Thank you to our Pedal Power members for completing our ‘wildlife crashes’ survey. Your input helped us form a picture of the scope of the problem, which we presented to delegates this week at a Wildlife Crashes road safety conference.
The conference was opened by Eric Chalmers, Chair ACT and Region Chapter, Australasian College of Road Safety. He described wildlife crashes with road users as an ‘epidemic’, with an ‘increasing number of injuries’. He observed that the increasing number of road users, distractions, and busyness meant wildlife collisions must be examined as a ‘complete system’ – data, causes, and solutions. He observed that all delegates represented a piece of the puzzle – from trauma specialists to conservationists, road safety advisors, insurance agencies and road user advocacy groups.
Pedal Power reported to delegates that the risk to people on bikes from wildlife is significant – because of rider vulnerability and the frequency of wildlife encounters. The highest risk factor is swerving dangerously as a result of a magpie swoop or close encounter with another animal.
We advised delegates there were measures we can take to help reduce this risk, including:
- Magpies. If particularly aggressive birds are reported to Parks and Conservation, there is action that can be taken. Parks and Conservation will put up warning signs to help you make adjustments before encountering troublesome birds. In extreme cases, aggressive birds will be removed. Pedal Power will communicate with you as maggie season nears, so we can work together to report problem birds.
- Kangaroos: the advice from experts is to slow down if you see a roo. They are easily confused when scared, so slowing down will help them avoid you.
- Our survey showed a third of wildlife crashes/near misses occurred on a road. This is where the new minimum passing laws can help – if a bike swerves suddenly and erratically following a bird/animal encounter, a metre between car and bike really does matter. We will continue working with ACT Policing to educate the community about this law.
- Under reporting: the conference identified significant under reporting of wildlife crashes (particularly with bikes). This makes it very hard to identify problem areas. If you’re involved in a collision with wildlife on a road, please report it as you would any collision.
- Dogs: in addition to the recent changes outlined in the government’s Canberra Dog Model, we think it’s worth exploring a member’s suggestion of encouraging owners to clip lights to dog collars at night.
- There are infrastructure changes that could help minimise wildlife crashes, particularly adequate lighting, signage and fencing where appropriate.
The conference focused strongly on data sharing and driver/rider education, and it is anticipated there will be joint working groups in the future to identify solutions to share data and jointly advocate to government for solutions.
Kate Mokrij | Advocacy Manager