Adventures in Cycling: Who is in the wrong?

Who is in the wrong?

By Bike Designer Dave


I commute to work every day by bike. Riding a bike 40km a day in Sydney’s peak hour traffic provides a fair bit of time and an unfair number of unnerving experiences upon which to ponder the essence of humanity. This morning, like most Friday mornings, was relatively quiet on the roads; far less cars getting in my way but also less bike riders out than usual. So I was having a fast yet uneventful ride until a series of events along a twenty metre section of Kent St startled me back into pondering mode.

I was riding along the bike lane when suddenly, a Ute travelling the same direction swung across the bike lane in front of me, pulling into a driveway. After a defensive yelp, at a pitch I’m not proud of, the driver stopped his Ute just in time so I could swerve around his bonnet rather than get t-boned and driven into the pavement. As I looked back at him to give the “use-your-bloody-eyes” hand signal, I noticed he was busy multitasking, with the majority of his focus directed to his “smart” phone.

At the next intersection I planned to turn right, so left the bike lane and waited for my green arrow in a right turn lane. Most other riders, pedestrians and motor vehicles also waited patiently for their turn to cross the intersection. Then, just as the pedestrians crossing the bike lane got their “green man”, an impatient bike rider ran the gauntlet, safely avoiding any cars but barely missing a handful of startled pedestrians.

Finally I was given the green light to turn right, however a pedestrian’s instincts told him it was his turn to cross in front of me and the line of law abiding vehicle drivers behind me, despite his comrades not moving, the “red man” standing stationary and a stream of peak hour traffic hurtling toward him. So I safely maneuvered around him and continued on my ride; pondering, who is in the wrong?

From this twenty metres of evidence, it’s hard to conclude otherwise that some motorists, bike riders and pedestrians ALL do the wrong thing! Although the majority of road users in this exemplar were following the rules, a few selfish, perhaps ignorant individuals considered saving seconds of their own time more important than the health and safety of other humans, and in some situations, even their own!

So, considering this undeniable conclusion, how should one react when they see such illegal behaviour? Options include declaring “War On Our Roads”, demand all road users (pedestrians included) to “pay rego”, simply run innocent individuals off the road in a bigoted act of retaliation, then tweet about the “#bloodycyclists” later, or blame mandatory helmet laws for motorists’ road rage.

Personally, I like to continue riding my bike, wearing my helmet, following the road rules most of the time (sometimes I feel it’s safer to hop a gutter than get squeezed by a bus, or turn right safely on a red to avoid being rear ended while perched defenselessly in an intersection), overtaking on the left of stationary or slow moving traffic and keep beating the majority of vehicles to my destinations. When someone does the “wrong thing” and it has a negative effect on me, I’ll politely suggest they don’t do this, without threatening their life. I also pay my car rego, income tax and Council rates and am still overwhelmed by the bad state of some roads. However, I wait until I’m finished driving before ranting about it with my smart phone.