Possibly the world’s shortest bicycle commute.

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Oakleigh to Monash University, and home again. Here are some of the hi-lights and low-lights of my daily ride to and from work. The trip only takes about twelve minutes, nowhere near as interesting as my previous trip to Monash from Richmond!

A quick count and I’ve calculated that I ride along five roads getting there and an extra two coming home.

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Down the side of the house, battle with the padlock on the gate, a glance back at the neighbour’s orange tree silhouetted against the sky, then squeeze between the car and the fence to get to the street. Depending on skill and luck, there may be a big gap or they may be a small one! Out onto the street – usually stepping around the people who park half-blocking our drive-way – and hop on the bike.

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Mill road is usually quiet, then right-turn into Haughton road at the end. Visibility not so bad, but watch out for the motorists travelling at 80km/hr in the 50 zone, they appear awful quick. Haughton road used to be a major shortcut through the suburb so Monash city council tried to traffic-calm it into unusability. I’m not sure if its had any effect on the number of motorists cutting through, but it seems to have increased their irritation.

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A series of little roundabouts at every side street, together with a narrowed road and huge rough blue-stone kerbs mean that if you’re riding along here, motorists can’t fit past without crossing half across to the other side of the road. That’s fine if they do it legally, but half the time they’re in too much of a hurry and try to squeeze through when there’s oncoming traffic. They simply don’t fit, and there’s no room to swerve out of the way of the idiots.

Yet more proof that most people have no idea how to behave on the roads is the right turn into Moroney street, forever referred to as Moron-ey street as motorists either stop dead in the road to let me turn across in front of them, or tear across the traffic island and nearly knock me off. The first lot risk being run into from behind by other motorists who foolishly expect them to be obeying the law, the second lot just can’t be bothered to turn the steering wheel a little bit to the left and a little bit to the right to follow the lane markings. Every two weeks or so I come along here and the “Keep Left” sign has been flattened, with tyre tracks over the traffic island.

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Turn left into North road, mind the traffic, two lanes heading east as fast as they can get away with. Around the corner and up to the bridge, watch out for anyone turning down the slip-lane without indicating, then up and over the railway lines and a great view of the industrial end of Huntingdale and Oakleigh. Look left and you can see straight up the rail lines all the way to the CBD, ahead the sunlight reflects off a hundred factory roofs. Down and off the bridge and once again watch out for motorists who come flying up the slip-lane, oblivious to both signs, “Give Way” and “Watch for Cycles” 1.

Then its just a straight run along North road, watch for the odd motorist who decides to turn left without indicating, or opens the door to let a passenger off at the lights! There’s a proposal to run a cycle path along here down the middle of North road, all the way from Huntingdale station to Monash University. Various cycle groups seem obsessed about it, and in pressuring the City of Monash to build it, nobody seems to have given any thought to how cyclists would get into the middle of the road to get to the path, or in how it would be treated at each of the five or so road crossings!

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Hazards

Roundabouts. Roundabouts, roundabouts, roundabouts and more flippen’ roundabouts. Monash city council seems to be obsessed with putting baby roundabouts along the streets as a “traffic calming” measure. Only problem is, half half the drivers in the area seem to treat the roundabouts as speed-humps, half of them stop and treat them like t-intersections, and half of them try and either overtake me while going round, or pull out in front of me because they’re bigger.

Wildlife

A world of difference to the commute along the creek and through the parks; the only thing of interest was a squashed fox in the middle of North road.

Footnotes

1 In late December 2007 VicRoads made some major changes to North road, removing the give-way sign and painting a cycle-lane diagonally across the slip-lane; thus requiring cyclists to cross across the front of motorists who drive up the slip-lane at 70km/hr without having to give-way!