The law of unintended consequences. Perhaps no other truism sums up the legislation known as “Minimum Safe Passing Distance For Cyclists”. If ever a body of legislation has resulted in more wasted police resources for so very little return, it’s hard to beat the Safe Passing Laws as #1.
While it’s reasonable to state the Safe Passing Laws are well intentioned, especially when children are involved, the bottom line is far too many ‘militant cyclists’ are now completely obsessed with whether a motor vehicle passed within the minimum specified distance, rather than the danger which was genuinely presented to that cyclist. Put another way, video evidence has become a new sport.
For example, consider the private Facebook group called The Revolution. The group was created at the start of February 2018 and it soon became Australia’s biggest ‘safe place’ for cyclists to upload their videos seeking advice on how best to ensure a police fine gets written. You can read about how The Revolution was eventually shut down by it’s Admins here.
So, without any further ado, please decide for yourself whether the protagonist in this article is in the right, or is in the wrong.
Before my wife I moved to Australia, I raced bikes in England for years and it was a great sport. But there was always an expectation you have to ride in a professional manner, and that means keeping a straight line. Quite frankly, Gareth Lock is a terrible bike rider. He's really bad.
In case you don’t know, there’s a practice cyclists love to do called ‘taking the lane’. Essentially the goal is to move into the middle of a lane and to impede the ability for any other road user to pass. Let’s be frank…. it’s a form of playing chicken with other road users. When cyclists ‘take the lane’ they are, in effect, daring another road user to hit them. Or alternatively, jam their brakes.
In this video, Gareth Lock tries to ‘take the lane’ in front of a ten ton truck. Think about that. But on top of that he can’t ride a straight line to save his life. Imagine riding a race bike with Parkinson’s Disease and you’ve got an idea how bad Gareth Lock is as a cyclist.
The West Australian police considered Gareth Lock's written complaint, and in their response they warned him to stop doing what he was doing because his behaviour, in and of itself, constitutes a traffic offence.
When it comes to the reasons why the WA Police dismissed Gareth Lock’s complaint, perhaps the most damning evidence is this still shot of an empty shared path which is clearly marked for pedestrians and cyclists. In fairness, Gareth Lock did indeed choose a shared path – it’s simply that his choice included a shared path which has deadly ten ton trucks on it. Most reasonable people look upon those sorts of choices as being poor choices. But that’s what you do when you’re “ROAD” cyclist.
Needless to say Australia’s cyclists are livid with this precedent. They are absolutely fuming and they’re currently going nuts on social media about it. From their perspective, the safe passing laws have elevated cyclists to ‘protected species status’ – and the net result is cyclists all over the world are now daring motorists to hit them whenever they decide they don’t want to be passed.
And to that I say “Well Done West Australian Police!” It’s about time some real world common sense finally crept back into this ridiculous situation where cyclists are now riding all over the road on a regular basis and somehow motorists have become responsible for their poor choices.