This is not your typical rant of a cyclist against senseless, inconsiderate drivers or a driver against arrogant, lycra-clad cyclists. But don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to rant at the end.
I find myself in a unique position. I cycled a lot – for many years while I was an Olympic rower then a few as a competitive cyclist. I ended up winning the 2009 Tour of New Zealand, then I became the National Time Trial Champion a year later.
But due to a head injury I sustained through a fall at a cycling race at last year’s Tour Down Under, I no longer cycle. And I had to surrender my car licence. I’ve recently been through the medical and practical driving test and have got it back after nine months of not driving.
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How can you tell the difference between a newly-elected government and a party that’s been in power for nearly a decade?
A newly-elected government is happy to admit that things could be done better.
A classic case in point this week was the new Liberal Government in NSW switching off 38 speed cameras deemed to have no real safety benefit.
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Speed cameras alone cannot account for dangerous conditions and drivers on our roads.
Victorian Police Minister Peter Ryan’s announcement of an inquiry into the accuracy and effectiveness of the state’s speed cameras comes in the wake of a culture of public skepticism about speed cameras in Victoria, and recent furore in NSW.
Victoria pays some of the highest speeding fines in the country. The Brumby government budgeted them to raise $476 million this financial year alone, so it is little wonder they have been pigeonholed by many as ‘revenue raisers’.
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Across Australia today a familiar push and shove is taking place as cyclists vie for space with the ever increasing numbers of cars on our roads. It is a pattern that is repeated throughout our towns and cities; a symptom of our car loving culture and sense of road entitlement from drivers and cyclists alike.
Drivers resent the packs of Lycra warriors when they take up entire lanes and invent their own road rules, and cyclists understandably fear cars which are often wielded like 100 tonnes of road clearing debris.
Neither party is blameless in this dangerous game of chicken, but it is up to state governments to appreciate the differing needs of commuters and adjust their infrastructure accordingly.
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