Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Road Safety

Now that the hype over Burry Stander has started to calm down, I think it is safe to do a blog posting. I tried to research the stats between how many injuries there are cycling on the road vs mountain biking and I cannot find anything (its probably a conspiracy created by those mountain bikers) but a factor of 1 (as in myself), I can solidly prove that road biking is 99.9% safer than mountain biking. After 8 years, I have fallen off my mountain bikes on a very regular basis with varying stages of injury and off my road bike once where I got a tiny boo boo.

So with this concrete research in hand, lets head out onto the road. Now I have been told that us roadies should reconsider cycling on the roads so lets look at this quickly: As Tessa points out on this topic, just go check the Road Traffic Act. Cyclists are permitted to use the road as legal road users.  So as much as you may hate us, we have as much right as you to be on that piece of tar. Actually, if I want, I can utilise the full lane and have no obligation to squish into the litter and glass ridden yellow lane (which technically we should not use as it is for emergencies only). But, as kind fellow road users we share the road and get out of the way.

There has been so much debate and arguments about cyclists obeying the rules lately and yes, we have to shape up.  On Saturday morning I got up, put my club shirt on, got on my bike and road to Design Quarter. On my way, I came across the dreaded Red Robot. 5:30am, no cars around. As I approached this robot I realised I had a few options. 1: No one was around so I could skip it or 2: Stop and wait for the robot to change. I could have done option 1 since no one was around but I picked option 2. I didn’t pick it because I was in club kit but rather because LEGALLY I am obliged as a road user to stop. I got to the club after another 5 red robots (argh!!!), reported for duty as a  club marshall.

We went out into the cradle and as a group we did our best to stick to single lane, single file, double lane, double file (ok, perhaps at the bottom of the dip we may have bunched a bit but the laws of hills and speed dictate that there is almost no way to prevent this). Let me explain why it is impossible: cyclist 1 goes down the hill at 69km/hr and hits the uphill, their speed is immediately decreased to say 30km/hr. Now the cyclists behind have had the benefit of drafting so have less wind resistance so hit the uphill faster  so lets for argument sake say their decrease is only to 35km/hr. This is compounded the further back in the bunch that they are. So, you have cyclists hitting the same apex and have to go somewhere and the obvious is sideways by 2 or 3 riders or so until order can be restored and they can get into lines of 1 or 2 depending on the road. Then, you will naturally get cyclists overtaking others on the hill (which is legal) so you will get an extra one on the side as this happens. We obeyed each road rule and stopped at all red robots – this got entertaining for the bunch as we would approach a green robot and slow down cause we would try predict the change.

Ok, so it sounds like the perfect ride right? Well not. I have to admit something (hope this does not get me banned from the club): On my way home, crossing Douglas drive I approached a robot which was green, about 1m from the white line it turned orange and I continued through. I felt gutted!! I was only going about 45km/hr so I could have thrown my bike down into a skid to stop. But then again, I was safely through the robot by the time it had changed to red so I suppose it doesn’t really count. But, all it takes is 1 motorist to complain about the cyclist and take it out of context.

The point of this blog entry? Well, good question. I suppose what I am trying to say is that its so easy to blame motorists for getting cheesed off at us when they do not understand the dynamic of a bunch of cyclists but at the same time it is our responsibility as cyclists to obey the rules of the road to the letter. As a motorist it is your duty to accept that we also have the right to use the road and we can be in a lane. As a cyclist, it is your legal obligation to obey the rules of the road.

This is by far my most serious posting but, on Saturday as I approached that little moral dilemma I realized that I am sure I am not the only cyclist who has had to make this choice and well, I thought I should share the ramblings of a club ride….