Category Archives: Road Survival

OMG….its time to name and shame, the driver of OUF 213

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Dear Rouleurs,

My morning commute to work traverses some very busy roads around Docklands, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne area.  I’m pretty damn careful.  However the one place that I’m utterly paranoid is the pedestrian crossing on Williamstown Road in Port Melbourne.  The red star marks the spot.

Yes the driver of a white ute, registration OUF213 tried to kill me here today.

Yes, the driver of a white ute, registration OUF213 tried to kill me here today.

Once again that paranoia acted as a survival instinct, as the driver of a white f#@king ute, Victorian registration, OUF 213, drove straight through the crossing, despite that the fact that the car travelling in the opposite direction had stopped. This flagrant breach of the law occurred at approximately 9.00 am.  The ute looked like a late model Ford and it’s load was tied down with a tarpaulin.  The driver looked to be in his fourties, wore glasses and had blonde hair.

If by some co-incidence, you come across this driver, feel free to punch him in the head and then direct him to this blog.  May be that will get his attention.  God knows being dressed in bright orange and seated on bike with no less than 4 bright flashing lights, didn’t.  Seriously, driver a pox on you and your house for some truly idiotic driving.

Until next time, ride safe

Marv

Not a great way to start the day….

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Dear Rouleurs,

I have to say I’m a bit perturbed and wondering whether riding on the road in Melbourne between 7am and 8am in the morning is such a clever idea.  Let me explain………

Last week, I’m riding back from Sandringham and I’ve managed to latch on a peloton that’s travelling about 30Km/h.  I’m at the back and enjoying the slipstream on what has become a bright sunny day.  The bunch turns the corner from St Kilda Rd into Marine Drive and speeds through Elwood.  Suddenly, the bunch is breaking and zig-zaging.  A few rude words go through my head, but I stay upright and moving.  Thank God…

A few of bunch stop.  I see the reason why.  There’s rider down and he’s in bad way.  He’s lost a lot of skin, he can’t move and he doesn’t know where he is.  I pull over.  Another rider and I move him off the road and lay him flat on the path.  Someone’s taken bike off the side of the road and more riders are stopping. Traffic is breaking and moving out the lane.

I take a look at the rider, he’s bespectacled, in his 20’s and has gravel pock marks on his face that are bleeding.  He’s in a lot of pain and going into shock.  His mates turn up and are shocked by his condition.  The rider’s name is Raf and the remains of his shredded jersey and bib shorts identifies him as a member of the St Kilda Cycling Club. I pull out my phone and call triple ‘000’.  This poor guy needs an ambulance, quickly.  I realise I  haven’t called ‘000’ in a very long time. It feels surreal.

My call hits an IVR, I request ambulance and about 15 seconds later I’m talking to a human female operator.  Good, I hate talking to phone robots with dysfunctional language recognition. By this time, Raf’s mates have twigged that medical help is needed and start pull out their phones.  They are in shock but have regained their composure to act.  One of Raf’s mates tells them not to call I’m already on the phone.  One of them takes off their jacket and places it on Raf to keep him warm.  Somehow, another of Raf’s mates has his Mother’s mobile phone number.  She’s on her way to meet us.

The operator asks me some screening questions about Raf.  This were I find out that Raf has somehow come off his bike at 45 km/h, detached, hit then bounced over the curb.  He’s slid 6m on the gravel between the curb and footpath and collided with a No Standing sign.  That must of really hurt. This were it becomes tricky.  The operator wants to know our location.  I haven’t got my glasses on.  I ask one of the riders what the nearest cross streets.  It’s Kingsley St, but the operator can’t find it.  Some of the riders use their mobile phones to access Google Maps.  The name of this road is confusing, it could be Marine Drive or Ormond Esplanade.

I’m really worried and becoming frustrated by how long this is taking.  Finally, one of the riders identifies our location as 135 Marine Drive Elwood.  This still doesn’t seem to help the operator.  The same rider identifies St Kilda Road Brighton as the next major intersection.  This seems gel with the operator and an ambulance is dispatched.  Now we wait.  I talk to two riders that seem to know him.  Some of the other riders talk to Raf.  He’s conscious and can speak.  I hope these are good signs. I ring my wife and explain that I won’t be meeting her for coffee.

The Ambulance seems to take an eternity and worse still its headed up St Kilda Road.  Riders wave trying to get the driver’s attention.  Shit…the ambulance going the wrong way .  I reach for my phone.  Fortunately, it swings around comes towards us.  Other riders start to leave.  The show’s over.  Raf’s mates speak to the two impossibly young paramedics who arrive on the scene.  Dear God…they look like kids, there’s a Asian looking guy with goatee and strawberry blonde gal with her hair in a pony tail.  They swing into action.  The trolley is pulled out from the back of ambulance, along with a back board.  They ask questions of riders who witnessed the accident.  Apparently he’s jack-knifed his bike and gone over the handle bars.

Paramedics check Raf’s pulse and his blood pressure.  He’s able to explain that his back and wrist are very painful.  They wipe the blood from his face. Shit…he’s got gravel still embedded in skin of his face. I look at this helment.  Its also pock marked with gravel, however it is still in one piece.  I draw some comfort from this.  He hasn’t landed on or hit the curb with his head.  This explains why he’s conscious.

The Paramedics ask for assistance in rolling Raf onto the backboard and lifting him on to the trolley.  I can’t help, I’ve got dodgy discs in my back.  Raf’s mates help out. He’s being loaded into the ambulance.  I say goodbye the riders I’ve been speaking to and collect my bike. They are figuring where they are going next.  At this point, two people arrive. Judging by their age and gender, its Raf’s mother and sister. Their timing is impeccable as the ambulance is about to leave.

I place my bike on the road, mount the saddle and clip into the pedals.  I ride along the road as it changes from Ormond Esplanade, to Marine Drive, to Jacka Boulevard and finally to Beaconsfield Parade. I wonder why it isn’t just called one bloody name.  I’m soft pedalling and doing about 27 km/h.  I’m really twitchy about the traffic and divert to the bike path as soon as I can.  This morning has left me a little shaken and wondering how fine a line it is between cycling home to my wife and being in the back of an ambulance like Raf.

Until next time, ride safely,

Marv

The Mean Streets of Melbourne

Dear Rouleurs,

As an adopted Melbournian and born again road cyclist, I always feel a bit twitchy when I read a heading on the front page of The Age that said something like “Melbourne’s worst streets for bike crashes”. This appeared in the Age on the 26th February, and immediately had me scratching my head and assessing this list.

20160229-DangerousRoads

But its this commentary that caught my eye:

“Five of the top 10 streets for crashes are in the City of Melbourne – St Kilda Road, Elizabeth Street, La Trobe Street, Collins Street and Swanston Street. Others in the top 10, including Chapel Street and Brunswick Street, mostly share the common trait of cyclists riding on busy streets beside parking spaces that have a high turnover of cars.”

The key common factor being the movement of motorists across where the bike riders are going, is creating these hazardous situations. That’s a fair point, it is a point that is also supported by the Strava Heat Map of Melbourne CBD.

20160229-StravaMelb

The bright blue ‘lanes’ of Swanston St, St Kilda Rd, Latrobe St, the top ‘end’ parts of Collins and Elizabeth St at clearly heavy use cycling areas. Elizabeth St just baffles me as there is no cycling path, the same is true for most of Collins St. Why any cyclist would use these streets is just beyond me. Same goes with Chapel St and Sydney Road. It seems to me that a cyclist’s best survival strategy is to avoid these corridors.

Of all these streets, Latrobe St is by far the biggest disappointment. It’s really clear that the ‘so-called’ Copenhagen lane, hasn’t worked. That’s probably no surprise to commuter cyclists who use. It simply doesn’t cover the entire street and offers no protection to cyclists to motorists turning left.

 

So what’s the answer?? It is the unthinkable – remove all non-public transport and non-commercial vehicles from the CBD in the hours of 7.00-9.30 am and 16.00-19:00 pm and implement a London-style congestion zone for the period in between. Then build car parks outside the CBD and next to tram ways to house cars driven by commuting motorists. It makes no sense to keep supporting the use of cars in CBD.

So that’s my 2016 leap year anti-car rant. Until next time, stay safe.

Marv

Product Review: Bontrager RXL Waterproof Softshell Shoe Cover

 

Dear Roulers,

A few weeks ago I wrote about my experiences with a new combination of Shimano R107 shoes and 105 5800 SPD-SL pedals.  I’m pleased to report that both are going very well and continue to be fine upgrades to my Willier.

The only drawback that I’ve had was the venting located on the top of shoe, which in poor conditions; result in cold and wet feet.  So I did walk-in purchase at the Port Melbourne franchise of Freedom Machine and purchased a pair of Bontrager RXL softshell shoe covers.

Ordinary this would have been a straight to Wiggle or Chainreaction purchase, but I thought doing an in person fitting would be sensible.  So took one of my trusty R107’s to the store.  As it turns out that was a good idea as ordering the large size instead of the snug fitting medium size would have resulted in product return.

 Photo care of Marv  Explanation care of Marv
 Before  20150701-Shimano-Shoes+Pedals This is the photo of my shiny new shoes from a few months ago.  As you can see, the top vent is ideally positioned to allow water in.
 After 1  20150720-BontragerOvershoes-1  So here’s the same shoes fitted with overshoe.  The ‘boot’ part comes up over the ankle and stops water running down into your shoe, for the most part.
 After 2  20150720-BontragerOvershoes-2  Here’s another angle with the cleats exposed through the ‘boot’s’sole.  So far the overshoes have delivered the goods.

I’m now a bit peeved that these have gone on sale this week with a deep discount of 35% and a price of $58.  For those of you looking for overshoes, that’s a steal.  They are very well made and are weather proof.  I’ve been out in some really horrible wet and windy conditions over the last 2 weeks and they have kept my feet warm and mostly dry.

I’m giving them 4 out of 5 Marvs.

Heres some tech spec stuff about the overshoes I’ve pinched from the Trek website:

The Bontrager RXL Waterproof Softshell Shoe Cover – Black

  • overshoes constructed with Profila shearling-backed Softshell fabric
  • taped for waterproof and windproof protection in cold and wet conditions.
  • zips are also waterproof
  • velcro fastener at the ankle which ensures that the covers stay firmly in place.
  • used with road cycling shoes with cleats.
  • has reflective features to increase your visibility  in low light conditions.