If you were anywhere near a news bulletin last week, you would have seen or heard Pedal Power’s strong response to the comments attributed to the Chief Health Officer’s Report 2014. The safety of the cycling community is of prime concern for Pedal Power and we seek to represent the interests of all those who choose to ride a bike – and those that are yet to choose cycling as a transport or recreational activity. “And that is primary to the reason that we have come out strongly on this issue” said Jeff Ibbotson, Vice President of Pedal Power and leader of the Advocacy Team.
“It is essential that any issue relating to the safety of the cycling community is not trivialised,” said Ibbotson “and any response that indicates that, simply because there is an increase in cycling, then we can expect an increase in accident rates, is both inaccurate and superficial.”
Any report that indicates either an increase in the numbers or that a higher percentage of people are injured in the ACT requires action. Pedal Power are keen to address many of the issues raised in the Report and believe that the statement from the Report (reiterated by a government spokesperson to the Canberra Times) suggesting “The high incidence of injury due to pedal-cycle accidents is most likely due to the popularity of cycling and the availability of cycling paths in the ACT” is simply wrong.
The most recent research (“US Study finds more bicycles on the road lead to fewer accidents”) reinforces that as cycling numbers increase the rate of accidents decreases.
Janette Sadik-Khan was the person responsible for the modifications to New York City and was recently quoted in an interview with Richard Aedy from Radio National: “We’ve had the lowest fatalities ever. More bike lanes, more cyclists creates a safer street life. If you really want to build a safer, healthier more productive city – put in a bike lane,” further citing that the last 7 years have been the safest in New York City history.
We are keen to work with the government to ensure that Canberra is noted as the safest place to ride a bike in Australia. Any increase in injury rates needs to be addressed and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it is done so and done so as quickly as possible.
We further believe that there are very real opportunities for the ACT government to positively address these issues. On the back of the Vulnerable Road User Inquiry the ACT government is in a strong position to identify the safety concerns of the cycling community, and build such safety measures into the bicycle network planning that we know is currently happening within the ACT Government. It could provide a platform to improve cycling safety through a series of actions such as separate dedicated cycling lanes.
“Only $2 million has been allocated to new cycling infrastructure over the next two years,” Armstrong said. “Seriously addressing the safety concerns means seriously addressing the level of funding allocated to new cycling infrastructure.”