Bike group backs Greens move for tougher laws on collisions

Ian Bushnell 21 June 2021 17
Jo Clay

ACT Greens spokesperson on Road Safety and Active Travel Jo Clay: “It’s about community safety.” Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Motorists involved in collisions with vulnerable road users may face a specific charge and much stiffer penalties if convicted under a bill to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday (22 June).

ACT Greens spokesperson on Road Safety and Active Travel Jo Clay will table the bill designed to deter aggressive driving and provide more protection to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The bill would amend the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 to add an offence of ‘Negligent driving – harm to vulnerable road user’, and quadruple the maximum penalty to 50 penalty units or a maximum fine of $1600.

The move comes after a horrifying collision late last year in which a cyclist was seriously injured and the car driver was fined $393.


READ MORE: Driver cops “grossly inadequate” fine after collision with cyclist


“It’s an insult, frankly, that someone can inflict lifelong injuries and drive away with a fine not much higher than if they’d been speeding and didn’t hit anyone,” Ms Clay said.

“Reducing harm to pedestrians, cyclists, people entering and exiting public transport and everyone else on or near our roads is so important. It’s about community safety, and supporting our community to be active and healthy.”

Ms Clay said that while the Greens continued to push for more paths separated from roads, it was critical to develop a culture of care among drivers.

“While this is just one of many things we can do to make our roads safer, the increased penalty is a strong disincentive against carelessness and hostility,” she said.

Pedal Power ACT backs the legislative changes. CEO Ian Ross said people needed to feel safe if they are to make the switch to cycling to work or school.

“Strong protections under the law are essential to improve the safety of all Canberrans, particularly when they ride on our roads,” Mr Ross said.

“This proposed legislation would significantly increase the penalties for negligent driving that injures a vulnerable road user.

“We know strong penalties act as a good deterrent. People’s driving behaviour changed when strong penalties were introduced for drink driving and speeding through school zones”.


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Mr Ross said the ACT needed a culture where all drivers automatically take extra care when driving near vulnerable road users.

“If they don’t, our police need to be equipped to impose high and immediate penalties,” he said.

“This proposed legislation will send a message that our community values people who ride bikes and that we will protect our vulnerable road users.”

Ms Clay said the bill was not just about protecting cyclists.

“If you don’t think you’re a vulnerable road user, think again,” she said.

“When we walk to school or ride a bike or motorbike to work, when we use a scooter to get to a meeting, cross the road to get on the bus or light rail – even if we drive most places – when we walk from our car to our final destination we are vulnerable road users.”

The bill will be debated during this week’s sitting of the ACT Legislative Assembly.

Ms Clay said Canberrans with personal stories about road safety or comments on the proposed legislation should contact her at CLAY@parliament.act.gov.au.


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17 Responses to Bike group backs Greens move for tougher laws on collisions
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Ol L Ol L 5:14 pm 23 Jun 21

Stupid. Increasing fines won’t stop anything. Look at the near annual fine increases for speeding.

Futureproof Futureproof 4:26 pm 22 Jun 21

I ride my bike around LBG every weekend. Often I have to pull off to the left when the lycra crowd are riding two abreast, barrelling down the bike path with no thought of other riders, or walkers for that matter

jibril jibril 2:23 pm 22 Jun 21

Victim blaming?? For everyone who is yelling about how cyclists should do this and that instead, did you guys actually watch the video of the car swerving into a cyclist on a WIDE and empty road that is the catalyst for this bill? This is no different to blaming women who are attacked at night for walking alone at night. Everyone has a right to be safe. Just imagine that cyclist was your mate or family member and is now severely injured – seriously, would you be telling them that they should have been riding on the path or not riding at all, and the driver’s disgusting actions are actually their fault?

Tempestas Tempestas 10:31 am 22 Jun 21

Yet again this site posts a news item on road safety that mentions bicycles and the seriously unhinged come out in droves.
Some facts
Registration does not pay for roads
Roads are for public use (not exclusively for people who by their comments here demonstrate their unsuitability to be road users in any vehicle, let alone a car.
Some people break the road rules, they can be cyclists, drivers, riders or pedestrians.
The consequences for some are much greater than others due to the facts of physics.
This proposal wants to make fines for hurting vulnerable road users slightly less ridiculously unbalanced given the possible physical consequences.
The shared paths are often kilometres longer point to point and can’t be accessed without going on a road at some point, so why should some have to travel further using a slower mode just because some other users are impatient, inattentive or lacking in other road awareness.
“Greens are bad blah blah, Cyclists are bad blah blah, motorists are good law abiding citizens and we deserve more respect.” is pretty much the same rant time and again, one that has no standing in logic, fact, reality or even any point.
Use roads better, get used to the idea that driving a car isn’t some inalienable right that must be never curtailed or involve dealing with other road users.

    Maya123 Maya123 11:09 am 22 Jun 21

    +1 +1 +1………

    chewy14 chewy14 11:33 am 22 Jun 21

    How is it “unhinged” to want to reduce the risks of people dying by removing the risk?

    “Roads are for public use”

    This is clearly not true. Try walking down the middle of a road and see how you go. Roads are designed to achieve specific transport outcomes, which is why we already place limitations on the types of vehicles that can use them.

    “The consequences for some are much greater than others due to the facts of physics.”

    Exactly. It is an inherent part of allowing bicycles to use roads, that a significant risk of harm to vulnerable cyclists is created that cannot be removed or adequately controlled.

    “This proposal wants to make fines for hurting vulnerable road users slightly less ridiculously unbalanced given the possible physical consequences.”

    Which makes no sense to put more onerous conditions on cars for an obvious risk created by allowing those vulnerable users access to the roads in the first place.

    “The shared paths are often kilometres longer point to point and can’t be accessed without going on a road at some point, so why should some have to travel further using a slower mode just because some other users are impatient, inattentive or lacking in other road awareness.”

    Which is an argument for better separated infrastructure, not more fines. Also LOL at complaining that the shared paths are slower whilst wanting to make the roads slower and less functional for cars.

    “Use roads better, get used to the idea that driving a car isn’t some inalienable right that must be never curtailed or involve dealing with other road users.”

    The argument isn’t about other road users, it’s about removing vulnerable users who create an inherent and uncontrollable risk by their very presence on the road.

    Maya123 Maya123 1:51 pm 22 Jun 21

    Cars make roads slower for other cars. Get more people out of cars and onto bikes, and the roads will speed up for the remaining drivers; hopefully making the journey quicker and more pleasant for those who need to be there, such as people with physical disabilities, older people, tradespeople going from job to job, etc, because there are less cars.
    Yes it would be nice to have separate infrastructure for cars and bikes, but mention that and it’s often the same old, same old wingers who hate people on bikes who will then come in with, waste of money. Actually it appears these same old, same old wingers don’t recognise cyclists as people. People on bikes are ‘THEM’; some sort of enemy, alien creature who must be got rid of. Get them off the road, and don’t give any money for separate bicycle paths…waste of money. These people can’t think beyond their prejudices. Same old, same old….predictable!

    Tempestas Tempestas 6:13 pm 22 Jun 21

    Sure you drive on the right side lines from now on then. That they are public doesn’t mean there are no rules for using them.
    How is a higher fine more onerous conditions on usage. Watch the video again, how is the cyclist in the wrong here?
    If you were interested in looking after vulnerable users then you would be in favour of more 10km/h zones in every town or group centre and for school zones , 30km/h max speed on suburban streets, and maybe max 40km/h on main suburban roads. Alternatively cars have engine powers they can go longer lets make every road in the ACT one way. Monaro highway is south, Tuggerong Parkway is north. Cotter road to east, Parkes way to West. That should keep the more vulnerable drivers safe from each other. No merge lanes, replace with signalled intersections and reduce max main roads to 60 to 70.

    The “less vulnerable than me logic” leads to everyone needing a tank to take out the RAM1500 trucks in their way. It makes a great dystopian fantasy, but not such a good city.

    chewy14 chewy14 10:25 pm 22 Jun 21

    “That they are public doesn’t mean there are no rules for using them.”

    Exactly my point. That the rules should preclude cyclists from using them because it’s inherently and uncontrollably dangerous leading to certain deaths for little to no overall benefit to the community.

    “Watch the video again, how is the cyclist in the wrong here?”

    I have watched it numerous times and it is the inevitable result of putting less visible, slower moving vulnerable users on the road.

    The driver misjudged the location and speed of the cyclists who were travelling much slower than he was and he made the mistake of trying to overtake before the turn rather than hard braking.

    It’s like blaming a worker for killing a colleague through inattention when the company they worked for paid little attention to safety and controlling risks at their workplace. Sure he may be at fault, but so is the company for putting them in that situation.

    “If you were interested in looking after vulnerable users then you would be in favour of more 10km/h zones in every town or group centre and for school zones……..”

    Why? My entire argument would be about separating the vulnerable users as much as possible. For areas like town centres, this could involve banning cars from certain areas, but in general it’s more advantageous to remove/separate the vulnerable road users. Particularly on higher capacity/usage roads that naturally have higher speed limits because of efficiency reasons.

    And your strawman around making roads one way ignores the fact that my argument is primarily around safety and economics. The economic benefit of roads for car traffic is enormous and we shouldnt reduce that functionality so indivuduals can risk their lives in spaces they shouldn’t be allowed to go.

franky22 franky22 9:50 am 22 Jun 21

I fully agree that motorists are the main problem. Most cyclists are pretty good but there is a small cohort of feral ratbag cyclists who ignore road rules & cause major problems.

Finally Relented Finally Relented 6:13 pm 21 Jun 21

All for tougher penalties where they are deserved but it needs to work both ways…ie when vulnerable road users are ignorant or blatantly ignore rules, they are fined too.

brianf brianf 4:36 pm 21 Jun 21

The stats I’ve seen suggest about 90% of accidents between cars and ‘vulnerable road users’ (cyclists and pedestrians) are the car driver’s fault, so I’d prefer they introduced strict liability, ie, it is the motorist’s fault unless they can prove it wasn’t. If that sounds harsh, it already happens overseas, and is basically the same as copping a negligent driving charge when you tail-end someone — you’re supposed to be back far enough to avoid a crash, and you didn’t, so QED. Strict liability would put responsibility where evidence says it belongs and streamline timely compensation to victims.

chewy14 chewy14 11:24 am 21 Jun 21

It’s ridiculous that the government is deliberately creating situations that expose these vulnerable road users to harm yet then want to turn around and blame others when the inevitable happens.

If they actually wanted to protect cyclists, they wouldn’t allow them on the road in the first place.

    paservank paservank 3:34 pm 21 Jun 21

    …or get rid of all the cars? (an equally stupid and self-centred idea)

    chewy14 chewy14 6:08 pm 21 Jun 21

    Paservank,
    Except the economic return on car/road travel is many orders of magnitude higher than that for bicycles.

    So it makes perfect sense to prioritise cars, trucks etc. over bicycles.

    If you want to make an argument that bicycles have more utility value than cars, then go ahead.

    Phwoa Phwoa 4:22 pm 21 Jun 21

    What a dumb argument. I press that the government caused all accidents because they built the road which enabled the accident. – that’s your logic.

    chewy14 chewy14 6:16 pm 21 Jun 21

    Phwoa,
    No it’s not even slightly my argument.

    The argument is about risk management.

    The benefits of cars and other vehicles on the road are enormous. Road travel is a building block of our economy and should be recognised as such.

    The same cannot be said for bicycles on roads, particularly when their presence affects the overall utility of the roads negatively.

    Visibility and significantly differing speed of travel is a massive risk factor on roads for accidents. So by allowing bicycles to use the road, the government is deliberately introducing a risk to users for no real overall benefit. And when considering the vulnerability of those road users, it seems willfully negligent to allow them to use the roads without significant amounts of physical separation and infrastructure.

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