Monday, 2 September 2013

Learning Lessons

Someone I know quite well was involved in a minor collision the other day. It happened at a small roundabout on a quiet street not far from a school. It was the beginning of the afternoon rush hour. School had not long ended for the day.

My friend was travelling very slowly and, as is quite often the case, she missed the cyclist who was also approaching the roundabout from her right. He hit the side of her car and fell down. Other than a couple of scrapes to his arms, he was fine. It all happened at slow speed.

My friend did the right thing. She stopped immediately and made sure he was ok. So did the driver of the car behind her. That person then commented that she was glad my friend had been in front because she did not see the cyclist either.

A conversation then ensued. The other driver commented that the cyclist might want to wear brighter clothing next time. She also asked what the cyclist was doing out on the roads at that time and whether he was going anywhere in particular. He said he was just out for a ride. The driver suggested that this was probably not the time to be out just riding with all of the traffic on the roads.

Given the proximity to the nearby school, there is a certain irony there but I think it was probably lost on the driver.

Just in case, my friend also reported what had happened to the police. The officer was very understanding. She said this happens a lot where drivers simply do not see cyclists and there are collisions like this - thankfully at low speeds.

The officer had a little more insight than the other driver and said that the roads were unforgiving. "The bike lanes should be wider", she said.

And she is right.

It should be a concern to traffic engineers, the police, our politicians and indeed all of us that this is happening to such an extent that the police officer was not in the slightest bit surprised and was so understanding. The cyclist probably would have been seen with a fluoro top or something in bright pink or if he had some paint-stripper lights flashing away on the front of his bike. But then again, he may not have.

One of the reasons these things happen is because of our unforgiving roads. Roundabouts like that say loudly and clearly "cars are coming". But they do not even whisper "bikes and people might be coming too". They should.

We all know about the principles of sustainable safety because Professor Wegman told us about them. It is time they were implemented.

Look at those children riding around at school at closing time. Don't they realise how dangerous it is?


  1. That exact same thing happened to me a few months ago while riding home. Only difference that I managed/decided to brake with 5 mm to spare before riding into the car that failed to stop entering the round about. The initial response from the young (fresh off P I think) driver was: 'Don't you know you need to stop for me?'. When I expressed my disagreement to her statement she uttered 'Where did you come from?' and then followed up with 'I didn't see you'.
    For a country like Australia who seems to be so obsessed with OHS and personal safety that it borders a practical joke it is absolutely astounding that we allow so many citizens to get killed and maimed every day, and the only response that the people in charge seems to be doing is lowering speed limits (symptom treatment) rather than preventing the dangerous situation (better infrastructure, better education and better regulations).

  2. Driving home on Rosetta st, West Croydon I slowed down to go round a round about. A cyclest came up on my left quite fast attempting to go round also. I had to breakat the corner so he wouldn't run out of road. The street has cycle lanes but is to narrow for a cyclest and a car to drive side by side. People need to be patient and use common sense to prevent accidents from happening, don't try and attempt to take risks.