1 April in enlightened Germany brought a whole raft of increased fines for cyclists. Not using a bike path will get you pinged €35, riding on the pavement €20, through a pedestrian precinct €15…
Except that sometimes and on some days, you’re allowed to ride through the latter at a “pedestrian pace”.
I was having a coffee on the cathedral square with a friend who’s the city’s Bike Czar.
Market day, so you can’t ride a bike there. Cold, miserable – you could have fired a shotgun and not hit anyone – and he said “Now, is it seriously going to bother anyone if we were to ride through here today.? I’d like to get rid of ALL restrictions and make the whole city a shared space”
Reminded me of a sign at a traffic light on the outskirts of Sienna “If you think that the red phase is excessively long, proceed with caution”
I drive through that crossing all the time (we talking about the painted white lines across the free left turn onto St Lukes Rd from the motorway off-ramp?), having just got off the motorway at St Lukes. I keep an eye out for cyclists for that exact reason, but I expect the cyclists to do the same. A motorist can see a person wandering up to a crossing, and looking both ways, but a cyclist whizzing across as if it were an automatic assumption… well I’ve almost taken one out before. I’m happy to eschew the right to make the cyclist get off and walk, but to make it an automatic right to cycle across might remove the cautionary approach…
I have no problem with that, it seems sensible but GHY if you clip me when I am walking across there
I'm with you Russell. I'm on the pavement in an instant whenever worried. I'm too chicken to ride in town off cycleways. Too many near-misses when I rode a lot as a teenager. I'm worried I've already used all my cycling luck.
In the last two years I rode a lot in Al Ain in the UAE, a city about the size of, and as flat as, Christchurch. Most of the main streets are dual carriageway, four or six lanes, and the urban speed limits are variously 60, 80 or 100kph, with pretty constant traffic. I think the lanes might be a bit wider than here. Most have footpaths but they are often roughly tile-paved and no fun to ride on.
Nearly all the major junctions have roundabouts (often 300-500metres outer circumference) - my student Maktoum memorably said "Mr Tony, you know the rule at roundabouts: you must go as fast as possible!" and they do. Some of them have pedestrian crossings on the entry and exit lanes, but whether they do or not, you have to wait for the occasional courteous driver to be able to cross safely - sometimes mounted, often better to dismount and run.
I admit I didn't study the regulations for cyclists, but as the police have only recently started stopping motorists for speeding (like how!), tailgating, etc, I wasn't, and never expected to be, pinged for lack of crossing/footpath etiquette (especially after seeing immigrant workers getting away with riding in the fast lane against the traffic flow...).
I have ventured forth a few times on Auckland roads (mainly out East, Howick way) since returning to NZ last year, and have never felt as safe as I did back in the Gulf. I admire you and other cyclists I see just going for it.
A motorist can see a person wandering up to a crossing, and looking both ways, but a cyclist whizzing across as if it were an automatic assumption… well I’ve almost taken one out before.
And that’s just stupid riding. I wasn’t joking about eyeballing the traffic coming up that off-ramp. I don’t go unless I’m confident the driver has seen me and is giving way.
My cycling friends advise that the chief benefit of dismounting for crossings is to not make angry drivers angry.
In my experience so far there is no correlation between how I behave on my bike and how drivers behave towards me. Drivers who are dicks will act like dicks, tailgate, swerve, swear and toot no matter what I'm doing - just the sight of me can be enough to set them off. So although I try to ride courteously, and I acknowledge drivers who give me extra time and space when I'm able, I'm certainly not going to go to any extra inconvenience just to make drivers feel better. They won't notice.
So true James. I am the world's most visible and traffic-law-obeying cyclist. 100% of my riding is in central Auckland in fairly slow traffic. And STILL I get cut off, beeped and routinely have people pass way too close.
Here at Cycling Advocates' Network we run Bus/Bike workshops, where we take bus drivers for a pedal, and they let us drive their buses. Then we chat about what we learned. It's a powerful tool in gaining insights into why people cycle / drive as they do.
We once ran the workshop with Wellington Police. It was enlightening to see Police take shortcuts like the ones RB writes about. They turned without indicating, wandered through Stop signs, and overtook queues of slow moving traffic. Not strictly legal, but it's what you do.
The problems are poor road designs, confused rules, crappy enforcement, and low driving/cycling standards.
The good news is that we can fix all these problems if we care enough.
In the meantime, pedal on and don't be a dick.
Heh, I was asked not to ring the Wellington "broken traffic light" number by the plod, after I was told by a plod to ring it rather than just riding through broken lights. So I did. Once per week, per broken light. Which, BTW, you are legally required to treat as a compulsory stop. Anyhow, "broken" does not have the intuitive meaning to the motor traffic people - it means "does not trigger for cars" rather than "does not trigger for vehicles". As you say, neither fish nor fowl.
What struck me was that cyclists who have been fined are more likely to infringe, but the author still things more enforcement is required:
There is definitely a role for enforcement to reduce the number of cyclists who ride through red lights. As with any other road user, cyclists need to be held accountable for illegal...
That suggests to me that what is needed is better design to reduce the incentive for infringement and education to persuade people to obey the rules, the same thing that is done when motorists habitually infringe.
The other thing missing from that survey was observation, and comparison with the dominant road user group. No, not scofflaws, motorists. Geez, you people.
The good news is that we can fix all these problems if we care enough.
In the meantime, pedal on and don’t be a dick.
Incidentally, in Sydney a friend of mine is the cycling official for the CBD council, and a lot of their work is on a: persuading more people to cycle; and b: persuading the road-building muppets to build things that work for cyclists. A big part of it is building things that look as though they will work in the eyes of novice cyclists, unfortunately even when those completely do not work for actual cyclists. Even actual novice cyclists. Not so much because the muppets think like novice cyclists, but as a way of getting the novice cyclists to actually ride into the city.
So there's a conflict: experienced cyclists often avoid the cycle infrastructure, and that strategy is accepted and supported by the designers of the infrastructure. But a sizeable minority of motorists dislike that behaviour and feel that if there's any dedicated infrastructure at all, no matter how unsuitable, cyclists should be forced to use it. Either by the law, or by (charitably) threats of violence.
We once ran the workshop with Wellington Police. It was enlightening to see Police take shortcuts like the ones RB writes about. They turned without indicating, wandered through Stop signs, and overtook queues of slow moving traffic. Not strictly legal
Strictly illegal, as you know. I used to collect helmet cam footage of velocops breaking the law, specifically so I could use it in court if I ever did get a ticket. The idea of saying "so I'm accused of doing this...", play video of velocop doing it, video of a different velocop doing it... repeat until asked to stop... "I was merely following the example of the Police, yeronner".
I've had some amusing off-the-record chats with velocops about this stuff, and they invariably talk like cyclists rather than law enforcement when it comes to a: some of the sillier road laws that only work for motorists and b: treatment by motorists. Some of you will be shocked to hear that a reflective jacket with "POLICE" in big letters on it is no more visible than a black cardy, if worn by a cyclist. The one that surprised me is that flashing red/blue bike lights and a clearly visible pistol are apparently not visible either.
I wonder why bank robbers don't use this amazing invisibility as well (maybe they do, and we just don't hear about it because they're never caught?)
So someone has to speak up for the pedestrians: I used to live in Berkeley (California) home of an avid pro-bike community - as well at the home of the radical disability rights movement. On Telegraph Ave you're as likely to be bowled over by a bike cop as by someone in a wheel chair.
In California pedestrians have absolute rights - in particular they have absolute rights on uncontrolled "crosswalks" - in California there is a legal crosswalk across every street at EVERY intersection whether it's painted in or not - for this consideration pedestrians give up the rights to cross between intersections (jaywalking). It helps that legal urban speed limits in the US are lower and stop signs are used where give ways are used here.
Sadly in Berkeley bike riders don't stop, for legally crossing pedestrians or stop signs - people die. Somehow bike riders pick up that same sense of road-entitlement that they complain of in motorists. I see the same behaviour here.
Wandering through the Queenstowns gardens last weekend on my currently gammy leg I was continually being hassled by cyclists for not getting out of the way - if you're behind me I'm not going to jump out of your way, I can't see you I don't know which way is safe, and with this stupid leg I can't jump anyway, I can't walk into the litter on the side of the track, I'm unsteady I'll fall over - I'm going to be predictable and do nothing sudden you can't predict, maybe you'll have to stop.
Small kids are a particular problem - Berkeley Bike cops used to be a real safety issue - parents work hard to keep their kids safe - we herd them along the footpath and teach them that it's safe so long as they stay out of the street - they'll dash across the pavement to look at something shiny in a shop window, they have no idea of bikes and how to judge what they might do, how fast they might go - riding on the footpath where children might be present should never be an option. And if you're a bike cop you should not be rinding your beat there - unless you have your siren going and you're in in hot pursuit.
Enough of a rant - but one more - if you're out at night on your bike - get a light, a bright one - on the front as well as the back - so pedestrians can see you .... and if you're going to run stop signs or red lights .... well that night time light is a must
A motorist can see a person wandering up to a crossing, and looking both ways, but a cyclist whizzing across as if it were an automatic assumption
Well yes. What people forget is that the road rules are not some moral code as to who has precedence, but a system to ensure that road users behave in a predictable fashion, thus helping them avoid each other. If you decide to operate outside the system, then you'll reduce your chances of being noticed. Which might be ok, *provided* you assume you are invisible to others, which I generally do on a bike.
Has there been an increase recently in cycling through pedestrian light signals around Auckland? Perhaps driven by increased pedestrian time at the CBD intersections? Etiquette seems to be that you let the pedestrians go first then slowly ride through the space behind the initial rush. I find that this puts me nicely into empty road space on Queen St, which I hope helps everybody.
I agree that cyclists should yield to pedestrians, and recognise their greater vulnerability. Perhaps we need a Rule Zero - Don't Kill.
On Telegraph Ave you're as likely to be bowled over by a bike cop as by someone...
I have just spent 17 days in South Beach and the biggest danger there was also cops and other cyclists on the footpath, cars were really considerate - especially around the beach. Cyclists on the foot path is a really, really bad idea.
I find that putting my foot down before riding those crosswalks satisfies most reluctant-to-slow drivers. I scheme to walk super-slow in front of cars who demand I dismount, but in practise the next car stops cheerfully and I don't want to hold them up. (Should I be worried how much time I spend planning cycle-to-rule campaigns to show up the inconsistent road code?)
The crossing by Motat (heading outbound) has ugly sightlines, which require looking 170 degrees over your right shoulder through a chainlink fence while cycling uphill. I assume that drivers on the off-ramp have similar difficulty seeing through the fence, but try to reserve enough momentum to minimise the awkward both-stopping moments.
The crossing by Motat (heading outbound) has ugly sightlines
Pretty much all crossings over the NW motorway that I can think of (Newton Rd, Motat and Pt Chev) are just complete disasters for all traffic. They aren't suitable as motorway on-ramps for cars, let alone for through-traffic for pedestrians and cyclists.
Wandering through the Queenstowns gardens last weekend on my currently gammy leg I was continually being hassled by cyclists for not getting out of the way
Wtf is wrong with some people? Fwiw, I'll always slow down if I think a walker hasn't seen me, and I'll thank anyone who steps aside to let me through, as I go past. It costs me nothing to do that.
Having walked with my family on parts of the Hauraki trail over Easter (couldn't ride due to child with badly broken arm) I can say that is a disaster waiting to happen, most riders were considerate, but others not so esp. the teenage boys.
100kg even at moderate speed on bike vs 7 year old is not going to end well for the 7 year old is it.
In many places the trail is not wide enough either.
Having said that the trail is fantastic around Paeroa/Waikino gorge.
Don’t make angry drivers angry … bull…shit!
So I’m not a small person, if I’m walking or (knees willing) running and I step on a small person or child I will hurt them …this is a bad thing … I don’t like hurting other people (who knew, I’m not a psychopath!).
This basic idea leads to the following principle
If you are bigger or faster do not allow your size or speed to hurt other people … even if they are doing something “wrong”.
If you are driving a tank, don’t run over cars (especially if they have people in them)
If you are driving an SUV don’t run over little cars
If you are driving a car don’t run over motorbikes
If you are riding a motorbike don’t run over bicycles
If you are riding a bicycle don’t run over pedestrians
If you are a large pedestrian try not to step on little pedestrians
None of this seems complicated to me. The onus should always be on the person in the larger more dangerous vehicle to protect the lives of those around them.
As so many have said, it really is safer sometimes for bikes to use pedestrian areas than to use the road which is just fine by me providing they slow down enough to ensure they don’t hurt the pedestrians. And sometimes it is safer for a cycle to go through a red light (especially a left turn) than share the intersection with the cars that can kill them.
If that as a driver makes you angry … grow up and get over it.
With the above all in mind, about a month ago I was driving on a main road coming up to a pedestrian crossing ... I saw the kid on the skateboard on the footpath and guessed what he might do ... even having guessed that, I had to hit the brakes fully in order to not kill him when he turned from the footpath onto the crossing without pausing to even look.
Those funny diamonds on the road before the pedestrian crossings ... they are an indication that if the car is closer to the crossing than the diamond it probably can't stop in time ... our Mazda 6 has very good brakes!
I have to say I don't see any problems with what Russell is saying. Anticipation is our friend.
Why don't we have free left turn on red?
Its a rule that would improve safety for pedestrians.