Reflections on Mike Hall, the IPWR and cycling in Australia

Mike Hall

The IPWR has been an amazing experience but everything has been overshadowed by Mike Hall’s death on the road near Canberra. Not since Tom Simpson, in a very different era and context, has British cycling lost one its heros, so suddenly and so sadly, in action.

More than anyone, Mike created the sport of unsupported ultra-endurance bike racing. In doing so, he‎ made long-distance cycling exciting and got a younger, faster crowd hooked on it‎.  Building on the achievements and ideas of others, such as Mark Beaumont and Nathan Jones, Mike, with his Transcontinental Race, created something full of fantasy and adventure which could fit into two weeks’ holiday. He made the wild, exotic and exciting accessible, not exactly to the masses, but to those of us, less extraordinary than him, who were magnetically drawn to it.

He focused on keeping it open and non-elitist. He could easily have charged a high fee to enter the race, and made it another rip-off sportive with a high qualification bar, but he was too fair-minded for that. And also too clever; Mike had plans, occasionally hinted at, for developing the TCR into something even bigger and better than it already is.  His core idea was a sophisticated one: the riders create the content and excitement and sponsors pay to be associated with it, but never to dominate or overshadow it. ‎As the content got ever bigger and more compelling in successive races, then its strength and its commercial value were bound to increase, but his model could safeguard independence and integrity of his event.

In this way, Mike was building not just a great event but an important brand, a business and a movement for the long-term and it is cruel that has been denied the opportunity to execute his vision.‎

A few months ago, Mike announced that he had been able to give up his day job as an engineer, to focus full time on the TCR and his own cycling. The best careers advice is to take your hobby and work out how to make a living out of it.  Many dream of it, some attempt it, only a few achieve it, but Mike had.

As well as an organiser, Mike led from the front as a top endurance cyclist in his own right. ‎ The record-holder for both Trans-Am and Tour Divide, Mike was also the fastest man round the world. Recalling him with his lightweight set-up, and live-fast mindset, lining up at the start of his round the world race against the old-school pannier set-ups was like seeing tanks against cavalry. Re-reading some of Mark Beaumont’s book the other day in preparing for the IPRW brought home to me – with no disrespect to Mark (who is now planning to build on his own achievements with a supported 80-day round-the-world attempt) – just how much Mike had raised the ultracycling bar in a few short years. ‎ We all knew that he was the person with the cycling firepower that made him the most likely to be able to mount a serious challenge to the dominance of Kristof Allagaert.

Cycling is much poorer without Mike. It’s too early to tell what an impact his loss will have, whether unsupported ultra-endurance racing and the TCR are able to survive it. ‎ I hope that they are, and that Mike’s memory lives on in this field that he did more than anyone to create and nurture.

The IPWR ‎

It’s far too early to attempt an account of the IPWR and, given Mike’s tragic death, there may never be an appropriate time to do it.  However these are the most powerful recollections I have from the event.

  1. Australian roads and driving. I expand on this below but the summary is that, despite good roads, light traffic and consistent driving standards, I found Australia just about the most hostile place I have cycled because the status of cyclists on the road, the respect accorded to them and the understanding of their needs, is lower than elsewhere.
  2. The Australian people. I’d always considered them to be warm, friendly and positive, but I didn’t know half of it.  We got so much encouragement from so many people during the race, who were genuinely interested in what we were doing and respected our challenge.  The attitude contrasted with that typical in Britain, where doing something more energetic than riding to the pub is widely considered a form of madness.  Things really moved up a notch after the event was cancelled following Mike’s death.  We all received offers of help and hospitality, via messages and from people watching our trackers and waiting out on the roads for us to pass.  I have to mention Pete Gordon, who, when I wanted advice on how to get to Sydney, responded with not only that but also by offering me a place to stay overnight, help with packing my bike, and a lift to the airport.  If that was not enough, he then called his parents to get them to pick me up from the airport in Sydney and drive me to my hotel!  Others had similar stories.
  3. The enthusiasm was built and fed by Jesse’s efforts in marketing and covering the event. With three cars out on the road filming, interviewing and taking pictures, there was plenty of content to go round.  Jesse reported that the IPWR Facebook page was getting 1.5 million views, which in internet marketing terms made it a big deal, and that does not happen without a lot of hard work.  Apparently a local TV station considered covering it but decided there was no point when they realised it was getting a lot more hits than they could achieve.
  4. Australia is a big and empty land. I knew beforehand that the Nullarbor wilderness was remote, but the knowledge is not adequate preparation for the reality. With no signs of human habitation for hundreds of miles, no lights in the distance, there was nothing but nature.  At night, my brain worked hard trying to make out shapes of farm buildings and other man-made objects from tree branches and bushes but, whatever I thought I was seeing, there were none.  Also at night the long, straight roads and clear air made it hard to judge distances.  The lights of approaching trucks could be seen for several minutes before they approached.  I timed a truck overtaking me and found I could still see its red lights 13 minutes later.  I often freewheeled as I approached a road sign I wished to read, only to have to start pedalling again when it was further away than I had thought.
  5. The memory of a night camping under the millions of stars in the complete silence of the desert will always stay with me. Given the warmth of the Australian people it was a shame to spend so long in an area with none of them, but it was a fabulous experience
  6. The deserts have lots of animals – especially kangaroos and camels. Most of them hide or sleep during the daytime so, other than the odd kangaroo crossing the road without looking, just in front of me, what we mainly saw – and smelled – were hundreds of road-killed ones in various states of decomposition.
  7. We were lucky with the temperatures – just one 40+ degree day in South Australia – but not with the wind – 6 days of headwinds across the desert. This made it hard going, knocking me and many others off intended schedules.  I rode right through one night when I saw it was going to be calm, and enjoyed the bliss of riding down the 90-mile straight at 25-28 km/h rather than 15-18 during the day.
  8. The roadhouses – service stations with motels – are modern-day oases in the desert. Massive portions of food – although a bit too fried for my liking.  I got a lacerated mouth from some very crispy, well-fried chips at Mundrabilla.  The large bowl of soft, mushy spaghetti bolognaise – enough for three – at Eucla was my highlight.

 

Cycling in Australia. 

This was my first trip to Australia. The people have been wonderful and given the IPWR and its riders great support and encouragement. They have shown themselves to be even more positive, generous and warm-hearted than I’d previously known them to be.

However, a few days into the event, I decided that I did not feel safe on the roads and was not sure where to ride to minimise the risks.  As a result, I felt I would not ‎choose to cycle in Australia again, and could not recommend it to others. In my short time there I had more really scary moments than I can recall from the previous 10 years in Britain, Europe and Asia‎.

I feel the actual standard of driving is good and behaviour is consistent. I got given lots of room by most passing cars – normally a clear lane.  However, the problem is a systematic and fundamental one. Australian cyclists have a very low status on the road: they are expected to ride in the gutter at all times, motorists will not accept being delayed for even a second by a bike and, being overwhelmingly non-cyclists, have no appreciation of the demands and requirements of riding a bike in different road and weather conditions. Even Australian motorcyclists, who I would expect to be more aware of how a two-wheeled vehicle handles on the road, appear not to apply any such understanding to bikes. ‎

I felt the scary incidents I had‎ were not the result of bad driving, more a mismatch between how I expect the rules of the road to apply and how things work in Australia.  This makes it far more scary: in most countries it is the bad drivers that cause the majority of the danger but in Australia, the way the roads work mean that it is the good drivers driving normally who are the main source of danger. And there are far, far more of them‎

Firstly, by way of context, some words on Australian roads. ‎

  • They are probably the best maintained of any I have encountered. In Western and South Australia, the number of potholes encountered could be counted on the fingers of one hand.‎
  • The surfaces are, in most cases, good, although a proportion have a chip-seal dressing with large, sharp, grey stones which is uneven and very slow. ‎
  • Most (but not all) Australian roads have a hard shoulder which is from 1-3 feet wide. The shoulder surface quality varies from being e‎quivalent to that of the main carriageway to being much worse, with ruts, potholes, gaps and sometimes street furniture.
  • In the course of riding it became clear to me that cyclists are expected not to trespass onto the main carriageway but to stay on this hard shoulder, regardless of its quality and, even where it is not present.
  • It would not be possible to organise UK-style time trials on Australian roads: bikes trying to ride on the main carriageway and take fast lines would not be tolerated, even in the lightest of traffic.
  • Australian trucks, or road trains, are normally double size with two 40-foot trailers. Notably they do not have the side bars, standard in Europe, which would keep someone knocked off a bike from falling under their wheels.  ‎

To illustrate, these are few incidents that I had where I felt at risk, riding in a range of different road positions.  These are ones that stand out, but there were plenty more.

  1. On the road from Southern Cross to Coolgardie, a truck was coming towards me‎. I was close to the white line on the left, further left than a secondary position. I was taken by surprise by a second truck overtaking me, passing just a few inches to my right, and causing me to run off the road onto a gravel verge. I was able to make a semi-controlled stop but felt there was some risk I could have lost control and fallen under the wheels of the overtaking truck.
  1. Just after Border Village, in South Australia, where there is no hard shoulder, a truck was coming towards me. Just after it went by, another truck passed me at slow speed, blowing its horn as it did so. I smelled burning rubber as it passed and looked back to see black marks on the road.  I hadn’t heard a thing and had been unaware it was behind me.  I only assume that it had carried out an emergency braking manoeuvre when I failed to move over to a hard shoulder that didn’t exist to accommodate a vehicle I had neither seen nor heard.  ‎
  1. Approaching Ceduna, in light traffic, I had three close passes within an hour. The third, and closest, was a white car which can only have been a couple of inches from my right shoulder.  When I got to Ceduna, I met Gareth, who I had ridden with on the second evening but who had abandoned in the Nullarbor.  He told me that he was in the white car which had skimmed passed me.  He had been rescued after he abandoned by the family.  He was worried by the close pass and felt the daughter, who was driving, had gone closer than necessary, given that an oncoming truck had pulled over to give her more space.
  1. On an undulating road with light traffic on the way to Kimba‎ I was riding in a secondary position. At one point a car overtook me, on a double white line on a blind bend approaching the crest of a hill. The driver slowed and turned to me (ominously as it turned out), saying ‘if you carry on riding in that way, someone is going to get killed’. I could only infer that what me meant by ‘in that way’ was a secondary position and that the risk was that it forced traffic overtaking to move towards oncoming traffic.  The idea that such an overtake was illegal and that waiting a couple of seconds was an option had not occurred to the driver.
  1. On the road to Port Augusta, ‎it was nighttime, there was a cross-wind and virtually no traffic. I was being blown sideways when trucks passed so decided I did not want a double-overtake. When a truck came towards me, I took a primary position to make this clear to the car I knew was approaching from behind. He blew his horn and, at the last minute, braked, when he realised I was holding my position. As he overtook me, delayed by a couple of seconds by not being able to pass at the same time as the oncoming truck, he looked across, clearly shocked by my having acted in a way he did not expect, and said ‘I could have killed you’. The clear implication was that, if he had done, it would have been my fault, not his.
    After this, I gave up trying to take a primary position, took to the hard shoulder and just hoped I could keep control of the bike during double overtakes.
  1. In the town of Kapunda, I was riding downhill quickly in the hard shoulder in moderate traffic. As a truck was about to pass me‎, I saw that there was a major pothole ahead where  tar had melted, affecting the whole width of the hard shoulder.  I didn’t have time to stop.  The truck, who, with a higher position, would have seen this earlier than me, did not allow me to move out.  My only option was to bunny hop.  Not ideal on a loaded bike with aero wheels, but I managed it for the loss of a couple of cereal bars.
  1. On a twisting descent on the Great Ocean Ro‎ad, I used the full width of the lane to negotiate the bends. As I was pulling to the left at the bottom of the hill, a car behind me blew its horn to encourage me to move over more quickly. He was followed by a motorcyclist who, in the manner of his lackey, did not look at me but stuck his left arm out to indicate to me where my rightful place was.

 

 

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33 thoughts on “Reflections on Mike Hall, the IPWR and cycling in Australia

  1. G’day Frank
    Good write up, but you got off light, mate we’re a nation of ratbags.

    But first IPWR and Mike. It broke my heart something changed in me after following IPWR, I didn’t know Mike but he’ll be forever with me and I don’t understand why? I’m 60 years old and I find a new emotion? Still don’t understand? Should I keep riding my bike? What would Mike say?

    I took up cycling 5 years 9 months and 75,000 ks ago to cure morphine and spinal injury dilemma and it worked. Before taking to the bike I was a proud 5 generation Australian having represented my country 7 times internationally in the aerospace industry.

    Since cycling I’ve been spat on, had beer cans thrown, verbal abuse is common, threatened to be shot, an ashtray emptied in front of me (inhaled that). An attractive young lady slowed down to cycle speed for a chat
    with a mouth full of the filthiest abuse ever. The horn blast right by your side makes the saddle jump popular at 110 kph inches from the knee. These are all common, my closest shave was the 4×4 a metre of my rear wheel revving madly, so I pulled of the road into the gravel shoulder to find the 4×4 followed to make sure I was of the road and into the bushes. I got half his rego but it was difficult whilst flying over handlebars. I picked my self up shaken and started to remount when the offender turned around and had come back to take a photo and shout more abuse!

    Welcome to Australia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A great tribute and write up Frank. I met Mike in OTLEY soon after his world record and have followed the TCR avidly last year. It’s great to hear an honest view of the riding climate in Australia. At least in Europe we can choose more minor roads to avoid the freight convoys though I gather there are some Eastern European countries that may have similar attitudes to cyclists.
    I hope dearly that Mikes legacy continues and that safety is primarily left to riders as individual choices.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am somewhat horrified about this and how unsafe it is to ride your bike in such a country . I do not know what can be done to make things better but if I can help in anyway with any campaigns in the future by being Mike’s mum I would have no hesitation .

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Pat condolences for the lose of Mike but I do hope that knowing how much he was respected and loved all over the world is helping you through this very sad time. He clearly loved what he did and was someone that never sought fame but would instead give advice to those that requested it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Pat, sincere condolences for the loss of Mike. I live in the ACT and was an avid road cyclist, after one too many close shaves, lost my nerve and now concentrate on riding MTB bikes where there are few or no cars. I was dot watching and numb on Friday March 31st.
      Lax application of the law, and sensationalist articles regarding cars vs bikes from the tabloid press have stoked this wilful intolerance here. My hope is that with the widening spread of cameras, and the use of compensation lawyers, we might be able to sue some sense into this country.

      Like

  4. Excellent assessment of the issues. I rode home from Perth a couple of years ago and well remember that disappearing shoulder at Border Village.

    Pat, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. He was a giant, and obviously had an amazing mum as well.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. One of the previous comments (Richard) summed it up for me too. I didn’t know Mike but met him at the start in Perth and was so friendly and engaging – sucking us all in on to the IPWR and its challenges. His loss has effected so many people – the IPWR, Mike’s nature, the crazy distances – all us dot watches felt we were somehow part of the ride – and part of the tragedy of the way it and Mikes life finished.

    You have summed up Australian drivers pretty well. The sense of entitlement, the arrogance and the complete lack of appreciation of how vulnerable cyclists are. So many who think that replying to a facebook post, or responding to a snapchat is more important than keeping their eyes on the road. I’ve always thought mirrors were a dumb idea on a bike. I went shopping for one today.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I couldn’t say how much of a contributing factor it is, but it’s my understanding that in the Netherlands and other places there is a legal hierarchy, if as a cyclist you knock a pedestrian you are at fault, as a car, if you knock a cyclist/pedestrian, you are at fault, unless proven otherwise. Perhaps this is what is needed in our litigious society to shift people’s responses, sad that it takes the threat of legal ramifications, rather than the threat POSED to someone’s life to spur people to change their attitude but possibly true.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for this assessment, I have posted it on the Australian Cycle Alliance. As a driver in Australia we see this at every level. As a cyclist, we are working on it. As a human, it is sad we are perceived this way in Australia, but it is a true assessment sadly.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. An ardent West Australian cyclist suffering the same ridiculous aggression and poor attitude from a now diminishing source of road users (it is improving slowly). Can only apologise to all those visitors riding bikes in our country that are subjected to this level of poor driving and abuse. Having cycled all over UK, France and Italy thank you for not reciprocating this level of behaviour in your countries to your visiting cyclists where have felt nothing but care and respect from your populations. I hope we will be able to cycle in similar conditions in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Riding on the road with semis and faster motoring morons:
    1. Ride on-the-road, not on the sealed shoulder ie. to the right of the white edge-line;
    2. Use a rear-view mirror – you will see traffic approaching behind well before you hear it;
    3. Practice ‘The Wiggle’ – when you see traffic approaching at 200-500m distance, do a bit of a weave out into the road, just 30-40 cm is is enough. This is VERY effective with the long-distance truckies, they realise they now need to change lanes fully over to the right, or slow if there is oncoming traffic. It establishes your requirement for road-space. Nothing at all wrong with appearing a little erratic;
    4. If the traffic is cutting you up close, ride WIDER to the right.

    Happy cycling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have been riding on Melbourne’s road for over 30 years, some of those roads happen to be freeways that allow you to ride on the shoulder – as there is no other road nearby, I would never ever, ever recommend to anyone to ride on the right hand side of the white line.

      I did seem to get more abuse from morons back in the 80’s but am now more concerned with those returning from a big night out, Drug drivers are an issue that will continue to pose a threat to all road users. Social media has also provided people the opportunity to vent and perhaps give others some form of entitlement to feel aggrieved by cyclists taking up “their” road. Also doesn’t help when media personalities that are now in government label cyclists cockroaches on wheels.

      Laws have to be harsher for anyone who puts other lives at risk, whether that be through physical actions or inciting hatred towards others.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Frank, the highs and the lows. Sadly, those examples of poor driver behaviour would ring true for most Australian riders. Bicycle Network and other rider advocacy groups are working hard to make riding safer for as many riders as possible. We will keep plugging away.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I’m sorry it was such a bad experience – the points you make are on target.

    Because Australia is so large, outside of major metropolitan hubs its a bit of a crapshoot in terms of driver/cyclist interaction. Even in the cities, some of the worst offenders are country drivers (ie: clearly in a farm vehicle and not used to interacting with cyclists).

    Its not everyone, and we’re working on it – SA introduced 1m/1.5m passing laws; along with many others. What we are lacking is enforcement and education.

    I do hope you reconsider Australia, and that we can make it more about the beauty of sleeping under the stars than conflict with cars.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Australia certainly seems a dangerous place to cycle but here in the UK it’s also not so good.
    Just yesterday i had a car driver deliberately veer into me as i pulled out of a junction.
    Sadly we seem to have a cyclist killed somewhere in the UK monthly.
    But as yet we do not have a law with regard to drivers passing too close so at least you are one step ahead of us.

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  13. It’s great to have a rule about minimum passing distances but in NSW the rule was only brought in to justify an massive increase in cycling fines.
    Not wearing a helmet (up from $71 to $319)
    Running a red light (up from $71 to $425)
    Riding dangerously (up from $71 to $425)
    Holding on to a moving vehicle (up from $71 to $319)
    Not stopping at children’s/pedestrian crossings (up from $71 to $425)
    Penalties for other bicycle rider offences have increased from $71 to $106,
    including the offence of riding at night without lights. or having a bell

    Motorists passing too close to cyclists will be fined a massive $319, but it has to be proven. Guess how many motorists have been fined in relation to the number of cycling fines.

    http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/more-than-133-million-of-fines-have-been-issued-to-cyclists-since-new-penalties-were-introduced/news-story/37ce0ea0bdc2083a0e7beaeeb93d53fc
    I know of one cyclist who was killed in our area in the last 6 months, another who faces a very long re-hab, a former team-mate killed on the North Coast and now Mike.

    You can shove the minimum passing laws up the goverments arse. It is an attitude thing, but good luck with that in Australia. Of the thousands of k’s I’ve logged in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, England and other nothing comes remotely close to the deliberate hatred of car driver toward cyclist in Australia

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Wow Pete that is unbelievable.
    Is it something that can be solved by education rather than heavy fines.
    Do your road designs contribute to the issues you face.
    It does seem we can all learn from the Netherlands when it comes to cycling.

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  15. Whilst the attitude of many Aussie motorists stinks, the quieter back roads are usually much better and safer. However, crossing the Nullabor you only have one option which means encountering all the traffic between Perth and the east coast…and plenty but froad trains. Mike passed away very close to where I live. This happened in a part of the country with a better than average view of us cyclists. The news of his passing shook many of us and caused many to question riding on the road. Not all motorists here are bad, many give plenty of room. Since Amy Gillet died in Germany whilst training there has been a huge campaign to educate motorists and change road rules to enforce a minimum 1 to 1.5 metre overtaking distance. Hopefully with time more motorists will improve their outlook on things.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. “The road is mine alone” belligerance of many Australian road users is hard to fathom. The nicest of people seem to turn into morons once behind the wheel of their car. And few few cyclists who display “The road is mine alone” belligerance by refusing to “single up” on a winding road (thus holding up a line of traffic) does not help the cause of cyclists who in vast majority do the right thing. Its an ingrained cultural thing. Will take a generation of education and law changes (a la Europe) to change the culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unless the lanes are 5+m wide, singling out is the wrong thing to do because it just makes the group longer and fails to make it clear to clueless motorists that they should change lane to pass. Look for the Boardman/Reid video Space on youtube (I think that’s the one). Clearly we still need to educate even cycle-friendly motorists and cyclists about why veterans ride like we do!

      And seeing as this is my first comment: RIP Mike. I was impressed with your appearance on the Bike Show and it’s a shame we’ll never know what could have been.

      Like

  17. Law changes will only help if it’s assumed that the car driver is at fault until proven otherwise. It’s a thing for pedestrians here (Australia) but not for cyclists. People stop at pedestrian crossings but will not give way to a cyclist when it’s quite clear that they need to cross the cycle lane to get to the turning lane (if it was a vehicle lane they would give way to the contents). They will also turn across the path of a cyclist that they just accelerated around to turn left.

    I’m a commuting cyclist and some of my own family think that the roads are gods gift to the private MOTORIST, and that “Share the Road” (which is the Australian equivalent of “Cyclist may use full lane”) really means “Cyclists can use the road, but only when I’m not near them”.

    It’s like motorists really don’t realise that every bike on the road gets them 6m further ahead at every traffic light, one more carpark, and one more heart attack that doesn’t happen

    Liked by 1 person

  18. To be very fair, it is not all motorists, but again it only takes one to kill you.
    In my opinion it is a case of other. A cyclist is not seen as a person but a “thing”, and if you aren’t one of those “things” then you want them out of the way.
    I rode with one of the IPWR guys today for about 10km and there were countless case of drivers passing so very close (one so I close I reminded the driver I was there by tapping on his rear door) and at least a dozen drivers yelled out abuse, just because we were on the road.
    There was no way we could have ridden any closer to the gutter and we were riding single file. At no time was the traffic held up for more than 10 seconds but it isn’t enough for the drivers.
    I don’t know how to spread the idea that the person on the bike is actually somebodies child/father/mother/brother/sister. In many cases it isn’t sinking in

    Liked by 2 people

  19. As a touring, road and mountain bike rider, I can only agree with many of these comments regarding the Australian car drivers. Having crossed Canada, been around Ireland and some of New Zealand, and ridden a lot of Aussie roads I have to say that Aussie drivers have the least respect for we cyclists. Admittedly in many cases of Aussie roads it is the roads that do cause this lack of respect..bad shoulders, single lanes and sometimes very rough roads so drivers thoughts concentrate on their bubble and the cyclists are lucky to get a passing thought – at least it seems that way. I have had many close calls here, I have had cans thrown at me, I have had many cars glide up and either people lean out the window and yell or they plant their boot when close to you. Nothing like this has ever happened in other countries. Totally disrespectful of cyclists! Drivers here need to be educated, OR get on a bike and try it for themselves.
    RIP Mike,my thoughts are with your family, friends and your riding fraternity.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Unfortunately as a cyclist in Queensland Australia your experience is anything but uncommon, actually it is a daily occurrence. Hopefully with more coverage of these events we can educate all road users and get everyone home safe and sound! Stay safe, keep smiling and live to Tri
    Ted

    Liked by 2 people

  21. There needs to be research to show the actual effects of slowing down for a cyclist and safely passing them. If you take all the possible factors to slow a vehicle in an average journey – slower vehicles, traffic lights, roundabouts, road works, bicycles – I’d suggest slowing down for one or two or multiple sets of bike riders would have a negligible effect on the arrival time of a vehicle. For some reason Australian drivers think that slowing for 20 or 30 seconds is the end of the world and the only thing that matters is getting from A to B in the quickest possible time is the only thing that matters. I apologise on behalf of my fellow Australian drivers for your terrifying experiences but as a bike rider I absolutely concur with your first hand evidence that by riding a bike on open roads here you are literally placing your life in danger.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Mal reading your contribution as made me think even more about the problem.
    And given the majority of us cyclists in my opinion literally go out of our way to avoid delaying traffic following behind i think its time for us to change. Mainly to ensure we survive.
    Prior to now i have always considered cyclists who double up rather than ride single file to be using up too much road but it seems to me that riding like that is now one of the ways we can survive on our roads. Easy enough to do if you go out with a group of friends but not so easy if your on your own. But what you could do is catch up the cyclist in front and ride just off their back wheel. You may even make a new friend. We in the UK also have to adopt the law of being able to turn left on a red traffic light if the road is clear, which would save needless deaths on our roads.
    We all also need to make a note of any vehicle registration number that harasses us and report them to the appropriate authority.
    We are in the UK often accused as cyclists of paying no road tax but i am sure the majority of us own various vehicles for which we do pay tax so we too are contributing to the upkeep of our roads. It’s just a shame the money isn’t used for that.
    After all this what i do know is it’s time for us cyclists to fight back before anymore of us due unnecessarily.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Italy. Chianti region. Total contrast. Riding uphill from the village of Gaole in Chianti (about 6-7% gradient). A car sat behind me for two of the three kilometres of climbing, refusing to pass until absolutely safe for both of us. Even when I moved over to the right as far as I could, the driver displayed patience and respect until she decided it was time to move past. She clearly understood that I was someone’s husband/brother/mate/uncle/grandad. As an aussie living in the UK I am wondering if I will ever return when I read accounts like this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Kevvjj Think about it Italians just love their cycling and as a result treat all cyclists with respect.
      Anyway you’ve now made me feel jealous and i wish i was with you. Enjoy.

      Like

  24. I ride in NSW and echo the suggestion above – ride to the right of the white edge line, use a mirror, push the cars over and fade away from them as they pass to add half a metre to their passing distance. You must have a mirror and IMHO the Take-a – look is the best. But yes there is an attitude problem. I didn’t see much of an education campaign by the NSW Govt of the new 1.5 metre laws. There is a lot the NSW Govt could do (and the police) to promote rider safety. My suggestion is to have continuing driver education. Every few years we front up at RMS to pay for a new licence. At that time they could require you do a quick multiple choice video just like they do for new drivers. Topics are whatever they deem most important ( say Bicycles, Roundabouts, Keeping left on the freeway and Bicycles). If you fail the test you only get a 1 year licence and have to have another go next year. And you get the leaflet. I think the poor attitude is simply a total lack of knowledge of what you are supposed to do around bikes. Australian drivers are good as they cope with some very poor roads but they are undertrained. We may have to wait for a new NSW Govt to see any attitude change though. People die of heart disease every day from inactivity. Keep riding. Dont let the bastards get you!

    Liked by 3 people

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