Close pass by police car

May 29, 2017 at 23:00 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Every day on the way to work, I ride up Burns Bay Road. It’s the place I get the most close passes. In part this is because of the layout; the council have in their wisdom decided to stencil bike symbols in the parking area, right in the door zone. Needless to say, I don’t ride in the door zone. If you want to know why, click here.

However, this creates conflict with motorists, who think you should be in the the ‘bike lane’. So they pass quite close. I’ve had a lot of close passes on this road. (For a short while, the council removed the white line. It was much better, as I said at the time. Then they put it back.)

However, this one was rather unexpected. Not very close, but definitely inside one metre (the legal minimum), and not very comfortable. And it was a police car.

What to do? I asked my friends at SydneyCyclist, and subsequently went into the police station to complain. It was interesting. For one thing, when I mentioned that car involved was a police vehicle, I immediately got the Duty Sergeant, rather than the usual constable.

He took the still images I had taken from the footage, but oddly declined to take the video file. A day or so later, I got a call from the officer in charge of the traffic division. He went through the scenario with me, and was sympathetic, although I did have to educate him on the difference between bike route symbols (the painted bike symbols, which have no legal standing), and a Bike Lane, which is defined in the Australian Road Rules (and which Burns Bay Road does not have). I would have hoped a senior traffic cop would have known the difference, especially as it has legal implications as to where you should ride your bike.

He ultimately apologised, and asked me what action I wanted. I was happy with an apology and the driver being spoken to about his obligations around cyclists, although some of my cycling friends were not impressed that the cops did not charge the driver with the offence.

This is the same police station who have been absolutely unsympathetic to these types of issues in the past. Somehow I doubt this will be a turning point…

(You can see the video footage here).

 

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Close pass again. Sigh.

April 27, 2017 at 11:51 | Posted in bicycles | 4 Comments
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You may remember a while ago I took some footage of a car passing very close to the cops. The reaction was surprisingly positive, you may recall. Well, it happened again the other day. So I thought I would take it in as well, and also take the opportunity to find out what had happened to my other complaint.

To help with this latest one, I also took some footage of my bike placed exactly one metre away from a parked car, for comparison. And from that comparison, it’s pretty clear the car passed me with only about 50cm clearance – enough to cause a shiver of worry. It’s really unpleasant to have a car that close. I saw a really good picture on social media that summed it up the other day:

So, what was the reaction of the cops this time? Well, rather less good. The officer at first didn’t even want to look at the video. then, after looking at it, he justified the behaviour of the driver, as ‘he probably didn’t want to go over the double white lines’. The fact that he had just gone straight on in a turn right only lane apparently was of no interest either.

Then it got worse. He told me it wasn’t too bad, and that the car couldn’t have been close to me as ‘I didn’t flinch’. He rejected out of hand my picture taken at the one metre┬ádistance, and told me that there was no way to tell if it was accurate, and he didn’t think the car was too close. He declined my invitation to go and do the sample one metre distance footage again outside the police station with him watching.

He then told me he would be taking absolutely no action.

I insisted on making a statement anyway, but it was clearly pointless. Here was a cop (Constable Joly, from Chatswood Police Station, for the record) who was justifying the dangerous driving of a law-breaking motorist, and also blaming me (the victim) for not reacting properly.

Oh, and the other complaint? Also dead, with no follow-up done or intended.

Meanwhile, the blitzes on bicycle bells continue. Fines rain down on hapless cyclists for trivial offences. And cyclists continue to die.

 

You can judge the footage yourself here.

Another one…

February 28, 2017 at 17:05 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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Most days, I ride to and from work along Burns Bay Road. On the upper section through Lane Cove, I probably get at least one motorist a day who comes closer than 1m. It has a 50km/h limit; it’s marked with signs for caution due to pedestrian activity, and has a number of pedestrian refuges along its length. It should be a good road for cycling, but the unfortunate ‘door-zone’ markings make is much more dangerous than it should be.

(As an aside, there’s plenty of room for separated bike lanes on this road, although somehow I don’t see the (rather anti-bike) council ever doing that. Another cheaper approach would be to put a double-width bike lane in uphill, move the centre line over and remove the downhill one, as has been done in places in Leichardt )

The other day I got a particularly egregious close pass; one where I could have reached out and touched the car:

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This was one I thought I would take to the police. Not that I have much faith they will do much, but hey.

So I took the footage in. Unfortunately the front cam was not charged, so I didn’t have the footage with the bike wheel in shot.

However, the reaction from the police constable on duty was not what I expected. “Wow!’, he gasped, as he watched the video. ‘Geez, that really is close!’. Then he looked at me, and asked if I’d brought footage in before.

I said I had, and he seemed to remember. However, he was much more enthusiastic this time. ‘This is much better than last time,’ he commented. ‘You can see it’s really really close!’.

So it seems he is going to follow it up. Which is a good thing. Comparing the footage with the last incident (see here), it looks pretty similar to me. Luck of the draw, or are the police starting to take this a bit more seriously, perhaps jolted by press coverage like this?

We will see!

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