Gavel / Lycra lad out there and copping it

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OKAY, it’s taken a while to ready myself for this moment, but I have to confess to joining the ranks of the Lycra-clad cycling brigade.

Tim Gavel.

I disclose this with a little reservation given that some sectors of the motoring community seem to regard cyclists as public enemy number one.

Despite having been on the roads for six months or so, I have received more abuse as a cyclist than I have over the 28 years as a sports commentator.

In Canberra we should be rejoicing in the fact that we are home to many world-ranked cyclists such as Michael Rogers, Michael Matthews, Mathew Hayman and Rebecca Wiasak, yet some begrudge the fact that cyclists are even on the road. Is it because cyclists are perceived as slowing the traffic flow?

If people weren’t cycling there would be more cars on the road and the commute would become even more frustrating. There are also the health benefits of cycling that help to keep a percentage of the population out of the hospital system.

The abuse from motorists seems to be for no apparent reason. Sure, there are some cyclists who flout the road rules but from my observation, as a motorist and now as a cyclist, they are very much in the minority. Yet, for some in vehicles, all cyclists represent a target.

I agree there’s nothing worse than walking on the footpath and having a cyclist bear down, seemingly with the mindset that they own the space; or circumstances when cyclists use the road when there is a perfectly functional cycling lane running parallel. There are also circumstances where cyclists create a dangerous situation by running a red light or ride three abreast.
There we have it, the list of the major grievances expressed to me over the years by motorists about cyclists.

I suggested a couple of weeks ago that motorists going for their licence and licence renewals should undergo some form of cycling simulation by sitting on a stationary bike to see what life’s like for a cyclist when a car, truck or bus comes too close.

Interestingly enough, such an experiment took place in Canberra earlier this year with bus and truck drivers undertaking a cycling simulation experience.
The bottom line is this: common sense must prevail from both parties with an acceptance from drivers that cyclists are not the enemy. This would be a good start to shared road use.

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Tim Gavel
Journalist and ABC sports broadcaster

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