Category Archives: Commuting

In Memoriam: Colonel Horace Threepoint OAM, CBE, DSM. April 1 1822 – July 5th 1913

Horace Threepoint was a man of many parts. A polymath, if you will. Among his myriad patents were the Thrimping Jimmy, a now-obsolete but revolutionary flax weaving device, the Phrooking Valve, a crucial component in steam-driven hostess trolleys and his most famous , eponymous invention, the Threepoint Turn.

Before Threepoint’s inspired turn, users of horse-drawn and later petroleum-driven transport had precious few options to turn their vehicles through one hundred and eighty degrees, and certainly none that would drastically impede the  flow of traffic in the immediate vicinity. Afterwards, drivers were able to gaily throw their conveyances across roads, engage a reverse gear to propel them back, then proceed forward once again in the smooth ballet of mechanised, road-jamming motion now familiar to us all.

Many attempted to improve on Threepoint’s original, assertive and distinctly British Colonial technique. Such suggestions include the frankly preposterous “indicate first”, the absurd “look both ways and ensure your turn will not cause an accident” and the frankly outlandish “safety first”. All failed the test of time, with Horace’s original descriptive text remaining the canonical form of the Threepoint Turn to this very day. An excerpt of the original patent is inscribed into Threepoint’s Tomb at Rookwood Cemetery, and reads

“Pay no heed to the peasants you may observe around you. You are the pilot of a motorised conveyance, showing your true rank in society. All others are merely chaff before your wheels, and you must pay them no heed. Throw yourself assertively into the turn, glancing neither left, nor right, nor behind, and if a ‘pedestrian’ or ‘cyclist’ should happen to blunder under your wheels, then this is a right and proper expression of the natural order. Though if a child should be nearby, take some extra care, since the nation is enduring an unbearable shortage of chimney sweeps.”

Alas, Horace’s star is now all but faded. No longer is his birth celebrated as a public holiday in such far flung places as Bangalore, Baghdad and Bogota. He is now remembered privately, though by many thousands of devoted motorists, who keep the flame alive by blindly flinging their motorised jalopies into Colonel Threepoint’s famous Turn each day, with neither fear nor favour, and with their eyes averted – or preferably closed – in the proper Victorian fashion, lest they espy a sight which may disturb their inner calm. Such as a cyclist, a pedestrian or another driver.

Threepoint was born in Sydney, Australia, during one of his parents’ regular convict-whipping sojourns. There he will be remembered, on this the anniversary of his death at the hands of an angry mob of the peasantry, by thousands of drivers who will execute his famous turn as many as five times in a single short journey. The sight of them devotedly hurling their modern-day cars, vans and utilities into ill-considered road-blocking manoeuvres, scattering pedestrians and cyclists alike to the four winds, is a truly fitting tribute to memory of this great man.

Another less well-known figure from this age of invention is Dame Myra Signal-Manoeuvre, inventor of a now all-but forgotten situational awareness technique now abandoned by the drivers of the world. Dame Myra’s resting place has been lost to history, and is presumed to be under a car park somewhere in Mildura.


Jason Brown is a sometime historical journalist specialising in obituaries of long-forgotten heroes. Among his hobbies are cycling, cursing at traffic, and making stupid jokes on the internet.  He is currently working on a book about the drivers of Sydney entitled “Die, you pointless pricks, die”.

On Rule Nine

Wake up. Dark. Push the cat off the pillow. Find smartphone. Check radar.

Oh man it’s raining again. Listen. Rain. Rain on the roof. Rain on the street. Rain. Rain for miles.

What day is it? Damn. Riding day. Nothing for it. Continue Reading →

Bike security pop quiz

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Some tips for wet weather riding

Down here in Australia, we’re heading into autumn, and rainy days have started to emerge. This being the case, some discussion has been sparked on my workplace’s internal cycling list on the topic of wet weather riding. Lots of good advice is being bandied about, and it’s all valuable.

I slammed a big reply down to a thread  yesterday, and since I spent so long typing it, I figured it might be a good idea to paste it in here and expand a little on the key points. More below the fold.

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