Share the roadIn the last week it has hit me really hard about safety while we are cycling.  In the last 24 hours there has been one cyclist killed in Tasmania, a young female rider hit a parked car at Safety Beach and yesterday 2 men in their 20’s decided it would be fun to drive along Beach Road in Melbourne and hit riders with a rolled up newspaper.

I have a number of questions about these incidents: The young 21 year old male in Tassie was riding with another cyclist on an open road, the driver says he didn’t see them!  What was in his way, was his attention elsewhere?  The female who hit the car, was she too worried about cars passing her or was she busy chatting with someone and not paying attention? And what stupid planet did the 20 year old guys come from in the ute, thinking it was a good idea to hit people?  A number of these cyclists came off their bikes causing injuries and most likely damages in the thousands. Luckily no one died!

2013-12-26 18.44.41A week ago today I went for a ride myself, it was a day filled with typical Melbourne weather, bit of sun, wind and then rain.  I had ridden about 70km and I was 2km from home when I had to move over tram tracks because of road works.  It was right near a tram depot with tram tracks running a number of different ways and the roads were wet.  I wasn’t going very fast but hit the tracks the wrong way and came off my trike.  Even though I wasn’t travelling very fast I hit the road pretty hard with my right side and my head hit very hard.  First thing I thought was “thank god I have a helmet on”.  I was lucky the road was wet and I slid, so not much damage to me.  But upon getting home I realised that my helmet had cracked right through.  If I hadn’t had that helmet on I don’t think I would be here (Yes mom I’m okay!)  Even though it was at slow speed I’ve had a hell of a headache for a week.

The day before Christmas friends I ride with Tracey and Corinna were up near Shepparton to celebrate with Tracey’s parents.  What a perfect place to go for a ride.  They had just started out and as Corinna tried to scratch her leg her bike hit a stick on the shoulder they were riding on, as she tried to push the stick away from it hitting her, her hand got sucked into the front wheel which de-gloved her hand (ie the skin got ripped off) and she came off her bike hitting the road on her head.  Corinna is more than lucky, her helmet cracked as well and she broke the T6 and T7 vertibrae, but her helmet saved her life.  It hasn’t been a very nice Christmas for them as Corinna had to be flown to the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne for spinal surgery….but SHE’S ALIVE and will make a full recovery.

Corinna after her spinal surgery

Corinna after her spinal surgery

As I pulled out of my house to go and visit Corinna and Tracey at the hospital the other day I saw a young woman riding her bike on a very busy road, helmet on, but undone!  Then on the way home another guy with no helmet at all.  I’m sorry but I don’t understand why people are so stupid.

Getting back to the incidents in the last 24 hours, when I’m out riding I see all kinds of people doing the wrong thing from pedestrians to riders to drivers.  It is not just the drivers that do the wrong things, it can be the cyclists as well.  It’s time that we as cyclists who obey the road rules start saying something to those that don’t because it makes us all tarred by the same brush in the eyes of others.  And drivers have to learn to share the road and idiots in vehicles who think its fun to hit or come as close to riders as possible have to realise they are playing with that riders life.

The Amy Gillett Foundation is trying to get it put into law that “A metre matters”, to get cars to pass cyclists by at least a metre, it certainly isn’t a hard thing to do.  With only a few days until the new year I pray that we won’t have any more incidents like the past week.  Please to all the cyclists out there…stay safe. To the drivers out there, remember most cyclists are drivers as well, lets make sure that we are all safe on the roads, each and every one of us wants to get home to our families in one piece.  Happy New Year everyone.


About the author : CarolC


  1. Tina McCarthy 29/12/2013 at 5:52 am - Reply

    As an AustCycle coach, who works closely with the recommendations from The Amy Gillet Foundation and supports safe cycling for all, it is astounding how many people you can see out on the road with helmets undone, not fitted correctly or just not even wearing them at all. Though it may be a doomsday attitude, you can fall off your bike while you’re stopped and cause a serious head injury (and yes ‘no-helmet’ advocates I can hear you screaming that you can do that while you’re walking down the street). But what we are trying to advocate as coaches is that a helmet can save your life while you’re on the bike.

    We travel at speed, we expose ourselves to cars and other objects (like tram tracks and sticks that jump out and get you!) and we place ourselves in circumstances which can increase the chance of a head injury. By failing to wear that helmet that the law states we must wear, we increase that chance of injury even further. But many fail to realise that by wearing a helmet which doesn’t fit, doesn’t do up or is already cracked, it will probably do next to nothing in preventing brain injury in the event of an impact.

    I have seen many people come to my classes with broken helmets, or ones which don’t carry an Australian Standards (AS/NZS 2063) approval sticker, and many who just have no idea how to wear their helmet correctly. It’s always in Lesson 1 – Helmet Safety, and the info we give people surprises many!

    It is even more surprising how many people are unaware of the reasons our helmets are designed the way they are: shiny so they slide on the road and don’t get snagged on anything, straps with a “v” around the ears and buckles just under ear lobes so the helmet doesn’t rotate on impact, and made to sit neatly over the skull not tilting forward or backward, but just two fingers width above the eyebrows so it encases the brain, and further back adjustments to make that fit even less likely to rotate or move, adjustable chin strap to make sure the helmet stays on and some also have internal roll cages built into the foam, just like Carol’s helmet…even with that, imagine the impact that broke her helmet and what would have happened had Carol not been wearing it. We simply may not have been reading her EXCELLENT post!

    It breaks my heart to see Mum’s and Dad’s out there riding with their kids, no helmet on or not done up, as if they are immune from a fall while they’re going slow with the kids. Please set an example folks!

    Thanks Carol for a brilliant post – you have enough of a profile to make people listen. To Corinna, hope you get well and make a speedy recovery – glad you too had a good helmet on. As Carol said “lets make sure that we are all safe on the roads, each and every one of us wants to get home to our families in one piece”….and our families want us to come home to them healthy and happy too.

    Brilliant Carol….thanks for speaking your mind (as always!!) Apologies for the long reply!

    • CarolC 29/12/2013 at 7:25 am - Reply

      Thanks so much for your comments Tina!

  2. Judy krape 29/12/2013 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Very thoughtful Carol. As an infrequent rider , I can appreciate the ” luck ” involved in safe riding. Who knows what people are doing while they drive their cars! Also I would like to add , As a pedestrian, that it would be really useful if cyclists could notify pedestrians of their prescence because there are hazards for both when only one knows what is going on. As a pedestrian with dog on shared walkways, I don’t think cyclists accommodate as well as they might. and I am all for respect for all modes of travel

    • CarolC 29/12/2013 at 7:23 am - Reply

      So true Judy, it is important on shared pathways that cyclists let people know they are passing, I always do. Unfortunately sometimes the pedestrian can’t hear me as they have head phones on,but respect for all is very important.

  3. LYN STACKER 29/12/2013 at 7:46 am - Reply

    Hey Carol, a great article and a timely reminder to us all. I am astounded at some of the stupid things I see from drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Having spent time in France recently, I noticed that the attitude by motorists towards cyclists is very different. It is law that cars must give cyclists a minimum of 1.5 metres when overtaking, but most are content to sit behind and wait for a safe place to overtake, especially on the narrow village streets. Wouldn’t it be nice if the same mindset permeated some of the mindless here at home.
    So glad you weren’t too badly injured after your tumble.
    Hope you had a great Christmas and have a safe and happy 2014.
    Cheers Lyn

    • CarolC 29/12/2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      Yes Lyn I’ve ridden in France and it is so much different, too bad we can’t follow their lead.
      See you in the new year have a safe one.
      C xx

  4. Marjorie Jenkins 29/12/2013 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Oh, Carol, what a great post. It must be scary and I know dangerous for cyclists on shared highways.. There are definitely many drivers that act like they got their license from a popcorn box. We also have many motorcyclist here that take dreadful chances in traffic. As a driver I am always cautious when there are cyclists on the road, but sometimes the cyclists do not use caution. So glad you were not hurt when you fell. I agree we all need to be educated ,cyclists, drivers & pedestrians .You would be my choice as speaker world wide (Ha! in your spare time). Happy New Year, my special neice.
    Aunt Marjorie

    • CarolC 29/12/2013 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Aunt Marjorie it sad to hear that it’s not just Australia that has problems. Too bad we all can’t be more like Europe in their acceptance of cyclists.
      Happy New Year to you and Crawford xxx

  5. Lachlan Macdonald 30/12/2013 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Really good thought-provoking post Carol. As you pointed out, it’s a two-way street (pun intended) and it’s both motorists and cyclists who need to adjust their attitudes, so that we all have a much safer time on the roads.

    • CarolC 31/12/2013 at 9:57 am - Reply

      Thanks Lachlan you are so right and I do like the pun! It is a two way street. Today I saw a cyclist go right through a red light towards me. I said to her, well that was a nice red light and she said “yes thanks”. I just shook my head and said ” you’re an idiot” she thanked me again. When will people learn?

  6. Jenny Cameron 30/12/2013 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    As you were writing this Carol there was another death – a 47 y.o. woman on a training ride on a straight road between Adelaide and Victor Harbor (28/12). The motorist did a runner, but thankfully there were witnesses and they were later caught (a long way from the accident scene). Individual stupidity of cyclists is one thing, at least they usually only hurt themselves if they come unstuck, but its the horrible attitude of too many drivers that I despair over. This morning’s Age newspaper published a letter from someone on a bus to Melbourne last Saturday who overheard one passenger say he had “nearly missed a cyclist to teach him a lesson” and the 2nd passenger laughed (apparently the cyclist had dared to take up a whole lane). But it is not just arrogant bullies you need to fear on the roads, it is also those who are carelessly distracted or who are ignorant of the needs of cyclists and their attitude seems to allow a view of cyclists as not human (I overheard a woman at the gym recently complaining of cyclists in her inner urban street – “why don’t they use bike paths!” as though there is a magic bike path for every cyclist that safely delivers them to their destination without the need to ever go on a road – and of course the problems of shared paths as others have mentioned. After witnessing many incidents on inner Melbourne roads, both as a cyclist and a motorist, Malcolm has pretty much given up cycling since coming to Melbourne two years ago, he decided his life was worth more than his love of triathlons 🙁

    • CarolC 31/12/2013 at 9:54 am - Reply

      So sad about another death and sad that people think it’s funny to “teach a cyclist a lesson”. Attitudes have to change but I’m snot sure how we do this.
      Sorry Malcolm has virtually stopped riding because it is such a good sport.

  7. Phyllis Banks 31/12/2013 at 3:34 am - Reply

    Oh, my goodness, what a way to find out my daughter had fallen off her bike.
    Thank goodness you are okay.
    Thank you also for a wonderful post. I only hope that many cyclists and drivers will read it and heed the advice you give.
    I am so careful when driving past a cyclist as some weave in and out and make it very difficult for a driver.
    Please be careful Carol.
    Mom and Dad

    • CarolC 31/12/2013 at 9:52 am - Reply

      I didn’t tell you mom because you would worry and there was nothing to worry about! I am always careful, just wish others were!
      Love you xxx

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