Newspaper Articles & Blogs on Beach Rd Bunch Rides

"I can see why some of these bunch rides have become a contentious issue.  They're a large part of what gives cycling a bad name.  Rightly so.  There are sometimes up to 150 riders taking up 2-3 lanes of traffic riding at speeds up to 55km/hr.  As a driver, having passed some of these group rides I can see how other motorists could be either terrified or outraged.

The majority of bunch rides are well behaved, below 20 people and ridden two abreast using half a lane.  However, when the bunches increase to unmanageable numbers and leadership is lacking, things get out of hand.  All it takes is one or two riders at a time taking unnecessary chances or making erratic moves and you have constant mayhem on the road.

If you think the Hell Ride is bad you should see the 6:30 Tuesday evening Beach Road ride and the Thursday evening Tour of Suburbs.  Sure theyíre fun to ride in, but weíre our own worst enemy riding these like we do.  The bunch sprints take up 2 lanes and there are cyclists scattered everywhere amongst traffic.   Every time I do one of these rides I shake my head at some of the bonehead moves that people pull (myself included).  The amount of testosterone that flows when you get 50-100 guys together is unbelievable.  Iím just waiting for the day that someone gets killed.   Iím afraid thatís what is going to happen before people wise up".

Having done the Tuesday 6:30 ride a fair bit, I to agree it's now totally out of hand and dangerous. I think the problem with these rides is that they hit a critical mass of riders and the group becomes too large to be a controlled "training ride".  There is no leader of the bunch, no 'Patron of the Peloton'.  That leads to people riding 5 abreast, spilling into 2 lanes, overtaking on the wrong side of the road, and it also means the bunch is so long that while the front of the group easily makes it through the lights, the back are tempted to run the red.

"Recently the number of people joining the weekday morning bunch rides have increased tenfold.   I remember a couple years ago when the Wednesday morning long loop included only half a dozen of us.  Now there are 60 to 80 riders joining this ride and itís an absolute mess coming back along Nepean Highway amongst rush hour traffic.  The stronger riders at the front are trying to tear the group apart, the weaker ones are echeloned onto a second lane of traffic trying to hold onto the wheel in-front. Perhaps itís time to start splitting this group into two.

On the Tuesday or Thursday 6am North Road Ride there now is a scooter turning up to motor-pace the bunch.  The pace gets up to 60km/hr and most of the riders strung out fighting tooth and nail for a wheel barely hanging on. I donít know who drives the scooter or who organises it, but maybe itís taking things a step too far?

Friday mornings used to be an easy ride.  No big chainring allowed.  Now there are 80 riders who make a dodgy turn at the church against 70km/hr oncoming traffic so they can do their hard ride.  Meanwhile only a small handful of riders continue 200m down the road to Mordialloc for their easy ride.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  Itís group mentality at work and no one has suggested that it be changed.

The problem with the Melbourne cycling scene is that there are no more ďpatrons of the pelotonĒ to lead the way.  There is no respect for the senior riders anymore, and the senior riders have given up trying to make any changes. Maybe Sydney and Adelaide could give us some input on how theyíve been able to keep their rides so organised.

Iím thrilled to see cycling growing so rapidly, however itís becoming a victim of itís own success. The sheer number of riders turning up each morning and the changing nature of these bunch rides is an accident waiting to happen.  It will soon become a problem that spans beyond our own community.

Many people have emailed me asking that I wave my magic wand and make the problem disappear.  Itís not that simple.  This wonít be solved in the comments section of this post, nor do I have the power to change what people do.  A group of well respected riders need to get together, put their brains together, and use their influence to make some sustainable changes.  Everyone is talking about (including me), but nothing is being done about it."

MARCEL LEMA: Most professional, or cyclists that ride in clubs, actually don't go on that ride because it's just so dangerous.  Probably 80 to 90 per cent of cyclists that are on Beach Road today have a very low set of skills, they don't belong to clubs, and that's why we're having some of the issues we're having today.

KATHY BOWLEN: Police estimate 10,000 cyclists use Beach Road every weekend. But, along with cycling's growth in popularity, has been an increase in serious injuries. Dr James Taylor is the head of the accident and emergency centre at Sandringham Hospital, which is now seeing injured cyclists every week.

DR JAMES TAYLOR, SANDRINGHAM HOSPITAL: It might be something simple like a broken arm, broken wrist, shoulder injury or a head injury. Some of them are more serious and require hospital admission, some have required operations. But it is a growing concern to us, the number of patients that we see here, the number of cyclists that attend, and it's been largely a hidden problem up until the last two or three years. We're now becoming more aware of it because of the increase in numbers, and it is a real safety issue to the community.

MARCEL LEMA: We have mainly a lot of soft tissue injuries and a lot of broken bones, a lot of broken collar bones. A lot of the accidents are when bike riders come up the back of parked cars. We have a lot of accidents like that when riders hit the back of parked cars.