By Phillip Rodda
Local Sunshine Coast cyclist Freddy Ovett says Australia is undisputedly the worst country in the world when it comes to hatred towards cyclists.
For much of the last three years the Australian Cycling Academy’s Ride Sunshine Coast team member has been training across Europe but mostly in Girona, Spain.
Ovett said since coming back home he’s noticed the difference in motorists’ behaviour.
“Australia is by far the worst country in the world when it comes to hatred towards cyclists,” he said.
“I’m based in Europe and the respect there compared to here (Australia) is just incomparable.
“Here (Australia), there’s not really a training ride that goes by that there isn’t at least one incident.”
Ovett, a business student at USC, thinks the media also contributes to the ongoing battle for road supremacy.
“The media doesn’t help,” he said.
“At the end of the day we’re all human beings, we all have families to go to, some of us are just trying to do our job.
“I’m not going to say there aren’t cyclists that do the wrong things, there are plenty, and there’s plenty of motorists who do the wrong thing.”
Ovett said the Sunshine Coast road surfaces are great, especially when compared to the close capital city of Brisbane.
“Most of the bike lanes especially in Noosa are quite good as well as the road quality,” he said.
“Brisbane is difficult, but the Sunshine Coast is good.”
However, he said that while coastal roads are user-friendly, the further you head west the worse the roads become and that more work needs to be done across the Coast.
“There’s definitely room for improvement though,” he said.
“As you head out into the Hinterland like Maleny, Montville, there’s not much of a hard shoulder out there, it’s dangerous out there.”
Following the death of a Girona cyclist last year, Ovett said that life was more important than anything else.
“The difference is cyclists are the ones who get hurt, we don’t have any protection around us,” he said.
“Just last year, one of the professional cyclists who is well known in the Girona community was killed in Bendigo. Going out training a week after that happens, that’s tough.”
Ovett firmly believes that motorists and cyclists should come together, stop the blame game and realise that we’re all equal.
“It’s an attitude problem, there’s needs to stop being sides. We need to just all be branded together as people on the road,” he said.