April 11, 2007
Today I stuck another blow against the inertial laziness attempting to annexe my life and started riding to work again. It’s about an 18km trip each way, mostly on bike paths.
In all it was a bit sad really.
As a bit of background, six months ago I had trained for the Around The Bay in a Day ride (ATB), an annual cycling event here in Victoria that my work kindly sposored some of us to enter. There are several options ranging from a 42km ride around Melbourne for the casual cyclist, up to a 250km legends ride for the more dedicated element. Being at least partially connected to reality, I opted in for the 100km half loop, from Sorrento back to Melbourne on my trusty mountain bike. I actually did fairly well, finishing in three and a half hours, with a short lunch break. I felt strong and fast and I was probably the fittest I have ever been. Then for some reason I stopped riding (and pretty much any other form of exercise) and took up eating instead.
So my last memory of riding was feeling like some kind of well oiled commuting machine. This morning I was that-guy-who-everyone-passes-because-he’s-so-pathetically-slow-and-looks-like-he’s-going-to-faint.
Anyhoo, dragging the tattered scraps of my pride behind me I left the dedicated bike path for St Kilda Road and the last few kilometers to work. I laboured my way down the street in the helpfully green painted bike lane (with only one incident of a 4WD trying to turn left through me, which oddly enough is what I’d count a pretty good day) when some pedestrian lights ahead turned red. Now, I will save for another day my detailed views on cyclist’s rights to use the roads, but to be brief I think that when we are on the road we should (where practical and not actively dangerous) obey the road laws as they apply to us. That means wearing a helmet, and that means stopping at red lights.
So I stopped. And was promptly almost mowed down by the two cyclists behind me who shot the light.
Now it was completely safe for them to do so – there were no pedestrians and it was not an intersection, but quite frankly that’s not the point. Anecdotal evidence suggests (’cause I’m too lazy to go digging for a reference) that many drivers think that most cyclists ignore road rules and are generally rude discourteous evil smelly vegan eco-spazzies. When cyclists don’t obey road rules, they are confirming the rantings of the cyclists-don’t-pay-rego-and-never-obey-road-rules-and-slow-me-down-blah-blah-blah idiots and pointlessly increasing hostility amongst the driving public against cyclists in general.
You really can’t generalise on either side of cyclist/driver issues, but some people only seem to care about themselves. Stupid people.