Saturday 10 May 2014

Death on the road

There's been a number of high profile cycling crashes in Sydney recently resulting in death and serious injury. From what I have gleaned from the papers,  the cyclists involved were not paying attention to the risks.

For starters, a bloke was killed when he rode off the footpath and into the path of a turning bus. By the sounds of things, he didn't stop and look at the intersection - he just rode through it at speed and was cleaned up. My kids are currently riding on footpaths, and I teach them to stop at every intersection and have a good look - and that's on quiet streets in suburbia. He was riding alongside Military Road, which is one of the busiest roads in Sydney.

I don't blame him for not wanting to ride on Military Road - I did it once, and I don't want to do it again. I know blokes who commute along that road, and they are extremely fit and very fast and would be in the top 1% of cyclists - but even they don't like it. However, if you ride on the footpath, you just have to accept that your journey is going to be a lot slower - you need to amble along (so you don't annoy the pedestrians) and you need to stop at the corners. And yes, I know it is illegal to ride on the path in NSW if you're an adult without kids. I guess he wanted to go fast, but didn't want to ride on the road. So he tried to ride fast on the footpath - which is just a no-no.

The second crash was where a bloke got stuck under a turning truck. I had a look at the intersection, and I think I know what happened. The truck was turning left at a very sharp corner - the road he was turning into angles back. So we know what trucks do on tight corners - if they are turning left, they pull out to the right to give themselves plenty of room to turn. If the turning circle is too tight, a truck just won't get around the corner - it'll find itself hung up on a sideswiped power pole.

My guess here is that the truck had moved partly or wholly into the middle lane in order to turn left, and the cyclist coming up behind thought he could zip through on the left. He was going fast, the truck turned and he slammed into the side and went under the back wheels. Nasty. But unless the truck was failing to indicate, that was all the cyclist's fault. It's easy for me - I've driven trucks and I know all about blind spots and turning circles and braking distances and that sort of thing, so I treat anything larger than a 4WD with a great deal of caution. I don't go ramming up the inside of slow moving buses and trucks - I exercise a bit of patience and wait. Taking a bit longer is preferable to having your legs squashed by a 10 ton truck.

Poor buggers - but I hope the rest of us can learn something from this.