a bullbar for my bicycle…

Dear reader: Take the first couple of paragraphs with a grain of salt as they are based on comments as reported in the Moreland Leader. Seems there is a possibility that this wasn’t exactly what was said. All the same, the stuff I said isn’t all suddenly wrong either, so I’ll leave it here.

Breathtaking arrogance and stupidity demonstrated this week on the old car vs. bike debate: this time, reportedly, from a cyclist.

some cyclists in morelandJoel Mayesat and Bill Bretherton of ‘Human Powered Cycles’ were apparently “appalled to discover” that Bicycle Victoria had sold advertising space to Subaru, who were in turn, getting into the spirit by offering bicycle related incentives to test drive and ultimately purchase a Subaru 4WD.

Now Joel and Bill are good people, doing good work – in fact, I have donated no less than three bicycles to their workshop to be repaired and redistributed to disadvantaged people. I took them down there on the back of our car – yeah, the 4WD with the thumping big bull bar! He obviously didn’t realise I was ‘THE ENEMY’.

Honestly though, this sort of argument is so wrong on so many levels – clearly they should stick to fixing bikes, and the Moreland Leader should realise that Joel and Bill are not ‘Moreland cyclists’ in the representative sense, but are, in fact, a couple of Moreland cyclists. I am a ‘Moreland cyclist’ too, but I’m not losing sleep about the ad space that Subaru bought in a magazine.

There is a quote in the article that states that “For the vast majority of cyclists one of the main sources of danger they have riding on roads are large 4WD vehicles”. Funny, ’cause I thought it was the drivers. I mean, without a driver, most 4WDs seem to sit quietly at the side of the road… you can usually spot them and go safely around them – I can’t see the problem.

Drivers, on the other hand, drivers that cut across lanes, open doors, turn left right in front of me, park badly, block cycle lanes – now they really give me the shits. They certainly don’t all drive 4WDs. In fact, it was after reading this article that I cycled to work and watched as a cyclist stupidly cut through stationary traffic and across a bike lane causing a very nasty crash with another cyclist. Sort of reinforced the message that it’s not 4WDs, buses, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles or even pedestrians that are the danger – it’s just stupid people.

Now, if Subaru’s ad gets a few people in to try their cars, and some of those people decide to get out and use their giveaway cycle maps to explore the two wheeled world a little, what we might end up with is a more aware and intelligent group of people, on bikes and in cars. That would be a good thing for everyone.

7 replies on “a bullbar for my bicycle…”

  1. So you think a quality newspaper Moreland Leader actually reported *exactly* what Joel said? Come on, you’re surely are not that naive! My partner was there (and also in the photo) and from his recollection, there was no ranting nor raving going on.

    Well, maybe there was later where the article was handed to a sub-editor and tweaked with to give a more radical tree-hugging hippy shit edge to it.

    Read more background on the HPC site, including our letter to the BV Board. Of which we haven’t received a response or reply as of yet.

    Don’t believe me? Well go and have a chat to Joel directly, as he was less than pleased with the stories angle.

  2. Well, I’m sorry if I’ve misrepresented Joel and Bill – you’re right that I should not have taken the word of the paper as gospel. On the other hand, the HPC letter, and the narrow view it progresses don’t change many of my points of view. I do own a 4WD with a great big bullbar, which I know isn’t a great city car, but a replacement or second car is a huge carbon/dollar cost so I’ll stick with it and continue to drive it only when I can’t use my bike. My point is, don’t work on creating a gulf between drivers and cyclists. Our best chance is if everyone realises that there are people behind the steering wheel and people pushing pedals. If we respect the people, we’ll go a long way further.

  3. Re-reading HPC’s response to the issue I can’t see where you’re drawing the conclusion that having an alternative opinion is either espousing a narrow viewpoint or creating a ‘gulf’ between road users. For the matter, our letter to the BV Board is also listed on the HPC link, so are we also being arrogant for attempting to suggest some ideas for BV to avoid such problems in the future?

    Although there maybe a subtext here in that you may of taken the whole issue a tad too personally. The issue is a cycling-based organsation obtaining advertising revenue from a vehicle company and the mixed messages it maybe sending. Not you and your 4WD’s bullbar, as that’s entirely your choice.

  4. I’m sorry – anyone who wants to exclude an advertiser from a publication based on the product they sell is heading down a very slippery slope.

    Even if you have concerns about the product, to suggest that somehow hiding it from the view of BV’s readers is going to make the problem go away is incredibly naive.

    As for creating a gulf – the implication is that cars like the one I drive are unworthy… of course I take it personally! and so would just about every 4WDer. If that’s not creating a gulf, into which animosity and misunderstanding will inevitably creep, I don’t know what is.

  5. I’m sorry – anyone who wants to exclude an advertiser from a publication based on the product they sell is heading down a very slippery slope.

    You’re missed the point, this isn’t about excluding anyones right to right to a joint business arrangement – it’s about having appropriate guidelines, so public misunderstandings don’t develop.

    My partner & I made that point quite clear in our letter to the Board – if BV want to obtain advertising revenue from a vehicle company, then have the appropriate guidelines upfront and on public display alongside the advert. That’s not hiding anything – if more businesses took on the triple bottom line they’d probably enjoy more public status and sales.

    As for creating a gulf – the implication is that cars like the one I drive are unworthy… of course I take it personally! and so would just about every 4WDer.

    Well unfortunately 4WD’s do have a bad rap either in public perception, road safety stats and medical authorities. All that started *long ago* in the media well before this little article was published in the Moreland Leader, so it’s not solely up to you to carry the imagined collective guilt for everyone who has a 4WD/SUV.

    You state clearly you understand the energy issues and ride a bike where appropriate. And compared to to large percentage of the population who don’t seem to give flying proverbial, your contribution is more than adequate.

  6. Andrew, my comment re. 4WDs were not aimed at you personally. I am sure you are a safe driver and use a car responsibly, as my partner and I do (and as I told the journalist).

    There is however tomes upon tomes of research which shows that 4WD vehicles represent hazard to other road users, this included pedestrians, cyclists and occupants of other motor vehicles.

    As an example read the paper “Comparing driving behavior between 4WD and sedan vehicles:” from the Queenland Uni Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety which concluded that

    “The results showed a tendency for drivers to travel faster in the 4WD, and to decelerate and accelerate more rapidly at a 90 degree turn. These results have safety implications, as the size of 4WDs already makes them more aggressive in a crash, while greater speed increases their risk of a crash, even for modest increases in average speeds ”

    The Monash University Accident Research Centre – Report #262 shows that the chances of being injured or killed in a traffic accident are increased if a 4WD vehicles is involved.

    And so on, there is a body research going back nearly twenty years on the safety 4WD vehicles.

    I’m not pushing a cyclist vs. drivers platform (My partner and I own and use a car), There is however an overwhelming body of evidence showing that ON AVERAGE not only are 4WD vehicles more dangerous to cyclists then more appropriately sized cars but the drivers of these vehicles ON AVERAGE tend to be less attentive and drive more aggressively.

    I do believe it is inappropriate for BV to be promoting large 4WD vehicles, if they had run an ad for a small car I wouldn’t be upset.

  7. Drivers are the primary issue when it comes to causes of collisions, however, comparing the result of collisions (vehicle to cycle) between types of vehicles it is unquestionable that 4WDs (especially those with bull bars) and cars with bull bars will cause greater damage to the other party than a car.

    As I’m sure you know, bull bars in particular are designed in such a way as to drag roos and bulls (as if there are loads of bulls around on any roads) under the car, so as to deflect damage away from the body and windscreen, and to prevent animals crashing through the windscreen into the passenger space. When a bull bar collides with a pedestrian or cyclist, the result is inevitable: maximum damage to the ped/cyclist, minimum damage to the vehicle. Lovely…

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