The headline was inapt but for Anthony Tan the message was crystal clear.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

'Police launch inner-city cyclist blitz', read the article headline in Monday's online edition of the Age newspaper.

"Cyclists and drivers in Melbourne's CBD, inner north and south-east will be targeted in a week-long blitz that will see police flood black spot areas and fine those breaking the law," reporter Caroline Zielinski opened by saying.

"From Monday, officers will issue on-the-spot fines of up to $369 as part of Operation Nora, a five-day road safety initiative affecting the suburbs of Carlton, Fitzroy, Richmond, Collingwood and the CBD.

"Police will flock to cyclist black spot areas in a bid to weed out drivers, cyclists and pedestrians flouting the law."

"Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians flouting the law" - yet the paper's editors chose to put cyclists - the most vilified, and for many motorists, the most objectionable of road users - in their headline.

Yep, a bit of 'click-bait' never hurts anyone, does it?

Or does it?

We already know our metropolitan CBD and suburban cycleways leave much to be desired in Australia (though the situation in Melbourne is a hell of a lot better than my home city of Sydney) and therein lies part of the problem.

Highly trafficked roads are already bursting at the seams, particularly during peak hours, and the inclusion of cyclists in that heady mix, who often arrive at their destinations less bothered and in less time than their combustion engine-fuelled counterparts, infuriates those who sit in their cars and snail along under stop-start conditions.

Presumably, while sitting and seething in their bucketed seats, motorists tune into radio shock jocks like Ray Hadley and Alan Jones, who spout their contempt for these "cockroaches on wheels", as Derryn Hinch famously labelled the two-wheeled fraternity, which only fuels their resentment, be it hidden or overt.

For the those drivers suffering from anger management issues, the continual goading of cyclists might tip one or two over the edge - perhaps enough to see if a little bump (just a little one) or swipe of their sideview mirror will do the trick, followed by a 'oh, sorry mate, didn't see you' (playing dumb), or, playing the victim, 'Why don't you effin look where you're effin going and get off the effin road!'

So, yes, a bit of 'click-bait' might hurt. Or even kill.

Zielinski quoted Senior Sergeant Stephen Wilson, who said: "Police will not only target offences committed by cyclists, but also crack down on drivers doing the wrong thing.

"Reducing fatal and serious injury collisions is a high priority for police," Sergeant Wilson said, who added they would "crack down" on cyclists who disobeyed traffic signs and lights; who failed to wear helmets; and those who did not ride their bike on the left of tram stops.

Run a red while on yer bike? That'll be 369 dollars, thank you very much.

No helmet? We'll take 185 smackeroos from your pockets.

And did we just see you holding onto a moving vehicle?

That'll be another $185.

"Drivers who ignore traffic lights, stop or park illegally will also be fined during the blitz, as will motorcyclists who use bike lanes," Zielinski wrote.

If there's a need for accuracy in reporting, and I can't see a situation where such a tenet should not be heeded, the headline should have read: 'Police launch inner-city traffic blitz'.

But who's going to read that?

Still, I'm actually in favour of fines for offences such as running reds, be it cyclist or motorist.

Recently, I bought my first proper commuting bike (more on that in another blog), and it's opened my eyes up to a whole different world of wheeled warriors.

Clearly, the commuting crowd are a different kettle of fish to your hard-core racing community, of which I was once a devoted acolyte.

More used to riding solo; generally travel less distances; care less about what they wear, how high their socks should be and whether they should go for Boa or ratchet or velcro on their next pair of $500 carbon-soled road shoes - but still pedal with purpose, since for many or perhaps most, their ride is equal (or more) about the destination as the journey.

And in the short time I've been a commuting cyclist, I've observed - quite sadly, mind you - just how many flaunt the rules of the road.

No cars coming? No worries - straight through a red, without the slightest hint of shame on their face.

Not much traffic? No need to bother with hand signals, then. Or since there's no-one around, they take the liberty of doing a U-turn across double white lines, rather than riding a few hundred metres more to a roundabout or a pedestrian/traffic crossing.

I'm not going to say they're ignorant of the rules because no one can be that stupid: they are absolutely aware of them. No, these buffoons break the law because they think they can get away with it, and most times they do.

But you know what? It not only embarrasses the crap out of me and other fellow law-abiding cyclists, it infuriates us because it provides another reason for drivers to get pissed with cyclists and another reason for shock jocks to maintain the rage - like they needed an incentive to do so...

And regardless of what the studies say or don't say in terms of their efficacy, the law in Australia requires all cyclists to wear a helmet. Ride a bike? Wear a helmet. No ifs. No buts. Simple as that.

Don't run reds, don't ride without a helmet: Why is it so difficult for some to understand two laws so simple?

So, to those who continue to think it's okay to run reds and pedal sans helmet because you think it's cool or you're running late or you're not going that far or you can't be bothered, stop for a moment and have a think about how stupid you are, how you're endangering not just your life but the lives of others, and how, each time you break the law, you're adding fuel to the cycling bonfire.

It might also save you $185. Or $369.

Or don't you think you'll be caught?