8 September 2023

Steer clear of cyclists or you could be in hot water: police target bad driving near vulnerable road-users

| Albert McKnight
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Acting Sergeant Andrew McKellar from ACT Road Policing

Acting Sergeant Andrew McKellar from ACT Road Policing has urged drivers to be aware of their surroundings. Photo: Albert McKnight.

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.”

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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.

Pedal Power ACT executive director Simon Copland. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Pedal Power ACT executive director Simon Copland has welcomed the police’s focus in September. Photo: Albert McKnight.

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.”

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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.

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“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.”
Is that actually what the law states? Or is it the speed limit of the road that determines the overtaking distance required? It would certainly make more sense the way the article describes it, though I’m not sure that’s what the law actually states.

So what happens at the end of October when hard drugs and drivers have free reign?

Given the current observable standard of driving, not much.

If we want car and truck drivers to behave better, they need to have rapport for the vulnerable road users. Only way to achieve this is to get them to learn the rules of the road on bicycles first, and pass examinations in a practical sense on the road, before graduating to four wheels.

2 right Mark , these days kids are taught nothing, in the early 80’s the cops ran traffic education classes in Deakin and Belconnen for kids on a purpose built track for bicycles during school holidays and as part of school at other times . Instead of utilising the facilities into the future they closed mid eighties then sat disused for years . Belconnen facility sat unused until recent years before being demolished at a time when it’s more needed than ever.

once again, we have a one-sided approach to road safety. police will target and presumably fine motorists doing the wrong thing around cyclists, but not cyclists doing the wrong thing around cars??

let me show you the video of a cyclist pulling out in front of me a few weeks ago, totally ignoring a give way sign and then abusing me and my wife for passing too close, when the cyclist forced me into a situation that I could not avoid.

Police have also completely ignored issuing traffic infringement notices to drivers colliding with cyclists, or or deliberate closes passes etc, despite being presented with clear video evidence. They simply either can’t be bothered or blame resourcing issues. So the dangerous continue to go on to potentially kill others.

Yes, if motor vehicle drivers behave badly, they should be held to account. But, cyclists are road users too and they have an obligation to maintain distance. So many times I have seen cyclists riding on the white separating line rather than keeping as far left as practical in the cycling lane – thus not maintaining their own separation. This creates a hazardous situation where the motor vehicle has to impinge on the adjoining lane or not maintain the distance from the cyclist – these cyclists should also be booked.

The difference is, cyclist are legally allowed to use as much or as little of the cycle lane that is available.

Car drivers by law are obliged to leave a one meter or 1.5 meter space.

The law is, cyclists must use the cycle lane if one is available on the road way. It does not stipulate how much, or how little of the lane they can use. The very left of the lane is covered in debris that is hazardous to cyclist, so not really useable.

Motorists are obliged to keep a safe gap from cyclists, it doesn’t go both ways.

Just remember folks cyclists don’t have the same protections motorists have. It is so easy to fall between the moving wheels of any vehicle, a semi or a car. Like motorists cyclists are someone’s child, may be parents or have siblings. We are all loved! Slow down and follow the road rules, it’s not hard!

If you’re worried about this then maybe ask motorists to stop using cycle lanes as littler bins or lobby the ACT Government to have the cycling lanes swept regularly rather than ignored.

I hate the fact that the detritus from cars accumulates in the left hand side of the cycle lane and forces me further right.

As far as practicable…. And if it is not practicable given the bike lane is full of sticks, rubbish, broken glass, a parallel drain or a crumbling edge etc, then they are also fully entitled to claim a regular lane.

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