Opinion by John Stevenson
A cyclist was killed yesterday in western Sydney and another is in hospital in a serious condition after a hit and run incident on Richmond Road at Londonderry, near Penrith. According to news.com.au, a police spokesman said the two men in their twenties were hit by a vehicle. One died at the scene while the other was taken to Nepean Hospital in a serious but stable condition. Police have urged anyone with information about the crash to contact Windsor Police Station.
Meanwhile, a tabloid newspaper in the same city, Sydney's Daily Telegraph, has published an article attacking cyclists. The Telegraph spent three hours compiling "a series of more than a dozen photographs showing cyclists endangering themselves and others." The newspaper describes cyclists as "idiots on two wheels", "two-wheel maniacs" and "dangerous".
However, the report doesn't provide any evidence of a bike rider harming anyone during its three-hour vigil. The on-line version of the story is illustrated with a photo of a cyclist riding along an almost-empty pavement on Parramatta Road, an overcrowded urban artery where cyclists face a choice of squeezing into narrow lanes between parked cars and lane-filling trucks, or hopping on the pavement.
Sydney's road system shows little consideration for cyclists and combined with a car culture, conditions are hardly ideal for commuting. The Telegraph's article, headlined "Hell on wheels", pointed to an increase in bicycle sales, but the last two censuses showed a decrease in the number of commuting cyclists.
Cyclingnews' Sydney office is close to a busy intersection and it would take three minutes, rather than three hours, to record more than a dozen examples of motorists breaking the law. Red lights are regularly run and drivers talking on mobile phones is routine.
As the latest hit-and-run tragedy demonstrates - and the light sentence handed down recently to Eugene McGee after the death of Ian Humphrey - Australia is developing a problem with motorists and cyclists sharing the road. But the Telegraph's singling out cyclists for a cheap shot does nothing to alleviate the problem and demonstrates appalling timing, given the tragedy in the same city on the previous day.