Cycling in Sydney Australia
You are right about " how we as a society respond to the problem" - the question is what IS the problem ? clearly that's up for intepretation depending where one uses the terms like "accident" , "negligence" vs "Offences" and "Lack of Duty of CARe"
By the way, what's your definition of sociopathy, ?
Because, for sure I see -some- drivers easily falling into the category whereas it is also possible to categorise them as a far more innocently sounding negligence ?
Making claims that people are out there intentionally running down cyclists is actually harmful to cycling. It isn't true.
Is that's why cycling forums don't have terms like "doorings" and "punishment pass" , and why Fly6 doesnt have 1760 backers and why the #1 reason for not taking up cycling is.... ?
Peter, I think you need to be mindful of the way your expectations can colour your experiences. I've noticed over the last few months in particular that you have developed an increasingly antagonistic position towards motorists. I can understand that, but at the same time I would be wary of it.
If you leave the house expecting to find a war on the roads between motorists and cyclists, then you will find one. It will be the lens through which you interpret reality. There will be a cumulative effect of these day to day interpretations such that a simple mistake or innocuous incident with no real consequences between you and a motorist will leave you infuriated, only further entrenching the viewpoint as our interpretative tool. I know, I've been there. These days I don't ride with that mindset, and my experience on the roads has been transformed. I can't remember the last negative interaction I had with a motorist, and I am on my bike a whole lot. Motorists are getting better, but not so rapidly as the change happened. That means a lot of it is down to what was going on in my head rather than what was actually happening on the road.
A lot of the problems between cyclists and motorists are due to a lack of understanding. Many motorists do not understand the cyclist's perspective, they don't understand the space a cyclist legitimately needs to feel safe. I'm sure the "punishment pass" exists. A small bunch of deranged people exist in our community who will engage in violent acts, unprovoked, against vulnerable people. I'm equally sure that the majority of times a cyclist has interpreted a pass as a punishment pass it was nothing of the sort. When a car accelerates to go past you that can feel really intimidating. Many times they don't give you as much space as you would want. For the most part that acceleration isn't designed to threaten though, that is just what motorists do when they overtake another vehicle, they accelerate to get passed. I'm sure that the motorist also feels like they have given the cyclist enough space (after all, they haven't hit them, have they?).
Motorists don't like being behind cyclists. Some of it is frustration for being held up (and yes, as we discussed in another thread, they do interpret this differently to being held up for just as long by another car, and no that doesn't make sense), some of it is also anxiety about hitting them. This is particularly the case for cyclists that aren't communicating with them, that aren't looking around, that aren't being predictable. The driver just wants the cyclist behind them so they can stop worrying about them, and their desire to just get by can lead them to make a pass that feels, from the perspective of the cyclist, as too close.
This same things is true between cyclists and pedestrians. In my job I talk to a lot of both about how they use shared spaces. What seems like a safe pass from a cyclist can be interpreted as far from it by a pedestrian. You might feel safe passing a pedestrian with a metre between you at 25km/h, and you probably are safe to do so in many cases, but if they aren't aware that you are there until you whiz passed them then they aren't likely to agree with you. You may well think you were doing a good job giving them plenty of space (after all, you didn't hit them, did you?) but they may well come away from the experience thinking that cyclists are endangering them, giving no disregard for the space they need, passing too fast and in an aggressive manner, etc., confirming a pattern of similar incidences in their recent experience which leads them to extrapolate out of these individual events a generalised antipathy towards all cyclists. Sound familiar?
Are you aware of any cases of an intentional dooring of a cyclist? I'm not. It probably has happened somewhere at some time, but I think it is pretty clear that dooring is not a problem of anti-social people making a deliberate attempt to endanger the life of another human being but instead a problem of a lack of care or thought for a potentially serious consequence of a very mundane action.
Hanlon's razor applies. Do not attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity (or maybe more tactfully a lack of care or foresight). Be mindful of the fact that the paradigm through which you interpret the bare "facts" of the world is what gives them their meaning.
The fact that the Fly6 has received so much media attention is, in my opinion, not something to be particularly happy about. Actually, the reason why it has received so much support is the same reason why people don't take up cycling. Fear. I really can't recommend reading this piece by British sociologist David Horton enough. My job is to cut through the narratives that perpetuate this fear, because their foundations are largely unfounded. Cycling is not a dangerous activity. There are risks involved, but there are risks in all activities we engage in. The important thing is for us to understand the true extent of those risks and also understand how we are able to mitigate them, because we can (and we don't need a video camera to do it, indeed, the video camera does nothing by itself to make us safer).
None of the questions you posed at the end of your post are an indication that there are a significant number of people out there deliberately threatening cyclists with their cars. The answer to the last question you pose is actually the reason why your false assertions about the danger we face on the roads are harmful to the growth of cycling (and therefore harmful to the actual improvement of conditions for cycling). So, I'd really encourage you not to spread a false message which is detrimental to cycling safety.
None of this is to say that we should be happy with the status quo or that we shouldn't be looking to improve it. We should. If we are going to do that, though, we need to understand what the problem actually is. It isn't what you think it is.
and we don't need a video camera to do it, indeed, the video camera does nothing by itself to make us safer
I beg to differ. Bernie and others have written about taking video to the police who have rung up and spoken to motorists about bad behaviour. And seen a change in that drivers behaviour. I've also personally seen this change in behaviour. So cameras do make us safer. They don't make it appear safer from the outside and I hope one day to dispense with it.
Cameras also effect how we react to situations. In situations where I'd get furious and end up in confrontational situations (see Jason Browns post today - not having a go). Where as now I blow it off as I've got footage, which I can deal with later on, but rarely do as, riding drives the anger out of me, which driving doesn't.
Brilliant post Rob.
I too have an unhealthy tendency to whip myself into a lather simply by picturing motorists behind me as pissed off and cursing my presence. It's particularly intense when I'm putting out big power and hurting to try and get out of the way as quickly as possible.
Ultimately it generates destructive, unfulfilled rage. Quite pathetic really, when it's borne almost entirely out of utter fantasy.
Which brings us back to identifying the problem.
I see people who wreck other peoples life as criminals, and a duty of CARe is essential to change people who are otherwise not impacted by the CARnage they cause.
Cycling is no more dangerous than many mundane activities, however, it irks me to the core that the source of the danger often due to actions of selfish, impatient people who see themselves as blameless and cycling is a risky activity taken by stupid cyclists asking for it. Using terms like accidents and negligent does nothing to change this blameless mindset.
Cycling in Sydney can cause a build up of negative perceptions. I find the antidote is some rides away from the city, into the countryside, the further the better.
I am off to Parkes again this coming weekend and expect large parts of the rides to be devoid of motor vehicles for maybe hours at a time, just me, some crows, kangaroos, maybe some cattle. Very peaceful, I come back refreshed, again believing in the possibility of the goodness of people. Highly recommended.
It really annoyed me how they kept going on about the speed of the bikes. What was the quote "Some of them can get up to 60km/h" with something further about having a right to do that. What about all the f*cking cars that do that and more, and have bloody lobby groups to allow them to continue to go so fast?
Now, as I see it, your first mistake was watching this drivel in the first place. (Oh, don't forget the replay this arvo at 1300.)
Didn't someone predict exactly what a disaster this sort of "discussion" would be?
Who exactly was the cycling expert on this panel? Not just someone who had ridden a "pushy" somewhere once but someone who, as well as being an accomplished and erudite cyclist, was trained and experienced in building cycling facilities. And, if there was no-one so qualified, WTF was the point of even touching upon this fraught subject? (Why didn't they at least invite you, Mr O', as someone who has ridden a "pushy" in lots of places and written about it?)
QandA fail. Utter. Complete.