For three months of the year, from the end of November to the end of February, the roads around the university are moderately safe. For three months there’s the same number of nuff-nuffs and idiots as pretty much every other part of Melbourne. Then at the end of February the students return — people in their late teens and early twenties are not renown for paying much attention to the road laws — and a whole lot of them are from overseas as well, so they have little to no idea of what the road laws are in the first place!
Today was this year’s baptism of fire.
Coming out of the childcare car-park after dropping off Cam I nearly get cleaned up by helmet-less Asian student who almost rode into the side of me as he careered up the footpath — I guess he just didn’t see the trailer and thought he’d go behind me. I pulled out onto the road shaking my head and watch as two doors further up he nearly cleaned up a mum and kids walking from car to footpath. A couple of doors further up he blindly goes across in front of a car turning into a driveway, then for the piece de resistance he pulled out onto the road and rode up the right-hand side and went anti-clockwise around the roundabout head-on at some poor sucker on a bike coming the other way.
I made a comment on a bike mailing list to the effect that O-week was here and the idiots had returned on the roads, and that many of the overseas students appeared to have no idea of Australian road laws; no helmets, riding on the footpath, riding on the wrong side of the road, you name it, and that they were a danger to themselves and to others. I got politely told off. Apparently I’m not allowed to say that, no single group of bad road users can be singled out. No amount of anecdotal events should be referred to.
So I went out for a ride at lunch time, a couple of laps around the ring road because the weather was wonderful and to clear the head. Coming down the hill towards the roundabout near the residential halls bizarrely there was a girl stopped half-way around the roundabout, in the middle of the two lanes, bent over her bike and fiddling with the back wheel. Cars were going around her on both sides, some quite quick because nobody gives a shit about the 40km/hr speed limit. As I went to pass her (on the left) she suddenly stood up and darted across to the kerb, straight at me, but looking the other way. I managed to slide to a stop along the kerb without coming off and hitting her, as did the car beside me. First thing she said “So sorry, in my country we drive on other side of the road.” All I could say was “Please, you have to learn to look!” I helped remove the large chunk of gumtree from her wheel and off she went.
A very cautious ride home in the afternoon, nothing happened, nothing happens most of the time, but then some of the time I get multiple incidents in a day.