Cycling in Sydney Australia
We all know the answer to that one.
The AG proposes a new law to cover situations where assault causes death.
I used to earn my money chucking drunk people out of pubs. Over the years I have had so many people punch me in the head I have lost count. I know that none of them expected to kill me, and would not wish a lengthy jail sentence on them if they did.
What about if someone hits me with a motor vehicle? They must know there is a good chance I will be injured or killed. But the politicians, the police, the Paul Sheehans of the world - none of them give a damn. I'm just a bloody cyclist, it was an accident, I probably deserved it for riding on the road.
On Monday I had a driver run a stop sign and nearly kill me. I was coming down a hill a cross-roads at the bottom. The driver paused at the sign, made eye contact with me then drove through. I had to lock up the brakes and nearly came off. Yesterday I had some arsehole do a "punisment pass" on me in a school zone. Then this morning I find a cyclist got killed a few blocks from my house on the same day.
Will any driver face 20 years if they kill a cyclist? No. It will be called an accident, and nobody will give a shit.
I am sick to bloody death of being a second class citizen. I am sick of being treated as cannon fodder.
Enough is enough.
Interesting isn't it?
But all those numbers seem to be just collateral damage.
Even when we see reckless endangerment by vehicle operators , if there's no hard evidence it's likely to be swept under the 'accident' carpet.
And when there IS evidence, it's a hard slog to get any decent closure - for something that is known to have these sort of consequences I think this an absolutely glaring failure in a civilised society.
What can we do ?
The big difference. The Police and Judges are themselves drivers.
Cyclists cop much of the blame for being on the roads.
I have encountered this concept a few times recently in different writings, and that is if you want to kill someone, do it with a motor vehicle. Free pass.
I have waxed lyrical on here before about the 'inconvenient by-product of convenience' - being motor vehicle related death and trauma, so I wont do it again now. I also may be tainted by the fact that my immediate family is affected by such trauma.
I think it was Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame no less who stated that the motor vehicle has killed more people since the start of the 20th century than have been killed in all wars combined in the same period.
We as a society don't care. Motor vehicle related deaths and trauma are just the by-product of the supposed convenience.
We don't even enforce decent driving behaviour before it gets to any death or trauma, so it is kind of inevitable that it happens.
While it is a worldwide phenomena, I kind of wonder here (where driving appears much more aggressive than almost anywhere else) if it is because we have to give everyone a licence as we haven't invested in alternatives that people are interested in. We only don't licence, or remove the licences of the very worst of the worst, of the worst, of the worst ... of drivers.
A drivers licence a privilege not a right? Pffft, whatever.
PS. Somewhat topically, the profesionalism of so - called "professional" drivers is a sad indictment on that catagory as a whole. If any other profession as a whole was so lassaiz faire about their work it wouldn't exist (yet the concepts above save driving as a profession from the accountibility of other professions). If my attention to detail and application was anywhere even remotely as lax as how many professional drivers approach their work I probably wouldnt even be able to afford a bike to discuss. Driving seems to be a profession where you don't give a s..t. Remarkable seeing as you have the lives of fellow humans in your hands. Probably can't say the same for mine - regardless of the accountability dichotomy.
In your example of the driver making eye contact when you had right of way, if they had run you over and killed you then that is greater reckless intent than in the Thomas Kelly case ie; the outcome is more certainly lethal than a drunken king hit to the head.
The missing ingredient is an outraged media and politicians willing to follow.
If you get hit and killed and there are no other witnesses, then the driver's version of events are the only version of events.
The driver claims they didn't see you, so criminal intent is thrown out the window and at most they will face a fine and disqualification from driving.
The car is sacred in our society. So much so that I know people who have been both permanently disabled in car accidents and drivers from fatal car accidents.
One of the goals after the accident is to get them driving again.
Being able to master the weapon that was central to their accident is key to their story of redemption.
Most Australians can't imagine a life where a car is not a foundation of their whole world. The car gives more life than it takes away, even for people who have suffered tragically through their use of cars.
Most drivers do the right thing but it doesn't take much for the knuckleheaded few to cause real damage.
Unfortunately, I think it will take the death of a celebrity's child (be they a sportsman* / TV personality) before the message gets through to these knuckleheads.
*I deliberately used sportsman here as I reckon that the type of person who doesn't give a shit about cyclists will listen to their favourite AF/NRL/Macho sports player.
Until this happens things won't improve on the roads because (as mentioned above) a few hundred deaths a year is a small price to pay for everyone to have the freedom to drive. And everyone drives (and votes) right?
Unfortunately the lack of visible policing doesn't help, every year I ride is another year where I see more road rules being disobeyed, this year my pick is the number of illegal u-turns is increasing.
Even with red lights, previously drivers would go through the orange lights just past it turning red, the other day a driver totally ignored the red left arrow arrow (about 3 secs after it turned red) and drove through without a care in the world busy chatting with his passenger and this will only keep increasing.
I do agree truck drivers are the worst as they don't give a toss, my other 'bike' is a Mini Cooper and I don't hang around trucks / buses in that either.
It's been a terrible couple of weeks for cycling in Sydney, but motorised traffic appears not to have been to blame for the fatalities at Turramurra and Kurnell. There are risks in what we do.
It will take years or decades for a minority of motorists to start driving with some respect. Cases like the deaths of Richard Pollett and Ian Humphrey (Eugene McGee's disgraceful performance), do not help. But sooner or later, one of these incompetent motorists will get the book thrown at them. Hopefully it will be well publicised. Cyclists are everywhere these days, even some judges are regular cyclists. I'm not saying a judge who happened to be a cyclist would apply anything but the law, but they could be expected to come at the issue from a different starting point.
In the meantime, all you can do is, buy a camera, find the right combination of defensive and assertive, take out income protection and life insurance (I have no personal interest in selling any of these products). And do not just put up with sh!t from idiot motorists. Most people, even fools, will try to avoid conflict, and learn from mistakes, even if they would never actually admit it was a mistake.
Some sound advice. A word of warning though re avoiding conflict. Just two examples that happened to the Mrs and I in the last week. Both when we were driving her car.
1) Last weekend I was driving (save up all my big jobs for one trip a month - returning a borrowed box trailer, and picking up mulch etc). Was the 2nd of 3 cars stopped at a red light. Light went green, car behind me lightly 'tooted' the first car which was a bit slow to move. Me - I did nothing. Car in front then starts brake checking ME, and yelling, then at the next lights, 3 blokes got out with a baseball bat. Not wanting to find out what happened next - after checking no cross traffic I went through the red and took off. Called the cops but nothing of it as they didn't follow me. It was a camera controlled intersection so that might be my first fine in 15 years. Will take it to court if I got done. Might be able to get a section 10 or something. Dash cam was disconnected.
2) Mrs turning at an intersection, was lined up beside and behind a B Double. Truck moved off and mrs gave way to the rear trailer arcing though her lane (as required by Do not overtake turning vehicle rules). Guy behind her went apopolyptic, drove over the median to get in front of her (sideways), and blocked her path. Guy got out and started trying to open the door to get her out of the car (door was auto locked), then started punching the glass. Real tough guy to do that to a small lady with a Mobility Parking Permit in the window. Two islander guys got out and helped her (THANK YOU guys). Cops weren't really that interested in that either. Dash cam footage didn't show the number plate (as car was side on to dash) and offender blurred as approached from the extremity of camera angle and blurred by A pillar.
What to take away - don't assume that people want to avoid conflict - even if you aren't even doing anything 'provocative' like riding a bike on a road paid for by car drivers (yeah, I know). The slightest reaction to someone can trigger some truly epic psychotic behaviour. This thankfully isn't a regular week for us, normally we can avoid this crap, but there are some real psycho's out there, and I don't think its getting better. I will always think twice (or 20 times) before escalating in any way (not taking s..t). And if you do, have an exit strategy pre-planned.
Where do you live? You regularly have such horror stories.
Botany bay area. Although both the above in other areas of Sydney (middle west and the Shire).
Could be cursed (don't know why).
At one stage we had three cars in the same smash repairer at the same time:
1) almost written off in a hailstorm - being repaired.
2) bought another cheap car to see through the 5 week repairs to (1) - friend we bought it off driving it to our place to deliver when it was T-boned by a fail to give way.
3) then borrowed brothers car due to (2). Car ran a red, mrs managed to avoid, but car behind ran up the back of brothers car.
Funnily enough, even after about 120,000 km driving overseas (central and western Europe - incl Naples no less, the UK and south east Asia) I don't have one story to tell from that driving - except that flashing your lights at someone in SEA does not mean "you go first" like it does here. It means the person flashing is coming though so get out of their way. Almost got caught by that one once or twice.
The agro here is astonishing. All the more reason it is hard to take, as it largely doesn't happen anywhere else.
PS. I do have a HC and motobike licence, used to be an accredited driver trainer, and have done plenty of driver training courses and a ClearWay assessment was almost spot on. Either just unlucky, or am doing something that annoys the crap out of people. Probably not breaking the law.
Seem to be a lot less dramas on the bike. Solution - stay out of the car and on the bike!
On reflection though, I have told the same stories on here a number of times in relation to differing topics. That probably adds to the perception of bulk. Really serious run ins - on the bike I think about 5 in as many years, and probably a few more in the car in Sydney over a longer period - although more regularly of late. And I have spoken of all of them on here - for whatever reason.
Have had mates and family occasionally subject to similar things.
Per km travelled, either mode though - probably not that statistically unusual.
Pretty disgraceful stuff, and you seem to have rotten luck!
Look I think the true psychos are 1 in 5000 or something. No one likes having their flaws pointed out, and a *discussion* of sorts can be unpleasant. But only once have I had the offending party get out of their vehicle...
You definitely need an exit strategy. But a bike is extremely manoueverable, and in circumstances where you are being directly threatened and genuinely fearful for your safety, all sorts of evasive action is permitted...