Safety on our roads needs a culture change

16 Mar 23 | By pp-admin | Advocacy

Pedal Power’s Executive Director Simon Copland recently attended a media event organised by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to raise awareness of vulnerable road users.

This was a great opportunity to shed the light on the importance of better infrastructure to keep drivers and cyclists on separate lanes for everyone’s safety.

Having segregated bike lanes is a win-win for all road users as cyclists are safer and drivers don’t need to worry about interacting with them.

“Research shows that good infrastructure can significantly increase the number of people who ride bikes.” Says Simon “More people on bikes, means less cars on the road, which in turn means less congestions and pollution, both of which can be harmful to citizens’ health. Segregated cycle lanes are also much safer for cyclists, removing unnecessary interactions between cyclists and other vehicles.”

One of Pedal Power’s core purposes is to encourage more Canberrans on bikes. To this end, improving safe cycling routes is of great benefit, but while we work on that, we need to do more to encourage a culture change on our roads.

While road users should respect road rules, it is important to realise that the consequences of a collision are far greater for cyclists than drivers.

At the media event, Simon and the AFP emphasised the importance of drivers keeping a safe distance from cyclists when passing them on the road. Drivers should give cyclists a distance of 1m on roads with a speed limit up to 60km/h and 1.5m on roads with a higher speed limit. But this can be difficult or even impossible in some stretches of road. That is why Pedal Power is working with the University of Adelaide, to identify areas where the infrastructure forces close interaction between cars and cyclists.

In the meantime, what can drivers do to share the road with cyclists? Drivers should watch out for cyclists, particularly at intersections and roundabouts; check for cyclists before opening their car door, and drive defensively, remembering always that there are other vulnerable users on the road. Most importantly, remembering that cyclists are legitimate road users.  Please treat us all with respect and according to the road rules.

Pedal Power will continue to advocate for greater investment in cycling infrastructure so cyclists can have safe, segregated, convenient cycle lanes wherever they ride. In the meantime, sadly, these lanes often don’t exist and available paths are not always useable. Path maintenance is often an issue and if the path is covered in litter or tree roots, it may be safer to ride on the road. Pedal Power also regularly advocates for path maintenance and improvement. If you see a path that needs fixing, please report it to Fix my street.

There’s a lot we can all do to stay safe on our roads. Every person riding a bike on the road knows that they do so at a risk. Drivers of vehicles should respect our right to be on the road, and the Government should invest in safe cycling infrastructure so we can all get to where we want safely.