Keep roads cycling safe and beautiful

Road-side debris like this steel rod can damage bikes and injure cyclists. (Photo Dr Aaron Anderson)

Road-side debris like this steel rod can damage bikes and injure cyclists. (Photo Dr Aaron Anderson)

Some of us may remember a national campaign to “keep Australia beautiful” and not to spread our rubbish around.  It may well be worth re-visiting this as cyclist we are at risk to debris rubbish that finds its way onto the road verge.

The obvious is the broken glass that will pierce a tyre and tube very quickly to the bricks and large articles that if struck by a cyclist is likely to make the front wheel come out from under the rider and subsequently end up off the bike on the road.

The not so obvious is the motorist who places themselves and others at risk when they drive around with unroadworthy tyres with the steel belts starting to protrude through the rubber.  The small broken pieces of steel are one of the most common unseen debris that catch many cyclist with a pin prick slow leaking puncture that is hard to detect.

A recent group of cyclist almost came to grief with some thing quite unusual was found on the road and made its way into the rear wheel of one of the group members. A piece of steel rod must have fallen from a vehicle load and was flicked up and threaded itself through the rear wheel across the frame and into the rear derailer. The rear wheel locked up after the rod had made a full loop around the rear hub.

The loss was almost a carbon frame back wheel and potential broken bones if the cyclist found themselves being thrown to the road surface. (A recent similar fall resulted in a broken hip the second of the cycling community to suffer such a devastating injury.) The rear tyre was flattened through the canvas into the tube.

Fortunately the rider was able to keep the bike upright despite all this happening.  The steel had to be cut out in pieces to get the rear wheel free.  While this is an unusual occurrence and not something one would think could happen, it did.

Another aspect of debris on the road and sharing the road is cyclist being able to maintain their predictability in keeping in a formation and straight line.  Dodging and weaving around roadside debris makes sharing the road dangerous for all shared road users.

If following a disciplined riding group you will find they are very fluid on the road as they move around potholes, glass and the like.  While the cyclists are very aware of their own safety in the group by pointing out such hazards and safely traversing around them, the driver can find this quite daunting. The group moves its position on the road like a slithering snake motion. Hence it is prudent for motorists to allow the minimum distance of no less than 1 metre away for the cyclist or group with caution that at anytime there may be a need to take evasive action if trying to drive closer.

Cyclist can also add to keeping Australia beautiful and in particular the magnificent parks and road reserves we often frequent. Make sure that all items of food wrapping and the like are brought home to be disposed of. Don’t leave punctured tubes in frustration on the side of the road.

For the number of cyclists using the roads there is little evidence that this advice is not being followed. If you do see a tube that has been inadvertently dropped please consider picking this up to keep the cycling community as responsible community members. The motto of “if you dropped it pick it up” or “if you took it into a park bring it back out” and is sound advice in keeping our part of Australia beautiful.

See you on the road soon God willing

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