Mike vows to take on the Lycra louts

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IT’S 7.30 on a chilly autumn morning, Lake Burley Griffin is showing the first ethereal signs of its foggy winter blanket, and 2CC radio’s afternoon presenter Mike Welsh is standing on Commonwealth Avenue Bridge.

Welsh wants to tell “CityNews” readers about a problem he has with the path over the bridge: a small minority of cyclists, he says, do not share well with others in such limited areas, and are giving the rest a bad name.

According to Welsh, and several others, the typical offender is almost always the serious type, dressed in road cycling gear and furiously pedaling a late-model road bike. They don’t use bells, they go too fast and they hurl abuse at people not keeping to the left, he says.

Welsh vowed in April that he “won’t stop ranting until something is done”, during a broadcast interview with the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Shane Rattenbury. In the same program, he implied the Government is reluctant to address the issue, because “the pedal lobby in this town’s just too bloody strong”.

To some, this is a trivial issue being hyped up by a commercial radio host, but his concern is genuine and what’s more, it appears he has a point. It only took a cursory half-hour on the bridge one Friday morning to see a couple of close shaves caused by reckless riding, and to find one walker who strongly agreed there was a problem.

As well as every Canberran’s right to feel comfortable using public facilities, there is a safety issue, particularly on the western side of the bridge, where a recent accident between a pedestrian and a cyclist left at least one person lying on the road, luckily, without a car speeding towards them.

Both Minister Rattenbury (himself a bike rider) and Pedal Power ACT spokesman Matt Larkin agree that shared areas such as the bridge – especially in peak hour – are not the best places to go hard on a bike.

“It’s just as if someone’s going to go for a training run, you’d probably advise them not to run through Garema Place at one o’clock,” says Larkin, adding that most cyclists use quieter roads for training and serious exercise.

He also rejects the idea that there is an attitude problem exclusive to cyclists.

“Most of the cyclists also walk on the paths, and drive cars on the road,” he points out. “Probably, the people who are inconsiderate are inconsiderate in any mode of transport, so I think we have to be very careful saying the problem is bike riders; the problem is inconsiderate people.”

Along with Rattenbury and the disgruntled walker we spoke to, Larkin disagrees with Mike Welsh’s rather radical suggestions, which all involve new regulations. His favourite is a speed limit, but he’s also floated ideas like making cyclists get off and walk through such bottlenecks, or even making one side of the bridge for walkers, the other for bikers.

Instead, education is the more popular solution.

“I think its beholden on bike riders to behave responsibly and pull each other up on it sometimes,” says Larkin. “If you see one of your fellow riders behaving in a way that isn’t considerate, I think it is worth saying: ‘You feel vulnerable on the road; think about how the pedestrian feels.’ I think that is a reasonable conversation to have.”

With the ACT Government working towards increasing the three per cent of people who ride to work to six per cent by 2016, and the new Civic Cycle Loop’s unbuilt Bunda Street section to cut straight through the heart of the city, Larkin says this is an issue that will only come into sharper focus in years to come.


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    • No pedestrians should have the right of way on a footpath, you bike riders consistently want it all your own way, one minute you want to use the road the next the traffic island, the pedestrian crossing, should I go on? I regularly use public transport and the amount of times I have nearly been knocked over by inconsiderate bike riders using the footpaths in the bus interchange at peak times is crazy, get off your bloody bikes and walk through the interchange before someone gets seriously hurt.

      • Actually Gtfalcon, the paths that are under discussion are not ‘footpaths’ they are ‘shared use paths’ the name says it all. The important thing is, just like on the road, if we all do the right thing and obey the rules, everyone should be safe and happy.

  1. It’s a footpath. You are supposed to give way to pedestrians. I bet these are the same cyclists that speed through City Walk and expect the pedestrians to get out of the way.

  2. After almost being hit from the back by speeding cyclists at least twice in the past year when I walked along Lake Burley Griffin, I strongly support speed limit. People can get seriously injured when hit by a bike travelling at high speed. Since cars are not allowed and segway was criticised, why do we allow speeding bikes?

  3. I agree with Qinnie. The shared paths around LBG are infested with inconsiderate cyclists, specially when a lot of pedestrians are out at weekends. There is no need for sppeding cyclists on these paths.

  4. Cyclists on shared footpaths and on the road should have to have registration plates. They get away with all kinds of infringements of road rules and think they are allowed to make up their own. They can’t be reported like cars can because there is nothing to identify them.
    And before cyclists start again to complain about car drivers, make yourself more visible and maybe you won’t be cut off; don’t make sudden turns of the path in front of cars. If you are riding on the road, don’t take a detour over the median strip and onto the wrong side of the road, then the path, then onto a pedestrian crossing against the lights to avoid lights on the roadway.

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