Many myths, generalisations and assumptions are often used toward cycling and riders. So here's a collection of some commonly misunderstood issues accomponied by clarity that hopefully helps to clear up what many non-cyclists think
If cyclists want to use the road, why dont they pay rego like us?
An all too common comment!
Firstly, bikes are traffic. Therefore they should be on the road (unless a nicer alternative is available)
Secondly, most cyclists DO pay rego. They just left the car at home and chose a cheaper, cleaner, healthier, less-road-wearing, less-congesting, usually-faster, and downright fun way to travel!
Thirdly, and most importantly, is the weakest part of this gripe. Many hold a misconception that their registration funds the road network. This is totally untrue. Not ONE CENT of your rego pays for roads. A small component goes toward the admin of running the rego system, the greatest element (over 80%) is a TAC insurance premium. This goes toward paying for the carnage (notice it's not called bikenage!) that vehicles cause on a daily basis where thousands get killed annually.
Our road network is paid for through general tax revenue. Currently only 30% of the excise on petrol has gone to funding roads. The balance is paid by you and me. Bike Rego has been costed by countless governments and abandoned for decades as it would cost far more than it could realistically collect.
But riding on the road is so dangerous!
Statistics and regular cyclists will tell you otherwise. VicRoads, federal and State government stats show that per kilometre, it is no more dangerous than driving a vehicle. Some of us have been commuting for 15+years and had perhaps one accident. How many have you had driving to work in that time?
Cyclists are dangerous on the footpath
Couldn't agree more. Only Shared paths, or exceptional circumstances warrant riding on the footpath. Victorian road laws state:
- Children under 12 years old are permitted to ride their bicycles on the footpath.
- People who are 12 or older are not permitted to ride their bicycles on the footpath, unless they qualify for an exemption as outlined below.
All cyclists permitted to ride on footpaths must keep to the left of the footpath, unless it is impractical to do so, and must give way to any pedestrian on the footpath. The following groups of people are exempt from this law and may ride the bicycles on the footpath, under certain conditions:
- People who are 18 or older who are accompanying a child under 12 and the child is under the rider's supervision;
- People with a physical or an intellectual disability and who carry a certificate signed by a medical practitioner that states that it is undesirable, impractical or inexpedient for them to ride on the road;
- People engaged in the delivery of postal articles for or on behalf of Australia Post.
There is currently one poor anomaly to this law. Your 12-18yr old child cannot accompany your under-12yr old on the footpath. Rather anti-sibling, isnt it?
Cyclists are all fitness-zealots
Hardly. You don't need to be fit to get on your bike, but it can develop into a welcome side effect! Many of us cycle for fun. Some to save time (compare riding to a destination and include the time to find a park, to riding a bike), and many to save money.
But I cant afford to ride a bike
On the contrary, perhaps you cant afford NOT to! The average family sedan can cost $200 per week!! (RACV data) Some of us ride into the CBD daily and may only spend 100-500/year on 'running' a bike and associated equpment. That's a saving of over $10,000 a year. and that doesn't factor in your better health, lower sickleave taken, less stressed. no gym membership necessary, nor the fun you had doing it!
Bikes are always slowing me down
Maybe for 2-5 seconds! If that cyclist was in a car they would slow you down far more. Passing a cyclist is easy. In a car you only get to park behind them at the next set of lights. Here are two real-world comparisons done recently with John Faine on 774AM, by Chris Star of YarraBUG and Jason den Hollander from BBUG. In both cases the bikes won hands down. And remember, a typical road lane can accomodate approx 1000 cars per hour in suburbia. That same road can handle 8000 bikes! So, who is slowing whom down? We are all trying to get from A to B. It's not a race. Lets get there and be safe.
All our roads are getting clogged up by bikelanes!
Balwyn Rd is the usual subject of this misnomer. Many people make an assumption that a two lane road has been narrowed to one-plus-parking-plus-bikelane. This is absolutely untrue. VicRoads standards will not allow this. Next time you are at one of these roads, take 5 minutes to actually study the road. EBLs (Exclusive Bike Lanes a solid white line) are ONLY applied where either the VicRoads standard of 3.2m minimum car lane/s can be applied and if possible parking also. Balwyn Rd is a perfect example. Parking lane (2.8m), EBL (1.5m) and One vehicle lane (over 3.2m). So it is more likely the parked cars are the ones impeding your progress. Unless you own a car that is 1.5m wide and you can squeeze between the parked cars and traffic.
You will also notice (much to cyclist's annoyance) that almost all bike lanes stop 50m short of intersections. Despite this being where cyclists are most at risk by the not-looking-just-turning-driver, cars are always given priority and thus get two lanes. Still not convinced about Balwyn Rd? Compare traffic flow at Whitehorse, and the Belmore Rd intersections. Despite identical vehicle numbers Belmore flows extremely well. The difference? The room to accommodate a righthand turn lane!
But its too polluted to ride
True. It is too polluted, but not to ride. Studies carried out in UK, USA and Australia have shown you take in more toxins if you are sitting INSIDE a car than on a bike! So cyclists are not only doing good things for themselves but for drivers too. It's no coincidence that countries with far higher rates of cycling/public transport also have far lower expenditure on their health system. Our governments biggest expenditure item is on roads. The second item is on the Health System. A coincidence? Possibly not.
Cyclists take up the whole lane
Cyclists are permitted to ride two abreast, however it is more practical (not to mention courteous) to ride in single file in heavy traffic.
Cyclists pass on the left illegally
Cyclists are permitted to overtake on the left, provided the vehicle you're overtaking isn't turning left or indicating an intention to turn left.
All Cyclists run red lights!!!
How often do you hear that? Sadly SOME do. Any experienced cyclist, particularly a commuting one will tell you they loathe seeing this done as it only fuels the debate and shows a lack of respect for fellow road users, not to mention the inherent dangers to themselves and pedestrians. It is a $100 fine for this offence. We often witness drivers run red lights, speed, fail to indicate, using mobiles, etc but this does not justify it, neither should other errant cyclist's behaviour justify you following their poor example. I have lost count of the times a nearby rider will run the red and I will pull up next to him at the next set!
"SMIDSY!" (Sorry mate, I didn't see you!")
Ever had a near miss with a car and had a genuinely apologetic driver say this? Perhaps next time it may be worth pointing out to said driver that a vital ingredient to 'seeing' is 'looking'! All too often cars will pull out of sidestreets, make righthand turns in front of you, or accelerate past you to make a lefthand turn almost through you, and the basic error is either not looking or a very poor assumption of what speed you are travelling. "Oh, a bike. I am in a car. quid pro quo, I am faster. Therefore I MUST go faster'. I have now had 3 drivers so keen to subscribe to this theory that travelling parallel with me in traffic they have accelerated past me very impressively, only to rearend the car stationery only metres ahead. 'SMIDSY!'