One reason to put together a blog is that your friends and family are sick to death of you going on and on about whatever it is you have feelings strong enough to post regular blog entries with no guarantee that anyone will ever read them. One victim of my constant moaning is my mother in law. She agrees with some of what I have to say but has clearly heard enough.
In a recent conversation, she told me about the last time she went on a bike. She thought it would be a good idea to use a bike to go on local errands. It would be cheap and easy she thought. She had images of the wind through her hair but that was impossible because of the helmet.
Anyway, she rode the bike down the road a bit and hit one of Adelaide's many main roads with two lanes of traffic travelling at 60 km/h (assuming everyone is keeping to the speed limit, which as we know cannot be assumed). It was awful. The traffic was noisy and stressful. My mother in law did not feel in the slightest bit safe and has not got on a bike since then and nor does she intend to.
If she could ride safely and separated from the traffic, she said she probably would.
Every time I read a bicycle policy, whether it is the Commonwealth Government's bicycle plan or my local council's, they say the same things: put your helmet on, wear hi-vis clothes, watch out, etc. Now that might all be very sensible but it reinforces the commonly held view that riding a bike is dangerous. It isn't of course but riding a bike while sharing the road with fast moving traffic, especially at large intersections, is dangerous.
A few days ago we heard the harrowing story of a man who was killed while riding his bicycle at an intersection on Anzac Highway. A brother, father, husband, son and friend has been lost. Being hit by a truck at speed is usually fatal but we still expose cyclists to that risk every day. Nothing is done to separate the bikes from cars and trucks.
Very strict obligations are placed on companies not to expose their employees to risk. If they fail to take all reasonable precautions, they face hefty fines. On the roads though, exposure to potentially fatal risk is commonplace. It seems almost impossible to slow traffic down. On residential streets, a 30km/h speed limit would make such a difference to safety but a negligible difference to travel times. Yet look at the carry on when 50km/h limits were introduced.
Until serious and obvious measures are taken, you will not get people out of their cars using alternative forms of transport and those people that do choose the bicycle to get around will continue to be exposed to unnecessary and very unfair risks.