Thu, 16 Oct 2008

Ride to Work day + 1 — a bus, again // at 09:30

Bloody typical! Yesterday was “Ride to Work day” and I rode from home — Oakleigh — to Federation square then back to Monash and had a near perfect ride. Maybe it was all the publicity about the cyclist's death last month but everyone seemed to be pretty well behaved (which I always find a miracle on St Kilda rd, whether they're on bikes, on foot, or in cars). Had my coffee and roll and made it back for a slightly latish 9:20 start. Didn't really need a third breakfast at Wholefoods on campus!

This morning, back to the normal ride, straight along North road, carefully and legally not riding in the bus lane since its not yet 9:30am. Cars pass on the right, cars illegally pass on the left. Stopped at the lights at Clayton road with a car on my right and a turning car on my left, and a bus behind on the left. Bus driver calls out the window “Excuse me!” then proceeds to tell me over and over again that I am NOT allowed to ride on the road and MUST ride on the off-road path. “That is your path, over there, this is my lane.” I tried to point out that I was on the road, not in the bus lane and explain that bicycles are legally allowed on the road, she ain't having none of it, louder and louder she tells me I MUST get off the road.

Lights go green and off I go through the intersection, with a continuous, deafening and intimidating blast of the horn she came up behind me and unfortunately I finally got annoyed and gave her the finger, she sped past on my left and I raised my hand up and hit the mirror since it was only about 30cm from my head.

Followed her to Monash bus loop and as I walked up to the bus there were four or five passengers1 having a huge argument with her loudly complaining about her attacking cyclists and what the hell was she on about. I took her photo and she started yelling that she had video showing that I was attacking her and “road-raging her bus.” Once again she tries shouting that I must use the off road path “it is law” (crap, closest law is VicRoads rule 247 which says you must use an ON-ROAD bicycle lane where provided unless it is impracticable to do so2.)

Not Grendas, it was Eastrans this time, driver's name badge says Maryla, 8:45am or so, bus registration 5485-AO.

Happy f'kin birthday to me.

references: 1, 2, 3

1. Talking to one of the passengers later, she said the driver had been in a bad mood all morning and had shouted at her to "turn her music down" on her iPod. I hope she's in a better mood tomorrow, or Monday, or the next time she drives 10 tonne of bus past 100kg of cyclist.

2. there is no on-road bicycle lane so rule 247 does not apply, and anyway, the off-road path is unsuitable for commuting, and is downright dangerous where it crosses side roads and uses a footpath past a primary school that used to be illegal to ride on and that now crosses a McDonald's drive through! Yet another bike path built by VicRoads with the attitude of "get the cyclists off the road" that nobody ever seems to use because it is no use!

REVISITED: 2008-Nov-11: Following a written complaint to the bus company from the University transport office and the Monash University BUG we received a comprehensive apology.

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Wed, 17 Sep 2008

Victoria, Gardenstate or road-rage state? // at 09:00

There I was riding to work along North road, same as I always do. Obeying the law and riding in the lane adjacent to the bus-lane, same as a I always do. Nearly every other person using the road seems to be able to safely and legally pass me, same as the always do.

But there's always one...

The driver of a tow-truck from Gardenstate towing, registration TOW-836, was somehow unable to pass me and instead drove along for 400-500m blasting on the horn, yelling abuse and gesticulating wildly for me to get off the road and into the bus lane. I tried to wave him past, he just kept on hooting and yelling, finally as we got to Clayton road he swerved from being in the left-hand lane behind me, across the right-hand lane and into the right-turn lane.

Why is it that once or twice a week I get to meet a neanderthal who is insistent that I break the law so that they aren't inconvenienced?


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Thu, 31 Jul 2008

Abused by motorists for not breaking the law! // at 09:30

Twice in two days, given a mouthful of abuse while riding to work ... for not breaking the law! This morning the driver of Subaru (Forester probably) Vic. rego. UCA-754 felt he couldn't overtake me legally and safely in my lane or the lane to my right, so he swerved into the bus-lane to overtake on the left, meanwhile blasting on the horn and screaming at me to “Bloody move over”, then swerved into my lane when he was only half-way past. I braked and swerved and thankfully there was nobody behind to avoid as well and he was off in a great screaming rush to stop at the red-lights a couple hundred metres up the road.

Yesterday it was a woman in a Mitsubishi Magna blasting on the horn and frantically waving her hand in a “get out of here, go and ride through the McDonalds building site or the bus-lane or something” kind of motion.

Ride in the bus-lane, break the law and get abused verbally and physically by the bus-drivers.

Ride in the left-most legal non-bus lane, get abused by the motorists.

Thank you so much VicRoads for what you have done to North road.

Refs: 2007-Dec-17, 2008-Jan-09, 2008-Jan-22, 2008-Apr-04.


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Fri, 04 Jul 2008

In the dark, in the cold, on the bike… // at 22:00

Ah, Friday night in the 'burbs, dinner with the parents in law and a 9:30 ride home from Mt Waverley to Oakleigh. A simple task it seems!

It was cold, damn cold. Less than 10°C as I left the comfy warm house, then 58km/hr down Forster road is an eye-wateringly shocking wake up.

Onto the bike track from Mt Waverley to Oakleigh, No moon, no lane markings, overhanging bushes and no lights on the path. Of course there are no lights — its a bike path silly, and everyone knows that these are only used on nice sunny Sundays for recreation! The 5W Nightstick light helps, but on an unfamiliar track it all gets very exciting. Go slow and watch for stealth dogs 'n joggers.

...and then there's the people you meet.

WTF is this guy doing standing in the middle of the bike track in a duffle coat? As I cruised carefully past, his invisible mate spraying graffiti up on the freeway underpass screamed abuse down and nearly scared the crap out of me.

Across Dandenong road at the lights at Atkinson street and start the last stretch up the hill, more adrenalin as the white P-plate decorated Commodore screeches around the corner behind me, passenger sticks his head out the window screaming "KILL THE C### ON THE BIKE!", driver swerves at me but is going too fast, misjudges, almost goes up the kerb 2m in front of me, spins the tyres plastering me with gravel and burning rubber and tears off over the hill. The adrenalin keeps me warm for the last kilometre or so home.

Topped the night off with the Nightstick battery going flat two blocks from home, very little warning, just a brief dip in the light then a quick fade to yellow to orange and off. I really must get myself a backup LED light....

Aint riding a bike in Melbourne fun.

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Tue, 26 Feb 2008

Just stop it will you! // at 12:30

On it goes...

  Drivers find cyclists a road hazard
  from Herald Sun; State News

MORE than 60 per cent of Victorian motorists find cyclists are a road hazard, according to research carried out by insurer AAMI.


Anything to sell more newspapers, split the population into "us vs them", pick a minority and stir, this is the way of the little paper.

It contains such gems as "47 per cent of Victorian car drivers have had a close call with a cyclist", but somehow seems to neglect to ask what percentage of motorists have had a close call with another motorist.

Amazingly, in amongst all the diatribe and hate-mail posted in the feedback and followups, a few voices of reason have been allowed to be printed, and not (yet) removed by the editors.

Still the aggro continues.

Seems some bright spark decided a little vigilante action was called for on the weekend and spread tacks on Beach road, in amongst the reports from the police calling it callous, stupid and dangerous, and yet more diatribe offering to simply kill people on bikes, someone came up with this gem:

We may have finally found a use for all those new terrorism laws the Howard government was so keen on.

Provided we use the basic definition of a terrorist act as violence against civilians used in the persuit(sic) of a political aim (in this case getting bikes of Beach rd), then this should fit the bill.

So it goes on....

Meanwhile, outside it is magnficent late summer weather just perfect for cycling, the sun is out, its not too hot or too cold and there's not much wind, but inside, malignant spirits attack their keyboards and vent their spleens.

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Wed, 09 Jan 2008

North road, bus lanes and road-raging bus drivers // at 09:30

How odd... as I was riding along North road this morning I was thinking that I really should write back to Vic. Roads and thank them for their clarification of the use of the bus lanes. Less than a minute later I had to bite my lip to stop from laughing as a Vic. Roads maintenance vehicle drove out of a side-street, safety orange light busy spinning around on the roof, assorted warning signs all sitting in the back... and the driver chatting away on THE MOBILE PHONE. Bloody typical. Debated jotting down the details to forward them to Vic. Roads for comment, but then it all went out the window, and out of memory, in a frantic bid for self-preservation.

The driver of the 9 o'clock Grenda's route 900 bus, rego. 6114-A0 then tried to run me off the road. Blasting on the horn as he went flying past without pulling out, forced me completely out of the lane and onto the 20cm wide, debris-filled concrete kerb. When I caught him at the Dandenong road intersection he told me that it was "bus lane, you not allowed to ride in it". I informed him I had been told by Vic Roads that I could and was told "You not allowed to ride after 8:30". I informed him again that Vic Roads had told me that it was legal for cyclists to use the bus lane at all times and he changed his words to "I just letting you know I was there".I pointed out that I was fully aware of his presence and that his actions were aggressive, dangerous and unnecessary. He told me I should not ride on the road. At this point I realised it was pointless to continue attempting to discuss it with him, and as per the recommendations of the two other cyclists at the intersection, I recorded the details of his vehicle.

I've written to Grenda bus lines, with Cc to Bike Vic and Vic Roads, asking for their response to this drivers actions, and what they intend to do to prevent it recurring. I have asked that they not introduce specious arguments to the effect that I should use off-road cycle paths, as under no circumstances do their presence, however unsuitable they may be for commuter cycling, excuse road rage in other vehicle operators. for the "bicycle path", well it still isn't finished, and it still has all the design problems that make it appear more of an after-thought designed from a viewpoint of getting bicycles off the road and not with any view of providing all road users, be it by car, bicycle or bus with a safe and effective route.

So far this year I've seen about twenty people cycling along North road, in all cases they've chosen to ride on the road, since it appears that the incomplete and unsuitable "bicycle path" doesn't provide any advantages — and in many ways, its presence reinforces the dangerous belief in many people's minds that cyclists have to get off the roads.

1. [2008.01.11] — Damn! Just saw on my scribble pad notes that although I'd written 6114-A0, in the letter I've written to Grenda I typed 9114-A0, probably because it was route 900 at 9 o'clock.

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Thu, 22 Feb 2007

More of Victoria's finest road users // at 12:00

At the moment, Thursdays seem to be crap days.

Woken — yet again — at 5am by garbage trucks then while riding to work I was hit by a truck at a set of traffic lights.

At the corner of North road and Clayton road I know that there's usually a left-turn arrow, so I'd stopped at the far right-hand side of the lane to let traffic turn with the arrow, five or six cars turned through with plenty of room, then the truck pulled up, the driver yelled out the window "Fucken idiot get out of the way" and turned the corner — striking me with the tray of the truck as it went around and pushing me half a metre over into the car next to me!

Thanks mate, glad to know that getting that truck around that corner was more important than my life and me.

I guess next time I just won't bother trying to be helpful to other road users and letting them pass, I'll just sit in the centre of the lane and let them wait — that is unless this idiot truck driver comes up behind me, in which case he'll probably just swear again and drive over me.

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Sun, 13 Nov 2005

Road rage // at 23:59

Sunny day, no wind, definitely time to get out on the bike. Jo and I did our usual ride down North road to the bay, then down Beach road to Mordialloc. Interesting mix of barricades around Mentone since there was a triathlon running and the road had been closed, but only closed to motorised traffic! Apparently other cyclists are allowed to mix with the competing triathletes, which sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Fun and games started on the way back up the bay. Somewhere around Brighton we were riding with about four others, single file on a four lane road. Screaming, shouting, abuse and roaring of engine, the usual suspects go flying past. Four young guys, P-plates on the car, exhaust pipe the size of a coffee-tin. The most impressive part was the front passenger half out of the window, screaming at us to get off the f#$%ing road, while swinging his fist and trying to punch us as he passed! Not sure of the plate, SJB-305, a red car, probably a Nissan Bluebird, but with all the badges and chrome removed. Didn't get enough of a description to bother with going to the police, as they'll only give me the usual run-around of requiring a full identikit of the driver plus a bus-load of witnesses — merely describing the car is never enough.

When will someone do something about these dickheads?

Onwards back around to Port Melbourne where Jo dropped her new bike off for its service and went off to catch public transport while I rode home. For some reason I decided to clock up a few extra kilometres and ended up riding back down to Mentone, then came home up Warrigal road — never an interesting ride, with neanderthal motorists and narrow lanes, but it certainly helped clock up the distance! First ride of over 100km in a very long time.

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Sun, 17 Mar 2002

Temper temper… // at 23:59

I just had to laugh. Cycling up Beach Road on a Sunday afternoon, literally hundreds of cyclists about, traffic is at a crawl due to the enormous number of events that are on. Red Falcon (Vic. NZY-740) drives past in the right hand lane and the passenger sticks her head out the window, screaming her lungs out “Get off the F@#$ing road, get on the F@#$ing footpath.” If she yells that much at each cyclist between Mordialloc and St Kilda, she'll be hoarse for a week!

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Thu, 14 May 1998

Verbally Abused, then deliberately hit by car // at 21:00

Riding home from work along Willesden road Oakleigh at 17:05, there were parked cars on the opposite side of the road and traffic from head on passing. Somone in a car behind me decided they couldn't pass me and the driver gave me a long blast on the horn which I ignored. The car, (white Holden Commodore sedan, black tinted rear window, rego. Vic. OXI-706, then pulled alongside with the occupants yelling abuse, then swerved in at me, clipping my front wheel with their rear bumper, then spun the wheels and drove off. Driver was not visible due to the darkness of the window tint.

At the Willesden road-Poath road intersection the car was stopped for the traffic lights and as I tentatively rode past on the left, the passenger again yelled something at me and threw a cigarette butt at me as I rode past. I yelled out “Learn the road rules!” in the window and then rode up to Murrumbeena Police station. The police officer took the details on the back of a scrap piece of paper, stating that “I won't take a statement now, after I ring them up and find out what happened I'll get back to you tonight or tomorrow and we'll see whether you wish to take it further.”

The police officer called me back the following evening, stating that he had interviewed both occupants of the vehicle in person and “given them a right serve on their driving behaviour.” However, both deny that their vehicle hit me, deny that a cigarette butt was thrown, and claim that I swore and abused them first, so it was pointed out that it would be fairly pointless to take the matter further as it would be their story vs mine in court.

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