7 May 2018

Cyclists to monitor Canberra motorists proximity in $58,000 four week project

| Tim Benson
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Cyclists in Canberra are participating in a new road safety research project to evaluate driver compliance with the minimum passing rule.

Cyclists in Canberra are participating in a new road safety research project to evaluate driver compliance with the minimum passing rule.

Cyclists in Canberra are participating in a new road safety research project to evaluate driver compliance with the minimum passing rule.

The report for this project is expected to be finalised in December 2018. The research, funded by a $58,000 ACT Road Safety Fund grant, will also consider how traffic environments and the road network changes a motorist’s compliance.

Passing distance measuring devices fitted to bicycles will collect data over the next four weeks as part of the Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) study.

The ACT Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said that “The device is designed to be attached to a cyclist’s personal bicycle and collect data while they ride their usual routes.”

“We know that many motorists are conscious about passing safely around cyclists; however, there are still those that don’t leave enough room. We need to have more information to help change driver behaviour and consideration for cyclists and this study will help.

“On busy roads and narrow roads, cyclists can also help motorists out by riding to the left of the road or bicycle lane, and riding single file.

“It is important that we continue to make it easier, safer and more convenient for people to choose cycling as their preferred method of transport.”

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

“To enable drivers to provide the minimum overtaking distances on narrow roads or roads with narrow lanes, drivers are allowed to cross centre lines, straddle lane-lines and drive on painted islands, provided the driver has a clear view of any approaching traffic and that it is safe to do so,” Mr Rattenbury said.

Dr Jamie Mackenzie from the Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) said minimum passing distance was an important safety rule for cyclists.

“The implementation of a metre passing rule acknowledges that cyclists are vulnerable road users and require a minimum amount of ‘safe space’ when being passed by motor vehicles,” Dr Mackenzie said.

“This is particularly important for cyclists, as they have no protective structure surrounding them or any safety technologies to assist them, unlike cars that contain a suite of safety features for their occupants.

“The purpose of this project is to evaluate motorist compliance with the ACT’s metre passing rule and to determine whether it is possible to identify particular features or infrastructure in the road network that have an effect on compliance.”

Considering the danger of combining cyclists and cars on our Canberra roads, do you think we should continue this practice?

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I’m not sure that the “us v them” tone of this study will go down well with a lot of people, especially motorists. A similar study in the UK produced some rather scary videos but was any of it new knowledge? More space in both the road infrastructure and people’s attitudes is the answer so let’s all get on and do what it takes.

I think they need to monitor the cyclists as well. As a pedestrian I’ve nearly been run over by inconsiderate cyclists and I’ve seen them go through red lights and nearly run over other pedestrians that had the right of way. I recently came across a traffic jam on an exit road that I thought was due to a stalled car, but no, cars were braking and then swerving into the next lane to avoid a bike rider weaving all over the place. They sometimes ride in pairs abreast each other so that cars are forced into oncoming lanes to get around them, and so on. I think its great that people ride bikes but there needs to be accountability and respect by ALL road users, not just cars.

Capital Retro5:41 pm 11 May 18

“tell me where the bike path is provided that goes over the hill on Hindmarsh Avenue? ……..” asks Julie Macklin.

It’s the lane next to the two vehicle lanes on each side. Has been for years but like so many other lanes like it the bicyclists in Canberra don’t use it.

Yes lane, but this was about paths, which are separate. People cycling were told to use the path, so where is that? Besides, that lane is very narrow in sections (way below width a lane safely should be) and I don’t think it exists at the top. Sections going up and down, but not complete last time I took notice. I have only ever ridden/walked once over Hindmarsh Drive and found the down Woden side of the side lane being very rough and no where as smooth, comfortable and as safe a surface as the main road.

Capital Retro12:31 pm 13 May 18

I recall the “lycra lobby” demanded a separate bike path be created along the route of the Airport to Federal Highway road extension and it was, at great cost, yet very few cyclists are using it. It would be the same outcome if a separate path was built adjacent to Hindmarsh Drive. The existing bike lanes along Hindmarsh Drive (and the Monaro Highway) were allocated to cyclists so use them and stop complaining.

I recall when I was still small enough to share a very small bedroom and a double bunk with my brother in the 1950s a poster on the bedroom wall educating kids how to ride bicycles safely on the road. It had the words in large text “ride Indian file” which today would read “ride single file”.

All of the arguments as to why cyclists need the passing separation are precisely the arguments they should not be on the road in the first place. Trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

So car drivers have to be aware of cyclists up ahead while also keeping an eye out for motor cyclists riding up the lane divide from behind. Please, someone educate the government about the effects of attentional overload. Someone is going to get killed and the government absolves itself by passing laws that cannot reasonably be complied with at all times.

Putting the cost of the trial in the headline certainly has had the desired effect – what a waste of money, who cares about cyclist safety… All money is better spent on schools and hospitals blah, blah.

justin heywood3:06 pm 08 May 18

Can someone tell me why many cyclists feel that it is OK to ride two abreast on the road, making it extremely difficult to pass safely? It may well be legal, but so is driving a horse and cart in heavy traffic – which no-one does because it would mean that they were just being a dick.

Courtesy and respect goes both ways.

Well you’ve answered your own question. It’s legal. Not sure where you’re going with your horse and cart argument, seeing I’ve never even seen one on the road, yet I see cyclists on the road every day.

No, not at all, Roller, and thanks for answering the question.

…so riding two or more abreast IS just an entitlement mentality; a case of ‘this is what I feel like doing, so bugger everyone else. But be sure to show ME consideration and respect’. Good to know.

I agree. I’m a cyclist and am all for riding to the law including 2 up, but use your freakin’ brain. When I’m legally doing 100k’s an hour in my car out near Tidbinbilla, come round a bend to find a bunch of cyclists legally 2 abreast on my side of the road and an oncoming vehicle legally doing 100k’s an hour on the other, someone’s going to die or someone’s going to hate you. Don’t be a dick..do what’s legal but adjust for the situation, be safe and make friends.

As usual, all we see is lycra warriors making excuses for why they can’t ride in cycle lanes, or on bike paths and not be inconsiderate traffic hazards. “Oh there are sticks in the bike lane! I can’t use that! Better I be an inconsiderate tool, expect everybody else to be patient, and indulge my lack of consideration”.

As usual we like to make a false distinction between cyclists (i.e. all those people trying so hard to ruin the lives of motorists) and normal people just riding a bike…

I feel it would be too easy to skew the results. Here is a scenario, traffic on Northbourne Ave in peak hour. Lane one is at a stand still. Cyclist rides past stopped cars under the distance limit. The device will then record numerous and incorrect non-compliance events.

I feel the money ($58,000) could be better spent on cyclist behaviour education. I’m going to send in all the instances of cyclist not obeying the rules captured on my dash cam and send that in for free.

octagonalman6:14 pm 12 May 18

I’ve been informed that there’s at least a front and back sensor to distinguish between the bike passing a car, and car passing the bike.

I agree rfc, I’ve seen bike riders flout the road rules way too many times. Plus they’re very vocal about their own safety but disregard the hazards they cause pedestrians. Aside from nearly being run over by bikes myself, I’ve witnessed cyclists riding abreast on shared bike/walk paths and forcing pedestrians off the path. In Kingston a group of cyclists on the road illegally turned left through a red light arrow and nearly hit a family of pedestrians who had the right of way, and then the cyclists yelled abuse at the pedestrians they almost hit! Unbelievably rude, entitled behavior.

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