Thursday, August 9, 2012

To commute…

verb (used without object)

-to travel regularly over some distance, as from a suburb into a city and back: He commutes to work by train.

-to put my head out the door and check the temperature. It’s cold so I put my jacket on. Almost as soon as I start pedalling, my legs burn a little. That happens every morning. It’s their way of waking up. Soon after I settle into a rhythm and take in the morning. It’s been raining. My clothes let me cheat the fresh, cold air. I love the contrast I can feel between my covered skin and the few exposed parts that sting slightly. As usual, I’m too warm by the time I arrive at the traffic lights under the bridge. I pull over, remove my jacket and stuff it in my bag. As I’m doing this, a girl on a cruiser pulls up in the bike lane. The lights change to green and I pedal past her on the footpath and then hop onto the road. I ride around the corner and down the ramp then across the bridge over the river. As I approach the bike path on the other side, I notice the girl on the cruiser riding along ahead. She’s taken a route I didn’t know about. I’ll have to try that tomorrow. Soon after I pass the girl again, feeling a bit silly, even though she probably doesn’t recognise me from earlier. I ride along the edge of the bike path because that bit avoids the ripple strips before each of the pedestrian crossings. Lots of people ride along the edge. It’s nice and smooth there. Near the construction site, I come across the fat construction worker. I see him a few times a week. He doesn’t work at the construction site. I’m not even sure if he’s a construction worker but that’s what he is to me. His right knee bends out each time he pedals. He must have an old injury. From a car accident in my mind. Then the English guy who used to come into the bike shop I once worked at passes in the opposite direction. I often see him but I don’t think he recognises me. I’m getting even warmer now. I remove my gloves and stuff them into my pocket. The wind is blowing quite hard this morning although not as much as yesterday. It’s a north-westerly. Which of course means it’s travelling south-east. I’ve always found it odd that wind is defined by where it comes from rather than where it’s going. Then I get to thinking about what gets described like wind. Not trams or buses. No one cares where they’ve been, unless they've picked up a crazy person or someone who's spewed. Maybe people. They are usually defined by what they’ve achieved rather than what they hope to. That’s all I can think of. My nose starts to get runny. I blow it into the air and watch the snot glisten in the sun as it’s carried south east by the north westerly. Then I see Hugh coming in the opposite direction. I met him in Timor last year. We see each other most mornings. Today, we give each other a high-five as we pass one another. Hugh’s hand hits my wrist. It stings a bit. It’s our first high five though. I’m sure we’ll do better next time. My nose is runny again. I blow it again. I reach the end of the bike path so join the road. There’s a bit more traffic than usual because it’s been wet. Cars stream past me. Then I turn right and the traffic is banked up. I pedal past the cars. A truck’s engine is making a high-pitched noise. It sounds like there’s a miniature traffic jam inside it replete with angry horns. I ride on. I pass by the 1965 Ford Falcon. Its number plate is NEATXP. It is neat. It’s been driven since yesterday. It’s facing the opposite direction in its driveway. As usual, the bus and I have our little battle along this stretch of road. It passes me. Then I pass it when it stops to pick up passengers. This repeats four or five times. Near the end I turn right then left and I’m almost there. I ride the last stretch directly into the wind. Then I cross the road at the crossing while giving a nod to the crossing lady. I arrive at work forty-five minutes after sticking my head out the door to check the temperature and it’s time to start work.

-to make substitution.

-to serve as a substitute. .

-to make a collective payment, especially of a reduced amount, as an equivalent for a number of payments.

Friday, August 3, 2012

VicRoads Melbourne bicycle survey

I was stopped on my commute to work this morning by a guy conducting a survey. He asked me if I had two minutes to spare to answer his questions. I didn't - I was running late. But I like surveys and I figured it was about bicycles so I lied and agreed to answer his questions.

The "survey is about your cycling travel and particularly about how you perceive different types of cycling facilities such as shared paths, cycleways and on-road bicycle lanes. The information you provide in this survey will be used by VicRoads to inform the development of policies and guidelines and ultimately target investment towards areas that will make cycling a safer, more comfortable and enjoyable experience."

If you're like me and like bicycles and surveys (and live in Melbourne), you can do an online version here. It's a bit long but it's a survey so it's fun.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dooring fine now $352

Yesterday, I received a press release from Greg Barber, the Victorian Greens Leader, announcing that his campaign to increase the fine for dooring has been successful. I've always thought that an increase in education and cycling infrastructure would be more effective in decreasing the incidence of dooring incidents than increasing the fine, but I guess this can't hurt.

Here's the press release;
Every cyclist feels the threat of being doored when riding by parked cars. Too many have been unfortunate and have been doored, and there has been tragic deaths as a result.
Dooring is now the most common cause of a bike crash and this is why The Greens have been taking urgent action to reduce the threat of car doors to cyclists. 
The response of the cycling community to the Parliamentary Inquiry into The Greens Dooring Bill (Road Safety Amendment (Car Doors) Bill 2012) has been large and positive, and has resulted in a win for cyclists.
The government yesterday announced that the on the spot fine for 'dooring' has more than doubled to $352. This is a vast improvement on the measly $141 fine that existed previously; that's less than the fine for not having a bell on your bike!
Congratulations go to all of you who made a submission via our website (view here: and for those who participated in other ways. It shows what a strong community can achieve when working together - this is your win.
While more than doubling of the dooring fine is a great improvement, and the dooring issue has received much exposure and publicity in the process, more needs to be done
The Greens are working to ensure the penalty matches the seriousness of the offence - doorings can cause serious injury and death. 
The Greens Dooring Bill includes loss of three demerit points from the drivers licence, making the penalty a closer match to the seriousness of the offence. The greater the penalty, the greater the deterrent. I will be pursuing this in the passage of The Greens Bill through the Parliament.
We will keep you informed on how this proceeds.
In the meantime we will keep up the work campaigning to bring back the bike budget and improve cyclist safety with The Greens Bike Blackspot app - put your blackspot on the map here:
Safe cycling.

Greg Barber
Victorian Greens Leader and Spokesperson on Transport
Meanwhile, if you'd like to avoid being doored, here's some advice.