Malcolm Brown letter in SMH- major roads incompatible with push bikes.

"My conclusion after my own odyssey is that major roads, especially motorways, are simply incompatible with pushbike riding. The rider has to assume that every single one of the hundreds, or thousands, of vehicles that pass him (or her) will see him and avoid him, and that nothing might happen to cause a collision. The rider has to have his back to the traffic and cannot see what is coming at him and perhaps take evasive action. On a bike, he has far less flexibility than a pedestrian."

Probably most people will agree with him, but statistically speaking the death risk per kilometer is probably lower on a good freeway than on a narrow urban arterial. Per trip I don't know, because cyclists tend to travel longer distances on freeways.

He also refers to his recent walk from Sydney to Dubbo, after retirement from the SMH, and refers to heavy vehicles "gliding" by. I would have thought "roaring" might have been a better word.

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The rider has to assume that every single one of the hundreds, or thousands, of vehicles that pass him (or her) will see him and avoid him

I hate to say I told you so... but I knew some knob-head would start this sort of bull. That it comes from someone who should be capable of logical reasoning is especially disappointing.

Exactly because motorways generally have wide shoulders where cyclists ride, where motorists aren't supposed to drive and generally don't except when stopping for "emergencies", is why that statement is completely bogus.

The danger Mr Brown "identifies" is present on every other road, though, from the 40km/h suburban area to the 100km/h country road.

What solution does he offer? Put everyone in cars, or armoured vehicles, or...

Interesting to note the advert on that page depicting unhelmeted cyclists standing on the crappy shoulder on some NZ road clearly enjoying 100% amazing Kiwiland.

EDIT: Another thing that annoys me is that he says the vehicles have to see the cyclist(s). Vehicles are inaminate. They don't have eyes. It is the vehicle jockey who is legally required to look where s/he is going and to avoid hitting things. </daily rant>

I would like to see 'death by motor vehicle' treated in the same manner as 'death by gun'. A driver shouldn't be 'helping police with their enquiries' after killing someone, they should be immediately arrested.

Drivers' licences should also require retesting every few years, with a practical & written test, taking into consideration any infringements they've racked up and any laws that have changed since the last test. BAC should be zero as well. If it's good enough for pilots (who kill far fewer people), it's good enough for drivers.

I find it deplorable that we don't treat death by motor vehicle seriously at all. We really are car sick.

You know it occurred to me the other day, that when I got my drivers licence, not once did my ability to perceive of behave correctly around any one/ thing other than cars get tested. That was mid 2000's not that long ago really.

BAC should not be zero, it should be 0.02.  The zero is unrealistically low and places undue stress to avoid things like mouthwash etc with really no gain. A breath BAC of 0.02 with a proper blood test of 0 would be the ideal solution IMHO

"BAC should not be zero, it should be 0.02.  The zero is unrealistically low and places undue stress to avoid things like mouthwash etc with really no gain. A breath BAC of 0.02 with a proper blood test of 0 would be the ideal solution IMHO"

That's not how it works. If you truly have used your mouthwash recently (and it would have to be almost immediately prior to the breath test) it will not make the reading anything other than 'practically zero' - which is how the 'zero' level would work. The device would register extremely low values as zero.

The way the breath test works has nothing to do with measuring anything in your mouth or that may vaporise from your mouth. It works by assessing the % of the gas coming from alveoli that is vaporised ethanol. The reading is taken at the end of the expiratory gas plateau - ie. after a long exhale - which is why you have to breathe out for a significant period of time. It is quite possible (and I'm not certain this is the case) that the machine also measures CO2 so it can tell whether someone is faking it or not (which would be almost impossible to do).

It's not going to read a false positive with non-ethanol alcohols, nor is any alcohol that you've had in your mouth recently from a mouthwash or glass of wine going to upset it unless you take a swig and then blow - that's just a little 'out' that people use to delay a blood test so that they might read lower when it is finally taken.

The reason I know this is that this sort of expiratory gas analysis is something I do as part of my day job and I understand the physiology and physics of it quite well.

PS: The legal level IS zero for pilots and it's not 'unrealistically' low at all and they use mouthwash too!

Agree, zero BAC makes sense. I won't and don't drive with any alcohol at all and don't find it remotely difficult to manage.


So why should I or anyone else tolerate risk from others on the road who have had a drink or three? It's not as if drinking is compulsory!


For pilots it gets nasty with poppyseeds in muffins and cakes because you test positive for opiates.

Fair enough Paul! I'm happy to cop that on the chin and say my information must have been wrong. You've given the best explanation and seem to have the best qualifications I’ve come across to date.

Since that is the case, then we should roll out zero BAC.

No worries!

The only reason why people have a breath test disregarded after having 'just had a mouthful of wine/mouthwash' is that the police cannot be 100% certain that it didn't contaminate the result -  they then go down the route of the blood test.

This of course takes some time and those using this delaying tactic know this all too well... but so do the police (they're not stupid), but there is nothing they can do about it.

They could, if they wanted to, work out *precisely* what someone's blood alcohol concentration WAS at the time they were driving by taking a series of blood samples. Ethanol is unusual in its metabolism in that we fully metabolise a given *amount* (mass) per unit time. Most drugs are metabolised by our bodies at a certain *percentage* per unit time (ie exponential decay - non-linear, rather than the linear decay of ethanol). This obviously varies *between* individuals (liver function the main determinant) but not within the one individual in the same evening.

This is the reason why, if you know what your metabolic rate of ethanol is, and you know the amount you're drinking, you can maintain a specific BAC if you try. It also allows you to work out when you will have NO alcohol left in your system at all or, if you've overdosed, when you'll reach a 'safe' level.

Because the metabolism of ethanol is linear, the police could take a few blood samples at specific intervals and then extrapolate the graph 'back in time' with extreme accuracy. I'm not sure if they do this or whether or not it is acceptable in a court of law but it is possible.

If only implementing a zero BAC were that easy though.

Good ideas (for society) oddly tend to be the ones that are the hardest to implement, particularly when it comes to infringing on those poor 'long-suffering motorists'... ;)

Personal view here - I am no longer comfortable riding on motorway breakdown lanes.

Yes it may be a right to be there, (in NSW at least) but I'm simply not prepared to make the assumption that every driver passing at 110kph is totally on focus....

As opposed to texting, drunk, facebooking, playing angry birds, watching a movie on the iPad.

No more for me in the smartphone era. Just not worth it. Plenty of nicer places to ride anyway. Motorway breakdown lanes are the most monotonous form of cycling anyway.

Are you comfortable riding on 100 km/h country roads with little to no shoulder? Or on 40/50/60/70/80 km/h suburban roads where a driver has to actively steer the vehicle to avoid running you down?

Just as much likelihood of "texting, drunk, facebooking, playing angry birds, watching a movie on the iPad" drivers there, far more potential for conflict.

If worried, use a rear vision mirror. One fitted to your helmet (if you wear one), or one with mount surgically implanted in skull if not, is extremely effective in keeping track of approaching traffic from behind.

you have a good mirror suggestion Neil? I've been thinking of getting one.

I use a modified Third Eye model. The mounts are a bit fragile so I jury-rigged my own and glued the mirror to the end. 

I don't want to start a "mirror argument" on this site but am happy to talk privately if you want to PM me, Rob.

Or this!  I secure the aluminium arm to the bars with a couple of cable ties.  That way, not up for expensive Shimano bits like hoods or gear levers (as in Bill's arrangement) if I stack.  I wouldn't be without a mirror.


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