Is it worth it? – An open letter to all drivers
Image - Thanks to Channel Seven

Image - Thanks to Channel Seven

It has  been a terrible long weekend in Victoria for the cycling community with two serious bike versus car accidents. 

Kate Perry has put together this considered article that I just had to share on my blog - The 'war' on the roads hits close to home – enough is enough.

Introduction - Mike Boudrie

Last week the media presented us with graphic images of mangled bikes like the one above that will make even non-cyclists wince. The sad thing is, that bike and car accidents are happening daily, not all serious, but in most cases the cyclist ends up much worse off.

18 months ago I lay in the Royal Melbourne Hospital with multiple injuries that still give me pain now. Riding to work a car turned in front of me while I was rolling down hill at around 40kph. It was light. I was riding in a marked cycle lane. I had lights on my bike. I was wearing bright clothing. I don't bear a grudge, the driver just did not see me. This weekend bought back some nasty memories.

Kate Perry has put together this considered article that I just had to share on my blog - The 'war' on the roads hits close to home – enough is enough.

Words - Kate Perry

Risk (n): a situation involving exposure to danger.

‘Be careful’. How many times has a loved one said those words to you? For me, it is my mum and dad; every time I hop on my bike to go training. Ironically, I think I hear these words more often when I am out on my bike training, as opposed to prior to lining up for a race.

You would think that there is a higher risk of crashing or being injured whilst in a fast-paced environment, within close proximity to numerous other bicycles, only ‘protected’ by a helmet and layer of lycra. Unfortunately this is not the case. Unfortunately, I am at greater risk of being hurt when out on the road, ‘sharing’ the road with vehicles a lot larger, a lot heavier and a lot faster than me.

Risk management (v): The identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks.

Cyclist vs. Motorist – sharing the road and minimising the risk

As a cyclist, every time I step out on the road, I make the assumption that cars can’t see me. I wear a helmet, I wear lights when it is dark, I obey road laws and I give cars plenty of warning before I change my line, my direction or alter the route that I am taking. When moving out to avoid parked cars I do a head check – and I always stop at red lights and stop signs. The identified risk is that I am not seen by the cars and as a result I may be hit by one. Unfortunately, this is not far from the truth.

As a motorist, I conduct head checks when turning left across a bike lane, I always check twice before heading into an intersection, and I give cyclists plenty of room when passing them. I do this, not just because I have been in their position, but also because that individual on the road is someone’s loved one.

We are all guilty of getting frustrated on the roads, be it at a car, a cyclist or another vehicle. I get frustrated when I see cyclists making dumb decisions; rolling through stop signs, pedestrian crossings or riding more than two abreast. This doesn’t mean I am any less careful when driving past them.

I also get frustrated when I am on my bike and cars come past so close and so fast that I can feel my front wheel getting sucked into their slipstream. I get frustrated when I hear the words ‘pay tax’ and ‘cyclist’ in the same sentence. There are two cyclists living under my roof at home, and we currently have 3 registered vehicles that we pay tax on. Tax or no tax, it makes absolutely no difference to my safety when on the bike.

What makes a difference to my safety is the ability for all motorists to view all cyclists as their loved one, their mother, their father, or their child.

Would you still cut them off? Would you take an extra 5 seconds to do another head check before entering an intersection? Would you slow down and give them the space they are entitled to when passing them? How would you react when you receive a phone call to say that they had been involved in an accident on the road and that they hadn’t made it home to dinner?

I write this as a cyclist, as a motorist and as someone who has had the tragedy of an accident on the road hit far too close to home this weekend.

I am addressing this post to the minority of drivers that are careless, fail to minimise the risk of an altercation with a cyclist, and to those who go one step further to disregard the safety and well-being of others, who are gutless and cowardly enough to not even bother to stop and assess what their careless actions have done.

It disgusts me that in the space of 48 hours there has been not one, but 3 major accidents involving cars and bikes, on Melbourne's roads (that have been reported), two of which the driver has failed to stop. This has got to stop. 

Slow down, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and ask yourself, is it really worth it? Chances, are, it’s not.