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March 14, 2010

Misty mornings at Bobbin Head

Filed under: Cycling — joel.cass @ 11:03 am

It seems that Bobbin head is becoming a regular ride for me. The hills have gotten smaller and I’m not getting as lost as I used to. This certain morning in particular I had left home at around 6:30am and reached the valley by 7:30. What a sight it was, I’m not sure whether it was fog or low lying cloud but it was magnificent watching the air move over the water. The pictures don’t really do it justice.

Bobbin HeadBobbin HeadBobbin Head

March 8, 2010

Etiquette 101 for Perth People

Filed under: Musings — joel.cass @ 11:15 am

On our recent visit to Perth I was surprised at how things have changed, from the sleepy relaxed town it used to be, to the fast-paced, disorganised and overvalued sprawl it has become. Many places I was so fond of have turned into McSuburbs, full of samey looking brick-and-tile houses. Traffic was bad, notwithstanding the high levels of aggression and stupidity that we experienced driving around.

People think Sydney is bad – no no no, Sydney is good! Our city in more centralised, our drivers are better, and generally our people are nicer. So, I thought I would write a little equiquette 101 for Perth people.

First things first – Multiculturalism. No matter what your ill-educated parents may have told you when you were growing up, there is no physical or imaginary line between white people, black people, asians and the like. We are all just people. The lines are put in place because of fear. Fear that because they don’t look like you they might be smarter. Or dangerous. That’s a fallacy. Anyone can be smarter or dangerous regardless of their skin colour.

If you see a cross-cultural couple at a restaurant, like myself and my wife for example, do not stare, or to make things worse shake your head while staring, or do any of that other silly judgemental habit, you’re just making yourself look stupid. Which you are, of course. Furthermore – It’s not nice to stare. It just makes everyone feel awkward. If someone needs help, don’t just stare, help them. If you’re staring for any other reason, you’re just creating an awkward situation.

Most people from different backgrounds have to learn a couple of languages – their home tongue and english. A requirement for admission to University, or even coming to the country these days is a good, working level of english. Which means that most of them can conduct conversations with you. In light of this fact, you do not have to speak slower to them in a derogatory manner. If you’ve got a speech impediment or like to mumble (which is the reason why we asked you to repeat yourself), speaking slower does not help. Speaking clearer in the first place does.

Here’s a few tips for driving.

1. It is OK to drive behind someone who is going at the speed limit. It is not OK spending 15 minutes trying to overtake them at the speed limit + 0.00001km/h only to cut in front of them and slow down to 5km/h below the speed limit.

2. If the driver in front of you is speeding, it is not your responsibility to flash your lights at them and make all sorts of commotion until they slow down just so you can tell them that they are speeding. At 11:30 at night it is my choice to drive 105kmh in a 100kmh zone, on a road that is so good it could handle a speed limit of 180kmh easily. I do not need you to tell me about it. I would much prefer to hear from a policeman.

3. Bicycles are road users too. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever before have I seen so many drivers show aggression towards cyclists. On just one ride we were cut off by buses, cut off by cars at roundabouts, not given adequate clearance when riding roadside, even on a dual carriageway. In my mind this is unacceptable behaviour and much more dangerous than speeding.

Compared to Sydney and NSW, the road infrastructure in Perth and southwest is incredible. Never before have I seen roads so straight and smooth, engineered to perfection. Cycle paths are everywhere and it just seems so well-planned. If only the drivers could be better, it would be such a great place to commute. I just couldn’t understand how the Mitchell freeway has a speed limit of 90-100, whereas Sydney’s M4 and F3 have a higher speed limit of 110kmh, of which everyone speeds, yet (seemingly) less fatal accidents happen. It’s obvious that speed is hardly an issue, probably moreso the lack of skill that WA drivers have.

So, for anyone who might think that Sydney is a worse place to live, or a more dangerous place to drive (or ride), think again. Sydney people are open minded, (mostly) considerate, and pretty fair drivers, though arguably more assertive and less aggressive than their WA counterparts. Anyway, that’s my point of view.