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.
David please believe me that I do not apportion any blame or fault on you and cant imagine that anybody else does and I don't for a minute imagine that lights, bells, mirrors, bright clothing and 100% concentration will prevent all accidents, it really is just about taking the opportunity to improve the odds but ultimately we all know that some drivers never get it and we can only hope we don't find ourselves in a similar situtaion to yourself. Hope you recover soon.
Clive, I'll keep the light flashing, I will keep wearing bright colours, I'll keep riding where and how I ride. These are things that will chip away at the odds. Trust me had I not been concentrating though she would have hit me 50cm further up the bike and it would have been much worse.
On this, I visited my GP to get my stitches out the other day - had I not reacted the way I did I would "be in traction"
Recently I was nearly run over by a motorist who went through a roundabout the wrong way (eg anti-clockwise) over the speed limit. I saw her look for traffic, but she didn't see me. I had a 250 lumin front light and a 4 led flashing front light + 2 rear lights. I was wearing a bright white jacket with reflectives. My legs are lily-white… The background (I checked afterwards) was dark.
She still didn't see me. I think she was only looking for cars.
You can't legislate for idiots. You can't legislate for the possibility that despite all your bike lights the brighter lights of traffic behind you might make you hard to see. Legislate for more rounded driver training. Teach drivers to take the time to SEE.
The more we legislate for safety requirements for cyclists the less responsibility we place on drivers and infrastructure planners to take a more balanced attitude and accept some of the responsibility.
Shared road use means shared responsibility.
Most of these proposals are about changing cyclists' behaviour, not other road users.
You can legislate for minimum passing distance - then get out on the side of any busy road and see how effective it is.
Over-legislate for at-fault rules, and there will be innocent people adversely affected by the outcome.
If there is a fault in traffic planning (such as may be out at Cavan), legislate that the planning authority at fault should fix it. Body armour? Under a truck? I don't think so. Fix the cause, don't dick around with bandaids.
I cannot help thinking that in those countries with lower injury and fatality rates, the population is not necessarily more careful or considerate that Australian drivers. Their road systems seem to be different. I agree with the "safe system" approach. I think more could be done to the actual road system to give cues and signals to road users, particularly at conflict points. Some of the more obvious are tight turning circles at junctions and humps in the road where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. Similar things could be done to alert motorists to where cyclists will be at junctions. Another thing is properly categorising roads between those that are designated thoroughfares for cars and other transport and streets where people live and go to school. The latter is where the traffic calming and blocked roads should be.
thanks for the reponses to this post over the last week or so.
Some of you have taken the list in my original post to be some sort of recommendations from me. It is just a made up list for discussion. For example, I put body armour near the bottom of the list, along with helmets, because these do nothing to prevent accidents, or promote cycling. I am not making some sort of recommendation that people should be required to wear body armour when riding to shops or school. In fact, I'm not making any recommendations at all, just a list for discussion; written to provoke some responses.
Overall though, the responses to tell a story:
Many people in favour of changed infrastructure or road systems. Not much actual love for sharing the road.
Plenty of folks against further legislation, not even for drivers. Many suggesting driver attitude should change. Some people would shun visibility aids, thinking it is the driver's responsibility to look more carefully.
My view is that many of these things will happen very gradually; over periods of decades. Crowding on roads and therefore driver stresses may change quicker from factors like cost of oil over the coming few years. Driver education programmes will take generations to take effect. We should not hold our breath waiting for any of these societal changes to happen soon. Meanwhile we must continue to cycle and indeed increase as we move towards critical mass. Also, we should all do what we can to help prevent accidents.
With the numbers of replies slowing, and the mood of some posters getting hostile, I suppose constructive discussion is nearly over. Still I got some worthwhile stuff from it, so thanks to those who contributed.
Thanks David for leading this. I hope it has been fruitful for you and for anyone else who stopped to think and contribute. We all want a better cycling environment in Australia and forums are read by decision makers.
I did have a conversation with David about his aims and as he said (and I've now hyperlinked) he is from Niteflux lights designed here in Adelaide. He has generously provided a couple of their new Red Zone lights to Jeremy Miller to review and that will be posted soon.
131 replies for a first post is a pretty good effort (132 now).
An interesting read at the following link.
It's not just about bike lanes – The road rules favour motorists to an extent that may contribute to cyclists' deaths – By Jan Garrard, senior lecturer at the School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University – Posted on 11-Sep-2011 – http://www.adelaidecyclists.com/forum/topics/its-not-just-about-bik...
Anti complacency and strict liability rules are what we need.
We also need rules that encourage muppets to minimise their time spent behind the wheel.
Saw that one a while back - the most amazing part is the driver honking her horn when she runs over the cyclist on the ground. As though thats going to help when there is a bicycle under her car - if the bike wasn't firmly wedged then I'm guessing she would have just driven off and claimed complete ignorance. Unfortunately youtube is full of stuff like this and thats just the tip of the iceberg - how many cyclists who "rushed out from the side of the road", "did a sudden u-turn", "rode off the sidewalk under my car", "rode straight into me" were actually just minding their own business when they were mowed down and killed? Without witnesses its just the word of someone with a vested interest.
I confess to not reading the entire thread, mainly because it seemed to head into territory that I knew would annoy me, but I would like to add my thoughts and take the risk that they're unnecessary or unwarrented.
You can not legislate for safety - nearly all 'accidents' occur because someone did something stupid. Sometimes there are other, legitimate reasons, but the primary cause is some form of human stupidity - sadly, often understandable stupidity, we really are a self-destructive species.
Primary safety is about preventing the accident, secondary safety is about reducing it's effects. Helmets, seat belts and body armour are secondary safety items and while they are useful in a car, are useless on a bicycle - even full body armour would be of little sensible use (and I'm not talking about the horror of wearing the stuff). I'd much rather prevent the accident in the first place than rely on some technological gizmo reduce the effects.
While it's fine to 'make yourself visible' by wearing funny colours and using lights, these only work if the other person actually takes the trouble to look and to see - most offenders have not taken that trouble and that is why they haven't 'seen' you, 'see' as in recognised and responded. In most situations, bright clothes and bright lights are only aiding people who are already doing the right thing ie, they help and so are useful but they are not an answer so legislating for them is poor legislation. In some circumstances, these do help everyone (eg, at night) and so laws requiring lights after the street lights come on are good laws. Reflectors only work in very restricted circumstances and so are a poor source for legislation. Similarly colours - bright colours can blend in with backgrounds and broken up patterns can camouflage rather then make visible.
Years ago, while working in the bush, I was looking down on a co-worker wearing an approved safety jacket and different coloured, safety hat - only the hat was visible because the yellows in the jacket blended in with the Australian bush. I once nearly hit a white motorcycle with a full, white fairing with its headlight on ... but it was in fog (ie, white) and he blended in nicely - I was a motorcycle instructor at the time and very aware of motorcycles.
If you want to improve the safety of cyclists, you need to do three things:
- make the roads a safe place to ride ie, infrastructure (ending bike lanes where there's no room for bikes and cars is just stupid)
- train cyclists to ride on the road and from my point of view, doing this in primary school is the place to do it. I can remember going through the Police training centre for cyclists in the west parklands and the lessons I learnt that day are still here. Teach kids to ride and to understand the road laws (at a basic level) and we'll all be safer, especially the generation that is our future.
- educate drivers, especially during the learner phase. Teach them how to respond to cyclists, how see them and how the cyclists move - non-cyclists just don't understand this. Ideally, all motorists should be cyclists before getting their car licence but I know this is impractical because some people just don't have it in them to ride (my sister will never be able to ride a bike, she's tried often enough now and my beloved has other issues that has meant that she is only now learning how to ride).
The RiderSafe program for motorcyclists has been a success because it goes beyond the basic mechanical operation of the vehicle. A program that teaches car drivers about cyclists on the road needs to be part of the driving test, and NOT just an hour in a lecture theatre, actually out on the road.
Sadly, those things all cost money and aren't sexy and so lobbyists and governments will resort to making us wear things and carry things on our bikes and pretend that this is making us 'safer'. It's not, it's massaging egos, and if you're offended by that, you bloody well should be though shame would be a better response. Teach cyclists about being seen and riding sensibly and the smart ones will do so (the idiots won't whatever the laws). Teach drivers how to drive around cyclists and the majority will do so (the idiots won't whatever the laws). Tell me you want to enforce some form of clothing or other kit on my bike because it'll make me 'safer' and I'll quietly disregard you and ignore you - I may chose to use your product if I feel it's necessary (and let's face it, bloody good lighting is one of the great advances in modern cycling - more please, especially some info about the OPs product), but unless you address the environment and the people who use it, anything else is just tinkering. I don't respect that.
Cats - pigeons - go for it ... or ignore me if that's your desire.