Sunday, October 13, 2013

Missiles on wheels

A couple of two-wheeled missiles

Sometimes I think that if it wasn't for The Herald Sun, this blog wouldn't exist. And with that in mind, today I'd like to explore an investigative report from the Law and Order section of yesterday's edition.

The crux of the report can be summed up in this sentence:
The Herald Sun clocked 170 bike riders with a calibrated radar gun at Southbank last week, with 73 caught doing more than 20km in the 10km zone.
At first I was confused. Since when was there a distance limit for cyclists? Why can't I ride more than 10 kilometres when passing through Southbank? How does a radar gun, designed for measuring speed, calculate the distance a cyclist will travel? And how on earth would a person ride a bicycle for 20 kilometres? That seems like an awfully long way.

But then I realised the investigative journalists meant kilometres per hour. They are journalists after all, not physicists. Easy mistake to make and one which they rectified later on in their exposé.

Bicycle Network Victoria spokesman Garry Brennan chimed in with the advice that cyclists should only go as fast as runners on shared paths. Usain Bolt can run at over 44km/h. Can I go that fast? Of course not, that's silly. He wears spiky shoes, runs on special tracks and only travels 100 metres at a time.

But what about Wilson Kipsang? He recently broke the marathon world record. He ran 42.195 kilometres in 2:03.23. Not only is that over four times the Southbank distance limit but it's also over double the recommended speed limit (20.033km/h to be more or less precise). I guess if he ran through, he'd be dubbed a missile on two feet. And fair enough, too.

No doubt the reporters saw a few cyclists like this. Unfortunately, they were travelling too fast to photograph.

I'm not sure how they missed this guy, though.

You can see they've got it all worked out in North Korea, though. There is a clearly designated zone for missiles and a separate area for military marching bands. And just to be sure no advisory speed limits are broken, you can see a gentleman in the bottom left with a calibrated radar gun.

Missiles on six wheels

So, how fast is 10km/h? How fast is 20km/h? How fast does a missile travel?

It's hard to know really. These are just words on a page. Numbers. What do they really mean?

To help us understand better, I've put the following video together:

Perhaps the only sensible comment in the whole article came from Amy Gillett Foundation research and policy manager Dr Marilyn Johnson.
Really it is about riding to the conditions. You do need to watch your speed when you are in a shared space.
But don't watch it too much or you may hit someone...


  1. Haha the 1st and the 2nd pictures are way too funny :)

    road cycling

  2. I was kind a confused when I read the title but when I saw the pictures I realised they weren't kidding. Lol they really have missiles on wheels.