I follow the road rules. Unfortunately it appears that many local drivers aren't aware that cyclists are legitimate road users. That we are allowed to take the centre of the lane on a multi-lane road*. I had been keeping to the left even on multi-lane roads, but found the ridiculously close passing put me in more danger than if I kept to the middle of my lane, though I now receive aggressive horn blasts and abuse hurtled at me through open car windows.
Don't get me wrong, the majority of drivers are friendly, safe and welcoming. In fact, on the way home a car slowed down and waved encouragement - this was not the first time. In addition to favourable goodwill from drivers, I've also had enthusiasm from motor-bike riders and pedestrians; young, old and middle aged people.
So why, when it takes an entire 15-minutes to drive from one end of Hervey Bay to another, do some drivers have such an aggressive sense of entitlement on the road?
The Amy Gillett Foundation has a vision to eliminate bicycle related fatalities and is spreading the word about 'a metre matters'. There is currently an e-petition that will be put in front of the Queensland Legislative Assembly in four days time, advocating for a minimum safe passing distance - I would love it if (as a Queensland resident or citizen) you would please sign it. Aussies can also easily write to their MPs (templates and contact details).
Others have written more eloquently about a cyclist always coming off worse
in a collision with a motor vehicle - there's not only the unprotected impact, but the risk of being thrown into - under - the path of another car.
I'm a single mother, caring for a two year old. Part of simplifying my life, not least reducing the exorbitant
costs of car ownership (purchase price, tax, insurance, petrol, maintenance etc) has been to go car-free. I'm also physically and mentally healthier, am introducing Pickle to a healthier way of life in an era of increasing obesity, and just generally enjoying our day-to-day life more fully.
How do we get a message out to drivers that cyclists are not only legitimate road users, but (in my case) also someone's mother, daughter, sister, friend???
Cheers, KangaRue :)
* this is not meant as legal advice; road rules can differ from state to state within Australia.
UPDATE: An incredibly well put article: In the US and the Netherlands, two children on bikes are struck by cars—and the responses couldn’t be more different.