Best Laid Rumbles…

The slow progression of attitudes to sharing the road with cyclists is much too fast for some drivers. The Otago Daily Times frequently publishers letters from drivers who are livid on the subject.

Despite the fact that most adult cyclists are also drivers, and that some people, no matter their mode of transport, are inconsiderate and selfish, the ‘livid’ drivers reserve their hatred for cyclists.

So the battle lines have been drawn. Drivers hate cyclists and cyclists hate drivers.

But then I came across a third category, someone who hates cyclists and drivers equally. That’s the only conclusion I could come to after encountering rumble strips on the edge of the road between Lake Hawea and Wanaka, a road I drive down frequently and cycle occasionally.

As a driver on this hilly, winding road I find driving on the outer edge of the seal while going around a right hand bend the safest practice. The number of foreign tourists who drive on this road reinforce that view. As a cyclist I find the rumble strip dangerous. So, while  the centreline rumble strip makes safety sense for everyone, a left hand rumble strip is annoying and distracting for everyone.

The Road Transport guidelines for placing rumble strips are “either 1 metre or more from the edge of the seal, or where that is not possible because the road is too narrow, “Hard against the edge&quote; “of the seal.”

A whole metre for cyclists? You should be so lucky.  But hang on, there’s a catch:Responding to complaints from cyclist organisations about the dangers of rumble strips pushing them out into traffic, system manager for the (Road Transport) agency said:

“To place the strips 0ne metre from the edge of the seal would be impractical. Many of these roads are very narrow. To apply the one metre measure prescriptively would mean not putting in rumble strips on the majority of these roads, (hurray!) and losing the significant safety benefits this would give us.”

By us he means us drivers. Bugger the cyclists.

He also said he’d consulted four independent cyclists but was not keen to identify them. Never mind, we cyclists have had a win. Where they are dangerous, the rumble strips are being removed.  It would be nice if they could create a one metre cycle strip while they are at it.

By the way, I have had my elbow clipped only once by a car (mirror) driven by a tourist. A couple of Chinese women pulled up, came back and were so apologetic I had to reassure them and wish them luck. Yes, the roads are narrow.

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Chris Horan

Chris is a former social worker, probation officer and Family Court counsellor, living in Hawea in the South Island.