Mike Hosking: Nip cyclist demands in bud with dose of reality

Five cyclists killed in six days - including British tourist Jane Mary Bishop, run over by a truck after she swerved to avoid a car door a motorist opened on Tamaki Drive, Auckland - has fuelled debate over road safety in New Zealand and the rights of cyclists versus motorists.

I find myself in two worlds about this matter: in both camps.

I drive the V8. I am the man who honks. I love the car; the car rules the road.

But I am also the cyclist. I ride the Avanti about 100km a week. I have cycled for about five years, done thousands of kilometres and never once have I come close to being killed.

When I did come close to being injured it was when an idiot opened his car and almost collected me, because they never used their rear-vision mirror.

If I had swerved to avoid that door and a car had been coming close by, it might well have hit me.

So I suppose I have been lucky. I think you need luck to survive cycling.

But the cycling fraternity have done themselves no good this week.

They sound like an up-market trade union; a lycra-wearing grievance society.

They want rights. They complain. They moan of unfairness and in doing that so starts another tedious debate about behaviour and education.

Let's put it bluntly: If you're so thick you can't look in your rear-vision mirror before you open your car door, education isn't going to help.

If you're that fat, bald man with the bad attitude behind the wheel who honks and flips the bird, education isn't going to help.

Equally, if you're that cyclist with the lycra, thinking you're Alberto Contador, riding three abreast because "that's your right"; education isn't going to help, either.

Of course we'd solve all the problems if our roads were wider, there were barriers between bikes and cars, if we had cycleways the length of the country, if the cycleways we did have didn't double as carparks and bus lanes.

But we don't, and we're not going to. Therefore the debate is pointless. Talking about education is what you talk about when you can't think of anything tangible or realistic by way of a solution.

The majority of drivers and cyclists, of course, are perfectly normal and perfectly courteous.

But on the fringes, as in all debates, you have the extremes. The Lance Armstrongs versus the road hogs. The drivers who think bikes should be registered and riders licensed.

So you do what I do: deal with reality.

Head to head, a car wins every time. You hit a car on a bike and you lose.

On my bike I stay out of the way, and five years on I am still unscathed and at least part of that is because, on the road, I know my place.

From NZ Herald


Time to demand our legal entitlement to the road, Cyclists need to have their presence permanently recorded on the road. A widely space dot down the middle of each lane on all roads would gave clear indication of where a bycycle is entitled to be and the space it is LEAGALLY ALLOWED to have, therefore motor vehicles must slow down and pass when a space is available like any other legal entity on the road.

Hear! Hear!  Spot on Mike. All this jumping up and down by the cyclist is only going to make the motorist more agro. The only 'education' needed is for the cyclist to learn 'how not to get hit by a car!' since there is not the infrastructure to allow bike lanes in most cases.  Also why Kiwi drivers feel they need the SUV is beyond me.  This type of vehicle fits in the States where the roads are huge by comparison. An awareness campaign wouldn't hurt, however. I brought my bike with me from the States while I was holidaying for three months in NZ.  I was riding along a quiet suburban street and was going through a set of islands in a traffic calming area when a woman drove her car in and tried to pass me!! (I'm a female, by the way) Such ignorance.  I had to thump on her car roof as she squeezed by me and she probably thought, "rude cyclist!"