Motorists who aren’t cyclists often don’t realise how fast an adult on a bike can move.
Road cyclists can sit around 40 kph, but don’t assume that the bloke on the mountain bike or the woman with panniers is travelling slowly. You don’t need a hill to really get moving.
On the run in from Kangaroo Flat to the CBD along High Street a hybrid with a tail wind can easily reach or exceed 50 kph which means a cyclist is travelling as fast as a car.
It’s not the only fast spot in town. Drive down Retreat Road from Spring Gully and you might be paced by a cyclist on their way to work. Bridge Street on the way past Coliban Water is another.
Most cyclists have hair raising stories to tell about motorists who must have thought they were travelling very slowly. Cars turn out of side streets, zip across intersections, pull over to the kerb in front of a bike or turn left across the path of the cyclist.
In traffic, cars accelerate and decelerate and that makes it hard to judge the speed of a bicycle.
Even at 35kph a car or bike will be covering nearly 10m per second. Consider that power poles are spaced around 50m apart. If you come to a stop sign and see a bike up the road in line with the nearest power pole, it can be on you in 5 seconds.
Now you’ve seen them you actually have less than 5 seconds to start moving, turn the corner and accelerate away before they reach you. Can you do it safely?
If that cyclist is travelling at 50kph, you’ve only got 3.5 seconds to do it.
How do you judge how fast they’re going? Perhaps by changing the way you think about a bicycle.
A bicycle is considered a vehicle by law, with the same right of way as a car, bus or truck. Don’t just assume they’re travelling slowly. Look carefully, as you do when you see a car. That short pause to assess a bike’s speed can make a world of difference to safe shared road usage.
Most cyclists try to make eye contact with motorists to make sure they’ve been seen. Wait just a little for them to go by and you’ll be rewarded with a smile and nod of thanks. It’s those little courtesies that make sharing the road a pleasure.
See you on the road soon, God willing.