Canberra dad, husband and Pedal Power member Paul O’Dwyer was left with life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car while cycling to work on a painted bike lane on Northbourne Avenue.
Paul’s wife and Pedal Power member Jo Pybus addressed about 20 other members and Greens MLAs Jo Clay and Johnathan Davis outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Monday (4 September).
“Implementation of the Active Travel Plan by the ACT Government … would have solved a problem that would have saved my husband a catastrophic injury,” Ms Pybus said.
“No more draft plans. No more proposed plans. No more future plans. Let’s actually implement the plan and stop people getting injured on these major thoroughfares.”
One of the “key actions” in the ACT Government’s 2022 draft Active Travel Plan was progressively converting on-road cycle lanes on priority routes to “safe, separated cycleways”.
A Pedal Power petition with more than 1200 signatures handed to ACT Minister for Roads and Active Travel Chris Steel on Monday also lists conversion of cycle lanes as one of five key demands.
Ms Pybus said she believes this change would have prevented her husband’s accident and the injuries he was still recovering from a year afterwards, including a significant break to his spine.
“I drove to the hospital that day with no one telling me whether he was alive, so I had every reason to believe he was dead,” she said.
“He’s still unsure whether he will ever fully recover.”
Pedal Power executive director Simon Copland said the cycling group launched the petition due to a lack of government action.
“The [Active Travel] Plan had some good broad goals associated with it [but] it didn’t have any implementation plan and it had no money attached to it,” he said.
“What we’re seeing now is the [ACT] government is investing in active travel in an ad hoc manner and we’re seeing a really slow rollout of new infrastructure.
“To reduce emissions, to increase the health of our community and to reduce congestion on our roads, we need to have a transition to active travel.”
The petition has been signed by the Australasian College of Road Safety, the ACT Council of Social Service, the Conservation Council and a dozen other community, business and social groups.
It calls for a “connected, safe and convenient cycle and active travel network” with immediate improvements made in consultation with Pedal Power and other local pedestrian and cycling groups.
Aside from converting cycling lanes, these improvements included identifying and constructing missing links, including to and from all schools, health facilities, town centres and major public transport stops.
Other demands included a target that at least 90 per cent of cycle lanes and paths be maintained in good condition and are compliant with anti-discrimination law, raised pedestrian crossings on non-traffic light-protected crossings along major routes, making busy town-centre intersections more compatible with active travel and installing secure, covered travel device parking facilities in all town and groups centres.
Mr Steel welcomed the petition and said he looked forward to working with stakeholders like Pedal Power to implement the Active Travel Plan.
“At every budget, our government will make investments in active travel to progressively implement the actions under the new plan,” he said.
“The Labor Government made an additional investment of more than $26 million into walking and cycling infrastructure, including funding to build the new Garden City Cycle Route and funding for a protected cycleway in Kingston and the design of new paths in Gungahlin.
“This is in addition to the existing pipeline of active travel infrastructure, like the Sulwood Drive shared path in Kambah, the William Hovell shared path and the recently completed Belconnen Bikeway.”
Mr Steel said a final version of the Active Travel Plan would be released at the end of 2023 following community consultation.