Wednesday 29 April 2009

Bugger off

A day after 55-year-old Susan Daniel of Mareeba was killed while cycling, the Cairns Bicycle Users Group starting installing signs around the region without the permission of either Main Roads or Cairns Regional Council.

"They're to highlight dangerous areas around our roads," says Renee Leeds of CBUG, who expresses are degree of anger about how cyclists are treated on our roads.

"We're doing this out of frustration, and have been asking Council and Main Roads for 10 years to sign areas that are dangerous to cyclists."

CBUG are targeting bridges, roundabouts and areas where there is a dangerous compromise for cyclists.

"It's also just on three months since Cairns Base Hospital doctor was killed whilst navigating the Trinity Beach Roundabout.

That warning sign - alerting motorists to cyclists, is too little, too late," Leeds says. "There should be a sign well in advance of the roundabout at Trinity Beach. Once cars are in the roundabout, it's too late."

Richie Bates of the Cairns Cycling Club understands the frustration of CBUG.

"Anything that raises awareness of safety for cyclists, I strongly support," Bates says. "Cyclists are always in a danger zone and many motorists treat our two-wheeled friends with disrespect. We all have a right to use the roads and there needs to be a far greater understanding of cyclists' needs," Bates says.

CBUG have been told that Main Roads will remove their safety warning signs, as they breach the rules of what is allowed on public roads. However, CBUG have accused Main Roads of taking little preventative action, after years of campaigning by local cyclists.

Councillor Kirsten Lesina, who chairs the Pedestrian and Cycle Safety Focus group, is supportive of the community activist campaign.

"It's good to see people passionate about this issue, that will have an effect to save people's lives," Lesina said. "I'm aware that they have been asking Main Roads for action for some time."

CBUG cites the hypocrisy as Main Roads pay lip service to consistent cycle ways, which should be at least 1.5 mt wide on 60k areas, and 2 mt wide on roads with an 80k and above speed zone.

It will be interesting to see how many of these new safety awareness signs remain, as they are targeted around accident-prone sites and areas that have very narrow passing places for cyclists.

"We have strict rules about memorials and their placement," a Main Roads spokesperson said.

CBUG will also launch a shock programme called 'Ghost Bikes' - the cycle equivalent to white crosses that make the spot of a road vehicle death.

"Painted white cycles will be placed where a cyclist has been killed on our roads," Renee Leeds says.

The first one will be installed on the Trinity Beach roundabout, the scene of the cyclist fatality in early February.

"We have talked to the family of the victim, and they are happy with this action," Leeds says.

"We need to put pressure on Main Roads and Cairns Council so that they put proper warning signs on our roads."


John, Kuranda said...

Well I certainly saw one of these signs on my way to the Northern Beaches yeserday.

Firstly, the design caught my attention. AAA design ticks there.

Secondly, I then thought, Yep. This is a danger spot for cyclists. And I looked at the space available. And I will again.

These signs certainly got the message through to me; and I suspect to many others.

Congrats CBUG - and please CRC and MRD- why not taken up this excellent idea and replace with permanent copies?

I Use the Roads, Too said...

What we really need are strong enforcement of traffic laws and compulsory licencing of cyclists and their bicycles.

They are the worst "road users" in town, and they reap what they sow.

How about stopping the 3-4 abreast cycling?
Get rid of the iPods, they can't hear a damn thing.
Stop running red lights and cutting across the street wherever you want.
Get off the frickin footpaths! Stay in your nominated lane!

You don't own the road!

Too bad all this doesn't fit on a sign, that we could shove up their arse.

Noj Nedlaw said...

Following on from the concept of painted white cycle markers, certain roads in South Australia have roadside markers (the same size as normal reflector posts) that denote each fatality AND serious accident.

On some roads, these have become a stark and graphic reminder as the potential danger ahead.

Perhaps we should consider a similar concept here as well. (I am not suggestting that these would replace the roadside memorials in any way.)

Matt Heirink said...

The signs do look good, and there is no doubt that there are a number of dangers for cyclists on our roads, especially since the drivers here are so aggressive. However, cyclists are just like any community group, and they don't have the right to put signs up without authorisation.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the earlier comment that many cyclists are bad road users with a selfish attitude. Only yesterday, I came within a whisker of being hit by a cyclist on a public footpath. This guy, decked out in racing helmet and lycra, came up from behind at full speed, ringing his bell as if I was supposed to get off his footpath. He never slowed down and whizzed past just centimetres away.

Yes, the roads can be dangerous for cyclists, but cyclists need to respect other road and footpath users' rights too.

Janine Aitken said...

While there are some cyclist's who are irresponsible when using the roads, the same can be said for car, truck and motorbike drivers, as the saying goes there’s one in every crowd. The "bike lanes" have long been in desperate need of attention. We wouldn't expect a motor vehicle to drive in a lane that was narrow and littered with glass and shrapnel, why do we think its ok for bike riders?

kazbla said...

A major advertising campaign to educate both motorist and cyclist on sharing the road is needed urgently. Kids don't get opportunities like in old days to ride and learn road rules and consequences. They get on road and ride or drive like life is one big nintendo game. Sorry kids if you die or kill someone you can't press reset. Also who wants written on their grave "...But I had right of way!!!"

Chuck Darwin said...

Survival of the Fittest.

The only Rule of the Road.

Redneck Wonderland said...

Chuck and Too,

How good of you to own up to the recent hit and runs.
Must be so amusing for you to mock the deaths and injuries of cyclists.

Unknown said...

There certainly are some shocking cyclists on the road these days.

I was driving in town the other day and had a cyclist move into my lane to avoid something ... nearly caused an accident.

I dont know what the solution is, i certainly dont think another sign on the roadside is the way to go.

Steven of Cairns said...

First of all it's pointless diverting the conversation to cyclists that use footpaths as this article has nothing to do with that.

We are talking about responsible cyclists that use the designated cycle paths which are woefully signposted and sometimes dangerous.

There should be specific cycle paths AWAY from the road that all lead to and around the city to encourage cycling to the city and the surrounding suburbs.

I cycled to the city from White Rock and found several potential black spots never mind poor driving (trucks veering into the cycle lane anyone?).

Perhaps it's time to organise a mass demonstration where cyclists travel to the city 10 abreast to highlight the problems.

Sally said...

In the published photo, the CBUG sign is a little in front of an official sign warning that the road narrows, with a sign to watch for cyclists and pedestrians just below it. Looks pretty clear to me, although probably screened by overhanging vegetation from a distance -- the chief problem with a lot of highway signs in QLD is that main roads & councils don't keep them visible.

English language signs are of limited use especially in a tourist area unless accompanied by internationally recognised symbols.

It is important not to make signs too verbose, or motorists have so much to read that they are more likely, not less, to have an accident. The school zone signs accompanied by a timetable are an example of badly designed signage.

Dutchie said...

I am sure that if the roads were safer (i.e. drivers were more careful and there was enough room to cycle besides the road) many cyclists wouldn't be on the footpath.

Being a Dutchie, I grew up cycling from an early age, cycled to school from about 6 (no road rage around schools in Holland!).

I rode to high school and work (yes people who work at law firms cycle to work in Holland), both 10 kilometres away (one way), which I cycled every day (this is for a good 10 years), and I went everywhere else on my bike too(sporting club, nightclubs, mates etc).

I have had one small accident in 20 years of cycling every day (yes, a car making an illegal right turn into a street crossing my bike lane). Apart from a bent front wheel, and some scratches on the car, no big deal. The driver's insurer sorted matters out with my insurer and the repair of my bike was paid for (Everyone in Holland has compulsory 3rd party insurance, that is, every person, not just drivers).

The above is typical for any Dutch person, yet there are hardly any collisions between cars and bicycles and I don't recall ever hearing about a death of a cyclist. And this is a country where there are two bikes to every citizen!

Why is this so? Well, as said for a start every Dutch person rides a bike from an early age. Hardly any kid gets driven to school, everyone rides. Anyone within about a 6 kilometre radius at least would ride to school. Road rage around schools doesn't exist, and kids aren't half as obese as they are here.

Many kids in primary school actually do a 'bike exam', which is similar to a driving exam, where they must demonstrate knowledge of all road rules that apply to them and that they know how to ride safely, signal properly, give way etc etc.

Furthermore, one of the more important things you learn when you have driving lessons (you are not allowed in a car without a licence unless you are having lessons from a certified instructor) is to look for bicycles, use your mirrors properly, and leave about 0.5-1 metre between the car and the curb at any time (especially at traffic lights). You fail your driving test if you don't look in your mirrors properly only once during your test, even if there wasn't a bike to be seen!

Lastly, there are many bike paths, and where there aren't there's virtually an invisible path because drivers leave room for cyclists. There would never be a situation where there wouldn't be a bike patch that ran from the CBD to the northern beaches. And it's illegal for anyone that is not a small child to ride on the footpath.

Some things may be harder to implement than others, and bike paths cost money.

But I don't see any harm in encouraging kids to ride their bicycles and get fit, learning the road rules and demonstrating responsibility when riding on the road, and people learning to drive more carefully.

And even better, those measures are absolutely free.

Not to mention the benefits to the environment.

I am not trying to lecture here, and I moved here because I like living here better than in Holland. But I do believe that some things could be learned from other countries so we can make this place an even better place to live!

I Use the Roads, Two said...

it's been legal to ride on the footpaths since i was a kid (35 years ago).

you'd know that if you were from this state!

can we get some bike lanes that fit in with tropical design?

Livin in the CBD said...

Dutchie makes good points about Holland, which I observed when I was there last.

And because it WAS legal to ride on the footpaths doesn't mean it's still legal. IT ISN'T. Look it up, chump.

And then get your fat arse & pushbike off the footpath.

footpath menace said...

Riding on a footpath or shared path (s250)

You must:

keep left and give way to pedestrians on footpaths and shared-use paths.
Riding to the left of oncoming bicycle riders on a path (s251)

You must:

always ride your bike to the left of other riders coming towards you on a bikepath, footpath, separated path or shared path.
Riding on the footpath (s288)

In Queensland, cyclists of any age are allowed to:

ride on a footpath unless prohibited by a 'NO BICYCLES' sign—you must give way to pedestrians and ride in a manner that does not inconvenience or endanger other footpath users.
Obeying no bicycle signs and markings (s252)

You cannot:

ride on a road or footpath where bicycle signs or road markings specifically ban bikes.
Avoid being a traffic hazard (s253)

You must:

avoid becoming a hazard by riding into the path of a driver or pedestrian—this rule applies to all road users.

Constance Lloyd said...

Well if there is all this discussion about cyclists; what about horse riders?

Did you know that a horse rider can exercise certain powers over the common or everyday car driver?

Section 303A says

Giving way to restive horses
(1) This section applies if a person in charge of a restive horse gives a signal, by raising a hand and pointing to the horse, to the driver of a motor vehicle on a road.
(2) The driver must—
(a) drive the vehicle as near as practicable to the far left side of the road; and
(b) stop the vehicle’s engine; and
(c) not move the vehicle until there is no reasonable likelihood that the noise of the motor, or the movement of the vehicle, will aggravate the restiveness of the horse.

Does anyone ever do this I wonder.

Dutchie said...

For those of you are interested in some backup research you may find this article I just found interesting:

Extensive research has revealed the safety-in-numbers impact for cyclists in Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, 14 European countries and 68 Californian cities.

Some conclusions:
"International research reveals that as cycling participation increases, a cyclist is far less likely to collide with a motor vehicle or suffer injury and death - and what's true for cyclists is true for pedestrians. And it's not simply because there are fewer cars on the roads, but because motorists seem to change their behaviour and drive more safely when they see more cyclists and pedestrians around."

"It appears that motorists adjust their behaviour in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling because they expect or experience more people cycling. Also, rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.

Safety concerns are among the most significant barriers preventing Australians from cycling, including among those who cycle regularly, according to the report, titled Cycling: Getting Australia Moving."
Also interesting to note is that in most European countries, helmets are not compulsory.

In another study it was found:
"Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.


Dr Walker suggests the reason drivers give less room to cyclists wearing helmets is down to how cyclists are perceived as a group.

“We know from research that many drivers see cyclists as a separate subculture, to which they don’t belong,” said Dr Walker.

“As a result they hold stereotyped ideas about cyclists, often judging all riders by the yardstick of the lycra-clad street-warrior.


“The best answer is for different types of road user to understand each other better.

“Most adult cyclists know what it is like to drive a car, but relatively few motorists ride bicycles in traffic, and so don’t know the issues cyclists face.

“There should definitely be more information on the needs of other road users when people learn to drive, and practical experience would be even better.

“When people try cycling, they nearly always say it changes the way they treat other road users when they get back in their cars.”

The study also found that large vehicles, such as buses and trucks, passed considerably closer when overtaking cyclists than cars.


Anyway....Mr. Bosch, why are rednecks and mexicans more dangerous drivers than locals? I really didn't think a person with a Dutch nick name would say such a silly (redneck) thing.