The Running of the Bulls

by Old Bone Machine

I once believed that I would never ride in peak hour traffic. I liken this to the drug user that believed they would never use heroin or the needle (and I choose now not to extrapolate this parallel to its logical conclusion).

On my daily grind from my home at the base of Mount Dandenong to my workplace in Hawthorn, I ride via Burwood Highway and High Street. My work colleagues consider my undertaking (poor choice of words perhaps) as lunacy.

The mood of the traffic at various locations and times is so different and the mood is palpable to the rider.

Before 6am the traffic is fast-moving. Cars pass by me safely, most changing lanes to avoid me. My blinking lights are easily seen. A small set of cars pass and then for some time the road is quiet, before another herd passes by.

Around 7am matters become more frantic. Cars nervously shift in the traffic and jockey for position. I worry that a sudden and abrupt movement by a driver might be my undoing.

An early exit from work at 4pm and I can get home in the lull that is the calm before the storm.

At 6pm the traffic is boiling. At the change of lights the cars literally roar and charge like the running of the bulls. I fear for my safety at these times and urge the God of Cycling (surely not Cyclops, and on current form neither Thor Hushovd) to deliver me home safely. It’s at this time that cars (and their drivers) will bully you.

I once believed that I would never ride in peak hour traffic but now I know I am an addict. Despite the dangers (of which I’m well aware) I need the daily rush that cycling provides.

The following are excerpts from research carried out by Monash University and sponsored by the Amy Gillett Foundation.

This study is an exploratory one to characterise bicycle and motor vehicle crashes. It is based on real crashes reported to police from Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia during 2000-2004.

Crashes involving bicycle riders were identified and 13,901 bicycle riders matched to colliding motor vehicles and their drivers. These collisions were used to describe characteristics of bicycle crash circumstances, demographics and serious injury outcomes of both bicycle riders and motorists involved.

Monday to Friday were the most common days for crashes to occur, with crashes being least frequent on Saturdays and Sundays. Crashes were more likely to occur in the time periods 2pm to 6pm and 6am to 10am than any other time of the day with crash frequencies highest from 2pm to 6pm. Crashes were more common in February and March with a decline apparent during the winter months.

Overall 80% of crashes involved male bicycle riders. Bicycle riders aged 6 to 19 years were involved in crashes the most followed by bicyclists aged 20 to 29 years. Crash involvement for these age groups was 29.2% and 20.1% respectively. Overall 54% of crashes involved male motorists and 36.5% of crashes involved female motorists. Motorists aged 30 to 39 years were involved in crashes the most followed by motorists aged 40 to 49 years and 20 to 25 years. Crash involvement for these age groups was 18.1%, 14.5% and 13.5% respectively.

In general, crashes involving bicycle riders are seldom reported to the Police unless someone is killed or injured (usually the bicyclist) hence only injury crashes are considered in this report. 

The entire report can be viewed via the following link. No surprises really (and unfortunately) in the statistics, especially if ones rides daily with the bulls.

Take care out there.