There is a lane about 3 metres wide. Within this lane there is a small car and a cyclist. They are sharing the space. Everyone is smiling as they move along the street. But, just like pets, cars do grow up, well that’s how it feels in Sydney. What happens when this little car becomes a large car – things start to get a bit squishy, with the cyclist needing to keep a very straight line and pray the driver actually knows where the far left side of his car is. Then the car gains some extra height and an urban four wheel drive is suddenly starting to make life a little bit more claustrophobic for the little cyclist (ironically, bicycles seem to be getting smaller and smaller). When the Hummer comes to town, this is when the cyclist needs to say enough is enough, the few millimetres of space just isn’t enough.
Here is a comparison of three different cars …..
Hummer – Length/width/height 4782/1989/1912mm
Prius – length/width/height 4450/1725/1490mm
Smart – Length/Width/Height 2695/1559/1542mm
To demonstrate how the size of cars can affect the cyclists ability to breath, I have shown how the cars fit into two lanes – one 2.7 m (which is a small lane for main streets of Sydney) and one is 3.3 m (which is a wide lane for Sydney). The Hummer is in red, the Prius in green and the Smart in blue
Firstly, the wide lane
Then the narrow lane
You can start to see why cyclists take a whole lane and why everyone is advocating for cycleways and cycle lanes. The good old “sharing the road” is hard to do, when there’s no room next to fat cars.
Let’s just hope falling petrol prices don’t spark another insurgence of bigger cars, because it’s no fun cycling next to the walls of giant tankers.