Monday, 22 November 2010

addicted to cars

Cars are great tools, but we seem to have (in the last 30 years) wanted to just jump in our car and go where we want without thinking.

I started riding my bicycle to work back in about 1997 (about 17km each way) and found that not only was I getting healthier but I found much more money in my wallet at the end of each week!

However I'm in the minority in Australia ... and its a shrinking one too. Enough car drivers are just insane in their attitude in this area. Ask any cyclist and you'll hear stories of near death experiences.

Ask the average car driver who hates bicycles and you'll hear more simple whinges like "they touched my car" (leaving no marks) "they held me up" (for no more than 10 seconds till the next red light) or "roads are made for cars".

Essentially its just dribble to justify their irrational hate.

I'm glad to see the publication of these findings which indicate that:

Drivers were at fault in 87 per cent of incidents with cyclists and most did not realise they had behaved in a reckless or unsafe manner, according to the Monash University Accident Research Centre and The Amy Gillett Foundation.

Its interesting to read some of the methods and findings:

The three-year study into cyclist safety on the roads used mounted video camera footage, as well as helmet-mounted cameras worn by cyclists, to determine the main causes of road accidents between cyclists and motorists.

Fifty-four events were recorded; including two collisions, six near-collisions and 46 other incidents.

The helmet camera study found that of the 54 incidents recorded, more than 88 per cent of cyclists travelled in a safe and legal way.

Conversely, drivers changing lanes and turning left without indicating or looking were the cause of more than 70 per cent of the incidents, Amy Gillett Foundation chief executive officer Tracey Gaudry said.

“We believe there is a strong argument to introduce a road rule that prescribes a safe passing distance (at least one metre), as well as further educating drivers that they need to indicate at least five seconds before changing lanes,” she said.

After 2000 I started living overseas, in places like Japan, Korea, India and Finland. All these places have an active and functional cyclist population and car drivers who are tolerant of this.

These days I'm back in Australia I've been forced to give up or get injuries.

So, what do we do about it?

I'd love to suggest we force drivers to use bicycles, but we've really started to make our cities in such a way as to totally preclude bicycle transport. We now live too far from work and its almost impossible to use a combination of public transport and bicycle.

How can we go back? Well probably we can't ... so where should we go forward to?

Greater reliance on cars, greater traffic congestion (another tunnel anyone) and greater costs for transport ...

looks like we've painted ourselves into a corner doesn't it


Noons said...

I'm still convinced we need to get rid of this "commuting" thing.

Couldn't care less if it is with mass transport, bikes, cars, whatever.

The problem is the commuting itself: as a country every day we spend millions in petrol and wear and tear shuffling folks from home to a desk, then from that desk to home. Talk about waste!

We need an NBN - in whatever format makes sense economically - and then to stop sending folks to white collar jobs miles away from where they live.

There is no reason whatsoever why an office worker nowadays needs to commute other than the managerial "bums-on-seats" mentality! The job can perfectly be done - and managed - remotely.

The alternative is too costly: we'd need to decentralize - so that not everyone goes to the same place every morning - and to relocate suburbs nearer to the regional centres.

NSW tried it briefly during the Greiner era only to be quickly dismantled by the Carr lunatics. Too late to repeat now.

More roads and more transport aren't gonna cut it, it's all exponential growth.

We need lateral thinking solutions, not more of the same.

obakesan said...

>I'm still convinced we need to get rid of this "commuting" thing.

100% ... how long have we been talking about telecommuting, how much better does Networking infrastructure have to get before people allow it?


Noons said...

I'm reminded of the Seville World Expo back in 92 where the theme was precisely a future of telecommuting enabled by today's "age of discovery" tools: telecommunications and the global village.

Nearly 20 years later, here we are watching more roads being built so we can handle more commuters...

Joshie boy said...

Nice to see some numbers put to incidents involving bike riders. I used to spend up to 30hrs a week training on the bike in Brisbane and experienced all manners of road rage on any given day. It always amazed me how over the top reactions could be, and that the police were never any good if anything serious happened.
Now sadly i have fallen into the commuting pit - where i work this is driven by HR by their archaic mentality on absenteeism and hours. but that is an entire other story....