Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cycling Beach Road Bunch Cycling Problems, Preparation, Enforcement by Pete Dowe No Stopping Zones Community Safety

Originally posted June 7th 2012

Bike Riding

                   Problems, Preparation and Enforcement
                    by Pete Dowe

                  The death of elderly Mentone pedestrian, James Gould, on Beach Road at the Mentone Lifesaving Club pedestrian crossing at 8.30am on Saturday August 26th 2006 highlights a variety of issues relating to cycling in Melbourne. These are exemplified by the problems faced by cyclists, motorists and pedestrians particularly on Beach Road. They are described in the reports of a variety of bodies.

Racing on Public Roads

Ban the Hell Ride! 
Hell Ride! How can CycleSport Victoria defend it?
Hell Ride Jan 28th 2012

“Talking about the Hell Ride and other regular weekly faster training rides on Beach Road. Racing on the road is not on, no matter who you are. Cyclists don’t like to see motor vehicles speeding on the road and the same applies to them.” Bicycle Victoria as previously stated on its website

“It is important that all cyclists riding in bunches on public roads...not race or treat the ride as a race and thus take unnecessary risks” *
*CycleSport Victoria and Amy Gillett Foundation submission to Coroner Johnstone’s inquest into the death of James Gould.

“cyclists who were travelling faster than 30km/h five times more likely to receive a head injury than slower riders.” The Age 27/7/12

Stopping at red lights
“We’ve all seen cyclists running red lights (etc.) …other law abiding cyclists are left to cop the criticism from motorists who become frustrated with their behaviour.”(1)
“Stopping at red lights is not optional…Riding three, four or even five abreast is both rude and unlawful…The few who break the law diminish community respect for …law abiding cyclists.” (2) “The evidence establishes that there can be difficulties, especially for inexperienced cyclists, in stopping safely when traffic lights are red, when they are riding in bunches.” (3)

….less frequently, but more significantly, riders collide with parked cars causing injury.” (4) “It’s often an inexperienced rider (crashing into parked cars) who may have had a lapse of concentration or was distracted” observes Gary Brennan. (5) 

" Around 80% of all cyclist hospitalisations are for crashes 
that do not involve motor vehicles."

"All the cyclists who have a crash ‘all by themselves’, called bicycle alone or single vehicle crashes. 

These account for around 80% of all hospitalisations." 

Bicycle Victoria Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)

A Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) study of injured cyclists between                1999 and 2008 found that collisions with parked cars, or other stationary objects such as bollards,               made up just 5 per cent of hospital admissions. 

Bunch Riding  

The problem of inexperienced or unprepared cycling on the roads, particularly in returning riders, is sometimes allied with “bunch riding” i.e three or more cyclists riding abreast.

“Probably 80 to 90 per cent of cyclists that are on Beach Road today have a very low set of skills.” (7) It would appear that …”a large cohort of cyclists on Beach Road at weekends are males over the age of 30, who returned to cycling having not regularly cycled since adolescence.” (3)

“Riding in bunches is an acquired skill which many cyclists returning to cycling do not possess.” (3) Moreover…” Riding in a group requires much more skill and concentration than just riding a bike…” (1)

Another related public safety issue is that…”when cyclists breach road rules...” in particular the “…cycling specific rule of riding two abreast or three abreast when overtaking, other road users become frustrated and take undue risks and/or show inappropriate aggression often to other cyclists.” (3) Nobody Deserves to Get Hit  
Robbie McEwen's tweet

Lack of training
“No formal training programs to develop bunch riding skills were found during this review (of bunch cycling)…and there are no minimum requirements for cyclists to achieve before riding on the road in a bunch.” (6)

                  The problems outlined above indicate that there is a lack of appropriate training and knowledge of the road rules in the preparation of cyclists to take to the roads today. Hence “Sharing the Road means obeying the Road Rules, being predictable and respecting the rights of others who use the road.” (1) It is evident that there are a number of cyclists for whom this admonition has little meaning, precisely because they often feel that just getting on their bike and riding on the road is all you need to get started.

However, in many cases doing precisely this must inevitably lead to problems, difficulties and accidents.
Bicycle Victoria has itself previously stated on its website "Our review of cycling deaths shows that cyclists who break the law are much more likely to be killed or seriously injured". (9)

CycleSport Victoria and the Amy Gillett Foundation submit…“In tandem with education it is submitted that stringent enforcement of penalties for breaches of the road rules is required. There ought to be zero tolerance of running red lights.” (3) The joint Bike Lobby Media Release re James Gould’s Death (including Bicycle Victoria and Triathlon Victoria) supports this view. “We strongly support the Police in their enforcement of traffic regulations on all road users including cyclists.” (2)

The Police submission to Coroner Graeme Johnstone’s Inquest into the Death of James Gould noted that enforcement measures were used over the years “to combat the problem (of rogue cycling), however the measures largely failed due to the number of riders, lack of identification, both personal and vehicular, and non cooperation” (8)

In relation to the Hell Ride: “The sheer number of (Hell) riders (up to 250) Hell Ride Jan 28th 2012 makes interception of individual offenders difficult” (8)

“Police solos are the only method of keeping up with and intercepting cyclists, but cars are required to back up the solos and provide a safe corridor” (8)

nb A Senior Police Officer informed me that he believed red light running by cyclists on Beach Road on Saturdays could be eradicated by constant blitzing using five Police solo motorcycles and one Police car until the problem ceased.

“The cyclists do not carry identification…There is no requirement for registration of bicycles, which would provide a means of identification” (8)

The issue of compulsory registration of bicycles for law enforcement capability gets confused with personal and vehicular cyclist identification for the same purpose, through a compulsory requirement to carry reliable photo ID and to have one’s bike engraved.

The most influential vested interest, Bicycle Victoria, opposes ‘Bike Rego’ asserting that any costs of registration would be a disincentive to cycling and its reputed ‘health benefits’. Bicycle Victoria also asserts that registration would provide administrators with an ‘administrative nightmare’. Bicycle Victoria’s assertions are non-specific and unsubstantiated.

Bicycle Victoria also opposes compulsory identification of cyclists even where cost free:
A range of reliable photo ID exists which most people already have one of: Driver’s Licence, Learner’s Permit, Passport, Proof of Age, Keypass, and bikes are currently engraved by Police free of charge under the stolen bike scheme.

While the above law enforcement capability option is (effectively) cost free, and has little, and existing administration, Bicycle Victoria opposes it by asserting that pedestrians are not required to carry ID, therefore cyclists should not be required to.

To reiterate, while Bicycle Victoria also asserts that “We strongly support the Police in their enforcement of traffic regulations on all road users including cyclists.” (2) and Bicycle Victoria’s Garry Brennan has stated “it’s only fair that all vehicle users are treated equally” (10) Bicycle Victoria also refers to law enforcement of traffic infringements as “punishing cyclists.” Unlit Cyclists Face Greater Injury The Age   Bike Lights sub by Pete Dowe to Parliament Road Safety Committee

Indeed the Bicycle Victoria, CEO, Harry Barber, has sought to confuse the issue 
further of enforcement and cyclists identification by stating: 

“Better enforcement rather than better identification would solve the problem (of cyclists committing road offences).

Bicycle Victoria CEO Harry Barber 

April 12th 2009

The Bicycle Victoria CEO has never elaborated on his notion of "better enforcement" of cyclists traffic infringements by Victoria Police without compulsory cyclists identification.

Nor has Harry Barber expanded on what he meant by: 

“…proper policing of red light offences was needed” 

Bicycle Victoria, CEO, Harry Barber

(Act on Cycle Hoons) Bayside Leader August 14th 2007 

again this notion of "proper" enforcement without identifiable cyclists nor identifiable bicycle vehicles  

If the Bicycle Victoria CEO, Harry Barber really knows how Victoria Police can enforce the road rules for cyclists "better" with "proper policing" without compulsory cyclists identification, 

why does he not explain this to Victoria Police and the wider community? Pray tell, Mr Barber? We're all ears!


The problems highlighted in this report give rise to a series of recommendations, many of which are already extant, but which do not necessarily draw universal agreement.
  • 1       Cyclists should always ride within the capacity of their skills and experience (3)
  • 2   Cyclists should not race on public roads nor treat riding as a race and thus take unnecessary risks. (3)
  • 3   The last two recommendations should also apply specifically to bunch cycling
  • 4       Compulsory  identification of cyclists such as a requirement to carry reliable photo ID and to have one’s bike engraved.
  • 5     Cyclists must prepare for the life and death environment of the road. “You must be ‘fit to ride’ before you ride for health and fitness.”
  • 6       While the responsibility to obey the road rules remains an individual responsibility, it is important that all cyclists riding in bunches on public roads act in a way so that the bunch itself can operate safely. (3)
  • 7       Cyclists who participate in bunch riding need appropriate training before doing so. 
  • 8      It is recommended that groups do not exceed 20 cyclists in total as it becomes extremely difficult for other cyclists and motorists to pass the bunch. (1)

  • 1.     Code of Conduct for Training Cyclists
  • 2.     Joint Bike Lobby Media Release re James Gould’s Death
  • 3.     CycleSport Victoria and Amy Gillett Foundation submission to Coroner Johnstone’s inquest into the death of James Gould.
  • 4.     Bicycle Victoria No Stopping Zones Advocacy
  • 5.     Gary Brennan, Bicycle Victoria The Independent 28/10/08
  • 6.     Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) Jan. 2009
  • 7.     Stateline 1/9/2006 Beach Road Cyclists spokesperson, Marcel Lema
  • 8.     Victoria Police submission to Coroner Johnstone's inquest, op.cit.
  • 9.     Bicycle Victoria’s Report into Cycle Deaths in Victoria (2002)
  • 10. Mordialloc Chelsea Leader May 18th 2009

Beach Road Cycling 2012

Beach Road Cycling. Cyclists Run Red light Feb. 2012

Beach Road Mayhem One Accident too many

Beach Road Mayhem. An update on Beach Road

Hell Ride Bayside Jan. 2012

Drivers say its time cyclists paid a rego fee Sunday Age

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