That Cycling Thing

I've been riding my bike a lot lately. This is partly because I want to regain some lost fitness, and partly because Esther has simultaneously challenged and bribed me to lose a few kilos, and partly because I'd forgotten how much I enjoy riding.

I've dropped about five kilos in the last couple of weeks, putting me two kilos away from the first level of bribery. That level ought to see me acquiring a new bike to complement the old, probably a Fuel EX5 or EX6. Mmmm.... nice. There are other levels to follow that, but they may be quite a few weeks away at current rates.

Anyway, I'm now becoming very familiar with the Bay To Bay cycleway, which runs from Homebush Bay in Sydney's West down to Botany Bay in the South, via the Cooks River and Brighton Le Sands cycleways. One thing I've noticed here, though, is that the pedestrians of these areas don't appear to know their left from their right.

There's a rule on the cycleways which promotes co-existence. It asks pedestrians not to take up the whole path, and for cyclists to give way to pedestrians when necessary. For the most part, this harmony is observed, aside from in some special cases, where a blissful couple or happy family has decided to take up the whole cycleway for themselves, line abreast.

Local councils recommend the application of a bell in these cases, but I much prefer to call out, in a jolly fashion, "move to the left please!", and then say "thank you!" as I ride past.

This doesn't always work.

One couple in particular took so long to realise what was left and what was right that I ended up bouncing off the side of the path after shouting "Move left please! No, left. No, other left. SERIOUSLY, LEFT. Oh for fuck's sake. [thump rumble thump thump clonk]".

And apparently I was the "fucking idiot". Get a grip, The Inner West. Left and right are taught as basic lessons in very early childhood. How come you can't grasp the difference?

<--- LEFT IS OVER THERE.       


The other problem is that Brighton Le Sands portion of the ride, passing as it does through a popular beachfront suburb. I pass through after sundown, equipped with pretty good lights I admit, but it does seem that Brighton has quite a lot of drunken 20-something women who like to partake of excessive alcopops then waddle down to the beachfront in large, unsteady, giggling packs. These packs are a lost cause on the left/right thing and I just have to deal with that as it comes. So far I haven't run any over, but I think it may be a matter of time. Occasionally they utter shrieks of surprise as I jet past, which at least shows a degree of awareness, I suppose.

 Anyway, I did a 60km run last night, in a bit over three hours, out almost to Kurnell on the tip of Botany Bay NP, turning round at the 30km mark not far from Cronulla Sharkies Leagues Club, and it was marvellous. So marvellous, in fact, that I've decided to take it upon myself to work on updating Wikipedia's Bike Paths In Sydney article, which may take a while and many more kilometres. And I'd like to invite any readers of this blog to suggest paths, trails and notable cycling destinations around the area for inclusion. There's a contact link somewhere on the page, or just comment below. Or hit me up on Wikipedia, where I am user: StopThatAstronaut

 Oh, and here's the flyby of last night's ride:

posted @ Monday, January 30, 2012 2:53 PM


Comments on this entry:

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by DrRachie at 1/30/2012 3:07 PM
Awesome idea Jason! One thing I've found difficult in the past was the Homebush Bay to Kyeemagh path that just seems to stop at the St George's Rowing Club. The sign for bike path points in the direction of the golf course but in fact you need to turn right and hug the golf course on a very bad footpath towards the M5. Is this path clearly marked on the wiki? I've been lost here before for lack of signage and it was very frustrating.

I agree that the path you mention is often filled with people and kids on bikes with training wheels. Which annoys me greatly as we're apparently not welcome on the roads or footpaths but when we are given dedicated cycleways pedestrians amble along them oblivious to the "shared" path signs.

Maybe once the food trucks are launched here you can map out a round trip to every one of them from my place. Oh wait...

Great idea to do this. I'll be following your progress with interest.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 1/30/2012 3:25 PM
On the subject of the food trucks, I might be able to get a bit of advanced information, working as I do where I do at the moment. I launched an internal page on the topic a couple of weeks back.

For the path from the Rowing Club, on the way down I ignore the club altogether. From the lights near the Harp in Tempe, go straight ahead on Holbeach avenue and take the path to the right. With the water on your right, follow that all the way around until near the airport and there's a bridge on the right just before the driving range, take that to Airport Drive, right again, loop back on yourself and go over the road bridge on Marsh Street towards the M5.

Then there's a tricksy little bit under the M5 itself to meet Eve street, where you turn left past Riverine Park and the St George soccer stadium. The flyover makes that clear, I think...

Relatively easy from there to the Brighton foreshore, then blast south past the drunk girls to Taren Point ;-)

On the way back, I take the other side of marsh street to meet the rowing club and go back along Princes Highway to the Harp, and back onto the Cooks River path

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 1/30/2012 3:38 PM
By the way, just updated the wiki page to cite your comment ;-)

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 1/30/2012 3:43 PM
Aaaaaand here's some Food Truck info

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Dave The Happy Singer at 1/30/2012 4:12 PM
Eyup. Do any of these tracks coincide with bike-hire places? It would be fun to join you some time, but we have nowhere to accommodate bikes chez nous.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 1/30/2012 4:31 PM
Let me see... Bike hire places...

Yes. Olympic Park. Get off the train there, get a bike, I can meet you there by riding the path out to Homebush, then we can hammer back towards Botany.

Or you can wait until I get my spiffy new Trek and borrow my current hardtail.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Matt K at 1/30/2012 4:58 PM
I'm doing the same thing although i'm not riding 60km yet.
There is a great book called Where to Ride: Sydney. I've been doing quite a few from that.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 1/30/2012 5:06 PM
I might grab a copy of that book this week or next, been meaning to for a little while.

A lot of info will make it onto wikipedia over time, and anything that's too detailed for that will find its way onto my wiki at

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by A Well-Known Native American at 1/30/2012 6:15 PM
I took up riding a few months back and, if anything, have put on a few kilos. Mind you, the bike I am riding is a Suzuki GS500F, so it's not quite apples and apples that we're talking here.

The reason I post is that I seem to have had the same problem that you've had with pedestrians, only with operators of commercial vehicles. Whether it's vans, utes, lorries or road-trains, it appears that no commercial vehicle driver has any inclination to share the road or to position themselves appropriately in relation to the lane they are in (or indeed perhaps should be in.)

Perhaps all the tradies and truckies I've been verbosely berating from under my helmet have actually been drunken 20-something females from Brighton le Sands...

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Peter at 1/30/2012 11:37 PM
Gravatar in Stanmore have pretty good value bikes. If you subscribe to their newsletter you get some great bike deals. I bought two bikes from there and have been happy with those.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 1/31/2012 1:13 PM
Yes, Peter, we're aware of Cell Bikes, but let me just say that I don't like spam on the blog and that looks like it *might* be the first instance of semi-regular linkbaiting for Cell.

If it is, I won't be shopping there again and I'll be removing all the posts as they appear. Call it the backfire effect.

Non-spam comments usually have a degree of content that *doesn't* attempt to sell something. Word to the wise.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Peter at 1/31/2012 6:09 PM

I have no financial interest on that bike shop. As a cycling fan I thought I could help you out, but you can delete my comment if you wish.

I have posted on your blog before and I follow your blog because I know you from Sydney Atheists and Skeptics events. My email address is my Sydney Atheist message board handle. I think we even went once to Neutral Bay Pub Church and bumped into each other at St. Vincent's.

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 2/1/2012 5:23 PM
Sorry Peter, I should really hold back when I want to bite heads. There's been a bit of a spam issue on this blog for the last couple of years (which is why I now auto-close comments after a set period)

I'll try and make a mental note that you're you and not someone else. Apologies again!

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 2/1/2012 5:25 PM
Sorry Peter, I should have recognised the email!

There's been a bit of a spam issue here of late, which is why I close off comments after a set period now, otherwise it'd be constant. every now and again one sneaks through akismet and I obviously had you down as a false positive.

(sorry, again)

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Ripples at 2/1/2012 11:24 PM
I used to ride metrorides in Brisbane but just couldn't handle to pedestrians etc in the end. Became an MTB foest loon to escape the mobile human hazzads. I wonde if the eternal fight over paths will ever end

# re: That Cycling Thing

Left by Jason at 2/2/2012 11:43 AM
It'll never end, because there's an asymmetry of awareness in operation. Walking naturally puts one into a thoughtful, but vacant, frame of mind. I find I do a lot of good thinking while I walk, but I do tune out my awareness. I haven't walked into a lamppost for a few years, but it does happen.

But when I ride, I switch into awareness mode, my legs start pumping and I get switched on to my immediate surroundings. I don't necessarily look at the scenery, but I see every bump and ripple in the road ahead. It's only when I slow down for a break that I zone out again (and, occasionally, crash the bike in embarrassing low-speed ways as my attention wanes)

Put these two frames of mind onto a bike path together and you're cooking a delicious disaster cake.

I wonder if Canterbury Council would employ me as Chief Bike Path Scientist?
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