The ACT government's response to the sharp spike in cycling injury rates was shameful, John Armstrong, Executive Officer of Pedal Power, said today.
The government could not ignore the findings of the ACT Chief Health Officer’s Report 2014, who found the bike injury rates in Canberra during 2012 were twice the national average. Nor could it ignore the growing safety concerns of the 87,000 Canberrans who cycle the territory's road and paths in a typical week.
"In simple human terms this injury rate amounts to 110 bike crashes, one person died, 26 were admitted to hospital and 83 people required medical treatment. And this does not take account of the many unreported cycling injuries that have occurred since 2012," Armstrong said.
"This is an appalling result. And the response from government is heartless to say that a near 50% increase in injury rate over a two year period was due to the fact the ACT has the highest cycling participation rate in Australia. How does that contribute to greater cycling safety?"
Imagine for a moment if the injuries from car crashes in Canberra was twice the national average, Armstrong said. The government, police and road safety authorities would demand an urgent and meaningful response. "But, the government's response to the growing cycling accident rate is a mere shrug of the ministerial shoulders and a brush off. Clearly, the human cost of doing nothing is no longer acceptable."
Pedal Power calls on the government to immediately implement a trial of lower speed limits in all school zones, town centres and residential areas which have high levels of pedestrian and cycling activity in close proximity to shared paths, "The government could introduce a 30 kph speed limit in all these areas at the stroke of a pen and save lives and reduce the overall accident rate," said Armstrong. The impact of such a decision on the travelling time of motorists would be minimal.
In addition, Pedal Power further calls on the government to reconsider its budget priorities and set aside sufficient funds to provide separate dedicated bike lanes in the CBD, Turner and Braddon - areas where the Chief Medical Officer says the most cycling accidents were occurring.
"Only $2 million has been allocated to new cycling infrastructure over the next two years," Armstrong said. "This means the many thousands of Canberrans who choose to ride bikes - an activity the government says it supports - will be compelled to ride in sub-standard and unsafe conditions."
Pedal Power will continue to seek to work closely with government in every way possible – but the Chief Health Officer’s Report cannot go unheeded by government and demands that the ACT government double their effort and acts in a meaningful way to make cycling safe for all Canberrans.