Lycra or lump it, police defend cyclists' rights

POLICE have defended a group of cyclists filmed riding in front of a car on a Gold Coast street.

The footage caused an uproar on the Gold Coast Bulletin's website yesterday, showing six cyclists hogging the popular Hedges Avenue in Mermaid Beach and preventing Palm Beach carpenter Matt Dennis from passing.

The parties traded insults about who was in the wrong. The cyclists said they were going the 30km/h and were entitled to be on the one-way road. Mr Dennis, and hundreds of readers at goldcoastbulletin.com.au disagreed, saying they were being "idiots".

WE'D GET FINED IF WE DROVE IN BIKE LANE

Matt Dennis is fed up with cyclists blocking the driving lane of Hedges Avenue. Picture: Jerad Williams
Matt Dennis is fed up with cyclists blocking the driving lane of Hedges Avenue. Picture: Jerad Williams

However, a senior traffic officer said the social riding group did nothing wrong.

Coomera Road Policing Unit Sergeant Hilton Buckley said motorists may be frustrated by cyclists on the road, but the riders were not breaking the law.

"Even though there is a cycling lane there are no requirements for them to stay in the cycling lane," he said.

"They can ride two abreast and ride to the speed limit.

"Cyclists don't need to give way to vehicles - they just need to obey the road rules."

Sgt Hilton said cyclists should be treated like any other vehicle using the road and cars would just have to wait to pass.

Cyclists riding along Hedges Avenue at Broadbeach. Photo: Supplied
Cyclists riding along Hedges Avenue at Broadbeach. Photo: Supplied

The police officer said judging by images of the Hedges Ave incident, the riding group was obeying the rules.

Footage taken from the dash of Mr Dennis's car shows him beeping at them repeatedly before frustration takes over and he yells at the group to get in the cycling lane, calling them a "bunch of (expletive)".

"You guys are deadset (expletive) imbeciles aren't ya," he yells as he finally passed the group to which it retorted "it's 30km/h mate".

More than 80 per cent of respondents to a poll at goldcoastbulletin.com.au agreed.

Hedges Ave is one of the narrowest streets on the Gold Coast and consists of a single traffic lane and a dedicated cycling lane.

Cyclists riding along Hedges Avenue at Broadbeach. Photo: Supplied
Cyclists riding along Hedges Avenue at Broadbeach. Photo: Supplied

Mr Dennis told the Gold Coast Bulletin the incident with the cycling group was not isolated and he was frequently blocked by riding groups on Hedges Ave.

"They will ride down the centre lane just basically being idiots," he said.

The speed limit on Hedges Avenue was dropped to 30km/h in early 2015 in an effort to deter drivers from using the narrow street as a rat run.

"(Cyclists) are just constantly running red lights and stop signs - they are a law unto themselves," Mr Dennis said of the citywide tension between cyclists and motorists.

"They think they are 10 foot tall and bullet proof."

One of the riders in the video, Adrian Ward, rejected Mr Dennis' claims, saying the group followed the road rules.

Cyclists riding along Hedges Avenue at Broadbeach. Photo: Supplied
Cyclists riding along Hedges Avenue at Broadbeach. Photo: Supplied

"We weren't making a point or trying to antagonise anyone," Mr Ward said.

"The truth is we were doing the speed limit and it's safer to ride two abreast on the road than use the bike lane on the right."

There were a number of pedestrians, including runners and mothers with prams, using the bike lane at the time of the incident, he said.

Mr Ward said the group, which rides together regularly, judged it to be safer to wait to the end of the one-way section than to swerve into the bike lane.

Broadbeach councillor Paul Taylor said space on Hedges Avenue had "always been an issue".

Plans to upgrade the street and widen the street won't be budgeted until after 2018, he said.

The Gold Coast City Council has been working to cater for the large number of cyclists seen on the roads.

The council has more than 1000km in cycle paths and will spend more than $1.6 million upgrading the bike lanes, cycleways and footpaths on Golden Four Drive, Tugun and in Main Beach.


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