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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why cyclists and drivers hate each other so much | WAtoday


'Dooring' incidents highlight the urgent need for better road rule education for all.


REGRET OVER DOORING AND IGNORING CYCLIST

Brighton man Jeff Hunter has come forward to say he regrets his behaviour after opening a taxi door on a cyclist and failing to exchange details.
In the last week I have watched two videos shared on social media of cyclists involved in accidents. The first was from Queensland, it shows a car tail-gating a cyclist and then ploughing them down. The second is from here in Melbourne and offers a helmet-cam view of a woman being "doored" by a man getting out of a taxi; the man then refuses to hand over his details. Both videos quickly made it onto news websites, where the comments section rapidly filled with cyclist outrage and the predictable tit for tat between cyclists and that segment of car drivers and pedestrians who seem to despise cyclists.

The comments section of these articles is pretty typical of any article involving cyclists these days, and seems to be a microcosm of the ever-nastier relationship between many cyclists and drivers. But what really struck me as I read the comments was how many drivers are ignorant of the laws as they pertain to cyclists. For example, many of the commenters didn't appear to know that cyclists have the right to take up a full lane – as the Queensland cyclist was doing before he was run down – or that it is perfectly legal for a cyclist to pass on the left (as long as the car is not indicating left). Equally, the number of passengers who get out of cars in traffic and "door" cyclists on their left is a clear demonstration that they don't realise it is illegal (as is boorishly illustrated by the "gentleman" in the second video).

To me, this makes one thing clear: there needs to be much greater education around cyclists so that people understand the basic road rules. At present there seems to be an ever-growing antipathy between cyclists and drivers, and before it gets too out of control it needs to be contained. If not, it will only amplify as growing traffic problems drive more people onto bikes, and the worsening traffic means evermore frustrated drivers. If drivers understand the road rules, then perhaps it will abate some of the anger they feel when they see cyclists doing things that they perceive as illegal. It will also save lives, because at present many drivers do not see cyclists as their equals on the road, merely as impediments.

[ Read more,  and watch the video on watoday.com.au ]

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