Hi Adelaide Cyclists,
This is my first thread posted to Adelaide Cyclists.
I'm beginning to work with some safety advocacy groups about safety for bike riding on shared roads. I want to test out a little list of priorities for cyclist safety when riding on shared roads (not including infrastructure measures) and I figure this group of experienced and constructive cyclists is just the spot to try the discussion. I'll put together the first draft of the list and I'd invite people to shuffle it, add to it, and discuss any points that are of interest. Mainly I want to see if a list can be ordered and agreed to the satisfaction of the majority, or not. It could turn out that there is some consensus, or that opinions diverge too much. Whatever the outcome, it will be valuable exercise for me and perhaps for others including policy-makers. The list is bound to be contentious. Please keep discussion friendly as possible. I'm not suggesting that every point on this list will get attention from policy makers but there has been talk about item 3 in media of late. My view is that it will never happen without first being preceded by 1 & 2.
NB: in order to avoid a long essay as my first post, I'm not going to defend every point at this time. Summary of my view is the simplest measures for prevention of accidents are top priority. No complex, hard to communicate ideas on the list. Also note it follows fairly closely the measures that are in place for motorcycles. Can elaborate as the discussion progresses. I'm sure that most people who do post on here will also be prepared to discuss/defend their own choices.
You will notice that top of my list is a daytime visible, wide angle flashing light. At this point I've got to disclose to those who don't know me that I am from a company called Niteflux and that we make a product just like this. This thread is not meant to be about our product. Please think about lighting standards in general.
OK, the list. Flame on! ;)
1) Minimum visibility standards (*standards for visibility required to be formally defined)
1a) daylight visible*, wide angle rear flashing light.
1b) daylight visible, wide angle front light +/- flashing
1c) bright clothing, vests etc, a flag. mostly redundant if 1a and 1b in place.
2) Ride straight and steady. Pay attention (never will be a standard for this).
2a) no mobile phones or ipods while riding on roads (can be legislated).
3) legislation for minimum passing distances between drivers and cyclists.
3a) at-fault rules for accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians. ie, pedestrians never at fault, cyclists never at fault against drivers, drivers always at fault.
4) roadworthy bike, (never will be a standard).
5) helmet (standards in place at present)
5a) body armour
6) health insurance, income protection insurance, life insurance.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
Wrote this a while back in an email, but never bothered posting it anywhere. Maybe appropriate to this thread...
Over the years I've cycled a lot, here is my take on Bike Safety items in order of importance
Bike maintenance - if your bike fails unexpectedly then you can get seriously injured. Minor failures don't matter, major failures will at the very least put you in a world of hurt. You must make sure your bike is well maintained and won't fail.
Rider skill - the more skillful and powerful your riding the less chance of incidents, slowly wobbling along in the gutter and inviting 18 wheelers to pass is a recipe for disaster. You need to be able to flow with the traffic, make quick decisions, plan exit strategies, have confidence in your abilities, power out of situations, and brake well before bad situations turn into life threatening ones.
Route Planning - at all costs avoid dangerous roads and intersections. If a road feels unsafe, it is, choose a different route and avoid blackspots altogether. If you have no choice but to brave traffic in a dangerous intersection then maybe its best to revise your plan and maybe even dismount and walk - sure it sucks but better to be safe than to try and save a couple of minutes mixing it up with lorries and buses.
Follow the road rules - don't ride against the flow of traffic, don't run red lights, don't ride on the footpath, signal your intentions, etc. But this doesn't mean that you should follow the road rules at the expense of your safety. If there is an empty footpath next to a narrow road that carries a lot of heavy or high speed traffic - better to go on the footpath than risk the road. But as with anything common sense dictates that better route planning may be a better option. And if you do ride on a footpath - ride slowly and always give way to any pedestrians - don't ring your bell at them, don't be rude, you are encroaching on their space. Also always expect cars to reverse out of driveways and to turn into your path. Of course if you are in Japan, slowly riding on the footpath, getting smiled at and enjoying a non threatening environment is de riguer - it should be the norm everywhere.
Defensive riding - you need to swallow your pride and always cede to larger vehicles. Always expect the unexpected and look for escape routes before they are required. No matter how bad people drive, no matter how much they trample your legal rights, there is no point in getting angry or taking the high ground. Your bones will be broken and you will be seriously hurt. Better to have a bruised ego than a smashed skull. In fact there is no point in even having a bruised ego, better just to let other peoples negligence and arrogance not get to you. Not to say that people who display contempt for your safety shouldn't be held to account. I recommend you attach front and rear facing video cameras (tiny cameras are available on ebay for a few bucks) to your bicycle and in the event of blatantly unsafe incidents you report them to the police, supply the video, and make a statement saying that if required you will testify in court. Following through will make the roads a safer place for all of us.
Lights - you need as many really bright flashing lights both front and rear as you can afford, too many lights is still not enough.
Bright clothing - make yourself as visible as possible.
Mirror - a mirror makes riding on the road much safer. You aren't surprised by passing traffic. You can control vehicles behind you and ensure they give you plenty of room when passing and you can see whats coming up behind as you approach junctions. It is much easier and safer to constantly have a rear view than to keep glancing over your shoulder. And since you can see traffic approaching from the rear, its much easier to take evasive action before dangerous situations occur.
Horn - warning people of your approach is a great boon to safety. A bell is fine for slow speeds in open areas, such as parks and bike paths, but on the road its a waste of time. A very loud airhorn will attract the attention of drivers who look right through you. It makes riding towards cars emerging from side roads, driveways, etc much safer. It also helps to stop people opening doors in your face. But always expect drivers to ignore you and drive right over the top of you, even with lights flashing and horn blazing.
Helmet - For young kids and learners who tend to fall off their bikes a helmet is a great idea. If you are indulging in high risk cycling like racing, bmx or mountain biking then a helmet is a great idea. It'll help in minor impacts which could result in scalp wounds or minor concussions. And if you ever get in a situation where you fall off your bicycle and strike your skull then you will feel much better if you have a helmet on than if you don't. But a helmet is not a safety panacea. If you are on the road and get hit by a car then it likely won't help much. Much better to avoid the impact rather than hope that the blow is lessened.
+ 1 for a mirror - know that this has been discussed elsewhere on Adelaide Cyclists - I see my mirrors as essential on the majority of my bicycles - when I am riding a bike that does not have one I really miss it.
Horns - on my Xtracycle I have a bell for bike paths and friendly 'approach advice', and an Air Zound for idiots in traffic that need to have the shit scared out of them (quite satisfying sometimes!!)
1 and 2 are unnecessary when 3 is in place. As motorcyclists are aware, it really doesn't matter what you do to stand out, motorists will continue to 'look' through you if they don't expect you to be there.
2a - is already has a law in place - you can't ride whilst talking on a phone or listen to an ipod.
4 - already has laws regarding brakes, lights, bells etc
5 - mandatory helmet laws don't save lives but helmets do... so I would argue getting rid of MHL's would reduce the likelyhood of a motorist 'not seeing' you as it increases the volume of cyclist and as a result increases awareness of riders on the road.
5a and 6 - irrelevant, they deal with the symptoms of being hit, not the cause.
If we aren't looking at infrastructure as a way to increase personal safety, then we need to simply get more people on bikes. This is the cheapest way to increase personal safety. To do this we need to educate people to the fact that it is actually safe to ride a bicycle, contrary to the prevailing opinion. Stop talking about 'safety', 'danger', 'protective gear' etc etc - its simply not necessary and just reinforces the culture of fear surrounding bicycle riding in Australia.
If you want to make cyclists visible forget all the reflective vests stuff. I wear a reflective vest every day and nearly every day someone doesn't see me. You have to make it worth every drivers while to look for cyclists which is what I think your rule 3 does. But I wouldn't make it always at fault. I think in Holland the presumption is the car is at fault unless they can prove otherwise. So these rules should be about presumption of fault not who is at fault.
Yep, I quite happily get around in dark clothes at night (I've got lights) - drivers will look straight through you, it does not matter how "bright" you are. Personal experience and anecdotes have taught me this. Consequently, I'm invisible on the road - that one cycling philosophy has saved my life many times over. The latest just this week gone by when a driver went straight through a round-about on my left.
Without infrastructure separating cyclists from the source of the danger, I think all of this is skirting around the edges. We have helmet laws and lots of people wear fluoro but we still have proportionately many more cyclists being hit and injured than in other countries.
i utility cycle so too much fuss to fit lights, take off, refit lights, etc. i wear a yellow safety vest with reflective tape and wear on the bike and into shops. i am very lit up at night but this has not stopped drivers from almost hitting me. including a driver who did not see the red traffic light when i was 3/4 across a 4-lane road. don't push the onus onto cyclists who generally ride defensively anyway.
cyclists need better road design, even separated bike paths as in the netherlands where 55% of the population are game enough to ride. this includes young children on their way to school. when we get bike lanes, they seem to be sandwiched between moving and parked cars. then have drivers pulling into parking space without 'seeing' the cyclist, and vice versa when pulling out. then people who open car doors without looking. some ac members have reported such collisions to police who refuse to record.
need police and courts who follow up on cycling collisions, and give appropriate outcomes to negligent drivers. the 3 drivers who left me with permanent injuries on separate occasions were not even fined. cyclists will recall apparently errant truck drivers who killed cyclists but never charged. or the driver who was driving while disqualified when he killed a cyclist but successfully appealed to have the next sentence reduced. or the truck driver with drugs in his system when he killed a cyclist. if the authorities actually cared about safety of vulnerable cyclists, and sent the message to errant motorists via fines, etc, then drivers more likely to 'see' cyclists. what about the group of 6 triathletes who were hit in prospect by a driver who did not 'see' them. 3 were seriously injured.
also need strict liability as in the netherlands. attended brisbane cycling conferences in sep where i heard a dutch prof whose speciality is transport. he said that a driver cannot use the excuse that the cyclist wobbled, because bikes do wobble. this year at cavan a truck apparently overtook a cyclist too closely and she wobbled. i might have too from nerves with a truck that close or the wind effect. unfortunately the cyclist died. the truck did not even have skirts or underrun panels. such panels are not compulsory in aust cos the trucking industry do not like them, even though these panels apparently reduce fuel use. muarc pointed out years ago that the panels distributed in aust are inferior and do not meet eu standards.
aust rules for car design are also inferior. many new cars meet 5 stars for safety of car occupants, but only 1.5 stars for safety of pedestrians and cyclists when hit. this year the media reported that an aust car distributor changed a car design so it would 'look better' and sell more. making the car 'look better' made it more dangerous for cyclists.
this year there was a federal discussion to take action over (unnecessary) bullbars which are dangerous for cyclists. the govt decided to put bullbar manufacturers before cyclist safety.
another peeve are roads that are not well designed or properly maintained. i report many cycling hazards. my local council has taken 2 years to fix one. sa water took many more years to fix a hazard that i reported. my local council has been 'upgrading' arterial roads while intro many cycling hazards that i repeatedly reported. 3 cyclists came off their bikes from these hazards. one was a 185cm deep pothole in a bicycle lane, when the safe limit is 20mm. other such potholes that exceeded safety limit and filled with water when cycling mother with child in trailer came off bike.
excuse the typing. despite being an experienced cyclist, am currently injured due to poor road maintenance. broken shoulder that is awkward and painful.
if you want to read more on anything above, check out the 4 ac groups that i coordinate. look for cyclists, prospect bug, adelaide bug and vote for cyclists in that order.
Lots of good points here Heather but as so often you spoil it with unsubstanciated rhetoric this year at cavan a truck apparently overtook a cyclist too closely and she wobbled. i might have too from nerves with a truck that close or the wind effect. unfortunately the cyclist died.
Yes, that was a pretty terrible accident - I seem to recall that the truck had only just taken off from the lights. One could make the point that it was not the fault of the truck driver, but the road system that put the cyclist in a dangerous position on the road. Our road system does not always recognise cyclists (or pedestrians for that matter) but places a lot of emphasis on motorised transport movement, access and convenience. This are all issues for equity and access to the transport system network..
re cavan. an ac post with news story that the bike wobbled. with the speed limit at cavan, austroads recommends that trucks give cyclists about 1.5m clearance. also a requirement to overtake with due care. i used the word apparently. i would guess that if enough clearance given, that a slight wobble would not result in a bike under a truck. in the netherlands with their version of strict liability, a driver is required to take into account that a bicycle can wobble, and leave enough space. austroads and qld transport recognise the wind effect of a heavy vehicle, and that it can start a bike wobbling. a qld transport study of bicycle-truck collisions recognises that a collision can occur from wind effect, without initial contact.
when i wrote to the authorities about the cavan collision, i raised several issues. like a bicycle lane ending about 150m from the intersection where most needed. limited space in the intersection for safe cycling. that the photographed truck did not have underrun panels that in theory would have stopped the bike going under the wheels. a cyclist bouncing off padded panels would reduce any injuries. i referred to a muarc study with recommendations on underrun panels. i also asked if transport could use some land surrounding the road to add separated bike lanes. and add a cyclist crossing, like pedestrian crossing, so that a cyclist would not need to mix it with trucks through an intersection on a freight route. with a poorly designed road, the onus comes back on the driver to allow for the cyclist and give them enough space, and this is not foolproof.
The truck could easily give 1.5m clearance by using the second (right hand) lane or staying behind the bike until through the intersection and then moving into the right hand lane.
The cyclist could assist in this by claiming the lane.
In no way am I apportioning blame in this particular incident, that will be for the coroner to decide as we don't know exactly what happened.