Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spate of doorings leads to police crackdown on cyclists

An article in today's The Age, Cyclists face fines as police gets tough, raises a couple of concerns for me.

Before I go on, here's the article;
Cyclists entering Melbourne's CBD will face fines of hundreds of dollars if they disobey the road rules under a police crackdown beginning today.  Police will patrol major routes into the city at peak times following a recent jump in bicycle crashes that have left some cyclists with serious injuries.
Senior Sergeant Dale Huntington said four cyclists had died on Victorian roads this year, and in recent months several cyclists had been injured after riding into car doors on St Kilda Road.
Bike-related laws to be enforced include failing to wear a helmet (a $146 fine), not having lights ($146), failing to obey a traffic light ($292) and riding in a tram safety zone ($292).
“We have seen a number of incidents recently, particularly in the St Kilda Road area, where cyclists have collided with opening car doors," Senior Sergeant Huntington said.  "We're asking both riders and also motorists to share the road, to be courteous and considerate of each other.  "There's no second chance for a bike rider. When involved in an accident it's always going to be a serious incident."
The most recent figures from Bicycle Victoria's annual road count, taken on March 1 this year, revealed that 1510 cyclists passed through the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets in the city between 7am and 9am.  That was the busiest bicycle commuter intersection in the city, recording an average of 12.6 cyclists per minute.  However, the number of riders was down 18.5 per cent on the previous year due to wet and windy conditions in the city on the day the count was taken.
Senior Sergeant Huntington said that under Operation Compass, police would target four key entrances to the city — Footscray Road, St Kilda Road, Albert Street in North Melbourne and Royal Parade.
He said despite bike helmet laws being enforced for the past 10 years, officers were finding cyclists were still flouting them.  "They also aren't wearing the proper lights at night time," he said.  "It's a winter period and we've got people riding to work later in the night time and also early in the morning when it's dark.
"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."
He said Operation Compass would run for the next three months.

So, the first concern is the standard vitriol in the comments section that always accompanies cycling related articles.  Here are a couple of my favourites;

About bloody time they came down on bike riders.
You would swear some of them don't have car licences with the way they ride on the roads.
Finally! | Sydney - June 21, 2011, 10:11AM
(Ah, some of them may well not have car licences.  You don't need a car licence to ride a bike.) 
How about fining cyclists for not making use of cycle lanes where they have been made available?
ALawUntoThemselves - June 21, 2011, 10:12AM
(Despite a probable desire to do so, I don't think Vic. Police would have much luck fining people for something that isn't illegal.)

I will go to the comments section to make my second concern clear too;

hmm.. .cyclists getting taken out by car doors and the police are cracking down on cyclists? They should be crackign down on idiots who open their car doors without looking!
Paul | Sydney - June 21, 2011, 10:13AM 
So let me get this right, cyclists have been injured by drivers opening their car doors but police are cracking down on the cyclists?
Nick | Sydney - June 21, 2011, 10:15AM 
Holy Crap!
Cyclists get 'doored' so they have to crack down on who...the cyclists. You know it makes sense.
Rossco | Canberra - June 21, 2011, 10:16AM
It does seem a bit odd.  I can't help but feel that Operation Compass is evidence that the Vic. Police have lost their way.  Their compass must be broken or something.  Or maybe Simon Overland swiped it on his way out of the building?

There are some things to take away from this article though.  Firstly, there are things you can do to avoid getting doored which are described here.  Secondly, you should really ride with lights, the reasons for which you can read here.  And, at the risk of sounding boring, prudish, sanctimonious, and or preachy, you should follow the road rules.  That way, cars won't have reason to hate cyclists and you won't get fined heaps of money.

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