Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Australia Sounds Like The Worst Place to Bike Commute Ever

To wit, police are cracking down on cyclists to reduce incidents of dooring. The combination of things in the first photograph on that page blow my mind - there's a helmet wearing fellow in a neon yellow reflective jacket - that man could not be more of a safety minded commuter. Yet nonetheless, if cyclists are typically involved in a certain type of accident, the blame immediately comes on us for having the audacity to exist (as far as I can tell).

Additionally, Australia has a helmet law which involves a potential fine of up to $146 AU. Now don't get me wrong, if you want to wear a helmet while riding your bike, that's up to you. But helmet laws to me smack of legislating personal choice, which I disagree with. I'm a grown adult and I can decide whether I would like to wear a helmet or not. Honestly, I feel the same way about seatbelt laws (except in the case of children). It's nanny-state bullshit.

In all of this, the quote that really jumped out at me comes from the end of the article; "Motorists find it hard to see bike riders at the best of times, so when you're not wearing those reflective vests, not wearing a helmet or not wearing the lights, you're riding around invisible to other road users."

I agree lights should be an integral part of any commuter bike - that is the primary method by which you are easily seen by motorists. But here's the thing: the cycling mode share will never increase past a certain very limited population if you by law mandate everyone look like a twat made of 3M reflective tape while they do so.

Additionally, at what point is a motorist responsible for not smacking their car into other road users? If I am riding a bike with a set of good lights, in good working condition, in accordance with the road laws of the place I live, whether I'm wearing a helmet or not, you're NOT SUPPOSED TO HIT ME. Get off the phone, stop arguing with your wife/kids, pay attention to what you're doing, and drive like other people exist.

Or on the other hand, we could fine cyclists for getting doored and give them tickets for not wearing a plastic hat. We could do that.

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