Spat at: "It hit me flush in the face and I could taste cigarette," Jesse Bulkeley says.

Spat at: "It hit me flush in the face and I could taste cigarette," Jesse Bulkeley says. Photo: Henry Belot

A Canberran cyclist who was spat on by a motorist on Northbourne Avenue has condemned the attack as a "total buzz kill” and a disgusting act that highlights some motorists' negative attitudes towards cyclists.

Jesse Bulkeley, who owns Cycle City in Fyshwick, said this kind of abuse was still common on Canberra roads, although he believed tolerance for cyclists had improved in recent years.

He said he was riding home from work along Northbourne Avenue on Sunday afternoon when a car passed him and “launched a big spit ball at me through their window”.

“It hit me flush in the face and I could taste cigarette," he said.

"It was a despicable act and a total buzz kill of the arvo. I had plans that afternoon and it was a bit of a downer because it’s one of the least savoury acts a person can do and it just ruins you. It’s just poor form."

He said motorists would be less likely to engage in this sort of abusive behaviour if they realised there were consequences for their actions.

“My brother once had an egg thrown at him while cycling and just by chance a bus driver witnessed the attack and recorded the vehicle’s number plates so that he was held accountable,” he said.

Mr Bulkeley said one of his friends had been driving home on a summer night on Macarthur Avenue in Braddon when someone leant out of a car and pulled him off his bike.

On April 1, a cyclist was hit by a Mercedes sedan in Red Hill and was suspended on the bonnet of the car for 200 metres as the driver failed to stop.

But Canberra Cycling Club president Stuart Jones said these instances of abuse were often isolated and cyclists had a responsibility to comply with all road rules.

"The onus is definitely on cyclists who have a huge responsibility to do the right thing on the road if we want to be treated with respect by motorists," he said. 

Mr Jones said the cycling club had not noticed an increase in abuse directed at cyclists, despite this being the public perception, mostly due to ongoing public debate about the newly introduced vulnerable road users legislation.

The new rules introduced by Attorney-General Simon Corbell last month classified cyclists as vulnerable road users and introduced tougher sentences for motorists who endanger them, including up to two years of prison time.  

Mr Bulkeley said cyclists often caused motorists' frustration and anger but said these incidents were not based on confusion surrounding road rules, but a general lack of respect on the roads.

"Yes, there are some instances where cyclists are in the wrong but all in all motorists need to be cautious and tolerant on the roads, just like we need to follow the road rules and not run red lights," he said. "It goes both ways."