Like thousands of other local residents, I enjoy riding my bike on the roads that criss-cross our region, but I must also admit, don’t ride anywhere near as much as a lot of others.
As cyclists, we can choose to ride on the road in any direction from our great city – it just so happens a lot of us choose to ride towards Sedgwick.
It’s an opportunistic pastime that we are privileged to enjoy, but the reality that cycling carries an element of risk cannot be ignored.
And that reality is that is likely to be more risky riding on a busy road than it is riding on a quieter one.
And until the road is improved to a standard that offers more safety, maybe riding somewhere else is not a bad thing to do.
As cyclists, we can divert from the busier Sedgwick Road for a considerable amount of the distance and pedal via South Mandurang and along Springs Road, and because this road is normally the domain of locals only, it should be a lot quieter, and the scenery is just as good, if not better than the alternative.
For its part, rather than reduce the speed limit, council needs to improve the road so that it can be shared safely, and at its optimum, by all users.
That’s going to take some time, and a lot of money. Meanwhile, motorists need to pay more attention to the conditions of the road, drive accordingly and obey the laws that apply at all times.
As a cyclist, I will do whatever I can to mitigate the risk to my personal safety when I ride on the road, and for me, that means avoiding roads that are too busy, whenever and wherever I can.
Reducing the speed limit on the road to Sedgwick and Sutton Grange could serve to further inflame tensions between motorists and cyclists, and could even be counter-productive; we are trying to treat the symptoms but not the actual cause.
In the past couple of weeks, I have had one group of mates tell me they came across a lone rider being unduly harassed on the side of the road by a motorist in a manner that bordered on common assault, and another friend tells me his wife was told to get off the road in no uncertain terms last weekend while she was out riding her horse.
As a cyclist, I’ve copped this sort of abuse more than enough times, and it has never been warranted or deserved.
These sorts of unsavoury incidents are all too common, and they highlight the lack of respect, empathy and understanding that exists in our community, and the abhorrent lack of understanding of the basic road rules that apply to all road users.
Bendigo professes to be a cycling friendly community, Australia’s first in fact, but saying something is always easier than doing it.
The reality is, Bendigo is no more cycling friendly than a lot of other places, and there are plenty of riders who will tell you it is anything but.
I accept that it is far easier said than done, but as a community, if we are indeed to be more “cycling friendly”, we all need to work out ways to better co-exist, and to respect the rights of others to share the road.