Bicycle wars caught on camera

From Perth Now:

HELMET-MOUNTED cameras have highlighted the friction between cyclists and motorists, with footage showing bike riders being sprayed with abuse or put in a threatening situation about once every three hours.

Cycling WA, the state’s peak cycle group, says hundreds of complaints are being lodged with authorities every week as riders run the gauntlet on WA roads.

This month the RAC will hold a forum looking at vulnerable roads users, including cyclists, and how to protect them.

Cycling WA operations manager Toby Hodgson said Melbourne research using cameras mounted on cyclists’ helmets showed the extent of the threats they faced.

He said the dangers of cycling were “the same, if not worse” in WA.

The Bicycle Transport Alliance and Bike West have been lobbying hard for a cultural change among drivers, but Mr Hodgson said it was a “constant battle” between motorists and cyclists on the roads.

“People are being run into the back of, there have been deaths, threats and abuse,” he said.

“People have said, ‘If I ever see another cyclist again I’ll stick a broom handle in their spokes’.”

South-West Cycle Club vice-president John Hanczakowski, who was hit by a car as he negotiated a roundabout in Bunbury two years ago, said WA motorists were among the least patient in Australia.

“Motorists hurl abuse at you. They’re impatient, they’re mostly people abusing you or tooting their horns,” he said.

“The attitude is worse here than over east. We went to Adelaide and the attitude was so different. We’re constantly being told we’re a nuisance on the roads, but we’re entitled to be a road user just like motorists.”

Mr Hanczakowski said the club’s training rides from Bunbury through the Ferguson Valley and elsewhere in the South-West had become perilous. One of the club’s top riders, Darren Studwick, was killed when he was struck from behind by a car while riding home from work at Worsley Alumina on the Coalfields Highway from Collie in November.

“We lost Darren and it certainly shows the danger we face. You’re at the mercy of the motorists,” Mr Hanczakowski said.

According to the Bicycle Transport Alliance, the Melbourne study analysed 127 hours of helmet-cam footage and concluded that car drivers were at fault in 87 per cent of incidents with cyclists.

Sideswiping was the most frequent incident and, based on the results, it concluded a cyclist using public roads would expect some sort of incident every three hours.

It said also nearly 8000 cyclists were admitted to hospitals after traffic crashes in Australia every year, with cyclists accounting for 14 per cent of road users admitted to hospital after a crash.

BTAWA will be attending the Cycle Safety Forum on 14th May 2011.  If you can’t make this forum and have any issues that need to be considered, please let us know.

About Roland

I returned to cycling around 5 years ago, when I decided to start commuting by bike to work. I'm now cycling around 13,500km's annually, and love it.