Cycling in Sydney Australia
I wanted to raise an incident that happened at the weekend, just in case it applies to anyone that happens to read this site and makes them think again about their behavior.
My fiance and I are avid cyclists and commute daily and we are always trying to encourage friends to take it up, offering to ride with them on quite routes etc. One particular friend has been really keen because of the health benefits but has just been extremely nervous because of the roads.
After a bit of gentle persuading she added "riding a bike" to her new years resolutions so, this weekend, we managed to convince her to attend the excellent East Side Ride in Centennial Park so that she could try cycling in a safe environment and get some confidence. There was a stand where you could borrow a bike and helmet, so we sorted that out and off we went. So far, so good.
Now for the downside. My other half was cycling alongside her and I was cycling behind. We were cycling slowly but perfectly straight within the cycle way. Not long after we had set off we had a 'peleton' of about 20-25 lycra clad cyclists come powering past us and went past extremely closely and then cut straight in front of us as they roared past.
Having finished explaining that normally you are given a lot more room, cyclists aren't generally that aggressive etc, would you believe that a smaller a group, of about 4 or 5 cyclists in their full replica team gear came past and yelled "how far apart do you want to cycle?" before one shot through the gap between my girlfriend and our friend.
I should emphasise at this point that, yes, there was a gap (big enough for a cyclist to go through, but only just) but we were in the cycle lane, clearly going slowly/carefully and were leaving a gap so that our friend, who was on the inside, had plenty of space. For those not familiar with Centennial Park, you can just go out in to the normal road way to go past, which I do when overtaking slower cyclists all the time. Needless to say, these two incidents have put our friend off completely. Worse, she will no doubt repeat these incidents to anyone that raises cycling with her in the future.
Obviously got no issues with people using the park for training but there needs to be an acceptance that it is a place for people of all abilities. If you really want to train at speed and without learner cyclists then I would suggest that you should be out on the road and not in the park at all.
Just a comment on the general principles on how these interactions occur, based on the many instances oft reported here.
As a general rule, it is more likely that the "lycra-clad louts" who are out "training" (for whatever - probably better described as "exercising") are likely to be riding faster than those riding for "leisure". I'm not going to get in to the debate how whether they're riding too fast etc, but the point I'm making is that the someone going faster than someone else is going to end up catching the other someone. And probably going to want to go past them.
So the situation becomes, lycra clad louts are more likely to be overtaking other people.
I wonder, if the situation was reversed, and the "leisure" riders rode faster (which sometimes happens - not as frequently but) whether there would be just as much unpleasantness in the overtaking situation. In other words it has little to do with what the overtakers are wearing or why they'r riding, it's more to do with people feeling "held up" by others. Possibly, but I do think regardless there are some blokes who get a bit fired up when they go out for a group ride. But a point in case - every bloody motorist who jumps on the horn as they overtake you, just so they can spend more time in front of you at the next red light.
The other comment I'll make is that if you're riding somewhere like CP where everyone knows there are lots of riders and interaction, we can all take actions to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone else and ourselves. The question about the "how big a gap?" was rude and unneccessary, it could have been worded differently. Without being there it's impossible to know, but I'd suggest if the gap was big enough to ride through, it could have been smaller. Regardless, riding through it presumably just to make a point is a silly and dangerous thing to do.
This interaction could have been a whole lot more pleasant for everyone if the large group had made the call "cyclists passing right", had moved out, you'd ensured you were riding as far to the left as possible to make it easy for them to get past you and not have deviated while doing so, you'd said "nice morning for it" and "enjoy your ride" to one another, and then they made sure they were sufficiently past you before pulling back in. Not rocket surgery, not difficult.
CP is a public facility and it's not for one group to suggest that any other group shouldn't use it. If you want to do that, then you can't dismiss the LCL's (hypothetical) perspective of "if you're a slow or beginner cyclist then go and ride in the middle of the park where you won't get in the way of those of us who are constantly having to overtake you". Neither of you have the moral right or obligation to tell the other what to do. Both of you have the moral obligation to share the park and no one ever gets hurt from being courteous to one another either.
As the others have said or alluded to, there are dickheads and inconsiderate people everywhere. Most of them drive cars. Unfortunately a few also ride bikes.
"there are dickheads and inconsiderate people everywhere"
I wonder whether it's getting worse or the extra few million in our population over recent times is just increasing the numbers. I suspect that it is a case of "let's share the facilities, but they have to share them with me, however I don't have to share with them." It seems to be the case in my neck of the woods.
Nothing has ever changed imo, being cut up always happened at CP. The only differences are whether or not cycling is popular or not which alters the population of cyclists.
However - if there are 2 abreast cyclists in the cyclelane, then pack riders will have to change lanes to go round them - its not exactly rocket science - and its exactly what a faster pack has to do to get round a slower pack, so its hardly going to be alien to the riders.
I also change lanes to overtake children at CP, because they do tend to wobble all over the cyclelane , and I also don't want to scare them.
no one ever gets hurt from being courteous to one another either
"You first, my dear,"
"But, no, no, no. It must be you who goes first!"
"Well, thank you. That's a capital suggestion; simply capital! You're so kind."
Too much politeness might cause one to simply "lose it".
Some interesting comments and debate. Just thought I would clarify a couple of points.
- I have no issue with lycra and own loads myself - I generally ride in either lycra or some other breathable layer. The comment was made because that was the reality of the situation but it was probably unnecessary so apologies about that.
- I have no issue with group riding at all. I belonged to a club in the UK and have done plenty in my time. Would never have dreamed of behaving in this way though, whether I was in a park that is shared by a multitude of different users or anywhere else, and don't recall ever seeing it. You can ride in a group without having to steamroll everyone else.
- What I saw was (a) very rude and (b) dangerous. They could have been closer together but then I could ride closer to car doors most of the time - I choose not to because it isn't very sensible. Our friend wanted a bit of space so we provided that. There was a whole (empty) lane next to us, it just meant moving right instead of left.
- I would never suggest that the park be used by one set of cyclists and not another. However, there needs to be an acceptance it is being used by lots of different types of riders of varying ability. That is exactly why we went to the park, as we thought it would cater for that (and in my opinion should).
Finally, yes, we did get over taken by plenty of people who gave plenty of room and had no need to shout anything and just went past us. That is just normal behavior though and, as I said at the outset, the post was really aimed at those people who are guilty of the above, in case they read the site.
You are in car centric Sydney - your reasonable attitude has no place here!! :)
Besides which, user-pays for allocating scarce resources like parking space, is pretty much a foreign concept to Australian motorists.
Wherever meters are proposed the howls of protest are deafening as if it portends the end-of-life-as-we-know-it. Heaven forbid!
I can't think of any other city centre in the world where peleton training is accommodated.
Like motorsport training, it's simply not compatible with public roads/spaces in densely populated urban areas.
That said, it could work in CP if participants accepted that being in a pack or riding fast does not give one priority over other park users, or the right to intimidate/abuse them.
Yes this may mean having to slow down occasionally to overtake slower riders. But that is the nature of sharing a public space. If you don't like it then buy/rent your own private space which you can have all to yourself. (And the same for drivers sharing public roads with bicycles!)
I can't think of any other city centre in the world where peleton training is accommodated... *for free*
I guess the cost they pay is having to slow down for everyone else. If they want a clear track they can always join a club and cycle at Eastern Creek. Just like those who want to practice motor sport racing.