Sunday, 14 June 2009

It's just another day (Lou Reed)

Just another day in Toowoomba?

Pretty well.

Here are a few Chronicle stories in case you've missed them.

Car ploughs into cyclists

Louise O'Keefe | 11th June 2009:

DOCTOR Andrew Skerman thought the worst when a car crashed into the group of cyclists he was riding with yesterday morning.

The member of the Murray Greys’ cycling club said he heard the impact and had expected to find bodies lying under the car.

One man was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital with a dislocated shoulder. Two other cyclists received cuts and abrasions.

“There were around 20 riders in our group and we were cycling up Bridge Street towards West Street, two-abreast,” Dr Skerman said.

“The driver of a car approached from the rear and tried to overtake our group. “The driver must have seen an approaching car and pulled back over the edge of the traffic island and skidded into one of the cyclists.

“They then sped off.”

Dr Skerman said he heard another cyclist call out “car back” prior to the crash — a call used to alert other riders in a group, warning them to move to the side of the road.

“Then there was a loud car engine rev, a long skid and the sound of bikes being hit and riders falling off,” he said.

Dr Skerman said the crash had caused potentially life-long shoulder problems for one cyclist.

The crash had also caused “a few thousand dollars” damage to the bikes, with some valued at as much as $14,000.

“Absolutely nothing could have been done by cyclists this morning to avoid the accident and it was lucky no-one was killed,” he said.

“I fully expected to turn around and see riders wedged under the car.”

An off-duty police officer followed the vehicle responsible into Newtown and recorded the registration plate.

A man was later arrested in Blue Gum Drive in Newtown and charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle and failure to remain at the scene.

He was given bail and will appear in Toowoomba Magistrates Court on June 30.

Notice how the journalist reported 'a doctor' and not 'a cyclist'. Had this been 'a foundry worker', would the story have received the same high profile?

And this one:

Cyclist says our dangerous roads like Gaza strip

Jennifer Huxley | 7th January 2009

WORLD Championship triathlon hopeful Liz Swinton likens cycling on Toowoomba's roads to living on the Gaza Strip.

Only she believes it's more dangerous.

The Toowoomba triathlete had a close call on Tuesday morning when she was knocked off her bike by a car driving along Anzac Avenue.

The 7.30am traffic wasn't heavy, and according to Swinton, the driver unnecessarily tried to overtake her.

“All of a sudden this gold bonnet got closer and closer to me. I had my hands on the car trying to hold myself up, I was physically on the car, and the driver kept going,” Swinton said.

“The driver said she didn't have enough room and had the choice between hitting me or the car on her other side.

“I was riding single file with my husband along Anzac Avenue. When there are two lanes you're allowed to take one of them up and we were just occupying a narrow section of the lane.”

Swinton escaped from the collision with an elbow injury and damage to her bike, both of which will set back her training for the Australian team qualifying races ahead of the ITU Triathlon World Championships.

And worse still, this is not the first dangerous encounter Swinton has had with a car on Toowoomba roads in the past two months.

“This is the fifth time something like this has happened. I reported four incidents to the police in the past two months and that has only been when I can remember the number plates,” Swinton said.

“The big issue here is that drivers need to realise cyclists are human beings. There is very little to protect us so it's incredibly easy to seriously hurt someone.

“I know triathletes who refuse to train on Toowoomba roads because they're so dangerous. I think you'd stand a better chance on the Gaza Strip.

“Drivers need to be more aware. At the moment there are a lot of careless drivers who aren't thinking before trying to overtake us.”

Senior Sergeant Brad Clark of the Toowoomba District Traffic Branch said there were ongoing issues in Toowoomba between cyclists and motorists.

“There is always a certain element of road users who think cyclists should not be on the road,” Snr Sgt Clark said.

“Cyclists need to comply with the road rules too and have a right to be on the road.

“There have been incidents in the past when foolhardy people have pushed cyclists from their motor vehicle.

“Motorists need to be aware that they face the possibility of charges of dangerous driving for incidents like this.”

Liz is correct about the Gaza Strip... and there is the Anzac Avenue area again.

Then there is the 'new' old story here:

New cycleway slammed as 'dangerous'
Madeleine Logan | 12th June 2009

The Tor Street cycleway, built about four months ago, was funded by the Toowoomba Regional Council and Queensland Transport.

IT looks like an Irish gag.

But the joke is on us. This Toowoomba cycleway cost us $150,000.

“Unmitigated disaster,” is how cyclist Hugh Wilson describes the Tor Street path, constructed about four months ago. “It beggars belief. No engineer could possibly have designed it.”

And nobody would ride (or, more accurately, pole dance) along the obstacle course, he added.

“It’s a danger to cyclists.”

The pathway, near Prosser Street, was jointly funded by Queensland Transport’s Cycle Network Program and Toowoomba Regional Council.

It is part car park, part footpath, part comedy.

Yes, the poles were there first.

“Queensland Transport is doing all it can to encourage cycling, while the council is doing all it can to prevent it,” Mr Wilson said.

“(This cycleway) invites disaster.”

Council engineers designed the Tor Street cycleway, treating the power poles “as bollards in accordance with guidelines”, a spokeswoman said.

The power pole-free footpath on the opposite side of the road was not widened because engineering issues made it “impractical and problematic”. In the end, the poles were thought the lesser of two evils.

More than $2.5 million has been set aside for similar cycleway projects in Toowoomba and Highfields over the next two years.

About $1.12 million of that was committed by the council.

When asked about the path yesterday, Matt Davis from the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group said it was a perfect example of the need for consultation with cyclists.

He is pushing for an Active Transport Reference Group, which will advise Queensland Transport, Main Roads and the council.

A meeting of interested parties is planned for next month.

“We are calling for the effective use of funding, to ensure it is spent wisely,” he said.

“Positive steps have been made.

“We’re promoting same road, same rules, same responsibility.”

Other cycleways are planned for West Street (south to Nelson), McDougall Street, Hargraves Street, Ruthven Street, Kearney Street, Nelson Street, Baker Street, Mackenzie Street and one at Highfields between Cawdor Road and Highfields school.

But that’s the end of the jokes, council has promised.

“There are off-road cycleways where there are obstacles on footpaths, but none like Tor Street,” a spokeswoman said.

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