Picture this: You are driving home on a foggy, misty afternoon. The winter twilight is descending. The road is wet. Headlights from oncoming vehicles are reflecting in the droplets on your windscreen.
In a split second it all happens. A bike is in front of your car. The rider flies up your bonnet as the bike crunches beneath your wheels. In panic you screech to a stop, but it is too late.
This almost happened to me a couple of years ago. The rider was wearing a grey raincoat - splendid camouflage in the rain - and of course had no lights.
In bike accident reports, the concern is always about the injured or deceased cyclist. The trauma suffered by the driver is rarely reported. No car driver wants to have an accident involving a bike, but many bike riders simply do not take sensible precautions.
Last year 50 bike riders were killed in Australia in collisions with motor vehicles. Over 2500 riders were involved in serious accidents, many becoming paraplegics as a result of their accidents.
Children figure highly. In Queensland nearly 75 per cent of Emergency Department bike accidents were children aged under 15. The male proportion rises to nearly 80 per cent for over 15 riders, while almost all of the city commuting bicycle accidents involved a male.
Last week a bike rider was crushed under a city bus. The Seven News report showed only middle-aged males riding past in heavy traffic.
Bikeways are one answer. Bike lanes give a false sense of security. In Melbourne a couple of riders were “doored” by people getting out of taxis. The kneejerk reaction was to promulgate a regulation requiring a one metre gap between cars and bikes.
I was in Chapel Street, Prahan on the morning of the latest “dooring” incident - trams in the centre and not a metre to spare between the bike lane and cars! It was raining. Only a few riders came past. All were male. Not one had a flashing light, nor high visibility clothing.
Let’s face facts. In terms of the number of commuters, bike riders form a miniscule percentage. Cars, trams and buses are the natural users of the road. Drivers pay registration taxes and fuel excise. Public transport travellers pay fares.
The time has come to place responsibility on cyclists. Motor bike riders have to ride with their lights on. The law should require bike riders to have lights, too - bright flashing lights front and rear, reflective clothing, avoiding busy roads, and compulsory riding within bike lanes.
I own a bike. I rode a bike to school from the time I was seven until I finished high school. I still ride with my grandchildren, but I am very aware of the dangers.
Life is too precious to take risks.