Or maybe make them register their vehicle and apply for a driving license like everyone else!

A Modest Proposal.


Brisbane’s roads can be Hellish as local drivers well know. Pot-holed, erratically laid out, possessing a frustratingly asynchronous system of stoplights, and every month crammed with ever greater traffic numbers, driving here can be a hazardous and stressful enterprise.

But in recent years there has been a new hazard and annoyance in ever increasing numbers blighting our roads. I refer to that two wheeled pest, the Bicyclist!

But wait”, I hear the puzzled reader cry! “Reverend, we thought you were a tree-hugging, sandle wearing vegan left wing hippie type! Surely you should spout the party line and rabbit on about the neccesity for clean-green-alternative-transport, fossil-fuel eschewing bicycles and their joy!”

Yes, well. The bicycle may seem like the ideal mode of transport when you’re young and going to Uni. You have strong legs and plenty of time and energy. Later you get older and have busier schedules. You have kids. You have to commute. You get older still and a bit frailer and the idea of risking your brittle bones on a busy road is even less attractive. But arrogant young alternative bicycle enthusiasts never consider these things. For it is a sad Fact of Twenty-first Urban living; many of us depend on a car to survive. Personally I’d prefer to have a horse or even a goat-carriage but I don’t like the odds of that happening. I have adjusted to reality.


I must say I suspect sometimes that a lot of the Left’s love affair with the bicycle has as much to do with nostalgia as it does with the environment. A hankering for romantic images from the past, an earlier, simpler time. Visions of the bicycling masses in Workers’ Paradises that never were. Castro’s Cuba in the sixties or China’s Cultural revolution. The bicycling masses Defying Evil Capitalism despite their lack of an industrial base.

Yes, the Left has a fetish for proletarian modes of transport, like some sort of a leftover from Maoism

Be that as it may, there are certainly more bicycles on Brisbane’s Roads in recent times, and every day hardly an hour has passed when I see some clown on a bicycle recklessly endangering their own or others lives. Riding the wrong way down a one way street. Ignoring traffic signs and lights. Failing to signal. Riding at night with no lights. Riding without a helmet. Talking on a phone. Etc, etc, etc. Much as they annoy me I still don’t want to be responsible for running them over them. (I am, after all, a man of peace.)

 And as for the minority of bike riders who display some sort of road sense and riding competence, I still have to question the wisdom of their decision to ride a two wheeled, unmotorised vehicle on busy main roads at peak hour. I think part of the problem may be due to inexperience. Many if not most bicyclists in my area are young, and I would suspect that the larger proportion of them have never driven a car. Thus they have no idea about road rules. They also have no idea how much effort and care car drivers have to take to ensure the safety of bicyclists on the roads. Manys the time I’ve seen one driver swerve to avoid a bike, causing the driver in the next lane to have to swerve, causing the driver in the oncoming lane to swerve, causing the driver in the far lane to swerve. Thats four lanes of traffic taking evasive maneuveres as one bicyclist wobbles slowly up Gladstone Road.

Safety! Ha! Most bicycles these days don’t even have mirrors, which I would consider a basic safety requirement for any vehicle. That and a bell.

Lets face reality people. Cars and bicycles don’t mix. The main roads of Brisbane in the Twenty-First century are not designed for bicycle traffic. This is not Amsterdam in the Nineteenth century. This is hot, hilly, buzy Brisbane with its far-flung urban sprawl.It is not a bicycle friendly environment.

Brisbane City Council must take some blame for poorly supporting the proliferation of bicycles, which it has in some measure encouraged in an effort to appear ‘environmentally concerned’. Unfortunately the BCC has built few actual dedicated bike lanes, but it has turned numerous ‘parking lanes’ into ‘bike lanes’ by painting a silhouette of a bicycle on the bitumen. Of course they’re still parking lanes as well, so when cars are parked there, the bicyclist has a bike lane width of effectively two inches.

The Brisbane City Council, in a further pea-brained effort to gain green credibility, has thoughtlessly encouraged the over-proliferation of bicycles on the streets with its ‘City Cycles Scheme’, providing bikes for hire at various unmanned “bike stations”. There is no supervision. Any fool can ride one, whether they’re wearing a helmet or not, drunk, or underaged. Its clearly aimed mainly at tourists so there is no guarantee they’ll even know the local road rules. Hope the BCC’s got adaquate liability insurance for when these questions inevitably pop up in court.

The drivers and riders of every other vehicle that use our roads have to learn the road rules, apply for a license and prove they’re capable of using their vehicle. They have to register their vehicle and prove it is in safe working order. The time has come when the same rules should apply also to bicyclists.

If Bicyclists want to use our roads they should abide by the same regulations as everyone else. They should pass a test, where they prove they know the road rules and can safely ride a bicycle, before they are allowed on the roads. Their vehicles should be inspected and registered before being allowed on the roads. Naturally nominal license fees will have to be charged and the money raised thus by government should be used to build and maintain proper bikeways.

 I believe these modest measures will reduce the number of bike accidents, injuries and fatalities by a significant amount. Anyone want to start a petition?

Well, I daresay none of my fair weather, bicycling-riding associates will talk to me after this Sermon, though My real friends are used to my rants by now. And while I’m on the subject, a big shout out to Terry, my esteemed legal adviser, currently recovering from a bicycling mishap. Hope your shoulder gets better soon, Mate! You’re in my prayers.



A Spotters Guide to Errant Bicyclists


  1. The Bike Nazi.

    This type wouldn’t dream of getting on a bike wearing ordinary clothes. No, they have to wear the full riding kit, the expensive body-fitting lycra uniform. Its expensive but those tight bike pants really show off your finely chiselled thighs while your saving the environment. This type’s riding style displays an aggressive arrogance. Likes to stand around in groups talking & blocking the footpath with their bikes on weekends.

  2. The Hippie A native species endemic to West End. Never heard of road rules. Fond of wearing dark clothing after sunset while riding a bike with no lights.

  3. The Teen Age Daredevil Moron Generally male, travels singly or in packs. Often found terrorising pedestrians on footpaths when not zooming down the wrong side of the road or ignoring traffic lights.

  4. The Mother Duck of Death The bicycling Mother Duck of Death in fact can be either a male or female parent and is found on busy roads around 3pm when the schools disgorge their prisoners. The MDD’s bicycle usually has a basket over full of shopping. Behind them, wobbling wildly on oversize bicycles they can barely control, follow 1 to 3 children struggling gamely to keep up. For some reason the Mother Duck of Death feels it is a good idea to endanger their children’s lives by leading them out into heavy traffic. Personally every time I see one of these little processions I feel like stopping and screaming at the parents for being so fucking stupid.

    A variant form, such as I saw the other day, is when the MDD is riding a tandem bicycle with an underage brat strapped into the back seat with ockey-straps.. Then it is the parent wobbling wildly on an unwieldy, barely controlled contraption that drivers must swerve to avoid. (A further variant is the “Hippie Mother Duck of Death” who just jams their child into the shopping basket.)



The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet and an ordained Minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists AND the Church of Life.

Can you dig it?



~ by reverendhellfire on May 1, 2011.

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