A friend’s uncle was a flying instructor during World War II. Conducting low-level manoeuvres over Werribee, a nervous passenger once asked if he realised how close they were to the ground. “Yes,” he replied, “but I never look, because where I look I go.”
It’s counterintuitive, but you shouldn’t look directly at an obstacle in order to pass it safely.
Novice cyclists naturally tend to focus on the pot hole or broken glass and find they ride right over it. You go where you look. Getting around obstacles safely is a skill that needs practice. It’s instinctive to look at the danger and inevitable that you’ll run into it that way.
Drivers need to develop the same technique when passing cyclists. They have an added complication not generally faced by cyclists – unlike pot holes or broken glass, cyclists are not stationary.
Bendigo has bred some champion cyclists who’ve been burning up tracks and roads all over the globe. When these men and women get out on the road they can be moving at up to 50 km per hour. In many places in town, that’s the legal speed limit.
There are also many Bendigo cyclists without a medal or title to their names who can travel very fast on a bicycle. Drivers need to take that into account, especially when pulling over to park or turn left.
There are drivers who consider cyclists a bit of sport. They’re usually obvious because they like to make sure you’re aware of their intent.
But there are many drivers who inadvertently veer across the path of cyclists with no malice intended. They’re could be looking only a short distance in front of the riders or at the riders themselves. Like running straight over the pothole you look at, they end up driving too close to the cyclists they’re looking at. Or they’re simply unaware how fast cyclists can move.
Travelling at 50 km per hour anyone on wheels is covering 13.9 m per second. Even at 30 km per hour, they’ll be moving at 8.3 m per second. By the time a driver passes a cyclist and slows down to pull left, a cyclist could well be upon them again.
Cyclists can help drivers pass safely by riding a straight, predictable line. Cyclist-aware drivers base their actions on what they think a cyclist is going to do. Make it easy and everyone gets to their destination safely.
See you on the road soon, God willing.