Just wanted to get this off my chest …..
I have been riding my bicycle around Adelaide, as my main mode of transport, for 2 years now – having abandoned cycling in my late teens, to rediscover it again in my mid 50s.
When on holidays in Asia I now usually rent a bicycle to get around smaller (and even larger) cities, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Chiang Rai, North Eastern Thailand etc. On my last trip to Indonesia I stayed in Makassar (South Sulawesi) for 3 weeks and bought a nice (bright red) step through utility bike (pictured) to get around.
Makassar has a population of almost 1.5 million people and is a busy, thriving and chaotic Indonesian city. I was initially quite hesitant about riding a bicycle around the crowded, often one way streets, where the traffic was dense and the road rules not immediately obvious.
I was surprised at how easy it was and by the end of my stay felt quite comfortable about negotiating the traffic. It seemed that all road users (cars, trucks, mini vans, peddle rickshaws, food vendors pushing carts, bicycles and countless motor bikes) all had an attitude of sharing the roads while expecting others to do the unexpected. The average speeds were quite slow, probably around 25 to 40 km per hr. Drivers would park and even look out the windows before opening a door. The amount of eye contact between road users was noticeably greater than here.
After getting home and starting to ride around Adelaide again I feel quite unsafe, much more so than before. It seems that some drivers behave as if they believed bicycles had no place on the road. Some cars pass unhealthily close. The road rules are known to me and there is a (superficial) sense of order in the traffic but what strikes me as sadly lacking is an attitude of sharing the available roadways with others.
A developed, prosperous city with well defined rules does not equal civilisation. What we have lost (if we ever had it) is a sense of sharing the transport resources that we all own with each other.
Is it just me??
Personally I find people and cities that have it all or pretty good (or close to it) whinge and complain about things more. Its almost like because they are not exposed to regular serious issues they feel they need to expend some angst or complain about something. It doesn't help that the biggest media source in Adelaide plays to these characteristics to sell papers; complaining is addictive as is finding something to complain about. Just my 2 cents.
I meant in Adelaide we really don't have much to complain about.
Well said..Not sure if this is correct, but maybe it's related to the number of vehicle operators who also use a bike at some point over there?
Put it down to "culture of the road". I guess those people living in Makassar are simply "tuned into" cyclists for whatever reason. If you can glean a reason why then by all means let it be known. At a guess though I'd suggest a high level of cycling as a regular means of transport by the general population (as compared to Adelaide) to be the cause. Many have argued on these forums for a mandatory period of cycling activity as part of one's motor vehicular training...
The average speeds were quite slow, probably around 25 to 40 km per hr.
"After getting home and starting to ride around Adelaide again I feel quite unsafe ... . The road rules are known to me and there is a (superficial) sense of order in the traffic but what strikes me as sadly lacking is an attitude of sharing the available roadways with others."
Have we discarded the idea, it is a good thing all round, to share with people ? To leave them enough for themselves? To expect that they will leave us, enough for ourselves?
I suspect -- ..... Our attitude is - take what you can - each person looks after themselves - it will all work out to give us the best possible world to live in. In theory
I suspect the main mode of transport in places like Makassar for years was the bike, with motorised transport coming second. The local economy probably means the bike is still considered a part of the transport matrix. So bikes are in the public consciousness.
Yes we get hassled a bit and not considered, but honestly. We have (generally) great roads, climate and health care. And we can choose to ride just for leisure.
Drive defensively and enjoy the ride. And as Frank says, bikes are on the increase. Our time will come (doesn't that sound dramatic?). :-)
I have a freshly occurring theory upon reading this thread, so any and all feedback welcome! It's part psychology/part economic ideaology but it sounds right to me at this very moment.
I too have travelled in S.E. Asia and (straight to the point) the poverty there means that to have any form of transportation is a great priveledge. There is (maybe) a smaller gap between priveledged and unpriveledged, but an acknowledgment that if you have possessions (any) you probably worked hard to get it and keep it. Mutually there could be an overarching mindset that as priveledged as you are within your own country, it is still meager compared to US/Australia.
Jump over to Australia, a full blown meritocracy - a system where your outward signs of wealth directly reflect your importance to society - but also a country with a poverty buffer in welfare. The folks who live within a meritocracy are prone to judging others on their outward signs of wealth (attribution theory) and the mindset is not kind to those with less money, or those relying on welfare (seen as having the lowest form of merit). Despite the existance of bicycles worth more than small cars, I do believe that the mindset still operates along traditional status-ownership line of:
- walking (poorest/least successful/worst of society)
- public transport
- shared private car
- solitary private car (wealthiest/best)
- (private jet?)
I don't think declaring your bike riding as a lifestyle choice impacts the above assessment and the existance of welfare means you should at least be able to get a bus (anyone else been yelled at while riding to "get a car"?). Therefore, when a person is driving a car, they feel, and others/government reiterate, their implied importance to society. When a cyclist delays that person for an extra 10 seconds on their journey, it is an affront from a "less important/less successful" being to a "more successful/more important" one and the judgement/penalty is weighted accordingly. In the mind of the motorist, they are the heart surgeon, rushing to the operation, and you are the beggar stopping them for change at the door.
Bit of a harsh indictment? I don't know the solution (prior to the wider unavailability of fossil fuels) but identifying the cause may be a step closer?