We need to share the roads
BICYCLE Queensland claims that 90 per cent of cyclists recently reported feeling unsafe on the road due to cars unsafely or illegally overtaking them.
I’d love to know what per cent of cyclists feel absolutely terrified out of their wits – I’d wager it’s up there.
Cycling on public roads around Brisbane is a cold-sweat-inducing nightmare.
I’m sure plenty of experienced cyclists take it in their stride, but for the recreational biker it can be harrowing.
In recent weeks I have had to contend with snakes (including a dreaded red bellied black), swooping magpies and tourists on in-line skates, but nothing compares to the terror that cars strike into my heart when they come too close.
The fact that only 39 motorists were fined for coming too close to cyclists in 2017 leaves me bewildered. I would have thought that number of fines could be racked up in a single weekend.
Every time I have endeavoured to ride the paltry 2km from my home to the safety of the local bike track, I have felt intimidated by at least one driver.
Whether they drive too fast, too close, beep or swerve, aggression or impatience is unnerving, and an unnerved cyclist is not as steady on their wheels.
Many drivers, of course, are courteous, but there are more than enough of the other variety to make me dread the journey, and that’s just not cricket. I’ll concede that there are discourteous cyclists who flout the road rules, but noone can deny that big beats small when it comes to who is more at risk. Riding a bike should be a win-win, taking cars off the road and engaging our increasingly overweight nation in much-needed physical activity.
It should not be a fearful exercise, made even more precarious by the behaviour of drivers. The 1-metre rule was brought in for very good reason, and it provides a certain level of breathing space, but proximity is only one of the things that can put a cyclist under pressure. Our roads are dangerous for everyone. So far this year in Queensland there have been 197 fatalities ( Transport and Main Roads as of October 8).
Of those, 97 were drivers, 36 passengers, 35 motorcycle riders/passengers, four bicycle riders and 25 passengers. These statistics show with glaring clarity that no-one is exempt from risk and that everyone has a responsibility to themselves and those around them to be safe and respectful. As a driver as well as a rider, I know how slowing down for a rider or pedestrian can irk, but a minute or two added to a journey is nothing compared to the worst-case scenario.
As we approach national Ride2Work Day on Wednesday, I hope road users will stop to consider the vulnerability of someone who chooses a different mode of transport to them.
Most are not trying to take over the road. Most are simply trying to get where they are going, just like you.