Disdain for the contempt: riding on the road in Wellington, NZ

Recently I have shifted from a position of tolerance to absolute disdain for riding on the road, and the rules that go with it. Now I know for some this will be met with annoyance, frustration and anger. But, before you judge me, let me tell you how I arrived at this situation.

I have been riding on the road in big cities for at least 18 years, ever since I was at University in London. Even before that I road my bike every day, either to and from school, on the local trails or on my paper round.

In Wellington there seems to be a simmering underbelly of righteousness among road users, it breeds hatred, cynicism and contempt. When you do something wrong, you’re told about it, punished even, whether that be lawfully (by the police) or unlawfully by another road user. For example doing something small such as being in the wrong lane by accident is met with fury, blowing horns and finger gestures. Woe betide you if you step into the road and it’s not at a pedestrian crossing, or a cyclist gets in the way of a car speeding off at the lights.

This scenario in Wellington has led me to experiment with two extremes of riding: 1) follow the law to the letter, 2) have total disdain for law and the road.

First I tried to follow the law to the letter. In that time, which was about two months, I nearly died being run over by a bus, I was abused, told to fvck off multiple times, and towards the end had a massive complex about being run over at lights.

cyclist-box-262x246
It’s not rocket science

Now, for the last few weeks I have been completely ignoring traffic rules altogether. The mantra is, you get out the way of the traffic at all costs, sometimes this means skipping a red if necessary.  (it has worked in Paris BTW: you can now skip red lights and research has shown it’s actual safer!)

The result: I feel safer at lights because I avoid the imposing buses, I am never around long enough to get abused and most of all I am less likely to shout abuse back (because I know i’m in the wrong).

I have come to the conclusion that looking after number one on the road is most important and it is safer to keep out the way of traffic rather than be in it.

cycle_low_level_traffic_light

The point is this: the roads in Wellington need to become safer. At the moment drivers are intolerant of cyclists no matter what the circumstances. Your dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t. We need well thought out cycle paths that are out of the way of other traffic and where we don’t have to compete with motor vehicles.

Until it improves i’m looking after number one, and if that means breaking a few rules, then so be it .

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