Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Failed Cyclist

Failed Cyclist - Low Level Cycling Skills 

When we were kids learning to ride, most of us were taught by someone with dubious road skills like our brother or worse still our sister….then our moms told us, time and time again, not to ride on the roads or we’d get run over!

To make matters worse we never had a proper bike with lights so we trundled along the wrong side of the road in the gutter when we got caught out at dusk. We did this even in the day in the hope we would be seen by on coming cars before they could hit us… Such was our instilled fear and appreciation of road rules.

So we tooled around on the footpaths with occasional forays onto the roads, all be it, most probably contra flow and island hopping to avoid the lights…We developed a way of riding with fear, missing completely the opportunity to use the road rules at our disposal to control the traffic at hand to our advantage. We became Failed Cyclist.

This lack of being told to ‘stand one’s ground’ out on the roads, particularly at intersections, has had far reaching consequences for Cycling today.

These very same ‘Failed Cyclist’ ditched their bikes as soon as they could get a licence and are now the drivers that we deal with daily on our roads. Many are amongst the bureaucrats that control our roads. These typical drivers’ barrels down streets and round intersection, and when confronted by a Cyclist hear an echo somewhere in their head… 

What the #%!! are you doing on the road, don’t you know you’ll get run over  … you should be on the footpath…you wouldn’t dare move over into the right side of this lane to turn right when I’m barrelling through…I’m in a Land Crusher…! 

And so this lack of education perpetuates the problem for Cyclist of how to gain respect form motorist which are really ‘Failed Cyclist’. 

At this point I’d like to speculate that because of our reluctance to ‘stand our ground’ we are missing the opportunity to educate motorist that Cyclist have the right to take up a lane to control the traffic to our advantage. 

More importantly it has also lead to the ‘bike lane-ing off’ of most of the carriageway, so motorists can continue to barrel through… Current BL's just disappear at the first narrowing of the road. This just doesn't make sense. Our right to use a narrow lane hadn't disappeared, but the Bike Lane has ... What is this saying ? 

Maybe the current application of Bike Lanes worst point is that they reinforce Moms Rule…Are they implemented to segregate us, to put the onus on us to reenter the lane when they disappear,  just to get us out of the way of a motorist on a mission.... Currently they give preference to the overtaking vehicle which should never be the case.
Is there implementation the work of  ‘Bureaucratic Failed Cyclists’? 

Undoubtedly,  the issue with current BL's is that they don't go fare enough ! 

What we need is a revitalising of the rights of cyclist, that a cyclist in a lane has the right to that lane. That an overtaking vehicle must overtake in another lane, or if lane sharing, should pass at a maximum of 40kph regardless of the existing roads speed zoning, or use another lane. 

This would have a profound effect on Cycling. It would be the bases of a paradigm shift for the way motorist interact with cyclist. It would cost a fraction of the money allocated to segregating cyclist with bike lanes. And once adopted, be of benefit to all Cyclists anywhere on our road system.

Motorist would soon equate seeing a Cyclist on a road anywhere as a traffic charming device…. That it’s OK for them, and is actually mandatory to slow down, so Cyclist can share the road also.
All Cyclists really need is for motorised traffic to give a little more time to negotiate the existing road ways and to share the roads in a non threatening way. A 40kph limit on lane sharing is the least we should expect. That’s simple and sensible and would not add to motorist journey times.

If we are to promote Cycling as a legitimate, safe and respected way to get around something needs to change and Green Lanes are a perfect example of the start of that change. 

Green Lanes ....

These lanes are the green ones that we now see crossing Left Turning Lanes giving priority to Cyclist that are ‘shootin through’ .
I take it they are designed to alert Motorist to the presence of Cyclist and only requires them to Yield to any Cyclist present.   Unlike other ‘Bike Lanes’ they are applied in the existing lane and don't exclude others.

A precedence is being set with these Green Lanes that we should not overlook.

Why can’t we expect these marking elsewhere ?

It seems that ‘missing links’ in the Bike Lane rollout could be ‘patched’ with these devices and narrow difficult roads could be made Bike Friendly till widening comes along.

As an example ...  Take a nice new shiny Bike Lane stretching for km’s,  but every now and then comes a bridge or narrowing of the roadway so we are unceremoniously thrown back into the traffic lane … that the Motorist, by then think they own!

This is precisely where Green Lanes make sense,  or any other narrow fast moving road which Cyclist have issues with.  We have the right to ride these without intimidation,  but we are usually squeezed by overtaking traffic and our own reluctance to stand our ground.

A cry to ‘Give Cyclist a Meter’ hasn’t worked. 
Many riders are intimidated so more need to be done... Why do we wait for every road to be widened before space can be allocated to Cyclist, particularly when we already have the right to use the lane?

So... slap in a 1.5m Green Lane. A 'gauge' if you like...backed up by easily understood rules that everyone can see. Put them ‘IN’ the existing lane at squeeze points, etc, requiring overtaking vehicles to ‘Yield to Cyclist' when present or overtake outside of the Green Lane’.

As Cyclist we want ‘educated motorist’... the road is a very big Black Board.
Lets demand markings that reaffirm our existing rights and put the onus on Motorist to share the road.

The Green Lane precedence is there, and our rights already exist. Think about it....