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Cadel Evans calls out Australian drivers' "bad attitudes" towards cyclists after two riders seriously injured in deliberate hit-and-runs filmed and uploaded to social media

The 2011 Tour de France winner and former world champion called for improvement to "attitudes and education", the Australian cycling community left shocked and fearful following a horrific double hit-and-run in Melbourne this week...

One of Australia's most famous cycling sons, 2011 Tour de France winner and 2009 world road race champion Cadel Evans, has spoken out about the danger cyclists face on the roads of his home country. The retired pro's comments come after a shocking double hit-and-run in Melbourne left two cyclists seriously injured in hospital, two riders deliberately mown down in separate incidents a short time apart, with footage filmed by a passenger in the vehicle and uploaded to social media.

The incidents have left the Melbourne cycling community shaken, both cyclists involved thankfully alive but in hospital with serious injuries including spinal fractures. Evans — who retired from racing at the end of 2015 — spoke to the Herald Sun ahead of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, the UCI WorldTour race named after him, which takes place in Geelong, Victoria, this weekend, just over 50 miles away from site of the hit-and-run incidents.

During the interview he suggested that Australian drivers "lack awareness and concentration" and have "bad attitudes" towards cyclists, and that building more cycling infrastructure is just one part of the puzzle with "more education about cyclists' rights to use the roads and longer, more comprehensive driver training" needed.

> Cadel Evans says he won't ride his bike in Sydney – because it's too intimidating

"I think attitudes and education is actually more important than infrastructure," he said. "Around the world you see varying attitudes towards that and I was kind of hoping that things in Australia were improving, but evidently not... so of course the [Melbourne hit-and-runs] are really disappointing in that regard."

The 46-year-old, who won the Tour while riding for BMC Racing Team, said he did not want people to be put off cycling because of fear caused by "people's bad attitudes". He also explained how he always felt safer cycling in Europe due to drivers' awareness and better attitudes towards cyclists. 

"It could have been an absolute tragedy"

Evans' comments come during a grim week for Australian cycling, the aforementioned deliberate hit-and-runs on Beach Road in the south-east of Melbourne in the early hours of Tuesday morning prompting a major police investigation.

Officers were called to the crash site at 5.20am following reports of a 51-year-old cyclist being hit by the driver of a car. A short time later, another rider was hit by a car on the same route, a 72-year-old male cyclist taken to hospital with serious injuries. In both cases the driver of the vehicle involved did not stop.

Footage emerged on social media, apparently posted anonymously, and appearing to show the driver of a car hitting a cyclist, Victoria Police inspector Scott Dwyer calling the images "disgusting" as the force continues to investigate both reported incidents and the video, 7news reports.

Melbourne hit-and-run

A 51-year-old cyclist, remains in hospital with three spinal fractures, while the other cyclist was hospitalised with a fractured spine and a broken foot. Mr Gibson's co-worker said it could have been an "absolute tragedy" and learning that the collision was deliberate "accentuates the impact it has on everyone".

The local cycling community has expressed disgust at the incidents, Edward Hore the Australian Cycling Alliance's president calling the sharing of footage online as cowardly.

"I was shocked ... it's just really upsetting that people would go out of their way to harm someone like that, someone going about their business," local cyclist Karen Gittins added.

In further interviews with the Herald Sun other Melbourne cyclists had their say on the dangers cyclists face on the road, Harry Pearce saying it has "put the fear in you that there are actually people doing that on purpose".

"You feel very vulnerable on the road. There's not much between us and a serious injury," he said. "People are pretty shit sometimes and they ride intentionally too close, almost coming out of their lane or they pull out in front of you and sometimes you wonder if people are doing that on purpose."

Lily Field said her group ride for Wednesday had been cancelled due to fears about the driver having not been caught. "We were wondering if those people are still out there," she said. "It makes you wonder if it could happen again."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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10 comments

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AMcCulloch | 4 months ago
5 likes

From Melbourne as well and I find it appsolutely appalling in regards to the event on Beach Road. I have to say I am no fan of the Herald Sun as it is one of those Murdoch run tabloid newspapers, one of many in Australian. While it nice they took the time to interview Cadel, the paper is no friend ot cycling and have actively promoted the War between cars and cyclists here in Melbourne. I was unfortunate enough to be stuck by some D******h person driving a car back in 2011 and was layed up in hospital for 5 days and treated for a fractured neck by being fitted with a halo which I hade to wear for 12 weeks. During that time I was contacted by the "Hun" and interviewed in regards to crash, the takeaway from this experience, for me was the journalist was more interested in the "war on the road" and tying to get me to agree with this statement than with my story. I refused to play his game. This is one of the reasons I am anti "Hun" and the fact a lot of the media here in Australia always run with the "War on the Road" which is very disheartening. They just re enforce the behaviour seen on Beach Road. The TV News can't even moderate the comments under their news feed in regards to the hit and run, there are some very sick individuals out there hiding behind their keyboards.

Thats my thoughts on the subject, cheers 

Avatar
don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
5 likes

I used to think that no driver went out with the intention to hurt another human being, I am now much less certain of this.

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ROOTminus1 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Here's a hot potato question; are cars too safe?

Whilst there's mediocre protections, thankfully slowly improving, to reduce harm to vulnerable road users in collisions with vehicles, the occupants are cocooned inside layers and layer of protection like a mars lander. There's less personal consequence for dangerous driving, encouraging higher speeds and more reckless decision making.
I'm not advocating for removal of protections that would endanger life, having been an innocent person in a collision I know up to 50% of drivers involved in accidents are not at fault. Instead more balance is required between measures for those outside the car as there currently are in.
...Or dust the driver's airbags in chilli powder. It'll save lives and pepper spray the drivers to make sure they can't flee the scene.

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JMcL_Ireland replied to ROOTminus1 | 4 months ago
5 likes

I always maintain that if a large spike in the middle of the steering wheel were mandatory, the roads would be a much safer place - for "vulnerable" road users anyway, driveists less so

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Hirsute replied to JMcL_Ireland | 4 months ago
1 like

The people you are aiming at are risk takers with poor judgements on outcomes. Sure they'd eventually remove themselves from the roads but at a cost to others as their driving would not change.

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Patrick9-32 replied to ROOTminus1 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Its not that cars are too safe as much as modern cars are designed to encourage distracted, reckless driving through their disconnection of the driver from the act of driving. 

In an older car with no driver aids you had to be a present and fully attentive driver or you would crash. These days with lane assistance, collision warnings etc you are encouraged to pay less attention as your attention isn't needed.... until its too late. Even the NVH (noise vibration and harshness) improvements in modern cars make them feel slower at a given speed, encourageing the creep in speeds beyond where a human can safely react. 

The isolation of a modern driver from the world outside the car also increases the tendancy to treat everyone outside the car as an inconvenience, not a fellow human being. This goes for other drivers just as much as cyclists and pedestrians. 

Avatar
Simon E replied to Patrick9-32 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Patrick9-32 wrote:

The isolation of a modern driver from the world outside the car also increases the tendancy to treat everyone outside the car as an inconvenience, not a fellow human being. This goes for other drivers just as much as cyclists and pedestrians. 

I think this is a far bigger issue than the perceived safety or distraction / disconnection when inside a car (or any large vehicle). The feeling that there will be no consequence for their actions is widespread, whether it's as simple as a carelessly close pass or intentional confrontation, as in the Melbourne incidents. A lot of people have got the idea that they can do what they like, we have all experienced drivers beeping when you're cycling too far out for their liking (happened to me twice last week) and those who lose their temper at a shake of the head or a gesture after a sketchy manoeuvre.

Hit-and-run incidents are still happening, sometimes leaving the vicim in an induced coma and with life-changing injuries, as happened to someone I know last month.

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don simon fbpe replied to ROOTminus1 | 3 months ago
1 like

I'd say that cars are neither too cocooning nor is this a new phenomena. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwPSIb3kt_4

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Cyclo1964 | 4 months ago
3 likes

I lived in Melbourne for several years and Beach Road is a very popular area for cyclists with large groups and solo riders making use of it but as with the UK in Australia the attitude of some drivers towards cyclists is alarming. I was fortunate enough to live in the Northern Suburbs so was able to get out into country Victoria so less vehicles but even there on occasion you would get abuse generally from some redneck with a southern cross sticker on the back of his Ute ( pick up ). 

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ROOTminus1 replied to Cyclo1964 | 4 months ago
0 likes

- Meant to post independently not in response to you

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