Three road incidents have a good outcome for cycling

After the accident last weekend where six cyclists riding in a group were hit by a car in a hit and run, and the public awareness raised by that incident, the scene was set for more tolerant treatment of cyclists when two more incidents involving cars and bikes occurred, both being recorded on camera and both going viral on the internet. Luckily, none of these cyclists was killed, though some were injured.

It is rare that prosecutions are made in favour of cyclists in Autralia, in spite of the letter of the law. Often, there is little evidence or, in the case of doorings, the magistrate will feel sorry for the car driver who is often traumatised by the incident and very regretful. In most cases, a lenient fine may be given, or no sanction at all. This is hardly fair, nor does it help the cause of cycling on the roads.

In the two most recent cases, the video evidence and the subsequent widespread viewing, showing the identity of the offenders involved, meant that it was difficult for authorities to ignore. In the case of the dooring, one man even turned himself in. The other accident, where a cyclist was hit from behind, was also captured in terrifyingly graphic footage by a passing car’s camera, and it is a wonder that the cyclist was not seriously injured or worse. The subsequent $600 fine and 6 months’ loss of licence is seen by some to be adequate and a step in the right direction by the courts, and by others as grossly inadequate.

Another good outcome from all of this horror is that inappropriate comments made on the media reporting of the first incident were removed by the newspapers at the request of cycling advocacy bodies. Many of them were unrelated to the incident and were the usual bike hatred along the lines of “cyclists should pay rego and why do they always run red lights”, and possibly worse. This is victim shaming of the worst possible nature and was finally seen by the media to be so.

It is hard to see some good outcomes when such bad things happen, but so far it appears that some form of justice will prevail in these incidents and that public opinion may be swayed in favour of cyclists and their rights on the roads.

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4 Responses to Three road incidents have a good outcome for cycling

  1. laurent says:

    After reading your article I understand it’s not easy to sway public opinion in a more balanced way. Unfortunately it needs time to have educated drivers.
    Nowadays camera and cellphone are a good help to spread bicycle woes.
    Last Saturday I’ve had a training with beginner city cyclists which strive to move safely. I am not a beginner by far but I have to refresh my knowledge because there are new rules about red-light/turn right.
    We started to learn riding with one hand and the other hand is used to point out the direction before turn right or left.
    In fact I made my own motto: for the moment being seen and foreseeable are two keys of safe ride.
    Car dooring is a nightmare, here is my behavior: a low speed, fingers on the brake levers and, last but not least, never trust anyone. IMO, instead of riding out of habit, a small touch of worry is good to be careful.

    • Vicki says:

      Great advice Laurent. I always use hand signals too and try to ride so I am not in the blind spot of car drivers. With car doors, I try to ride far enough away from them so I would not be hit.

  2. The man in the suit was a classic. I suspect he only turned himself in because he was filmed and then seen on the 6 o’clock news. I’ll bet if that didn’t happen, he would still be continuing his obnoxious tirade to his family and friends and anyone else who wanted to listen.

    I have to agree with Laurent,though. The cyclist was riding past a taxi, on the inside lane so she should have been hyper aware of passengers about to exit?

    Thanks for the post!

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