Sunday, June 22, 2008

Treat cyclists as equals

That is the message I think needs to be impressed on New Zealand drivers. Motorists seem to believe that they have more right to the roads than cyclists have. They don't think of cyclists as part of the traffic - something they need to watch out for when entering traffic and moving around in it just as they watch out for other motor vehicles.

I have been reading about cycling in the Netherlands, wishing we had similar support for and encouragement of cycling here.

Riding with Tessa to her Technicraft class each week, most cars pass us with plenty of space if there is nothing coming the other way, but if there is a vehicle coming the other way, and parked cars on our side of the road, cars pass us as fast as ever, giving us no space at all.

Twice in the last year, a motorist has come past me on the outside and turned in front of me, forcing me to stop abruptly to avoid hitting the moving car.

Two cyclists were killed in the Hutt Valley on Thursday, one I understand knocked into the path of traffic by the door of a parked car being opened in their path. It's a common topic of discussion among cyclists - the need to ride far enough out in the road to avoid being hit by doors of parked cars if they are opened, and the difficulty doing that when vehicles are passing at close quarters and high speeds. Yet the word has not got around drivers (and passengers) - many continue to open their doors without checking, apparently oblivious of the risk to other people.

On Tuesday Geoff was hit by a car while on his bike. He's okay, thankfully, except for a probable cracked rib or two, which is keeping him off climbing and causing some discomfort. And his bike, though a bit bent, is still in working order. The ute that hit Geoff came from a side street. In turning onto the road Geoff was on, rather than wait for a space in the traffic, the driver of the ute drove down the wrong side of the road for a short distance to get ahead of a car going his way that he should have given way to. The stretch of road that the driver drove the wrong way down was free of cars but in his, presumably cursory, check before he turned, the driver didn't see Geoff coming towards him on his bike. Geoff was knocked onto the bonnet of the ute and into the windscreen, which smashed, then bounced off the bonnet onto the road beside the driver's door. The only positive in all this is that the driver was seriously shocked: I hold out a feeble hope that in future, he will think to look for cyclists as well as motor vehicles when he turns into a street.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Catching up

I haven't meant to neglect my blogs in this way: life has been a bit hectic. Just in the last three weeks, Josiah, Tessa and Geoff have had a trip to Tauranga for a climbing competition (Tessa came first in her category - the Under 12s!); Geoff and Josiah have each had two colds, Tessa and I one each; DynoMites Climbing Club committee - which Geoff and I are on - has begun the big job of planning the national competition that we are hosting in August; HangDog's Winter Boulder Series has begun (Josiah and Tessa are now officially famous: someone other than their mother has written about them on the Internet); Josiah has been away on a Boys Brigade camp; and the kids and I have had an unplanned trip to Christchurch to attend my grandmother's funeral.

"It's so unexpected," Tessa cried into my shoulder after I told her Mabel had died. Mabel having made it to 100 years, and having lost her good health over the last three months, I don't think it was unexpected for anyone else, but no less sad for the rest of us. It's amazing how sad it is to have someone you love not there anymore even while you are fully aware you were lucky to have them around as long as you did. It was a lovely funeral; I was really pleased to be with family. One aspect of living to 100 that hadn't consciously occurred to me previously is that another generation got to know Mabel in these last two decades. One of Mabel's great-granddaughters, the 17yo daughter of one of my cousins, spoke at the funeral. She spoke beautifully and I loved hearing about her friendship with Mabel. It gave me a new appreciation of the contribution a person can make to the world even after they are very elderly, dependent on everyday support from others.

Poor Tessa: for her I think this felt like too many people have gone. In her 11 years she has lost a grandfather before she had time to know him, three great-grandmothers who all lived long enough for her to know and love them, and a grandmother who was one of the most important people in her life.

Also since I last posted, my mum's partner has had surgery for bowel cancer. His extremely positive and optimistic attitude has been so infectious that it wasn't until I was on the train to meet my mum to be with her while G was in surgery that it hit me what a serious thing this is. I was holding off tears all that afternoon at the awfulness of it all. But the surgery was 100% successful: the doctors are confident that all the cancer was removed and are not recommending chemotherapy

G is still recovering but I know his and Mum's concern is focused on G's brother who is not recovering from his own bowel cancer.