers in a few places and sell online.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report

  • Martin Lindberg,

    At last I can post my ever-at-the-ready Copenhagen Cycle Chic link.

    Heh, well yeah. That's the part of the world I'm from so I have come across that site before. What I find interesting about that site is that it's like a kind of anthropological study of, well, what's normal to me.

    Of course 'normal' is in the eye of the beholder. I'm sure if I created a similar site with photos of helmeted riders fighting their way across Auckland it would probably seem interesting (although not like heaven) to riders in Denmark (and Sweden, Holland etc).

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Te Wellington Regional Cycleways blog is unimpressed by Mr Thompson's pearls.

    I myself would have thought that slowing cars down, and getting rid of drunk drivers, and making it illegal to pass a cyclist within 1.5 metres would be a better way to go about it. Really registration? Where has that old pearler ever worked? It is the Godwin’s law of road transport. What the hell is the Herald doing hiring a monkey like Eric? No wonder it’s not worth buying newspapers anymore.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rich Lock,

    Three nearly unreadable bile-coated hairballs, from three motoring 'journalists' (one on stuff, two in the herald).

    Pretty much tells me everything I need to know about who has the bad attitude, and where that comes from.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Only one was a motoring journo. But bicycle advertising remains minimal..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Jake Pollock, in reply to Sacha,

    That would be a charitable reading, Sacha. A less charitable assessment would be that they’re twatcocks.

    ETA: Of course, it could be both.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report

  • Russell Brown,

    Only one was a motoring journo.

    Nope, one each from The Press and the Herald. The other was a former Craccum editor. None of them made a lot of sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sloan was anti-cyclist when he edited Craccum. I wrote a letter complaining about the worse-than-useless showers in the Quad locker room and got a very condescending response due to my status as a cyclist. He did at least have the grace to give me a bar tab at Shadz, but the disdain for cyclists was apparent even then.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh, only one was *identified* as a motoring journo - I guess I'm meant to know that Thompson is one too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Zach Bagnall, in reply to JackElder,

    Those opinion pieces are gross.

    It's a lovely day out there, by the way. Get on yer bike and get some fresh air.

    I did! Had half a day to kill in Auckland so I hired a bike from BikeCentral in Britomart and hit the road - along the waterfront to St Helliers and back then up to the museum and over and up to the top of Mt Eden. Paced with some guy in sponsored gear for a while and had a day of it. Drivers were generally courteous with just two cars passing much too close - there was a painted median strip so plenty of room for them to move around.. it's like they couldn't bear to be seen to yield space to a bike (speculation).

    I'm off to Wellington for the weekend tomorrow. Might be worth hiring a bike there too?

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report

  • Ben Gracewood,

    The Harold edited my comment on that article! I've fixed it below:

    What [**the shit**] is up with motoring writers proposing ingenious rules for cyclist when motorists are responsible for 9/10 cycling accidents?

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    Jolly Jolisa:

    At last I can post my ever-at-the-ready Copenhagen Cycle Chic link.

    Niiiiccce!. Love the granny bike and basket. They are chic over there with the kids!

    But..but...but...did you see THAT!!! The groomer cruising up the BIKE lane and keeping the BIKE lane clean. Does anyone remember the first time - let alone the last time - a road sweeper cleaned any BIKE lane in NZ??

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Sam F, in reply to Sacha,

    Some rightly furious responses to the Thompson piece at the Herald, notably this:

    Another genius article.

    We sure know how to produce them.

    Bikes must be fitted with rear-vision mirrors – This would actually be a good thing, cyclists probably wouldn’t like it but you’d feel a lot safer on a bike. I can’t see it would have saved any of the 5 people that got killed by cars not following the road rules though.

    * indicators, I personally have no problem with this. Just remember how many cars you see change lanes etc without indicating though.

    * They can only ride single-file on a single-lane road unless overtaking – as all other vehicles on the road are required by law; Perhaps drivers should remember that to overtake you need 100m ov clear visibility throughout the manouvre. Yeah right.

    * Be fitted with headlights that must be on at all times – as other two-wheeled vehicles on the road are required by law; YES YES YES, all road users at all times. 100% agree.

    * All bike riders must pass a road-licence test – Do you know anyone adults that ride a bike that don’t drive? Oh yes, we all have a license already.

    * All bikes must be registered and pay road tax – Yep, sure thing. Paid on the amount of damage done to the road.

    You’re a true visionary Eric

    Or more succinctly, this:

    I enjoyed your writings on alcohol and driving standards but you've lost the plot on cyclists. Everyone I know that rides also drives and pays taxes except my 13 year old daughter and her mates, your columns just plain stupid. Take care when driving around cyclists. Isn't 5 dead enough for you and some of your fellow drivers?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report

  • Amy Gale,

    Parked cars seem to be a significant part of the menace equation here. Maybe … there just shouldn’t be any. No, really. No on-street parking at all. There’s no reason to take it as a basic assumption that the public roadway should include free vehicle storage.

    Then nobody – not people on bicycles, not people in cars, nobody – would be endangered by doors opening or by people pulling out without indicating or checking. Roads would instantly be wider – for free! The edge of the road would become a much more viable location for a cycle lane. And more of the true cost of parking would fall on the vehicle owner, where it belongs.

    (Disclaimer: I don’t ride a bike; haven’t since I was a teenager. I’m too scared. Not just of motor traffic, although it certainly doesn’t help. Sometimes I’m a ^%# motorist and sometimes a *^$# pedestrian.)

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report

  • Isaac Freeman, in reply to Sam F,

    All bike riders must pass a road-licence test – Do you know anyone adults that ride a bike that don’t drive?.

    * Puts hand up *

    I know plenty of others too, and that's without being particularly involved with cycling lobby groups (I get the Spokes newsletter, never been to an event).

    I have no objection to a cycling licence per se. However, I can't see what problem it would solve, and I'd be concerned that it would do much more than cycle helmets to put people off cycling.

    I found it valuable to take a few driving lessons years ago, but only in a negative sense. I remember being particularly shocked when the instructor told me how far ahead I should be looking down the road. It was about a third of the distance I was used to looking.

    Putting indicators on bicycles strikes me as pointless. They're not going to be bright enough in the daylight, and the bike isn't wide enough for motorists to distinguish which way they're pointing. Motorists who already have trouble comprehending bicycles aren't going to think more carefully because they've been asked to understand another flashing light. And, with very few exceptions, cyclists seem to have arms, for which we have established customs of highly-visible indicating.

    I might look into getting a rear-view mirror before my next long ride though. Seems like a good idea.

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 134 posts Report

  • Jolisa, in reply to Amy Gale,

    I really liked your modest proposal, Amy ... and then I remembered that I live on a street where perhaps half of the houses don't have off-street parking (we don't) and thus no driveway.

    This means there are always a lot of cars parked on the street, true. But there are also only half as many cars backing out of driveways across the footpath. Which, if you're walking or biking along the footpath, especially with kids, is a tangible improvement - e.g. I'm only half as hoarse at the end of an outing, from yelling "stop for driveways!" only half as often as on a regular street.

    Still, I can picture a properly designed neighbourhood in which all vehicles park in private mews, located behind the houses, accessed by a smaller number of entrances onto the main roads. Parts of Salt Lake City operate this way.

    And I dream of a city with properly designed cycling and walking paths that parallel or complement roads, crossing them where necessary at safe and well-designed intersections. And handily-located car parks that are actually park-like, with lots of trees, and full of ZipCars.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report

  • Rich Lock,

    it’s like they couldn’t bear to be seen to yield space to a bike (speculation).

    More probably didn't/don't realise how unpleasant it is to be passed closely when you're on a bike, or didn't notice you. Or some combination thereof.

    Most people are extremely unobservant. Also, if they're not regular two-wheelers, they won't really have an appreciation of that perspective.

    My personal preference would be for all road users to have to do an apprenticeship on a pushbike or low-cc scooter before they were able graduate to behind the wheel of a car. That way they'd gain a far more acute awareness of spacing and relative vulnerability, which would hopefully lead to them driving more courteously and giving more consideration to other road users.

    But I won't hold my breath.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

  • JackElder,

    I’m off to Wellington for the weekend tomorrow. Might be worth hiring a bike there too?

    The forecast's good (for Sunday, at least) so it's probably worth it. The ride around the bays is very nice - there's a few good cafes on the way around too. Definitely worth a bit of a meander.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 709 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    Pardon my Francais, but I'd say the war of the wheels is symptomatic of a wider Social Darwinist cluster-fuckery that'll take years to recover from. Time for us to start a Coffee Party movement.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Greg Wood, in reply to Jolisa,

    All the people moaning about pelotons and cyclists riding two abreast should consider it useful practice for rounding a corner and encountering a handful of kids happily riding home from school the way my siblings and I used to. A chance to practice navigating cautiously and expect the unexpected.


    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report

  • Greg Wood,

    Those Peter Brock ads had a HUGE effect on me, a long time ago, and have informed my driving style ever since. Pay attention, it could come from anywhere, you are not shit-hot behind the wheel, but it is fun if you're good...

    I'd like to see a CRAPLOAD more of those ads than the stupidly overwrought Mantrol advertising dickhead's wet dream of a million-dollar shoot. We could shoot about 20 for the same cost, starring all of our incredible racing drivers - Rod and Rhys Millen (Pike's Peak winning father and son); Scott Dixon (Indycar winning dude); you name it -- plus perhaps put them in the car with any one of our freaking AWESOME cycling champs (Linda Villumsen, the first ever elite medal by a kiwi in the UCI World Road Cycling Championships this October; New Zealand won five medals on the opening night of finals at the Oceania cycling championships in Adelaide last night...!).


    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report

  • Greg Wood, in reply to Kumara Republic,


    Coffee Party

    ... nice.

    Now back in Aucktown • Since Dec 2006 • 86 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Greg Wood,

    And I'm only half-joking. Any ideas on where to start?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    A firm Listener editorial notes the contrast between New Zealand's aspirations for more cycling tourists and the rude reality of our oafish driving.

    Cyclists are pictured getting along cheerfully on pretty streets and scenic roads. In reality the environment for cyclists here is dangerous. Indeed, it can be downright intimidating, as evidenced by the story earlier this year of the Christchurch businessman who threatened to “nail” cyclists with his Hummer. This incident and others were later reported in an article in the Berliner Zeitung, warning tourists about Kiwi drivers’ appalling attitudes to cyclists. The paper also reported that six days before she was killed cycling in New Zealand in January, German tourist Mia Pusch blogged about aggressive Kiwi drivers, describing them as “beasts in human form”.

    And the answer?

    But the most effective way to make cycling safer is to get more people cycling. Research shows there is safety in numbers: the more cyclists on the roads, the more accustomed drivers become to looking out for them (and the more likely they are to be cyclists themselves) and the safer cycling becomes.

    But this won’t happen by chance: parents won’t send their kids to school by bike until there are cycle lanes and safe crossings; commuters won’t cycle until they feel confident motorists will give them space and respect. Yet planners refuse to take cycling seriously – particularly in Auckland. The cycleway alongside the Northwestern Motorway is commendable, but the NZTA’s primitive attitude towards a cycleway on the Harbour Bridge virtually guarantees that commuter cycling in the city will continue to suffer.


    University of Auckland researcher Alistair Woodward calculates that if we made just 5% of short commutes by bike, 22 million litres of fuel and $193 million in health costs would be saved annually.

    I should note that Professor Woodward is the head of the University's School of Population Health, not some junior researcher.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Scott A,

    Something occurred to me this morning that made me think that the real solution to New Zealand motorist's issues with cyclists is, simply, more cyclists.

    I was driving down to the shops; from Kingston to Island Bay and back. And, in those five minutes to-and-from I had what, I guess, I'd call two 'near-miss' incidents with cyclists.

    Now, like most, I think of myself as a good driver. A safe driver. I've driven for twenty years without any kind of crash, prang or insurance claim. I am confident in my abilities to drive to the conditions without harm to others, and (of course) myself. As an indicator of this, driving this Saturday morning when Adelaide Road was teeming with parents parking cars and white-clad children rushing to the day's traffic, I was ultra-cautious, ultra-careful, ultra-safe. Yet, still, two near-misses with cyclists. Why?

    Innate training and movement, I think. As a driver, over my twenty years, I've become very accustomed, acclimatised, aware of movement; relative speed to me in my car. Think ahead, look ahead, anticipate the worse possible movement by someone else on or near the road, so you can instinctively react quickly and safely to any occurrence. A street lined with cars with lots of children; drive cautious, anticipate someone walking out from behind a car at every distance, react safely, instinctively.

    But with cyclists, I realised, my brain doesn’t anticipate the movement as it should. The size, the speed, delivers an instinctive ‘pedestrian’ response, and of course cyclists move far quicker than that. I have to consciously react to a cyclist, while my reactions to a pedestrian (even randomly darting children) have become near-instinctive.

    There’s only one solution to this; training. More time on the road with cyclists around me. The boom in cycling is fairly recent, and so my behaviours haven’t had time to become instinctive. And only one thing will make them so; being conscious of cyclists until, ultimately, my reactions become unconscious.

    And I think I’m not alone in this; I feel most New Zealand drivers are the same. We learned to drive in an environment where cyclists were the exception, not the rule, and so we didn’t learn how to behave. And we need more cyclists, not less, to ensure that both current drivers, and those yet to start to learn, are able to react-to and understand the movement of cyclists just as good drivers react-to and understand the movement of pedestrians and other cars.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report

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