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Road users urged to turn down the aggro


Larissa Nicholson

Tone down the aggro...

Tone down the aggro...

There were at least 174 on-road collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles in Canberra last year, equivalent to about three a week.

Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) Minister  Shane Rattenbury said he was distressed by the level of antagonism between the two groups in the capital, and pledged to lobby his Labor colleagues for learner-driver training to improve motorists’ awareness of people on bicycles.

According to  reports submitted to TAMS, the greatest number of collisions between motor vehicles and cars in 2012 were recorded in Civic, where there were 20 incidents recorded.

There were 13 recorded collisions in Braddon, 12 each in Turner and Phillip, and eight in Dickson, with the rest of the crashes between cyclists and motor vehicles spread across the ACT.

The ACT Greens went to last year’s election promising to introduce specific training on the issue for all learner drivers, and Mr Rattenbury said he would  raise the idea personally with    Environment and Sustainable Development Minister  Simon Corbell.

‘‘One area I’d like to explore is driver training,  the very point that young drivers get their licence, ensuring that training on what I call vulnerable road users – which includes pedestrians as well – is part of the core competencies of  the learner-driver process,’’ he said.

He said there was also a small number of cyclists who were breaking road rules, endangering themselves and giving cyclists a bad reputation, and he planned to research the best way to reach out to and educate them.

‘‘The level of antagonism between cyclists and motorists in Canberra is very distressing.’’

Cycling advocacy group Pedal Power ACT’s executive officer John Armstrong said he was not surprised the greatest numbers of collisions were in  in Civic and the more densely populated inner-Canberra suburbs. ‘‘The statistics reflect that you are more likely to have a collision close to your home than anywhere else – that is where you are more often,’’ he said.

Mr Armstrong said the $6million Civic Cycle Loop, a bicycle path under construction that will circle the city centre, would increase safety for cyclists, but urged caution from all motorists and cyclists.

‘‘It really does send a clear note that all road users really must be careful of each other, [with] a high level of tolerance, because one accident is one too many.’’

Mr Rattenbury said improved cycling infrastructure, including dedicated cycle lanes and the Civic Cycle Loop would also go some way to addressing the problem of collisions between cyclists and motorists.

‘‘What I would urge is for everyone to take a deep breath, for people just to remember we all want to get home at the end of the day,’’ he said.

‘‘Car drivers don’t want to be caught up with the inconvenience and obvious danger to cyclists of being in an accident, and for cyclists to be aware that not all car drivers are comfortable and familiar around cyclists.’’


  • The problem is certainly both parties, however I believe the problem stems from ACT road users in general. Everyone here thinks that they have the right of way and bugger anyone else who gets in their way.

    In any other state the road-rage hostilities is about 90% less than it is in the ACT. What is it about road users here that makes people so angry, and intollerant of other road users?

    The ACT has the best road network in the country, our commute time is significantly less than other states, but people still get agro on our roads.

    People need to start realising that it's not just them on the roads and they have to share the roads with other people. We need a higher police presence on our roads too.

    Canberra, Australia
    Date and time
    February 01, 2013, 2:21PM
    • The only thing that makes me angry on the roads are the ridiculously low speed limits and fixed and average speed cameras. I have no problem with others using the road. I'd call it over-regulation rage rather then road rage.

      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 8:53PM
  • Just 1 accident is too many, but to assume the blame straight at motorists is I think biased.

    Many cyclists too must be better aware of their surroundings. Whilst yes they deserve the right to use motorways, they must consider that cars are travelling much faster and are far less agile. The number of occasions I've had to change lanes because of cyclists taking up too much space on a road - lets keep realistic here. Yes you have a right to be there but why increase the chances of an accident by not allowing enough room for cars to share the lane?

    Date and time
    February 01, 2013, 2:22PM
    • I am not sure about ACT, but in every other State, a cyclists has the legal right to take up a full lane. In most cases it is practical to keep more to the left, but safety and road conditions sometimes dictate the need to "take the lane".

      You must either slow down or change lanes when a car is turning into a driveway, or travelling slowly for some other reason, do you not? So why the problem doing so for a cyclist?

      A bike takes up about 2 sq mtr. A car takes up between 20 and 200 sq mtr depending on speed. Which one is taking up "too much space"?

      I think you will find that cyclists are generally very aware of their surroundings, more so than drivers, given they are so exposed to the elements and aural and visual inputs.

      As for "travelling faster" once again I am not in Canberra, but in Melbourne and Sydney, in peak hour traffic, over a distance of up to 15 kilometres, a bike is faster than a car. Cyclists reduce traffic congestijon by taking up much less space, and by being more flexible in using combinations of roads and paths. I understand Canberra has a pretty good network of paths, but even so it may not be possible or convenient for a cyclist to use them all the time - there are a number of factors here, such as path quality, connectivity an so on.

      Without the full data it is not possible to determine who is more often at fault, cyclists or drivers. As a driver and cyclist, I would say I have had many more near misses, both in the car and on the bike from drivers rather than from bikes.

      Riddley Walker
      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 3:01PM
    • if you had experience cycling, you'd understand that it is dangerous to cycle in a lane leaving just enough room for motorists to shave past between you and the car in the next lane. technically this is illegal, but of course that's never stopped motorists. in narrow lanes, cyclists have little choice but to occupy the lane and force cars to change lanes - as they should anyway. in wider lanes, it's OK to stick left where cars can safely. essentially we're dictating when it's safe for cars to pass in the lane. we know that's annoying to motorists but bitter experience shows too many motorists are incapable or unwilling to make sensible decisions on that, on their own.

      eddy the cannibal merckx
      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 4:35PM
    • Eddy - I'm not sure what states you're talking about, but i suggest you recheck the road rules for cyclists. In most states, they don't have the right to take up the whole lane, in fact they are required to stay within one meter of the left hand side of the lane, and stay in single file.

      What I think the two main issues to do with cyclists in Canberra are a lack of proper road rules and understanding of them, and a lack of enforcement. For example, I constantly see bike whizzing through pedestrian crossings, nearly being bowled over cars. These crossings, unless signed to be for a bike, require cyclists to get off their bikes and walk them across. Also, things like hook turns for a bike turning right need to be introduced. A cyclist sticking their arm out and then crossing lanes to turn right with the rest of traffic seems to be dangerous to the point of being idiotic. A hook turn easily solves this for both motorists and cyclists.

      I also believe that an early education plan should be put in place in all schools, so that children can be taught the rules properly so that they don't just get onto the road without ever learning them. The rules for cyclists are a times very different to motorists, and the fact that a lot of cyclists would never have looked at those rules makes it all the more dangerous.

      Date and time
      February 02, 2013, 5:02AM
  • That's why cyclist should not be on our roads!
    Canberra has fantastic bike use them and not the road.

    Date and time
    February 01, 2013, 2:30PM
    • Yeah, I have to agree with you Motorist - how many times do you see cyclists riding on the road when there is a bike path not 50 metres away from them. Not only that but as a pedestrian how many time have I nearly been knocked off my feet in civic while walking on a footpath. They duck and weave all over the place and then wonder why the occassional one gets knocked off. I think the cyclists should be better educated.

      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 3:02PM
    • Oh so correct... why Adelaide Ave needs 4 bike paths (2 each side) is beyond me.

      This article also doesn't address the antagonism between cyclists and pedestrians..... bike riders seem to think they can speed along the footpath and across pedestrian crossings without impunity, usually totally in their own little world.

      There is a lowest common denominator here, and it isn't motorists or pedestrians.

      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 3:22PM
    • How times do people have to be told. There are no bike paths in the ACT! We have shared paths which are primarily for pedestrians, but cyclists are also allowed to use. Recent studies have show that these paths are more dangerous then on road bike lanes.

      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 6:26PM

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