We all have dreams, and as someone who spends a lot of time on his bike, a few of mine involve cycling …. there’s always the hope that a week before a grand tour (I’m not fussy, even the Vuelta would be fine) I’ll get a call from Dave Brailsford at Team Sky to say “Wiggo is injured, Froome has a stomach bug, are you available? we need a new road captain”; the other is that I wake up Wednesday week and Melbourne has become Amsterdam, with real cycling infrastructure, separated bike lanes, and 25% or more of trips being done on bikes.
And I know that neither are going to happen, but they’re my dreams and I’m allowed to have them. But I shouldn’t have to dream about the motorists of Melbourne LEARNING the EXISTING road laws.
The law clearly states you can ride two abreast, provided you’re not more than 1.5m apart. It ISN’T illegal. And I’m sick of being abused by motorists who think they know better. There was the woman who SCREAMED at me about “disrespecting the traffic” because we were rising two abreast, and yesterday morning – the reason for this post – not once but twice we were blasted by car horns; the second time, he wanted to argue about it.
If I do something wrong, I’m entitled to be called out about it, (possibly) yelled at, and if it’s something really serious the good folks at Victoria Police might need to get involved. But if all I’ve done is obey the law, LEAVE ME ALONE YOU GRUMPY BASTARD. It’s not my fault you’re running late for a job you hate. That YOU’VE DECIDED cyclists should ride single file so it doesn’t slow you down doesn’t make it law
What can I, as a citizen cyclist, do to help educate the poor uninformed motorists of Melbourne? I was going to print the page from the VicRoads website, carry it in my back pocket so I’d be able to show it to the next ignorant fool who toots at me. Except a) that relies on them being prepared to stop and read it (they’re already pissed off that I’ve “held them up”); b) it doesn’t help anyone other than me (unless we all start carrying copies).
So, I need to do something a little more global.
My first post of call was Bicycle Network Victoria. They explained that the further you get from the centre of the city, the more this problem exists. Their theory, which seems to hold water, is that there are less bikes on the road in the outer suburbs so motorists are less used to seeing them, and much less tolerant than in the inner city.
BV have suggested a letter writing campaign, to get Victoria Police to put some effort into educating the public – I’m not asking for the laws to be changed (not yet, that’s for down the track), just that more people understand what the existing laws are.
So, do you ride a bike in Victoria? Please write to:
Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing
G.P.O Box 913 , Melbourne, VIC, 3001
Be nice, be polite, but ask that they put some effort and funding into educating motorists on the existing road laws regarding cyclists, and that people know it’s OK for cyclists to ride two abreast. I don’t know if this is the best way to tackle the problem (got a better idea, let me know) but it’s a start!