Spokes(Wo)Man

Scared of traffic ? No bike infrastructure ? Too Far ? Helmet hair ?

 

Fuck it, ride anyway

Filtering by Tag: Safety

Well, colour me absolutely appalled.

I work with two highly moral, intelligent, whimsical yet serious, responsible men. The others in the office are a ragtag crew of shady fucks, but these two are long-standing titans of ours industry, our company directors who steer the helm of the multinational global conglomerate where I like to spend my free time in between bike rides.

They have a clearly stated, zero-tolerance for any corporate shenanigans; this is written into policy, stated at company meetings and reiterated in conversations with either of them. It is inculcated into our company DNA, and we all toe that line.

And yet.

Today, one off them announces his teenage daughter, who has held a driver's licence for less than 6 months, has accrued her second speeding ticket.

I'm shocked, but not as stunned as when he goes on to say that he's going to lie to the police and claim responsibility as the driver for one of them, otherwise she'll lose her shiny new licence to drive a 2 tonne speeding metal projectile.

Dafuq did I just hear ?

And earlier this week, the other one needs help with the printer as he's writing a reference for a former colleague.

She's been charged with a drink driving offence, and he's written a glowing character reference to mitigate her sentence.

WTF ?

You know what I really cannot understand about either of them ? They both ride bikes.

They're both occasional vulnerable road users who apparently think nothing of helping two different people evade the consequences of their actions and putting them both back on the road with me.

Thanks a big fucking bunch guys.

And this is what two people I thought were bastions of morality and honesty are casually willing to do. A straw poll of the rest of the office and the dude who happened to call me right in the middle of the discussion showed no-one else thought anything of it of it either; so god knows what the rest of the country's prepared to compromise on.

 

Is this how most people think ? Wow. I guess anything's back on the table, right ?

[Edit; well what did we spy in the Sydney Morning Herald two days later ?]

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OH RLY ?

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Oh ? She also lied to save her son losing his licence ? Do go on ...

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Snort. Good luck with that one you lying hound.

Audi tries to rehabilitate their reputation - does a not terrible job

I'm going to give Audi full marks for this innovation soon - but not before I remind everyone that dangerous driving, closes passes, punishment passes and just general shit driving all seem to be the province of NSW drivers of black Audi SUVs. 

Either that, or I am being stalked by a single individual who has spectacularly failed their covert driving manoeuvres class.

Clearly someone at Audi reads cycling twitter and has decided to do something about the terrible reputation their company has among the two-wheeled. Give them full props for this idea;

The new Audi A8 will lock its doors if it detects a cyclist approaching, meaning the driver and passengers should be unable to door a rider.

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This is great - it means that if you give an Audi driver the finger for their crappy driving, they'll be unable to open the car doors and chase you down the street. Suckers !!!

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Audi’s exit warning system has been in use for a few years, but they've taken it further; previously, the car would only alert occupants to approaching bicycles (or other traffic) but now the car manufacturer has decided this isn’t enough (i.e. that Audi drivers are still entitled buffoons who ignore warnings re the health and safety of others) and has decided to make the car actually overrule the human occupants.

Skynet, here we come. Personally, I don't think it will be too bad, and I for one welcome our new metal overlords.

Reportedly the new A8’s rear sensors are able to detect traffic approaching from the rear for up to three minutes after the engine has been turned off.  The first level is still an audible warning to the occupants, the second level is an 0.8 second delay in allowing the door to open.

Sure, the price of the A8 stops it being a particularly common car on the roads, unfortunately I seem to live in a wealthy, Audi-driving enclave of entitlement, so I see plenty of the fuckers on my daily commute. This is the very definition of a First World Problem. I can only hope that Sydney's upper north shore collectively trades up relatively quickly.

Like any advance in car design, the car maker implements it in the exxy flagship model, and then rolls it out to the diffusion line (or whatever the car making equivalent is), so hopefully within my lifetime we'll see bike rider deaths by dooring become a distant memory.

Like most tech, it's a answer to a problem caused by either human laziness or human stupidity. Sometimes both. The simple technique called the "Dutch Reach" is taught to learner drivers in the Netherlands, it twists the car occupant around so that they can’t help but look behind them, reducing the chances of accidentally dooring someone. Try it yourself; take the arm furthest from the door, bring it in front of and across your chest to the door handle. Quite apart from anything it gives a lovely stretch and usually a couple of really satisfying clicks in your neck. Ahh, that's better !

Getting any official motoring body in Australia to endorse, let alone teach this though ? 

Until Australian motorists, police forces and the judiciary actually give a toss about human cyclists lives, I prefer to take my chances with technology.

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Oh yeah, and Imma keep taking my lane. Stay well away from parked cars kids; you're safer taking the middle of the lane and it's your right to do so

s. .

I clipped a girl, and I liked it

Like any normal commuter, I sometimes encounter acts of mindless selfishness from other travellers. As a pedestrian, or on my bike, people can just be a bit self-unaware sometimes.

Difference is with my bike, even if I carry the bad mood with me, I'm still less than 100kgs of grudge pedalling along. Not a two-tonne metal murder box capable of killing entire families in a single sideswipe. I say that, we've had one pedestrian death caused by a cyclist since 2006. Which is awfully sad, but doesn't compare to pedestrian and cyclist deaths by car in the same time period. 

This particular day was during the recent school holidays, so the roads were delightfully clear, and I didn't expect to meet many peds around the grounds of the university, forgetting as I had, that uni and primary/high-school holidays schedules can differ somewhat.

So I'm tootling along the shared bike path alongside the uni, and I see a professionally-dressed woman with a little girl in a tutu, and I think "Ah, childminding issues during school holidays." and I slow down a bit. I pass them, we wave, I thank them, smiles all around.

Lovely encounter, and I have so many of them.

Twenty metres on it was Dad's "take your kid to work day" and I approached a professorially dressed man (baggy tweed blazer and daggy briefcase), with his little boy. I called out "bike" they turned around and saw me, we smiled, they moved to one side of the path.

Technically this path should be great, it even has a middle line marked out, pictures of bikes and walkers periodically painted on it to remind people it's shared, and do most of the pedestrians give a fuck ? Do they heck. They wander along four abreast, they step out into it without looking blah blah blah - all the usual stuff. I go slowly here anyway as there are often ducks and ducklings, and more than once I have seen a pet cat strolling along.

Anyway, this father/son combo move to the left, and then as I am level with them, the kid decides to deliberately run into my lane - i slam the brakes on, hurting my hands in the process as the full weight of me and backpack are thrown onto the handlebars and watch in disbelief as this father roars with laughter as his little shit deliberately runs in zig-zags and circles so I can't pass by.

Fuck me, I had no idea how to counter such behaviour. It seemed wrong to employ the airhorn on a little kid - although I was rapidly revising that assessment as time passed - what we needed here was some actual parenting.

If I had hit him there wouldn't have been laughter, and I would have been the bad guy. So I stopped and just waited for the circus to end, and when I could see an appropriate gap, I pushed through slowly. Making sure the kid wasn't listening, I directed some choice words towards Dad, and I was off again.

Would he have encouraged his brat to hold up someone walking, with a pram, in a car, on a motor-scooter ? Run onto the train tracks ?  One can but hope.

So with this bemusing encounter in my head, I rode on, and three minutes later encounter another block of professorially dressed men, who are taking up the entire path, four or five abreast and four or five deep - its' an entire men's store of tweed on the move !

They look up, the see me descending the hill towards them. They do nothing. I get closer. they see me. They do nothing. I draw level with the lead walkers who are four or five steps ahead of the main pack and I turn to them and bellow, with my best former hockey goalkeeper voice "IT'S A SHARED PATH MOVE OVER !!!!!!!!!!!"  I blast the airhorn, they scatter, and I am grimly able to continue without having to come to a complete stop.

Fucking patriarchy.

At this point I'm wondering when I will inevitably hit some arsehole who's entirely to blame, and I grimly think I'll probably enjoy it on some level.

Gah, so I continue my ride, quite bitterly now, and five minutes later I see a couple on the path ahead, walking in the wrong lane, eh, but whatevs, and draped all over each other. She's swinging her arm about as they stride along, but the left lane is clear and I keep up the pace and blow me down, as I draw level with this pair, she decides to fling her entire arm into my lane. There's a god awful sharp cracking sound, and I brake on the spot, because I'm actually not going that fast as I overtake them. 

It turns out her umbrella smacked my handlebar and scared the life out of both of us; we checked the other was ok, we did that thing which women do which is pat each other on the arm to ensure the other is alright and to mutually assure good intent. We laughed, we apologised to each other and off I went. Mood altered.

All my grumbling about pedestrians and when I actually do hit one, even glancingly, I feel terrible about it.

But some days I wonder if I wouldn't be better off in the traffic.

And that is my little essay why shared paths are no good for either party.  

 

 

 

Oh sorry, I didn't notice you there...

Dear AK600W,  how lovely to have your company as you were sucking my back wheel on the approach to and over the Pymble bridge, and how kind of you to have your hand on your horn the entire way into Gordon !

At 6.30am with light traffic and two pretty clear lanes I'm not sure I was giving you quite enough room to overtake safely on your clearly critical mission; but thank you also for taking the time to pull up in the lane alongside me and gesticulate furiously through the window.

It's almost as if the time you took to harass me, riding legally, was far greater than any perceived "delay" caused by me having the temerity to ride to work, or even exist in your world.

Have a lovely day AK600W, wherever your shitty little station wagon takes you and your loved ones.

Sincerely,

Spokes(Wo)man

Write on, sister

Write on, sister