Cyclist and Drivers

I don’t know how many of you saw the article in Side Swipe quite a number of weeks back but it has sparked some interesting conversations in the bike shop recently and I thought I would jot down a few of the points from cyclist’s perspective.


A couple of points on the photo and piece above

  1. Even if the guy in question had been in single file there was no safe way of passing with barriers approaching on the right.
  2. The road they are on has an 70kph speed limit so the car should never have been travelling at 100kph
  3. The cyclist in the photo was actually passing to get out of the car’s way faster to allow it to turn left as it was indicating
  4. There is a school just passed the left turn so the speed should have been 40kph anyway.

All of these points have already been posted on NZ Herald in response to this article so not the point of my blog.

My points came from a conversation with Rob Norcross of Norcross Fishing in Henderson   (I am not quoting Rob in his answers as I am only working from memory of the conversation)

  • A lady came into the shop and asked why cyclists always sit out from the curb, why can’t they stick to the curb and stay out of the way of cars.

Next to the curb on a road are storm drains, which the town needs to get rid of storm water, right?  Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle tyre through one of these storm drains, definitely a pinch flat in the future if you do that. 

Have you ever looked at the road on a Saturday morning in West Auckland after a busy Friday night on the town?  There is more glass on the road than cars, bikes or people and glass does not mix with bike tyres.

  • Rob was riding along a back road on a training ride by himself once when he heard a police man on loud speaker behind him asking him to keep left on the road.

Rob duely pulled over and waved the police man down as he passed.  Rob pulled up next to the open window of the police car and asked a few simple questions but explained that he had no issue with being asked to keep left.

(again not quoting but to keep the blog a little shorter I will use quotations)

Rob- Was I travelling to close to the middle of the road?
Police – Yes
Rob – Ok, did you see me pull into the middle of the road?
Police – no
Rob – If you look back there can you see the pothole in the road I had to avoid hence making me move towards the centre of the road and I was on my way back to the left when you asked me to move over
Police – (looked back down the road and spotting the pothole said) oh, I didn’t see that.
Rob – again, I have no problem with what happened here but that is something we have to deal with all the time as cyclists.  People don’t see hazards we have to avoid and just believe we are taking up all of the road for no reason at all.

The police man apologized and drove on.

  • Someone else Rob had been talking to said “Cyclists are weird”

(I don’t remember the context of his comment but it is a comment I have heard on more than one occasion)   Remember, most cyclists on the road also drive cars so understand what it’s like to drive a car but most drivers haven’t cycled on New Zealand roads so who are the weird ones?

Now, I have to admit that there are a few groups of cyclists out there who don’t obey the road rules and I had the unfortunate pleasure of riding with some at some point but I beleive that most out there do obey the road rules.

I also know that Department of Cycling (local cycling club) try to police their own riders on road etiquette at all times and are very concious of drivers on the road.  Every time there is a car approaching behind there is a call from the back “CAR BACK” and all riders attempt to cycle single file and allow the car past.

This last paragraph brings me to the single file / 2 abreast arguement.  A lot of non-cyclists I have spoken to me saying that cyclists should always cycle single file.  After speaking to another DoC member on one of our Sunday rides he put forward a couple of good points.

  • Riding 2 abreast keeps cyclists safer as cars take more care passing 2 abreast where as if it is single file some drivers have the mentality of “I can squeeze through there”
  • Imagine a group of 15 riders all riding single file, how long will that line of riders be?  How hard is that line of riders going to be to pass on a winding road?  Very difficult is the answer there would not be enough time to get passed all of the riders safely.

This isn’t to spark off a debate but some good points that I will be thinking about when I drive my car passed a cycling group in future and before you drive passed and shout at a cyclist who seems to be taking up a bit too much of ‘your road’, look around and see why they are there first.

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