WE are touted as the home of Australian cycling but need a lesson in home etiquette.
Our own riders even feel a little uncomfortable.
UCI Continental rider Liam White says he was often abused or intimidated by motorists when out on the road clocking up hundreds of kilometres about his hometown for training. He says motorist frustration likely stems from the minority who ride poorly and usually nowhere near the same mileage as he did.
Yet they are considered one and the same.
The Drapac-Pat’s Veg Holistic Development Team rider aims to try and gradually change culture in a new bicycle education program. White will lead the Cycling Australia Let’s Ride roll-out in Ballarat primary schools next term.
He hopes will work on two main fronts: inspiring more children to get on a bike and be more active; and, improving the city’s general attitudes to cyclists.
This is a proactive approach to teach youngsters to ride safely, confidently and knowing traffic rules right from the start.
As a community, we should all start to set a better example for young cyclists too.
Improved cycling infrastructure about town is important, and City of Ballarat is already delving into a cycling strategy, but this takes time and money. Until this unfolds in our streets, we are still sharing the road together and could all do to be more courteous – whether on the bike or in a vehicle.
This is about more than being on good behaviour when the elites ride into town for nationals each summer.
Cycling tourism is a fast-growing industry and there are plenty of people who want a taste of what Ballarat, Buninyong and the wider region has to offer as the home of Australian cycling.
This is about more than the lycra-clad local regulars who bike and coffee each weekend.
Ballarat health concerns are well-documented on a national scale. Active transport should be encouraged not belittled and time away from screens – for people all ages – should be regarded as de-stressing.
White says better bike handling and, most importantly, awareness of how to best ride on the road – particularly when riding with others – could go a long way to improving general attitudes towards cycling and cyclists.
Put simply, better cycling practice can start to improve motorist attitudes which in turn should entice more people to get on their bikes.
White trained and competed in North America earlier this year and felt the whole vibe was a lot more respectful out on the road.
Cycling Australia made a commitment to develop the cycling culture of this city as part of its announcement in April to keep road nationals here for at least another three years. This is both in promoting cycling tourism opportunities and grassroots riding to help more people feel confident and safe on their bikes.
Let’s Ride is part of this.
We are amazing hosts when nationals are in town but we can always strive to go bigger and better. The only way to truly do so, is really feel and like the home of Australian cycling all year long.