Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cycling Bike Lights 'Get a light and save a life, maybe your own' The Age May 13th 2013

Get a light and save a life, maybe your own

Kaz Cooke May 13, 2013
More than 30 cyclists are killed on Australian roads each year.
More than 30 cyclists are killed on Australian roads each year. Photo: Grant Hawkes
Last night I saw nine invisible people in the space of an hour's walk. After night falls - about 5.30 - countless cyclists zizz around almost silently, dressed in Melbourne black or other wintry colours, with no lights on their bikes.
Even as a pedestrian it's impossible to see The Invisibles until they're upon you (sometimes literally). One rider I saw last night had only his chin cleft illuminated, by the glow from the phone screen he studied as he rode against a red light across a busy intersection. A driver noticed and stopped - he held back other drivers, some of whom were also looking at their phones. Maybe they were texting the cyclist to tell him he was about to get run over. And that he was wearing a baseball cap instead of a helmet.
A few blocks later, on a quiet, dark side street, a young women on a bike with the tiniest of fluttery mini-lights said (not shouted), ''Oh, stop, stop,'' to a four-wheel-drive gathering speed towards her. The car windows were down, the radio was off and the driver heard her, and stopped. And on sailed this lucky woman in sleeveless gingham frock, towards louder, busier traffic and, I hope, a future involving all her own skin.
It's tempting to get snarky with The Invisibles. Do hipsters think their elaborate handlebar moustachery will cushion their fall after they go over some actual handlebars? Are ladies looking to augment the patterns in their lace tights by being dragged along a road? Do you think your advanced age means it doesn't matter if you cark it? You there, saving the planet by using a forklift-bicycle to move your unlit plywood box of toddlers at hubcap level, don't you want to protect your own kids, too? But I haven't got the heart to stay snarky, I just want you all to not die.
Good bike lights are way cheaper than the fine for not having them, which is more than $170. If you can't afford them, you could guilt-trip a parent, or ask some friends for a birthday present, if your birthday is tomorrow, before it gets dark. Festoon yourself lest you be unseen, unheeded, unheaded or, as Spike Milligan used to say, deaded.
More than 30 cyclists are killed on Australian roads each year - and many more are maimed, brain damaged, face years of rehab or live diminished lives with pain.

It's not so much about you seeing the road in front, it's about us seeing you. When you have small, weak or flickery lights, we can't see you until it's too late. When you have no lights, it's hopeless. We can look for you in our rear vision or side mirrors and not see you at all. Then we're much more likely to smash our car door on to you, or pull out of a parallel park just as you pass.
A red reflector on the back of your bike is not a light. Not unless another, very strong light is directed straight at it. It's not visible to the driver of a tall car, bus, tram, van or truck, who sees you from an angle that hides it under your seat. We can't see it when your jacket or skirt is flapping over it, we can't see it in the rain, we can momentarily mistake it for a post reflector that we don't expect to move.
Unless you're Cate Blanchett (so oft-described as ''luminous'') you need artificial help. Ditch the dud bike light, the ''Tinkerbell will die if you don't believe in her, children!'' half-arsed, Ron-Weasley-forgot-the-Lumos-charm, I-spent-more-cash-on-my-front-basket-made-of-sustainable-wicker flicker. Save ringing your inkly-tinkly, barely audible, vintage-look bell for the timely warning of pedestrians on Lilith Fair bike tracks, don't bother using it in Motorheady traffic.
If you want to be heard by drivers, get an aircraft carrier deck alarm. Whack a big, bold, constant brothelly red light on the back of your bike and a constant Giant Coal Miner On Stage white light on the front.
Yes, car drivers can be very stupid, and rude, and break the rules. Yes, they should pay more attention. Perhaps you don't technically have to have your bike light on in morning haze or against a pearly sky. You may have ''right of way'' and be riding legally, and the driver may be in the wrong. But you'll be right - and broken.
Doubtless I am an interfering old buffer. I recently even shouted at a person whom I missed by milliseconds, when backing out from a nose-to-kerb park well after dark. I caught up at the next nights, rolled down my window and yelled, ''Hey, mate, get a light!'' He gestured with grace (I believe it's known as ''The Forks''), adjusted his earphones, and rode off. Maybe he thought I said, ''Get a life!'' I think he was oblivious to how close he'd just come to a hospital stay or a totalled bike.
I don't want to be this harpy busybody who goes tutty when you have no helmet and gaspy when you nearly got run over and didn't notice. I'll embarrass myself less if I don't go all unintelligible shouty cray cray in the dark. I don't want to be the person waiting for the ambulance with you while you sob, or worse, don't make a sound.
Please get full-on lights and a helmet before I find myself staying off the streets, eating mashed chokos, calling you ''lass'' or ''sonny'', and feeling an urge to watch Midsomer Murders. The life you save may not just be your own.
Kaz Cooke is an author and broadcaster.

Please note that the Bike Lights Law Road Rule 259 
applies to reduced visibility
not just dark or Night time

Bike Lights Law

Road Rule 259

The rider of a bicycle must not ride at night, or in hazardous weather conditions 

causing reduced visibility, 

unless the bicycle, or the rider,

(a) a flashing or steady white light 

that is clearly visible for at least
200 metres from the front of the bicycle; and

(b) a flashing or steady red light 

that is clearly visible for at least
200 metres from the rear of the bicycle; and

(c) a red reflector 

that is clearly visible for at least 50 metres
from the rear of the bicycle

when light is projected onto it by a vehicle’s headlight on low-beam

Bike Lights CHOICE Magazine 2013

Bike Lights CHOICE Magazine 2010

Monday, February 11, 2013

Cycling Bike Lights 

Public Liability 

Bicycle Victoria's Reckless Advocacy

by Pete Dowe

When I say Bicycle Victoria/ Bicycle Network Victoria recklessly advocates in a way that

makes cyclists much more likely to be killed and seriously injured

by opposing law enforcement of Cyclists’ legal responsibility for their own safety, 

i.e to have a roadworthy bike

the bike lights law non-compliance is exactly what I’m talking about.

Bicycle Victoria advocates in a way which keeps cyclists in the dark 

Bicycle Victoria knew in 2002 of the likely fatal hazard of riding without lights

"Five cyclists killed in the last two years were riding in poor light conditions without lights or bright clothing." 

Bicycle Victoria's Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)

In 2008 Bicycle Victoria knew the extent of Cyclists' risky behaviour and its serious consequences for cyclists.

Bicycle Victoria CEO Harry Barber was Spokesperson for the National Light Up! Campaign 2008
a voluntary compliance bike lights law campaign

Its survey of cyclists riding at night found
             that well over a third of Melbourne Riders 41% did not have a legally required set of lights
       and over a fifth of cyclists 22% had no lights.

Its Media Release stated:

“Fatalities in night time or semi-darkness often involve riders without lights or adequate lighting”
Yet knowing of this large bikes lights law non-compliance problem

Bicycle Victoria/ Bicycle Network Victoria remains opposed to law enforcement capability/ 

identification of cyclists 

and law enforcement.

Bicycle Victoria hypocritically lobbied to increase the penalty for not having a set of bike lights,

while it continues to oppose the enforcement on the roads

of these and other cyclists’ safety regulations.

Instead Bicycle Victoria wants Victoria Police Law Enforcement Officers

to hand out bike lights and ask cyclists nicely "to please put them on"

Furthermore Bicycle Victoria/ Bicycle Network Victoria’s opposition to law enforcement

along with CycleSport Victoria, Amy Gillett Foundation and Beach Road Cyclists has pressured

Government to do nothing on cyclists’ identification 

with a filibuster of inaction comprised of baseless assertions of no road safety value such as 

i.e. It’s all too hard, administrative nightmare, preclusive costs, tax on transport, disincentive to cycling, refuse to be identifiable till pedestrians are required to carry id, law enforcement punishes cyclists,

cyclists can’t do any harm, only a ‘few’ break the law, London City Council has not identified cyclists, some people may not have a drivers licence,

education alone will modify behaviour, how will you identify minors and who will pay for it? ‘Better enforcement’ ‘proper policing of red-light offences’ not better identification

None of these so called reasons can stand scrutiny..
"We are asking for Police bike patrols across Australia to help us encourage everyone who rides at night to have working lights"

Harry Barber CEO Bicycle Victoria

Really? You could enable Police to enforce the Law, Mr Barber?

While Bicycle Victoria/ Bicycle Network Victoria claims that law enforcement punishes cyclists 

surely it is Bicycle Victoria which punishes cyclists with its doubletalk 

and blocking of cyclists identification/law enforcement capability. 

A Bike Lobby which advocates in a way which keeps cyclists in the dark 

and in great risk of preventable death and serious injury.

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