Cycling in Sydney Australia
I got pulled over the cops the other day. Rather excitingly, it’s the first time I’ve ever been pulled over with lights and sirens blaring!
The reason was that I was riding like cyclists do in 98% of the world – that is to say without a polystyrene hat. In Australia, of course, this deviant behaviour is considered a criminal offence. The $325 fine is the same as a car driver not giving way to pedestrians on a crossing flashing amber, and drinking alcohol whilst driving.
I spoke to the officers, and explained I have an exemption, and showed it to them. It remains to see if they accept it or if I get a ticket through the post. But what a waste of everyone’s time.
Still, it seems the NSW police are keen to ensure vulnerable road users are suitably penalised for daring to use a Sydney road network that is hostile towards them. A few days later, I was in the city and witnessed no less than five motorcycle cops booking pedestrians who dared to scuttle across a pedestrian crossing when it wasn’t green. Given that this is right outside Sydney Central Station and there are a lot of pedestrians needing to cross, that there is relatively few vehicles, and that the green time for pedestrians is woeful (about five seconds every three minutes), you can hardly blame a few people for crossing on the red man.
But no, the NSW police were there, handing out tickets ($72, if you were interested). Whilst I watched, I saw two cars drive through on very amber lights ($325, as explained above), and one on red ($433), but rather than jumping onto their powerful motorcycles to catch the miscreants putting people’s lives in danger, they just chatted amongst themselves.
Great to know our safety is so important to them.
Yes, I know I feel better already...
These days when I'm on foot in the city, I am constantly struck by the space inequity: with seemingly more people walking in the CBD the crush on the footpaths - particularly at traffic light-controlled crossing, where we are all crammed into tiny 'starting gates' for the race-to-the-other-side - is becoming ridiculous. Is it any wonder people cross whenever they can?
I was pleased to see that in Vancouver the traffic lights seem to give a high priority to peds, and bikes seem to be widely accepted as a means of transportation. Lots of segregated bike paths, no helmets, plenty of bike parking and city bikes all over the place, as well as lots of other bike rental businesses. Some of the seemingly widespread acceptance could have started as a result of the widespread cycle paths in the large city park that is full of tourists and locals walking and riding.
One of the signs that I missed getting a photo of was on the shared path and it showed a graphic of a cyclist and a ped with an obvious noise coming from the cyclist's mouth as well as the bell. The inoffensive caption that I can remember said "Bell or yell". There was more below that, probably with some reference to warning peds. It struck me as a great way to wind back the aggro from some peds when you call. They seem to see it as aggressive, rather than what it is, just a safety call. Unfortunately I've not been able to find an example of it on prof Google.
There are people on this forum who have complained about people jay walking and yeah it is against the "road rules". Yeah so is cycling through the red lights (but isn't it amazing how motorists like doing a bit of amber gambling"). The thing is unlike similar Victoria police operations there doesn't seem to be an equal focus on policing motoring offences.
The lights and sirens thing reminds me of a time a mate of mine was roaring around on a bit of vacant land on a pee wee 50 motor bike and attracted the attention of the police - unlike you he just kept going with a police car chasing him around the circuit (he was about 8 at the time)!
The failure to recognise the presence of cops who are intently "looking out for your safety" is a greater statistical threat than jaywalking*
*Ok I don't have statistical proof, but boy they are sure a power-tripping, toxic bunch of school monitors/prefects.
A fair parallelism is walking into a dark alley without checking for the presence for of dodgy characters who are known to frequent it