Monday, 7 October 2013

How to use an Australian roundabout

Bicycle riders are quite rare in Kalgoorlie. Recently, while I was walking around the town I spotted one and felt compelled to take a photograph.  A bit weird I know, I guess the impulse is comparable to an ornithologist seeing a rare bird.

By the time I got to the corner he had given up trying to enter the roundabout on his bicycle.  He had dismounted and resorted to crossing as a pedestrian.  The traffic was moving quite fast and he had to wait quite a while.  As a pedestrian he had no rights and it is very difficult to judge when a motorist is going to exit the roundabout because they usually do not use their turn indicators.

Growing frustrated, he took off on foot to an easier place to cross.

After crossing he resorted to illegally riding along the footpath.

And finally got to the bookshop which was only a few metres from his original position.

This person is an adult male who I expect would have a reasonable sense of self confidence in most situations.  He also, obviously, has a sense of self preservation and recognises that an Australian roundabout is not a safe place on a bicycle. 

There is a small percentage of the population that have the confidence and skill to dodge motor vehicles but the majority of people do not. This man represents the majority. Most of the people without the confidence simply do not ride. I congratulate him for his efforts and wonder how long he will tolerate the difficulty of riding around the city before he resorts to driving a car.

Our state and local governments should not keep building roundabouts with the current design while hypocritically telling us how much they are doing for sustainable transport.


  1. Ironically, Kalgoorlie owes much of it's early success to bicycle messengers running between gold towns early 20th century.

    That roundabout is a shocker. I wonder if the width is due to large truck usage?

    1. This roundabout is in the shopping area. It would be used by delivery trucks for shops but it is not part of a heavy truck route. Most of the streets in Kalgoorlie are very wide so the roundabout fits with the same scale. Roundabouts in narrow streets encroach on the pavement areas but in Kalgoorlie it is mostly the reverse. The roundabouts are used as a means of reducing the motor vehicle space while still keeping the traffic flowing. This is done with little regard for how it effects pedestrians and people on bicycles.
      Yes, bicycles were used a lot in the early days of the goldfields. The museum has a great example of a handmade wooden bike.