An open letter to the drivers and cyclists of Melbourne
I haven’t blogged since new year’s eve, and since I was aware of not having blogged all of this year, planned to open with something pretty sweet! However, all I have to open with is a discussion about the lack of adherence to road rules in Melbourne – or to be more specific, lack of awareness of the presence of pedestrians.
I am a pedestrian. I neither drive nor bike in Melbourne. I used to do both of those things when I lived in Darwin, but not in recent years.
I have always had problems with almost being mowed down by idiots in cars, ever since I moved here in 2001; I remember writing a short rant when I was living in North Carlton about almost getting run down on a weekly basis.
I’ve been almost getting run down on a much more frequent basis lately and it feels stupid to use the term “annoying”. Should I merely refer to the near loss of my life as “annoying”? I actually got honked at by someone driving a car, speeding around a corner, who had to brake to avoid hitting me the other day, when I was crossing on a green pedestrian light. Like I was the annoyance to them?
Last week I got the tram home after a guy from work insisted it would be safer than walking (and I was feeling lazy). I went to get off the tram, and this girl rode across the door I was getting out of on a bike so close to me and so fast that my hair was whipped across my face for a good five seconds. If I had stepped out half a second earlier I would have been fucked up. All the cars had managed to stop at this tram stop (and cars not stopping at a tram stop is one of the biggest problems I usually have), yet the cyclist either wasn’t paying any attention whatsoever, or though she was above the law – and both those alternatives are not acceptable. If she had hit me, or someone else, I or they could have been killed. I have seen many close calls, one involving a young mother with an infant in a pram and a toddler who were all two centimetres away from being crushed by a braking car, the driver of which clearly hadn’t been paying attention to the fact that they were getting off the tram, despite the fact the tram had already stopped and was emitting warning signals.
Cyclists whinge about drivers, and rightly so – there have been many horrible instances where drivers have hit cyclists either front on, or with their doors as cyclists are passing. I have many friends who are cyclists and who have either been hit by a car or almost hit, and one friend who was put into a coma by being “doored” by a person getting out of a car without looking. I feel for what cyclists have to go through; the ignorance of drivers.
But what cyclists probably don’t realise is that they are pretty much doing the same thing, to pedestrians. You’re looking out for cars; you’re not looking out for the “little” people on the roads. Cyclists are probably attuned to looking out for fast-moving things, which may be why they fail to see pedestrians stepping onto the roads – but sorry, that’s not good enough.
Actually, I’m giving cyclists too much credit. If you’re on the road, then you should be following the traffic lights, and not running through red lights. Or tram stopping signals. Pay attention.
Bad cyclists are just as bad as bad drivers. And it’s us pedestrians who suffer through your negligence. Think hitting someone on a bike isn’t as bad as hitting someone in a car? If that person is elderly, or if the person happens to fall in a particular way, you can easily kill them.
Obviously, there are plenty of awesome car drivers and cyclists out there who would probably feel indignant at reading this post. You know this post isn’t about you. You know two or three people this could apply to. I don’t know if there’s any way to help people to pay attention, but that’s what we need. Because lack of attention is mostly the cause of these “accidents”.