The Courier Mail: Cyclists a law unto themselves
By Paul Syvret
February 09, 2010 12:00am
LYCRA and sweaty middle-aged posteriors are not a great combination.
It is quite an extraordinary aesthetic to watch a pair of well-rounded gluteal orbs raised a few centimetres above a bicycle seat, every pump of the leg muscles and bump in the road undulating slowly through the skin-tight material.
The only thing left to the imagination is what tragedy might have occurred had you not managed to bring your car to a tyre-shredding stop at the intersection as the cyclist whizzing along the cross-street went straight through a red light, oblivious to everything except his iPod and a “does my bum look big in this?” train of thought.
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Memo to the cyclist who did exactly this to me the other day at an intersection on Lutwyche Rd: Yes, your shiny, lycra-clad Tour de Flab derriere did look like it could host a small housing subdivision, and unless you trade up a couple of sizes in the bike pants department, mate, any chance of more children will be lost and your voice is likely to forever be squeezed to a couple of octaves above normal.
That is if you’re not dead first.
And by the way, how dare you, after I almost stabbed the brake pedal through the floor at a green light in an effort to save you from becoming another road toll statistic, turn around and give the single-finger salute and let fly with a stream of invective because I had the temerity to sound the horn?
We’ve all experienced this. Sadly there are some (not all) cyclists who think they own the roads. Hand signals are an optional extra, traffic lights apply only to the poor saps stuck in their cars, and occupying a whole lane while riding two or three abreast at 30km/h is a God-given right.
And they do it with impunity: We’re cyclists. We’re fit and we’re green and we’re better than you, and when we put on our Pirelli racing shirt and thigh-length budgie smugglers, and straddle the 37-gear, carbon-fibre brand-name status symbol, we’re indestructible. Praise the Lord and pass the Powerade.
It was thus no surprise to read that a recent survey by insurance group AAMI found that 64 per cent of motorists considered cyclists to be an outright road hazard.
In fact, you’d probably get a similar result if you asked the poll sample whether they thought cyclists were an outright menace second only to people towing caravans in terms of their high-minded arrogance, and their ability to act as the equivalent of cholesterol on the nation’s roads.
There is a good argument to be had for creating dedicated cycle lanes on our major thoroughfares in addition to the tens of millions of dollars we have already spent on 500km of bikeways in Brisbane already.
That might encourage sensible, safe and considerate cycle commuting, and hopefully remove some of the two-wheeled equivalents of suicide bombers from fast moving lanes of traffic. Or not-so-fast moving lanes of traffic when you are stuck behind a cyclist (or two) who reduces an entire lane of an arterial road to pedal power speed because he believes he has just as much right to be on the bitumen as the car behind him regardless of the prevailing conditions.
Sadly though, such investment in cycle lanes are unlikely to stop a minority of cyclists from thinking that just because they are not behind the wheel of a car they can do as they damn well please.
Isn’t this great? I’m on a push bike at a red light behind two lines of traffic, but I can squeeze through the middle of a dozen cars, or just mount the footpath, and get right to the front and then when the coast is clear, wobble slowly through the intersection at my leisure regardless of what the traffic signal says. Bus? What bus? Transit lane? What transit lane?
The solution is for all bicycles using the roads to be registered and number-plated in the same fashion as cars.
For a start, the two-wheeled pests can contribute to the tax take (part of which goes to funding the roads they clog up anyway).
But it’s recreational, and you already pay rego for the car in the garage, you claim? Tough. Like the rest of the road-using public, you can be identified when you decide to flout the rules, and you can contribute to the infrastructure you use (and yes, we non-bike riders pay for your cycle paths through our taxes and rates already).
If a person in charge of a bicycle on a public road can be fined and lose their (car) licence for being over the legal alcohol limit, why shouldn’t their bikes be registered? Those of us who choose to drive have had to pass rigorous tests to enjoy the privilege of being on the road.
So why should any galah with a pushbike who might have about as much idea of how to negotiate a roundabout as circumnavigating the globe, and is colour-blind when it comes to red, amber and green, have the unchecked and unregistered right to share the public roads?
Sadly, it may be hard to legislate against people of my vintage wearing lycra (“Sir, I am arresting you on the grounds of indecency and crimes against good taste”), but surely we can require, and enforce, that cyclists be subject to the same laws as the rest of us?