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Will proposed cycling laws make roads safer?

By Canfan - 21 September 2015 96

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Canberra drivers will need to keep a minimum distance from cyclists under a new trial announced by Minister for Justice Shane Rattenbury this week.

The media release is below.

Minister for Justice, Shane Rattenbury, has announced that, from the 1st of November motorists will be required to provide a minimum distance when overtaking bicycles as part of a trial of new road safety laws in the ACT.

“A Legislative Assembly inquiry into vulnerable road users last year identified a range of measures that could be introduced in the ACT to improve safety for cyclists and other road users,” said Mr Rattenbury.

“One recommendation was the introduction of a minimum overtaking law (also known as the ‘metre matters’ rule) that requires motorists to provide a minimum distance of 1 metre when overtaking a cyclist in speed zones at or below 60km/h and 1.5 metres in speed zones above 60km/h

“The ACT will commence a two year trial of the metre matters rule commencing on the 1st of November.

“When driving a motor vehicle, we need to remember that we are in control of around 1,200 to 2,000 kilograms of metal, travelling at more than 12 metres a second when driving at 50km/h – which can kill in an instant.

“On the road, cyclists are particularly vulnerable because they are smaller and have less crash protection than motorists.

“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.

“The Amy Gillett Foundation has campaigned nationally for the introduction of the overtaking distance and has been supported in the ACT by local advocacy group Pedal Power ACT. Some success has been achieved in QLD where the laws have been introduced and SA, where they will be introduced soon.

Amy Gillett Foundation interim chief executive officer Belinda Clark said the trial will make bike riding safer in the ACT.

“Amending the road rules to mandate a minimum overtaking distance will help reduce crashes between motor vehicles and bike riders by changing behaviour,” Ms Clark said.

“A metre matters because it provides a practical measurement for drivers when overtaking bike riders. As Australia’s leading bike safety organisation, our mission is to achieve zero bike fatalities in Australia and this move will make a difference in achieving that goal.

“This trial is about sharing the road safely together. A metre matters on all roads in the ACT, regardless of whether there are bicycle lanes or not.

“The ACT has joined Queensland as a leader in cycling safety, strengthening its position as a bicycle friendly city, and we congratulate the ACT government for implementing the new road safety laws. We look forward to a successful trial so that the amended road rules stay in place after the trial ends in November 2017,” Ms Clark said.

“To enable drivers to provide the minimum overtaking distances on narrow roads or roads with narrow lanes, motorists will be 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,” said Mr Rattenbury.

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

The overtaking law will be accompanied by new laws that allow riders to remain on their bicycles when crossing at pedestrian crossings.

Cyclists must ride slowly across pedestrian crossings under the conditions of the trial and must also keep to the left of the crossing and give way to any pedestrians.

“One of the more important aspects of this pedestrian crossing trial is for cyclists to slow to 10km/h on the approach to the crossing, check for any approaching traffic and be prepared to stop,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“This is to allow motorists to see and respond to the cyclist before they make the crossing.

“An awareness campaign will commence in mid-October to educate road users about these changes and ensure everyone understands the new rules,” said Mr Rattenbury.

Over to you. Will these new laws make the roads safer for cyclists and drivers?

What’s Your opinion?


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96 Responses to
Will proposed cycling laws make roads safer?
gazket 8:29 pm 21 Sep 15

Cotter road shall be fun for drivers. There are kilometers of double yellow lines, long long and longer uphill sections and a 2 meter width of road. Enjoy your Cotter tourist drive at walking pace.

Sandman 8:04 pm 21 Sep 15

I’m sure it sounds like a great idea in theory, but in the real world it’s just a nightmare.
Take a road like Limestone avenue. Theres no room for that, especially between Cowper and Wakefield where the lanes are barely big enough for a large car anyway and there’s no centre median.

It seems that all the rules to keep cyclists safe are rules that cars need to follow. How about a few that cyclists need to follow? I cycle as well as drive, ride motorcycles and use a large truck for work. I adapt depending on the mode of transportation I’m using, rather than expecting the rest of the road users to change to something that simply suits me.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 7:41 pm 21 Sep 15

Ezy said :

I think they should ban cyclists all together. Put them in jail – they obviously all break the law anyway. I can’t stand what they wear when I look at them from inside my car. How dare they. HOW DARE THEY.

You can’t legislate the use of common sense on the roads, as the behaviour of many road users (including cars, trucks, bicycles, motorbikes and pedestrians) regularly demonstrate. What we need is to somehow create and promote a culture of inclusiveness and courtesy, rather than aggressiveness and selfishness.

Ezy 5:10 pm 21 Sep 15

I think they should ban cyclists all together. Put them in jail – they obviously all break the law anyway. I can’t stand what they wear when I look at them from inside my car. How dare they. HOW DARE THEY.

Nilrem 5:04 pm 21 Sep 15

Mysteryman said :

Solidarity said :

Won’t make a lick of difference, people who drove to not endanger cyclists left a metre anyway, and people who don’t care are going to continue to not care.

Words can’t and won’t change physics…

Segregated cycle highways would be the answer.

It wouldn’t be the answer, because some cyclists would still feel the need to use the road. After all, that’s what they ride on in the Tour de France, right?

Hang on, it’s not feasible to have segregated cycle highways everywhere. At some point cyclists would still need to use roads.

Mysteryman 4:53 pm 21 Sep 15

Solidarity said :

Won’t make a lick of difference, people who drove to not endanger cyclists left a metre anyway, and people who don’t care are going to continue to not care.

Words can’t and won’t change physics…

Segregated cycle highways would be the answer.

It wouldn’t be the answer, because some cyclists would still feel the need to use the road. After all, that’s what they ride on in the Tour de France, right?

Solidarity 4:47 pm 21 Sep 15

Won’t make a lick of difference, people who drove to not endanger cyclists left a metre anyway, and people who don’t care are going to continue to not care.

Words can’t and won’t change physics…

Segregated cycle highways would be the answer.

Mysteryman 4:46 pm 21 Sep 15

I think requiring a 1m space when over taking is sensible, PROVIDED that cyclist are not allowed to ride two and three abreast – that behaviour makes overtaking impossible in many situations. Frankly I’m not ok with having cyclists ride 2 wide up a hill they can’t travel faster than 25km/h, or in other situations where they impede the traffic from being able to move at the maximum allowable speed limit. I see it all the time at places like the Cotter, and it’s incredibly selfish behaviour from the peloton wannabes.

I want cyclists to be safe on the road, but I also want other road users to be able to move about freely and without being unnecessarily impeded by the selfish few. It’s possible to have both, but sensible laws are needed and I don’t think the ACT government has the ability to deliver them.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 4:43 pm 21 Sep 15

Why not simply state that vehicles of all descriptions need to maintain minimum distances?

bd84 4:32 pm 21 Sep 15

We’ve done a lot to make the commute safe for cyclists safe, including building bike paths, bike lanes and painting the road green in sections. We’ve even spent an excessive amount to built bike paths and bike lanes in the exact same location next to each other, as seen on the new Majura Parkway. The trouble is this safety can currently be ignored by cyclists who can continue on their merry way riding in the middle of the road next to all these facilities. For example, I watched a man the other week riding down the middle of 2 lanes of a street in the city causing issues for traffic when the purpose built city cycle path was less than 5 metres away, empty.

If they were serious about cyclist safety, they would mandate the use of the facilities designed to provide the safe distance, rather than doing this half assed job of minimum distances.

While I have no issue on most other suburban roads giving distance to cyclists, it’s not usually difficult to do as they’re usually quiet enough, there are some other roads around the place (like rural roads) that are thin, have no road shoulder and many corners which practically limit the safe distance rule as such roads are not safe for cyclists or for drivers. These roads should be made safe for cyclists by adding shoulders or essentially prohibiting them until such time it can be made safe.

They should be implementing a solution that applies to all road users that will garner respect, rather than focusing on only part of the problem with a judgemental “safe distance”.

Dame Canberra 3:35 pm 21 Sep 15

Are we sure it’s drivers who need new laws? Spotted on Brisbane Avenue yesterday: https://www.facebook.com/12062CC/photos/a.170720876272947.43079.115088311836204/1116154208396271/?type=1&theater

HenryBG 3:18 pm 21 Sep 15

I hope they make this fair by enforcing the obvious corollary law, which is that bicycles must keep the same minimum distances from cars as cars are required to do from them.

Also, bicycles should be required to maintain legal distances between themselves and other riders, as well as pedestrians.

If you want to know the real reason Canberra cyclists get themselves into trouble, maybe compare a typical picture of cyclists in Amsterdam:
https://bicycledutch.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/amsterdam.jpg
with a typical image of Canberra cyclists:
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/content/dam/images/2/x/7/9/g/image.related.articleLeadwide.620×349.2x7gk.png/1383926400000.jpg

Nilrem 3:09 pm 21 Sep 15

Grimm said :

If anything, I think this is likely to cause more frustration at cyclists and more dislike of them using the roads. Very poorly thought out. Much easier to just fine people who are either overtaking dangerously and unnecessarily close, or cyclists who are being inconsiderate by making themselves a traffic hazard by not keeping as far left as they can, and not riding single file where anything else is dangerous and again, inconsiderate.

As for the pedestrian crossing thing, it just makes what most do now legal.

When cycling, it is problematic to keep as far left as you can. Motorists then try to stay in the lane when overtaking, and often pass dangerously close. And because you are keeping as far left as you can, there is no more room for evasive action. This is why I often ride about a metre from the kerb. I find when I do this, people are more consciously overtaking, and there are fewer people passing dangerously close. I have been cycling for years and this has been my observation. When I am driving my car, I always make sure that I leave a big gap, two or three metres, when overtaking, even if this means partially using the adjacent lane. If there is too much traffic to do this, I just wait until overtaking is possible. It is safer. When you get anoyed with cyclists, just try to imagine that every cyclist was driving a car instead. Traffic would be even worse, and we would all suffer from the increased congestion.

Grail 2:57 pm 21 Sep 15

This legislation serves to formalise what counts as “unnecessarily close”.

Yes, there will be some drivers going out of their way to be asses, but there always were. It’s just you don’t talk about them as much because they are in cars, and therefore at least more conformant to your idea of normality.

Grimm 2:42 pm 21 Sep 15

If anything, I think this is likely to cause more frustration at cyclists and more dislike of them using the roads. Very poorly thought out. Much easier to just fine people who are either overtaking dangerously and unnecessarily close, or cyclists who are being inconsiderate by making themselves a traffic hazard by not keeping as far left as they can, and not riding single file where anything else is dangerous and again, inconsiderate.

As for the pedestrian crossing thing, it just makes what most do now legal.

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