IT is an issue that divides Orange’s drivers and cyclists - sharing the space on our district’s roads.
Orange solicitor and enthusiastic cyclist Mason Manwaring says he would like to see more respect between motorists and cyclists, and hopes a proposal by NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay to licence cyclists might focus attention on bike safety.
Mr Manwaring says while there are more cyclists using the roads in Sydney, there is a growing interest in cycling to get to work or for leisure in Orange, with hundreds taking to the roads around the city every week.
He says while many drivers believe cyclists have no right to use the space, riders who do the wrong thing attract negative publicity to riders who do the right thing.
“People in cars have to respect that bike riders are entitled to use the roads and there are a lot of drivers our there who don’t think that is the case,” he said.
“But also bike riders have to do the right thing and obey the rules.”
Mr Manwaring said Australia would do well to build on the experience in Europe where there is a mutual respect between driver and rider.
“People seem to get impatient if they come across a rider on the road and yet, if it was a tractor for example, they are not as impatient and are prepared to wait to get around,” he said.
“Responsible bike riders are very much aware they’re not to ride in a bunch and the people I ride with are always conscious of riding single file.
“But unfortunately there are riders who ride in the middle and take up the whole lane.
“In my case I assume drivers can’t see me and I do ride defensively.”
Orange Cycle Club president Stephen Martin agreed, saying most cyclists, like motorists, obey the road rules and act responsibly when sharing the road.
“But there is a lot of intolerance amongst motorists who don’t like the thought of slowing down,” he said.
“I’ve been hit with projectiles, water bottles thrown out from a car as they go past and there’s nothing you can do, you’re vulnerable"
Mr Martin says there is a great deal of merit in introducing a one-metre lane for cyclists, saying it will afford greater protection for riders and motorists.
“I have been ‘buzzed’ by drivers a few times. They think it’s funny to see how close they can come to you,” he said.
“In places like New Zealand, where I have ridden, there is a lot more acceptance of riders.”
Club member Aiden Sugden says he has had some bad experiences with motorists.
“I’ve been hit with projectiles, water bottles thrown out from a car as they go past and there’s nothing you can do, you’re vulnerable,” he said.
Fellow club member Karen Selmes is still recovering after being knocked from her bike last year and sustaining vertebrae injuries.
“We were all doing the right thing, riding in single file.
“The driver was never charged,” she said.