Delivering our petition

14 Sep 23 | By pp-admin

On Monday 4 September, we delivered our petition of over 1200 signatures to ACT Minister for Roads and Active Travel, Chris Steel MLA demanding a tangible and urgent commitment to improving Canberra’s cycling infrastructure.

Joanne Pybus is the wife of Paul O’Dwyer who was severely injured riding along Northbourne Avenue. This is the powerful speech she delivered on the day.

Hello my name is Jo Pybus, and I am here today supporting Pedal Power in delivering a petition to the ACT Government asking that we stop talking in terms like ‘draft’, ‘proposed’, ‘future’; and instead actually build the infrastructure outlined in Minister Chris Steel’s “Draft Active Travel Plan”, released over 12 months ago by Transport Canberra.

So, who am I? I’m the wife of a man whose life nearly ended 12 months ago on Northbourne Ave, when he was riding his bike before work. A husband who was travelling in the on-road cycle lane, a narrow strip of the road marked by a line of paint. A friend who was hit when two cars swerved from the adjacent lanes. A father who was thrown 6 meters onto the nature strip, his face hitting the concrete kerb causing life threatening injuries.

I drove to Canberra Hospital that morning thinking my husband was dead. I then spent the rest of the day presented with many possibilities whilst they placed him in an induced coma. Did he have a catastrophic brain injury? Would he ever walk again? Will he be able to breath independently when they pull him out of the coma.

Today Paul is still recovering from his injuries, and there is still uncertainty about whether he will fully recover. This would have never happened had there been a protected bike lane on Northbourne Ave, a corridor recognised by the ACT Government as the highest priority for commuters by virtue of being chosen as the first thoroughfare to get Light Rail.

Now you may be thinking that this was all just bad timing, as the ACT Government had only just produced this draft plan in the months before Paul’s accident. You may think I’m drawing a long bow in suggesting they should have implemented it before my husband left home that morning 12 months ago.

But it is in fact this older report, they should have implemented from back in 2018 called the “CITY AND GATEWAY URBAN DESIGN FRAMEWORK” that would have saved my husband, a report that pre-dates the completion of the Light Rail construction, in which they said, and I quote, “Key on-road cycle lanes, identified as future principal routes such as those on Northbourne Avenue, will be upgraded to protected bike lanes”.

For all the money and disruption that the building of the Light Rail cost the rate-payers of the ACT and the residence along that corridor, to not have built the protected bike lanes at the same time, saving money and minimising disruption for those residents, makes no sense to me at all.

So, it is in fact two reports, one from 2018 and one from 2022 that are the reason I am here asking Minister Steel to stop making glossy brochures of broken promises and start building the cycling and active travel infrastructure we needed yesterday.