Hinch Says

Cockroaches on Wheels

‘God’s gift to women’. Photo Courtesy of: forum.mtbr.com
Yep. OK. That’s the line I used to describe some cyclists in an interview for a Sunday Night story on Channel 7 last night. And I got twitter bombed – even before the story went to air. Talk about ‘onya bike’.


 Included in the more pungent comments were these:

CallsInLate @ I Hate Hills: ‘If cyclists are cockroaches on wheels then @HumanHeadline is an oxygen thieving maggot living on borrowed time’.

Darren Mitchell@darren mitchell2: ‘Why don’t you just hurry up and die’.

And Jamie Hanelt quoted my website on Facebook: ‘“Variety and I want to thank you for giving 706 bikes to needy kids” and yet you call people who ride bikes “cockroaches on wheels”. Hypocrite. I hope you get bashed in prison’. (Anticipating that’s where I’ll go after my contempt of court case next month).

Nobody, it seemed wanted to suspend judgement until the story had gone to air. I wasn’t referring to the thousands of law-abiding cyclists. I targeted the red light runners, the nocturnal night riders without lights, the footpath speedsters, and the ones who think the road rules don’t apply to them.

I might have called them ‘ cockroaches’ – and my stand is not new – but a friend in Sydney, living on a steep hill in Mosman, calls  them ‘wasps’  for the way they duck and weave and  threaten to  sting  pedestrians.

And don’t start me on the middle-aged males in Lycra with their padded codpieces and their dinky shoes.  The weekend warriors, strutting around coffee shops in Brighton and Cremorne.  Deludedly thinking they’re God’s gift to women.

I also believe that adult cyclists should be licenced, should be made to display rego plates and pay for third party insurance. And, at night, they should be booked for riding on pavements and having insufficient lights. Some of the twinklers, if they are using lights at all, wouldn’t guide Tinkerbelle home.

And if they also hold a driver’s licence, demerit points should be applied to that licence. Just like if you are driving somebody else’s vehicle.

Ironically, such drastic action was proposed by Victoria Police back in 2005. So what’s happened?

That plan was supposed to clean up bad riding habits on Beach Road from Port Melbourne to Frankston in the lead up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Back then Inspector Alan Carlisle, who was driving the proposed law changes, said ‘If you breach a road rule, it doesn't matter if you are a car or a bike, you've breached the road rule, therefore the penalty is the same.

‘If a cyclist all of a sudden saw he was going to get three demerit points for going through a red light on his Sunday morning bike ride, and that might affect his livelihood as a sales rep, I think there'd be a lot more responsible attitude’.

Parity was introduced about a decade ago for financial penalties for the same offences committed by either cyclist or motorist, but without strict enforcement and demerit points, the change has had little effect.

And this doesn’t let road rage drivers off the hook. Motorists should never open a driver’s door without checking the rear view mirrors. They should not be road selfish. Should treat all road users as equals.

I said my stand is not new. I voiced my fears and attacked the bicycle cowboys six years ago in the name of James Gould. A lot of the lycra lairs wouldn’t even know or care who James Gould was. I say ‘was’ because James Gould was killed when minding his business on a weekend morning walk.

As he crossed Beach Road (an unofficial weekend race track) with the lights in his favour, a swarm of anti-social cyclists, taking part in their weekly Hell Ride barrelled towards him and a wave of wheels ignored the red light.

Mr Gould died from head injuries. A coroner was severely critical of the two-wheeled anarchists but every weekend there they are again. Some of them still running red lights as if they owned the roadway.

Inspector Carlisle also said the Hell Ride was still ‘unfortunately, at times, anarchy on wheels’ - and in the pack mentality, there was safety in numbers.

‘Even when the police come alongside in a car and say to cyclists in the Hell Ride, “pull over”, they don't - they just keep riding.’

These laws are now more urgent than ever. The State Government, and local councils are more than ‘bike friendly’. They are pushing and pushing to get more people out of four wheels and on to two.

In Melbourne, the City Council has turned a main artery, LaTrobe Street, into a single lane peak hour goat track.  Their experimental cycle lane on the already bottle-necked Prince’s Bridge is perverse. And St. Kilda Road, which was once dubbed the ‘best boulevard in the Southern Hemisphere’ has been butchered by ‘super’ tram stops and is ear-marked for more official vandalism.

If the cops want to crack down on red light runners they should spend an hour at the revamped multiple intersections f of Park Street, St.Kilda Road and Domain Road.

Slow down, a cursory glance, this doesn’t apply to me, ride through….

And I don’t buy the argument that cyclists shouldn’t have a rego ‘because I already paid for it for my car’. If you own two cars you pay registrations for both. If you own a car and a bike you should pay for both of them too.

I don’t care if you are in a Merc or a perambulator with a two-stroke engine. Once you are on the roads then the road rules and licences and registrations etcetera apply to you.

Simple, really.


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