I’ve been back on the bike after a 7 month lay off.
I had a rest for a number of reasons. I just got too busy for starters…I know it’s a weak excuse, but I struggled to find time in the day to go for a ride. Then when the magpies started swooping, they became my excuse and I committed to getting back on when they were done.
I climbed back on on November 8 for Lifecycle. Since then I’ve ridden 15 times for a total of 370kms. My biggest ride was a trek from Bonython to Watson and back. That was a bit of a slog for me.
A lot of new riders panic about the prospect of riding Northbourne Avenue. I don’t. I love it. Mixing it with the cars and Action Buses on that narrow strip really appeals to me. I don’t think I’d like to do it in peak hour every day, but as a once in a while thing, it works for me.
We are blessed with some wonderful bike riding infrastructure in this city, but riding can still be a little hairy. Here’s my silly little list of the worst 10 hazards on our roads and bike paths.
10. Action Buses – The big orange monstrosities only just made my list. They’re here purely because of their size and the fact that they stop and start a lot. There’s nothing worse in peak hour on major Canberra road than when the Action bus directly in front of you stops to pick up and set down. By and large though, thumbs up to Action drivers for looking out for us cyclists.
9. Kangaroos – There was a period in my life during which I would ride the bike to work from time to time. It was the kangaroos that stopped me. Roos are always manageable on the bike when the sun’s out. They’re a scary in the dark. I don’t want to be side swiped by a big buck kangaroo at night time.
8. Broken glass – Us cyclists come across broken glass on pretty much every suburban ride we do. It’s all over the bike paths, it’s all over the side of the road. For God’s sake just put it in the bloody bin !
7. Pedestrians with headphones – It doesn’t matter how often you ring the bell, some of them just don’t hear you. For the most part they tend to stay well to the left, but on occasions they get lost in their music and drift off to the centre or the way over to the right.
6. Pigeons – The stupidest birds on bike paths are pigeons and water fowl. The pigeons are the one’s who put themselves into compromising positions much more often. They tend to congregate under bridges. They don’t hear you coming until you’re on top of them and when they’re startled they’re just as likely to fly straight into your face than away into the wild blue yonder. They are stupid.
5. Roundabouts – They can be tricky. When I first started riding again 8 years ago, you’d never see me on a roundabout of any description. These days I’m a bit more courageous. If it’s at all possible, you want to take the big roundabouts with some momentum. If you’re able to hit the roundabout at 20kms per hour, you’re not going much slower than most of the cars. The problems come when you have to stop because your bike doesn’t accelerate from a stop as fast as a car. If the traffic is queued up at the roundabout, I take that as a signal to get off the road and take the footpath, even it it means I have to walk across the roundabout. Cyclists on roundabouts are supposed to be given the whole lane rather than a tiny margin of it on the left. So many motorists don’t understand that concept.
4. Testosterone fuelled utes – Yes I know it’s a massive generalisation, but in my experience cyclists are much more likely to be abused by young men wearing high viz gear driving utes than any other road user. I’m fascinated at the seemingly obvious connection between me riding a bike and my sexuality. I’m sure it’s very funny to zip past a cyclists and yell something right in his ear. The day that a cyclists is startled to the point that he loses balance and then loses his life it won’t be all that funny anymore.
3. Mobile phones – Motorists on mobile phones are a hazard to everyone, including cyclists.
2. Magpies – Some people think I overplay the magpie effect. The threat of magpie attack kept me off the bike for the spring in 2014. Yes I’m frightened with these misguided birds try to take chunks out of your head, but for me the biggest danger is being startled to the point that you lose balance and come to grief in front of a car doing 80kph.
1. Motorists who don’t believe cyclists should be on the road – These people drive with hate. They’re out to prove a point every time they come close to a cyclist. They will whiz past you within centimetres when there was well and truly enough time and space for them to drift into the other lane. They don’t look before drifting into the bike lane to turn left. They will honk the horn for no apparent reason and basically do everything that they can to encourage you to never ride on the road again. I will never understand