Monday, 9 December 2013

Dear Motorist,

Dear Motorist,

I was almost killed on my bike again tonight.

Unfortunately this isn't as unusual as you may think, in fact it was the second time in almost a fortnight that it has happened to me.

I can live with that (OK, I can live with that up until the point that it obviously kills me), but what I can't live with is the absolute powerlessness that someone in my situation feels after such an incident and that is why I'm speaking out now.

Here's the Taxi Combined Vehicle that almost killed me.
Tonight, it was a Taxi Combined driver that couldn't wait five extra seconds in the turning lane behind me on Sandy Bay road and instead cut around in front of me pushing me into the oncoming traffic as it raced across to get into a service station through oncoming traffic.

It might not sound that bad, but if you were there in my shoes you'd be feeling the anger I am now.

When I calmed down, I went over and made the effort to politely approach the driver and let him know that his driving almost killed me.  His response was, and I quote, "f*#k off".

================

A couple of weeks ago, I was going around the round-a-bout at the bottom of Gladstone Street in Salamanca Place when a vehicle with Rhubarb Catering painted on the side drove into the round-a-bout (that I was already half way around) and almost took me out.

Now, I'm sure if you asked the young lady who was driving that vehicle about this she'd deny it emphatically, but then she was so busy reading something on her iPhone that I doubt she even noticed I was there.

I saw another cyclist lying on the side of Sandy Bay Road not long before my own Rhubarb Catering incident.  He wasn't as lucky as me, in fact when I saw him he was lying on the footpath as an ambulance drew up beside him.


It looked like he'd been taken out by a car probably not noticing him as they cut into the slip lane heading up from Sandy Bay Road onto Antill street.  That won't surprise any cyclist who has been through that intersection.  I almost got taken out by a car myself there the day before on my lunchtime ride.

A couple of months ago I saw another cyclist, this time at the top of Gladstone Street on Sandy Bay Road, being hauled away in an ambulance after it looked like he'd been hit by a car swerving over to the left lane at yet another dangerous intersection for cyclists.

As for myself, I've had beer bottles thrown at me on that section of road, I've literally been run off the road and onto the side walk by cars passing way too close and I've even had the joy of full on road rage just for having the audacity for being on that road.

I've tried to do something about this.

A few years ago I was attacked by a motorist on the highway into Burnie.  When I say attacked, the passenger had half climbed out of the window and as they went past at 60 or 80kms/hr the car swerved over into the verge where I was riding and the passenger tried to hit me from behind.  Probably the only reason I'm here today is because he misjudged the speed or distance and only got a glancing blow off my helmet.

I got the cars number plate, I called it into the police, and I made the effort the next day to go to a police station and signed a statutory declaration about the incident.

I was sure that an accident that serious would be acted on.

But it wasn't.

Because of that, the next time I was run off the road and managed to get the drivers number plate I reported it to the Bicycle Tasmania Incident hotline.

I thought that reporting the incident to a bicycle advocacy organisation (of which I was a member) would give them something they could use to stand up for cyclists.

All I got back from them was an email saying that they have removed the number plate I'd provided from their website for privacy reasons and that I should contact the police about it.

So I'm powerless.

And while the Government might use our taxpayer money to run adverts on TV saying that "if you break the law, you will get caught", the reality from where I'm looking at the world is that you can break the law when it comes to cyclists, and nothing will happen.

So as I was mulling over whether to write something about these incidents, I happened to come across a link to the video below on YouTube  It's four and a half minutes long, and it's not the most exciting video in the world, but it does say what I'd like the world to hear ...

Like this post, it's titled ... Dear Motorist



So today, I'm still angry and I want my Government to know that when they make decisions to cut funding that means that I can get threatened and maybe one day killed on our roads, and I can't do anything about it. (I did, for the record, call the police and was basically told that I could go down to the local police station and fill in a report so that if another incident happens in the future they will have it on record, but that's not what I want.   I want someone to look that guy in the eye and tell him he can't do what he did and expect to keep the privilege of driving on our roads, especially as a taxi driver, and especially not with that attitude.  I also left a complaint with the taxi company, and to their credit they did call me and say they were looking into it.)

I need my Local Council to know that building the Battery Point Walk and Cycleway aren't just theoretical nice to have's, key infrastructure like that could save prevent injuries and maybe even save lives.

But most of all I want motorists to know that I'm a human being, just like them.  I'm just one that chooses to ride a bike as well, and I don't think I deserve to die so you can get to wherever you're going 15 seconds faster.

Finally, this isn't a hate email to motorists, and I want to say that I find most of you super cool and friendly.

I also drive a car, so I know that sometimes it's a hassle to get slowed down by a cyclist, I know we all have bad days when we don't pay attention as much as we should, and I know that sometimes cars try and pass me and they just plain misjudge the distance or speed and that this causes near misses, but I also know that most motorists in that situation are probably sitting behind the wheel berating themselves for scaring me on my bike.

Finally, I know that there are some roads where cyclists and motorists don't mix well, and Sandy Bay Road into the CBD is one of those areas, but it's also my only realistic route to work.

So to those few of you who aren't, please be nice, please.

My life kind of depends on it.

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well done and thank you.

    I have a hard time understanding where the disproportional anger towards cyclists comes from. How can someone behind the wheel of a car hate me simply because I am on a bike (on the road).

    ReplyDelete
  3. For some reason we don't get it in Australia. There will always be some tension between cars and bicycles, but why can't we get 'bicycle lane' lines on the roads and a few signs saying watch out for bicycles. Cars still use the space but understand we have a right to be there as well. Every cyclist owns a car and pays rego/ins, other motorists should be grateful we're not competing for parking spaces in town!

    ReplyDelete
  4. As a pedestrian, a cyclist, a motorcyclist, a car driver, and a truck driver - I have to say that cycling and motorcycling are the mos dangerous things to do on the road... not because I am bad at riding, but because other drivers are bad at driving... you ave to adopt the motorcycle mentality - 1. you are responsible for everything that happens on the road - 2. All other drivers are trying to kill you - 3. the road is designed to make you crash - 4. There are two kinds of riders - those who have crashed, and those who will.

    Survival is all about attitude, and anticipation... make eye contact with the drivers, even if they are not indicating, they will turn anyway... Another tip is to get a helmet mounted Go_Pro type camera... get the footage of the other drivers and take it to the police, upload to a blog or Facebook page... or more chillingly, god forbid, touch wood, it may be the only voice left to speak for you when the coroner wants to find out what happened and who was responsible...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GoPro on the helmet is a great idea, unfortunately (at least in Victoria) anything attached to your helmet makes it non-compliant. Handlebars, perhaps. Get two.

      Delete
  5. This article was linked (twice!) on the Taxis Combined Hobart Facebook page. It has since been taken down and the posters banned.

    ReplyDelete
  6. some (not all) cyclists bring it upon themselves when they don't follow the road rules and cut up in between cars, especially at traffic lights, ride two abreast, or don't signal. These are the cyclists that make motorists disrespect ALL cyclists. It's a sad truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as I know, it's not illegal to ride two abreast. Just like it's not illegal to drive slow in a 100km/h zone. It's a dick move, but you don't hate all drivers for some drivers doing it, so why hate all cyclists?

      Delete
    2. In Tasmania it's legal to ride two abreast , on motor cycles anyway

      Delete
  7. Funny how a lot of motorists disrespect all cyclists, but few cyclists disrespect all motorists. I rode a motorcycle and a bike before I ever drove, but it is still so easy to get complacent and dozy when driving a car. There is no excuse for being blindly angry and agressive when driving anything, and there are a disproportionate number of angy car drivers (white ute drivers in particular), who like to shout at, threaten and even attempt to injure cyclists. I often see this when driving behind these dickheads in my car. I was walking along Grosvenor St in Sandy Bay the other day when a guy in a white ute pulled up in the middle of the road before an intersection to yell, swear and be agressive towards a very polite cyclist for a perceived lack of courtesy in roundabout usage. The cyclist was riding consciously (in motorcycle training they always teach you to drive as if everyone else is an idiot and may not be doing what their indicators say they are; this has saved me from death a number of times, and one time it would have saved my bike from the wreckers if I hadn't been tired after work and less careful than usual), and the ute drivers' point of view was significantly weakened in my opinion by the fact he was yelling about how the cyclist was inconsiderate while parked in the middle of a street and obstructing at least three cars who had to navigate around him. Also he was yelling and the cyclist was being concilliatory. Anyway I hung around in case he was going to start throwing punches. He eventually drove off, but it really rammed home to me the hypocrisy of angry drivers who feel that cyclists have no right to the road and no right to be treated with respect or given space to get to work. Everyone has the right to not feel intimidated, threatened, or that people are actively trying to kill them just because they are using a slightly slower form of transport.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is an example http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/repeat-drink-driver-records-0267-reading-in-red-hill-20131213-2zau8.html as to why nothing will change until the penalties reflect the seriousness of the crime.

    ReplyDelete
  9. When I road a small motorbike in Brisbane traffic many years ago, I got myself one of those compressed-air horns they use to start yacht races, and I clipped it to the side of the bike. Funny thing: braindead BMW drivers tend to wake up quite suddenly when they hear something that sounds like a semi-trailer horn going off right next to their shiny new status symbol...

    ReplyDelete