4 March 2019

Call for road signs about overtaking cyclists as concern increases over recent deaths

| Glynis Quinlan
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Marcus Boorman from ACT Policing, Pedal Power CEO Ian Ross and ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury at the launch of the educational ‘passing mats’. Photos: Supplied.

Pedal Power ACT has called on the ACT Government to install road signs about the minimum distances for passing cyclists as concern increases over the number of cyclists who have been killed on roads in the Canberra region in recent years.

The cycling organisation called for the signage to be installed on roads commonly used by recreational riders during the launch yesterday (March 3) of educational ‘passing mats’ showing life-size images of a car and bike relative to the legal passing distances of 1 and 1.5 metres.

Pedal Power ACT yesterday also renewed its recent calls for a cycling safety audit on all country roads in the ACT and surrounding region, saying that the recent deaths of four cyclists in the region were “entirely avoidable”.

“The tragic reality is that four people have been killed cycling on roads in our region in less than two years – the most recent only three weeks ago,” said Pedal Power CEO Ian Ross.

“These deaths are entirely avoidable and we must act now to improve safety on our roads.”

Last Friday (March 1), Coroner Bernadette Boss found that the death of elite British cyclist Michael Hall after being struck by a car on the Monaro Highway on 31 March 2017 was “avoidable” and made six recommendations to enhance rider safety, including a review of the intersection of the Monaro Highway and Williamsdale Road to evaluate its risk to road users.

Last month a 38-year-old Sydney truck-driver was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, and negligent driving occasioning death following the death of a cyclist, Major Aaron Couchman, near the NSW/ACT border on February 9.

ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury unveiled Pedal Power’s minimum passing distance mats at the Big Canberra Bike Ride yesterday and said they remind Canberra drivers that they must provide space for cyclists on the road.

ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury unveiled the minimum passing distance mats at the Big Canberra Bike Ride.

“In the ACT we simply do not accept that there should be any deaths on our roads,” said Mr Rattenbury at yesterday’s launch which was held in conjunction with Pedal Power ACT, ACT Policing and national cycle safety organisation the Amy Gillett Foundation.

“Cyclists are particularly vulnerable on the road because they are smaller and have less crash protection than motorists.

“Motorists must keep a safe passing distance to avoid rear-end and sideswipe crashes.”

In the ACT, drivers are required to keep a minimum passing distance of 1 metre when overtaking a cyclist at under 60 km/h, with a distance of 1.5 metres required if a driver is overtaking at more than 60 km/h.

In the ACT, drivers are required to keep a minimum passing distance of 1 metre when overtaking a cyclist at under 60 km/h or 1.5 metres if overtaking at more than 60 km/h.

To provide this distance on narrow roads, motorists are allowed to cross or straddle the centre lines, provided the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to pass, drivers must wait behind the cyclist until the road conditions change.

Drivers who fail to comply with this rule can receive a $292 fine and two demerit points.

Mr Ross said that in the three years since the passing laws were first introduced Pedal Power has seen an improvement in driver behaviour in the ACT.

“But legal reform is not enough – we need a comprehensive education and enforcement campaign to make sure that all drivers are aware of the passing distances and how to share the road safely with people on bikes,” he said.

Pedal Power received more than $4,600 from the ACT’s 2018 Road Safety Fund community grants program to purchase and display the four life-size printed minimum passing distance mats.

Mr Ross said the design of the mats is based on materials produced by the West Midlands Police in the UK in an award-winning education and enforcement campaign which led to a 20 per cent reduction in cycling deaths and serious accidents.

“The mat gives drivers a clear understanding of exactly what legal passing distances look like, and how much space we need to allow when overtaking bikes safely and according to the law,” he said.

“The mats will be used in Pedal Power’s education programs, and provided to ACT Policing for use in their traffic operations campaigns.”

Yesterday, the ACT Government also commented on the findings of the inquest into Mr Hall’s death, saying it would carefully consider the Coroner’s report and provide a formal response in coming months.

On Friday, Roads Minister Chris Steel said that prior to the incident taking place, the ACT Government had committed up to $100 million to upgrade the Monaro Highway.

Mr Steel said that the Coroner’s recommendations will be considered as part of the planning work that is currently underway.

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Cyclists, like drivers, must consider their own accountability. Cyclists jump from the footpath onto the road without considering the vehicle which is adjacent to them. This has happened to me on numerous occasions. Suddenly there is a bike beside me and I have to mind my distance- it is insane and dangerous. This week as I was turning into a car park ( not across a footpath) a cyclist decided to change direction and went from being on the path to being on the road as I was turning. She had the audacity to put her fist up at me. Driving along Wakefield Ave a cyclist with a death wish decided to ride across the lanes of traffic right in front of me as my car was accelerating- I had to brake to avoid hitting him. He then rode aimlessly onto Northbourne. In Braddon recently a cyclist thought it was a good idea to ride along the footpaths in front of the shops, a small child was nearly hit while exiting a shop because the cyclist had no regard for pedestrians. Let’s be sensible – cyclists it’s not all about you, take some responsibility.

OK, I think I’ve said all this before but it’s worth repeating – and wouldn’t it be nice if PedalPower and other cyclists remembered it: road rules apply to cyclists as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen cyclists zooming through red lights (the traffic light on London Circuit near Bailey’s Corner is a favourite) with no thought whatever for pedestrians. I was almost cleaned up by a lycramaniac who went through that LC red light one day and when I remonstrated with him he abused me. Also, cyclists, please remember that pedestrian precincts are for pedestrians and it’s you who should be alert to others, not the pedestrians having to shimmy out of your way (Civic pedestrian areas and Bunda St are particular hazard spots). Get with the program, cyclists, and stop feeling so persecuted and aggrieved while (some of you) are pretty damned dangerous on the roads (and off them) yourselves.

The problem with these anti-cyclist opinions is that they lack a fundamental logic – that is, if a motorist disobeys road rules they are a danger to other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists and generally cause more damage to others than themselves (particularly when holed up in a monstrous black SUV, yep we’ve all seen these people) with a ‘who cares’ attitude to all around them. In the case of pedestrians and cyclists and motorbikes, if they break road rules it’s dangerous for them. This is why studies such as the University of Adelaide show that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it’s the driver of a private motor vehicle who is at fault in a collision. Perhaps we should stick to the facts with this article, not supposition and prejudice.

Ok, so what exactly are the passing distances? I renewed my license the other month and as I sat in the queue watching for my number to come up I saw a segment about these rules. The distances of 1m and 1.5m were clearly measured from the centerline of the bicycle and rider. I notice that the mat shown in the article measures it from the closest point.

I expect I will be using this as my defense if I’m ever pulled up and fined.

And by the way, claiming that accidents are totally avoidable is a rubbish statement. Always true in hindsight but that is not where we are when dealing with the complexity of a situation at the time.

As usual, the brigade of sanctimonious lycra warriors refuse to participate in their own safety and demand everybody else do it for them. Nothing unusual here.

The sense of entitlement and “You should watch out for me when I’m putting myself in a dangerous situation” is why there is so much dislike for you.

You obviously aren’t familiar with the road rules and need some revision on how to drive safely on the road. Roads are used by pedestrians, cyclists, motor bikes, small vehicles, SUVs, service vehicles, buses, trams and trucks. They all have different capabilities. if you think one group of users are more entitled than other then it’s time to check your sense of entitlement.

Thanks for proving my point with another sanctimonious rant astro. The only sense of entitlement seems to come from you, demanding everybody else ensure your safety when you put yourself in dangerous situations. I’m simply pointing out that cyclists are just as responsible for their own safety, and it shouldn’t be all on people in motor vehicles. Use common sense and be considerate when riding on the road. Don’t be a traffic hazard, ride single file on narrow country roads, keep as far left as possible, don’t impede traffic, and generally don’t do stupid things just because you think you have a right to.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. In this case, the stupid prize for “Urrr but muh right to use the road!” Is death or permanent injury.

So more time and money is being wasted on skirting around the issue of dangerous driving around vulnerable road users. I hope the 3 talking heads had a good warm feeling during their photo opportunity. The reality here is that this will provide next to no change to the situation.

What is required is sustainable attention to bad behaviour by a significant proportion, including dragging a few examples into the metaphorical town square and subjecting them to a metaphorical public flogging. But this would require ACT Policing acting on the reasonable complaints made by reasonable citizens, something they have studiously avoided unless mangled bodies have been involved.

It would be great if cyclists also obeyed thd road rules. I turned left off a road the other day and nearly collected two cyclists heading for the intersection- inexplicably cycling fast downhill on the right side of the road.

I saw a motor vehicle tear through a red light the other day. It would be great if motorists also obeyed road rules.

Fantastic to see so much concern for cyclist safety. And funny how motorcyclists are killed at more than SEVEN TIMES the rate of cyclists, yet I never hear any comments they should be banned. Why not? Clearly they should not be on the road, it’s unsafe!

Because they don’t complain? Because they have more speed and acceleration than most cars?

Almost everyone who ventures onto the road will be involved in a collision at some point in time. When that occurs your chances of survival are very much greater if you’re in a car.

How about some education around safe and sensible cycling as well? It should not be the sole responsibility of drivers to ensure the safety of cyclists.

I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but the scale of the floormat does not have a very important piece of reference information on it – the middle line. From what I can eyeball it looks like the vehicle should be crossing the middle line.

On another note, its also quite rare that the cyclist is riding that close to the verge (go on cyclists take a look at your left hand when you are riding and can you see only a 5cm gap between your hand and the gutter ?)

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