Monday, February 02, 2015

It shouldn't be this hard.

Update: A very nice sergeant from Tasmania Police has been in touch and has spoken to the driver concerned. A good result.

On March 6 last year I was out riding with a friend when a driver drew level with me, suddenly floored his accelerator and fishtailed left and right, his tires squealing. He repeated the performance when he passed my riding companion who was perhaps 30m up the street. On both occasions he missed us by no more than with width of a set of handlebars. Not far up the road the driver pulled into his property. He yelled abuse as we passed. He was unsteady on his feet and appeared to be drunk.

What was particularly strange about this incident was it with that we both immediately recognised the driver as a man who was on bail while awaiting a hearing for serious driving offences. We continue on our ride and and called police about 20 minutes later. As the only officer in the area were busy we agreed to make report at the police station in Huonville the following day. An officer made a cursory show of taking the details of our complaint on a scrap of paper. We told him we believed we knew who the driver and gave him a brief outline of the incident and the vehicle's numberplate details. The officer asked us what action we would like taken and said he would be back in touch to take our statements. 

That was 10 months ago. Neither of us have anything since despite a couple of calls and going to the police station a couple of times each. In the meantime the driver we believe was responsible has been found guilty and sentenced on charges relating to an incident in which a cyclist was killed. I can't say I've ever had much faith that the police would take our report very seriously - in fact I wrote out my own statement later the following die so I could recall the details if required. 

Three weeks ago, a motorist on Sandy Bay Road in Hobart - in a hurry to get to the beach - passed within about 10cm of my right elbow as he impatiently sped through a gap between a parked car and median strip in which I happen to be cycling. I had a GoPro mounted under my saddle which was turned on at the time and caught the incident. (The clip is at the top of this post.) The following day I reported that incident to police and the familiar pattern repeated itself. Again the report was taken on a scrap of paper, not an official form or notepad or on a computer. My offer of the video evidence on a memory stick was declined. Again I have heard nothing from the police since I made the report.

Two incidents don't necessarily paint a complete picture of how Tasmania Police respond incidents involving cyclists, but I can't help but think the complete lack of interest shown in each case reflects a pattern of unfortunate indifference. In a week in which the state's peak motorcycle body called for cyclists to be forced to carry number plates one wonders what earthly difference that would make as a safety measure when nobody seems to be particularly interested in enforcing the safety measures we have now. 

There are a lot of things that need to change about the law and how it protects vulnerable road users. Since we're discouraged from taking the law into our own hands, getting the police to do their job would be fine start.

469km so far this year.


Unknown said...

A couple of year ago I car hit me from behind after blasting his horn to get past on a 2 lane divided road. The driver was upset he might have to change lanes. I stopped and attempted to get his details and at least a registration. The tirade of verbal abuse pushing and single punch that followed from the driver made sure I reported it to the police. When I got to the station I was initially fobbed off as the driver had reported that I had hit him. It took the intervention of a more senior officer to accept that I would not leave till I had formally reported the indecent. The only thing that may change it is to ask for an incident number (or whatever it is called) and ask that the matter be formally recorded. Potentially refusing to leave until a report is taken may be required. Failing that asking to speak to whoever is in charge in the station regarding your concern that your report is not being taken seriously. As usual the laws surrounding traffic are considered to be nothing more than guidelines.

Bernd said...

Video was removed? Why?

David Killick said...

I have updated the link. I don't know why it wasn't working for some people. Please let me know if you can't see it or go to: