Bicycle Network: Behaviour
Official road rules and Bicycle Network Victoria guidelines for all cyclists
1. Light Up! Campaign
2. Respect the RED
3. Riding on the road
Riding that Riles
|Image by Lombard Photo|
You’re a good rider, right? It’s the rest of them that ride like idiots. Funny, that’s what the other rider said. In all, 686 riders answered a Ride On survey and the results were surprising, with a clear divide emerging between the expectations of the old school daredevils and newer riders.
Bicycle Network Victoria’s Public Affairs officer Garry Brennan says we’re in a transition period with more new riders on the road than ever before, learning the ropes, and sharing the lanes with riders of vastly more experience. In other words, it’s bound to be confusing! “New riders have different expectations to more experienced riders, and unlike the road rules, the behavioral norms aren’t chiseled in stone, they change over time.”
Only 37% of survey respondents said they never knowingly broke the rules, 55% said they occasionally did and 8% confessed to breaking them most of the time. One thing everyone agreed on – they are better than the other riders out there!
Overwhelmingly respondents said they were prepared to break the rules when safety was an issue. And while it’s never a good idea to knowingly break the rules, says Brennan, “The law can never accommodate all the subtleties cyclists deal with on the road, but what people can do is calculate the risks and manage them.”
Red light running
The contradiction between believing and doing is starkly illustrated by the issue of running red lights. It was the most objectionable transgression according to the survey, yet many respondents also admitted to doing it themselves “when it’s safe”, “on a quiet street” or “when there’s no traffic”. “I don’t wait for the green light,” said one. “Often cars turning left mysteriously don’t see you, and turn too hard to the left, cutting you off or forcing you into the kerb.”
|Follow the Respect the Red campaign, a joint intiative of Victoria Police and Bicycle Network Victoria|
Psychologist John Crampton says that while we understand our own reasons for breaking the law, we’re less generous with other riders. “People will always find a way of blaming others. If they’re young, we’ll say it’s because they’re inexperienced, if they’re old we’ll say they’re too slow.”
The instance most riders were talking about is turning left on a red light, and many said the practice should be legalised. While it has become accepted practice in many countries, it is not likely to be quickly accepted here, says Brennan. “In Australia traditionally a red light always means stop. Although there appears to be little or no risk with turning left on red, a change in the law would meet resistance from the road safety establishment.”
Bicycle Network Victoria endorses compliance with the road rules and advises that penalties apply to riders do not comply. The penalty for going through a red light on your bike, for instance, is a $292 on-the-spot fine. Note also as of 1 June there are stiff new penalties for riders guilty of serious offences. Read more on ‘dangerous driving’ laws that apply to bike riders.