Category Archives: Safety

You’re doing it wrong: Red Lights

Right. Let’s just get one thing straight before we start. Some bike riders are morons. And they jump red lights even when they don’t need to.

Take this idiot, for instance


I pulled up at a red light on Lilyfield road this evening, and this idiot turned up. Here’s how out little exchange went

Idiot: <creeps forward as if to jump red, winds up as if to start pedalling>

Crankset: Don’t jump the red light, it makes us all look bad.

Idiot: Wuh?

Crankset: See this guy next to us? <points to taxi>. He’s going to see you jump the red light and in his head he will say “see, bloody cyclists, they’re all lawbreakers”. So don’t.

<light turns green>


Crankset: You are NOT A FUCKING PEDESTRIAN <rides off>

I really have few words for how vacuous his response was. “I’m a pedestrian”? Newflash, fucker. You are not a pedestrian. When you’re on a bike on the road, you’re a vehicle. You want to be a pedestrian, get off and push.

And I’m not joking when I say it makes everyone look bad. I’ve had the conversation, more than once, where a driver – or an actual pedestrian – kicks off and tells me that I’m a lawbreaker because cyclists always run red lights, even when I’m demonstrably NOT running a red light. I’ve even had punishment passes put on me in “revenge” for me running a red when in fact I’d gone through the same green light as the offending driver.

So don’t you fucking tell me that routinely running red lights is a completely victimless action. It gives fuel to bogan idiots who see riders as little more than obstructive meat.

Now, having got that out of the way, there are times when you probably have an excuse for jumping a red light. Here they are

  1. It’s raining, there’s no traffic around, and the electromagnetic sensor that should turn your light green isn’t detecting your bike.
  2. It’s six in the morning, the road is completely empty, and you’re riding in a fast moving bunch that could stack badly if someone stops suddenly
  3. The driver behind you has expressed an intent to run you over, and you need to get the jump on him
  4. The apocalypse has happened and you’re being pursued by zombies

That’s the lot. Now fucking stop it, you arseclowns.


Taking it elsewhere

Credit: zilverpics on flickr. noncommercial reuse licenceI don’t know about you, but I don’t like letting my bikes out of my sight. Sure, on a cafe ride I’ll park it, unlocked, somewhere nearby, but at any other time, the bikes do not leave my side. Ever.

I don’t even like to lock the bikes to public bike racks. We’re looking at several thousand dollars worth of carbon and alloy apiece, not $100 K-Mart specials. I think I’m fairly justified in this, given that bike thieves have plenty of techniques at their disposal to break bike locks. Not only that, but being race bikes, everything is quick-release, meaning it’s pretty damn difficult to secure everything – wheels, seatpin, accessories. It becomes a logistical nightmare. Not to mention the possibility that some clown may just take it upon themselves to break something instead of just stealing it.

So generally, if I’m doing a local shop run, I take my bike into the shopping centre with me, and wheel it around. Maybe you do the same. Or maybe I’m weird. Continue Reading →

Sydney Waste Services and dangerous driving

Sydney Waste Services: Responsible driving? What's that?

Sydney Waste Services: Responsible driving? What’s that?

This morning on my ride to work I was subjected to a very dangerous close pass in a door zone by a garbage truck carrying the logo and contact details of Sydney Waste Services. The incident happened on Harris Street, Pyrmont, between Miller Street and John Street, heading North.

This is a mixed commercial/residential zone with a long strip of short term parking on the left, already a potential danger zone in and of itself.

I’d just turned left out of Miller Street on the green arrow and was heading along Harris at perhaps 30km/h when the garbage truck I’d passed at the Miller Street lights thundered past me at close range. The truck was maybe 15cm from the end of my handlebar as it appeared, and it felt like I was squeezed towards the parked cars as it passed along.

I yelled out, naturally, “Too close!”. The left-side window was open and a dismissive hand emerged, accompanied by what sounded like a “fuck off”.

Nice, huh?

(post updated 27-3-14, see footer for detail) Continue Reading →

Changes. But for the better?



In the wake of a terrible few weeks for cycling, a dooring in Melbourne, a nightmare rear-ender in Brisbane and multiple riders being hospitalised in Sydney – all seemingly due to inattentive car users – a few Sydney clubs have been making changes.

Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club, the club directly affected by the shocking Sydney incident, have removed Southern Cross Drive from their ride roster entirely. Randwick Botany Cycling Club havetaken a different tack and are now endeavouring to make their club rides vehicle-supported, with a tail-end vehicle equipped with “cyclists ahead” signage.

I’ve seen mixed opinions on this, and I’m not sure of the full implications of these two announcements myself. But I do have some commentary.
Continue Reading →

Focus on a segment: Lilyfield Road

With the news that Leichhardt Council is planning to put speed bumps in on Lilyfield Road – in part to slow ‘speeding cyclists’ – I thought it might be an idea to focus on this much maligned and much ridden section of Sydney road and see if we can come up with some numbers on just how fast riders are going, and see whether Leichhardt Council is right in their decision.

Beware. Nerdery follows below the fold.

Continue Reading →

How to turn a cycleway into a don’t-cycleway in three easy steps

Cook’s River Cycleway is part of the Ryde to Botany Bay Cycleway here in Sydney, and it runs basically past my house (well, about half a kilometre from my house)

This being the case, it’s been a semi-regular part of my riding since I got back on the bike in January 2012. Back then, of course, I had fortnight legs*, so it was very nice to have a relatively low-speed stretch of flat-ish path, away from traffic. I used it a lot.

It has things wrong with it, but what doesn’t?

But lately, there’ve been a few changes, around where the cycleway meets Broughton Street in Canterbury.

First, let’s explain how it was, with the aid of a handy overhead view known to specialists as “a map”

Broughton Street Continue Reading →

Kinesio Tape. Quackery?

GCN have started a series on using Kinesio Tape to treat injuries. Being of a skeptical mindset, I was rather suspicious of this. How can a simple strip of tape prevent or treat injuries? I decided to check this out.

Now, I need to make it clear up front. I’m a Skeptic. That capital S is there for a reason. I’ve spoken at Skeptical conferences and gatherings, appeared on a number of skeptical and science-promotion podcasts and I organise an annual event in Sydney called Skepticamp, where science advocacy and quackbusting are the order of the day. I’ve been involved with Stop The AVN since Day One

In short, I like evidence.

And I don’t see much evidence for this product’s efficacy. In addition, I see several red flags that make me deeply suspicious, which I explore below the fold. Continue Reading →

Dear Motorist


Image: Daily Telegraph

The last couple of weeks have been pretty tough. In Sydney and London, my two most recent home cities, cyclist deaths have been mounting up, and naturally nerves are wearing somewhat thin. For my part I’ve been alternating between despair and fury over the situation. I either want to stay at home and never ride again, or I want to go out and kick some wing mirrors off.

In the press and on the blogs, much ink has been expended on the fact that the Amy Gillett Foundation’s “A Metre Matters” campaign needs to be implemented here and it needs to be implemented now. With this I strongly agree – though I personally think more than a metre is needed.

Very few column inches, however, have been expended on the fact that we already have safe overtaking laws, right now.

In NSW, rule 15 defines vehicles. It is abundantly clear over the fact that a bicycle, for the purposes of the rules, is a vehicle.

We are not second class citizens on the road.

Many road users, cyclists included, seem to be entirely ignorant of this, so let me just underline it – because it’s important for what follows. A bicycle, for the purposes of road rules, is a vehicle, and therefore carries all the rights and responsibilities that any other vehicle carries – with some specific exceptions.

Further down the rules, you come to Division 3: Overtaking. Within this division, rule 140 forms a master template for safe overtaking between vehicles. It’s pretty clear and unequivocal

A driver must not overtake a vehicle unless:

(a)  the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic, and

(b)  the driver can safely overtake the vehicle.

Let’s just repeat that

A driver must not overtake a vehicle unless:

(a)  the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic, and

(b)  the driver can safely overtake the vehicle.

This rule, part B of rule 140, would cover every single one of the dangerous overtaking moves that I’ve experienced as a cyclist, and criminalise them with 20 penalty units. What we seem to lack is general knowledge of this rule, the fact that it applies to overtaking cyclists, and meaningful enforcement. Being inside a metre is emphatically not safe. A driver passing this close has breached rule 140.

NSW Police, and more broadly all jurisdictions in which similar laws exist – yes, they exist in the rest of Australia and in the UK too – could be enforcing this rule right now. But they never seem to bother. What we get is mealy-mouthed excuses and instead of being charged under rule 140,  drivers are sent on their merry way with a mere warning – or at best an incorrect charge – while at the side of the road, the ambulance service and the health system is left to pick up the pieces.

Enough is enough.

If, like me, you’ve over it, may I suggest you write to the NSW Police Commissioner and demand that rule 140 is enforced, in the absence of more specific one metre rules. Demand that his officers correctly handle collisions and near misses when reported. Write to your local politicians and press home the point that we need a metre or more, and mention that we already have unenforced laws which can handle this. And if you have driver friends who aren’t aware of these rules, tell them. Make sure they know that if they can’t get past a bike with a safe margin, then they must not overtake. Make sure they also know that bikes are vehicles and therefore they are treated as such – at junctions, roundabouts and when emerging from parking spaces. Give way, give space.

This needs to change. Enough people have died.


Rocky Trail Shimano GP, Stromlo, 2013

Found via Carbon Addiction, this interesting post from the NY times takes a helicopter view of cycling safety and injury rates. Overall, it paints a cautiously positive picture of the kind of dangers the average cyclist will face.

For my part, I could see a lot of my own cycling history in the post. As the article notes, many cycling injuries go unreported. I’ve never yet been to hospital, or even a GP, for a cycling-related injury, though I’ve had many. In my former life, before taking over a decade away from the bike, I was largely injury-free, with cuts and bruises being pretty much the limit of what I picked up. Low speed crashes in icy conditions spring immediately to mind as a hazard of riding year-round in Britain. Usually, the bike would be worse off than me – I’ve pretzeled a couple of mountain bike wheels in crashes that left me personally unscathed. The worst I can think of is a black eye picked up when I put a pedal on the ground in a corner and went face first into a kerb. I was pretty lucky. Continue Reading →