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

Glynis Quinlan 4 March 2019 181

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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181 Responses to
Call for road signs about overtaking cyclists as concern increases over recent deaths
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7:10 am 09 Mar 19

It’s a matter of treating other people with respect. Who cares if another human soul is aboard a bicycle or a semi-trailer? The sort of prejudice being displayed by some here indicates some serious problems.

Xtra 9:55 pm 08 Mar 19

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.

Jordania 1:13 pm 08 Mar 19

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.

    astro2 8:46 am 09 Mar 19

    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.

8:57 pm 07 Mar 19

To those of you (car drivers) who are commenting that cyclists shouldn't be allowed on roads, I have 3 things to say:

1. HOW RUDE of you. How rude! The roads are paid for by an entire community for the community to share. Why should cars have sole use of a utility that we all paid for with our taxes? (Roads are built from general tax revenue. Rego does NOT pay for roads).

2. Those car drivers that don't like cyclists, I trust that when there is a cyclist riding inside a well-built 2-3m shoulder or bike lane, you hardly notice the cyclist and they certainly don't impede you, right? That means its not actually the cyclist causing you angst, its the lack of cycling infrastructure. Nothing would make us cyclists more happy than to have as comprehensive an off-road cycle path/lane system as you car drivers already enjoy as roads.

3. If you don't want to be slowed by a cyclist, YOU should vote for a political party that will increase funding for cycling infrastructure. That will get cyclists off ”your” precious roads and win-win for all. But YOU car drivers (ie the majority) have to help us cyclists vote them in. Hint: the party you need to vote for doesn't start with "L".

    11:44 am 08 Mar 19

    Robert Lang Actuality those angry, empty, haters do notice "when there is a cyclist riding inside a well-built 2-3m shoulder or bike lane". I have had things thrown at me and yelled at by car drivers, when I was riding in a bike lane separated by grass from the road. For whatever reason I doubt they are happy people. And some I have witnessed, definitely unbalanced. Leaning out a window screaming unintelligible words. If I had been close enough probably spraying spittle too. These people drive too. Very, very scary.

BlowMeDown 5:05 pm 07 Mar 19

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.

8:04 pm 05 Mar 19

A whole bunch of them were doing a group ride yesterday and they took up the entire left lane and i followed behind them as i got stuck there , and i must admit the 20 kms we were all going was safe for them, but made others mad behind me, and road rage was evident as they overtook me, and then eventually i got clear to overtake , i dont mind avoiding one or two in single file but when there is a herd of them going so slow it is a hazard .

6:10 pm 05 Mar 19

Cyclist need to stay on the paths, it's what I was taught when I was a kid and it's what I'll be teaching my kids aswell, the road is for motor vehicles.

    6:41 pm 05 Mar 19

    Because kids shouldn't be on the road. Adults can manage pretty easily.

    7:39 pm 05 Mar 19

    You obviously consider cycling a kids game. News for you, it's a major means of transport around the world. Roads, by the way were not built for only motor vehicles. The first version of a bicycle appeared about 70 years before the first version of a car. So bicycles were using roads before cars came along.

Grimm 3:05 pm 05 Mar 19

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.

    astro2 8:44 pm 05 Mar 19

    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.

    Grimm 12:21 pm 06 Mar 19

    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.

2:26 pm 05 Mar 19

Maybe this should be looked at from a WHS perspective. If you are an employer (like Australia Post) and need to provide a safe working environment for your employees, what would you do for your employees using the road as a cyclist? I see posties wearing helmets, hi vis and sticking to the footpaths and off road cycle lanes as much as possible. It tends to go, eliminate the danger or risk and finish with using PPE. It requires a more common sense from both drivers and cyclists. Too many people who had right of way, or were using the roads in accordance with the laws end up causing injury or being injured. Is being right more important than being safe? This goes for both cyclists and drivers.

    3:47 pm 05 Mar 19

    Mailboxes are on the footpaths. The postie motor bikes mainly use the footpaths too, so should all motor bikes also use the footpath?

    4:00 pm 05 Mar 19

    I see how you got there, but this was about being safe and applying WHS standards. I know that cycling can’t be contained to paths like the postie example, but surely there are some lessons that can be learned.

9:24 am 05 Mar 19

There's some roads near ANU where people are nearly hit by the bus as well. Not related to this but I thought I'll mention it.

bigred 7:11 am 05 Mar 19

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.

1:09 am 05 Mar 19

To all the bikesplainers, what an epic idea. I'm, amazed its not been done already. Any idea why that might be??

11:15 pm 04 Mar 19

This isn't going to fix anything. Just saying.

10:27 pm 04 Mar 19

Make all drivers do 40 Kph when approaching cyclists

8:46 pm 04 Mar 19

How about making cyclists wear hi vis clothing, like road workers, so drivers can see them. And make them ride in the center or left of the cycle lane so they are further from cars. The life they save is their own!!

    9:00 pm 04 Mar 19

    Mike Jensen maybe make all cars hi vis too.....

    People don’t see what they don’t look for. I’ve been dressed in full fluoro and lit up like a Christmas tree and STILL get ‘Sorry mate, I didn’t see you.’

    10:02 pm 04 Mar 19

    Actually, if Bikes rode in the middle of the road, as opposed to in a cycle lane, or "on the left", they would be more visible and likely safer. Plus, it forces cars to go wider to get around them - so makes sure that is safe to do so, and prevents cars trying to "squeeze" past a cyclist. How about we respect all road users?

    10:06 pm 04 Mar 19

    Paul Casimir that is a stupid reply- hi vis clothing can go a long way to improving safety

    10:36 pm 04 Mar 19

    Margaret, that is hardly a stupid reply from Paul. The latest fad colour for motor vehicle owners seems to be bitumen, or black as night. Hardly the high visibility you are calling for. Much accident research has shown that high vis clothing has had little to do with why cyclists are getting hit by motor vehicles. Here is just one report. https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/latest-news/making-high-vis-compulsory-reduce-number-crashes-study-finds-374898

    10:59 pm 04 Mar 19

    Margaret Freemantle maybe it is - on work sites where people are expecting it and are looking out for it.

    But the actual evidence from the actual studies on this in an application on roads for cyclists is, to be charitable, mixed.

    But if you want to hold onto your biased evidence-free proposition, knock yourself out and remember to paint your car dayglo yellow.

    7:12 am 05 Mar 19

    Or everyone could just follow south east Asia. No road rules. Every person for themselves. Max speeds of 40kmh. Of course when cyclists and scooters get run down for cutting off cars they don’t get upset, they pick their ride up and go on their way. Not a bad option! No more one sided studies, no more complaints.

    8:42 am 05 Mar 19

    Oh yeah, pedestrians are in the mix too, let’s not forget about pedestrians.

8:30 pm 04 Mar 19

They ride on, the road. Even with foot or bike paths two metres away so they don't have to deal with kerbs. Every street would need an extra lane both ways for these rules to work safely.

    8:36 pm 04 Mar 19

    Adam Meadows these rules are in place and have been for a few years now...

    8:39 pm 04 Mar 19

    I understand that Paul but they have yet to work safely. Not to mention the aggression on both sides I have witnessed them produce.

    8:44 pm 04 Mar 19

    Adam Meadows I’ve yet to see them produce aggression. What have you seen?

    My experience is that most motorists at least try, and I expect this to increase as the law bends down.

    8:53 pm 04 Mar 19

    Well you really need to change lanes (when that is possible) to give most cyclists a safe berth and the size of the cycling group doesn't seem to affect the scenario greatly. Around 18 months ago I saw a group of 30+ cyclists take over the southbound lane of Lady Denman Dr. going across Scrivener Dam. A line of cars had formed behind, honking and the back line of the cycling group were all giving them the finger.

    Conversely, I came up to the Springvale Dr. roundabout on Coulter Dr. Heading to Belconnen at 7am to find a lady cyclist gathering a shoe and limping off the road, her male partner following with her bike as she had just lost a 'right of way' argument with an idiot running late for work.

    These accounts and others like them are just the stories of people in potentially conflicting situations refusing to consider the needs of others in the same space. Sadly it has no easy solution.

    8:58 pm 04 Mar 19

    Adam Meadows I doubt that either of those confrontations can be attributed to the mpd laws. That’s just garden variety car/bike confrontation that’s been going on for as long as I can recall.

    The issue isn’t space, I think, it’s impatience.

    9:19 pm 04 Mar 19

    We shall just have to disagree Paul. Those scenarios were the results of vehicles with extremely different characteristics being told to share the same space, the results of which are too often fuelled by impatience, lack of consideration and the societal Snowflake Syndrome.

    10:40 am 05 Mar 19

    Adam Meadows so why do these same scenarios in many European countries cause no anger or impatience?

    Could it be to do with the Australian toxic culture of road entitlement by motorists?

    11:19 am 05 Mar 19

    Adam Meadows there are bad road users in all groups, but safe passing laws are common in America and Europe as well, and when implemented, they save lives, which in sure we are all for.

    12:57 am 06 Mar 19

    Stuart, just to clarify - my contention is not with the creation of the rule but how impossible it is to monitor and enforce satisfactorily. It is not with the principle of cycles and cars sharing the roads (where no paths exist), it is with the amount of space it has to act out within.

    This is a politician's rule; it is unarguable without sounding profoundly anti-social, it has automatic mass appeal as the likes in this thread demonstrate nicely, it will be impossible for authorities to uphold competently and will ultimately be honoured far more in the breach than the observance.

    This is obviously a minority opinion but it is mine until I am swayed away from it.

7:18 pm 04 Mar 19

How about no push bike on roads

6:16 pm 04 Mar 19

Makes sense to me. If drivers need to be reminded to drive safer, so be it.

Lucy Baker 6:00 pm 04 Mar 19

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.

    astro2 8:46 pm 05 Mar 19

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

5:29 pm 04 Mar 19

I would be happy to pay road damage rego and have an number plate as argued by the entitled car drivers (it’s MY road and I’m not sharing) in this thread and of course be entitled to take up the whole lane. Without doubt there should also be strict liability laws for motorists who hit cyclists with either manslaughter or murder with mandatory prison sentences. Bring on registration.

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