Drivers have been warned that police have set their sights on those cutting too close to cyclists or endangering other vulnerable road-users this month.
Vulnerable road-users are those who are most likely to suffer serious injury or death in a collision, including children, pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and people travelling on e-scooters.
“I think every person who has ridden a bike on a road has probably had a close encounter with a car and it is very scary when that happens,” Pedal Power ACT executive director Simon Copland said.
“Vulnerable road-users in an accident will always come off second best, so it’s imperative for people in motor vehicles to really be thinking about those outside motor vehicles when they’re driving.”
Acting Sergeant Andrew McKellar from ACT Road Policing said vulnerable users were called that for a good reason.
“They are not afforded the same protections that someone driving a motor vehicle is, they don’t have a big metal cage around them to protect them,” he said.
“We do ask drivers to be on the lookout for and pay attention to vulnerable road-users, especially in areas like school zones and shopping centres.”
He said police would be looking for drivers doing the wrong thing this month, such as driving too close to cyclists. But he also said cyclists riding too close to pedestrians was of concern.
“Cyclists should, certainly, make sure they have sufficient space between themselves and pedestrians,” Acting Sergeant McKellar said.
“Obviously if there is a collision between two vulnerable road-users then both are likely to be hurt.”
However, he said there was no applicable law for such an incident.
The law states that when passing cyclists, car drivers must provide one metre of distance between their vehicle and the bike when driving at below 60 km/h and 1.5 metres when travelling above that speed.
“We know that there are, of course, ongoing issues with enforcement of that, it’s hard to enforce. So we really encourage people in cars to take that rule seriously,” Mr Copland said.
“I would also encourage people to get on a bike and feel what it’s like to be on a road, so that you can be aware of what it might be like when a car is passing you.”
It can be nerve-wracking, particularly when a large vehicle approaches a cyclist from behind, he said.
“We certainly think there can always be more enforcement, particularly of this one and 1.5 metre rule and we welcome the police making a focus of this in September,” Mr Copland said.
Acting Sergeant McKellar said if there was an accident on the road, the first thing all parties involved should do was to stop and ensure everyone was safe. If someone was injured, then an ambulance should be called.
He said drivers were obligated to exchange names and contact details, then it became a matter of contacting their insurance companies.